We are looking here at the 1970s solo success for the king of pop Michael Jackson. The legend was born in 1958 and after becoming a star with his brother in the Jackson 5 it was inevitable that Michael would become the front man of the group. Although it caused friction at the time within the family, everybody could see it was for the greater good.
But Michael was not just a group singer, he quickly established himself as a colossal solo artist too. He also was a film star in the 1978 musical The Wiz based on the Wizard Of Oz. Not a great film, but it kept Michael in the minds of his adoring public.
1971 saw Michael break into the top five on both sides of the Atlantic with Got To Be There and was written by Elliot Willen who used to be a research scientist. He died in 2010. The strength of that success gave Tamla Motown the courage to release his next single in 1972, again a top five hit on both sides of the pond with Rocking Robin form the album Got To Be There. It was a copy of a 1958 hit by Bobby Day in 1958.
But Michael was so popular a bad record did not seem to matter now. He was a solo singer; he was also singing with his brothers and was on TV all around the world with the cartoon series. So the next single was going to be a success whatever it was. In the U.S. it was I Want To Be Where You Are and in the UK it was the cover of Aint No Sunshine.
But now it was the turn of a Rat to make Michael even more popular. No. 1 in the U.S. and No. 7 in the UK with Ben. What was Ben? Ben was a rat from the film of the same name. The song was written by Don Black who also wrote the lyrics for Thunderball and Diamonds Are Forever.
The song won a Golden Globe and an Academy Award and was originally offered to Donny Osmond who did not have time to do the recording. So by default Michael got it. Michael was alleged to have been fourteen at the time of recording and he is one of only a few people to have chart success at such a young age.
1973, 74 and 1975 were non single hit years for Michael. It was not until 1979 that Michael came back with a huge disco type hit called Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough, which got to No. 1 in the U.S. (No. 3 UK). Michael was no longer on Tampa but on now on Epic Records and this hit came from his acclaimed album Off The Wall. This song went Gold in the U.S. and won Michael another Grammy too. The album went on to sell over twenty million copies and made even a bigger star of the producer Quincy Jones.
Also that year from the same album came Rock With You written by Jackson and Rod Temperton. Rod went on to write Thriller in the 1980s and he was also working with the pop group Heatwave in the 1970s. A busy man indeed.
The single Off The Wall was the last hit of 1979 and again came from the same album. Again Rod Temperton wrote this song and again it charted worldwide. In the 1980s Michaela would have eighteen top twenty hits in the UK and a host of albums making Michael the King of pop. Michael died of a heart attack in 2009. In his time he sold millions and mad billions. It is estimated a year after his death he earned another billion dollars.