The troubled star had appeared frail and unhealthy in his infrequent public appearances in the past couple of years. Though he was trying to stage a comeback of sorts, having just recently announced some British tour dates. His mother and sister LaToya are said to have been with Jackson at the time of the incident.
Jackson came from a musical family of Jehovah's Witnesses in Gary, Indiana. Under his strict father's watchful eye, Michael Jackson and four of his brothers formed the groundbreaking Jackson 5, releasing a string of major hits in the 1970s.
Jackson later launched a solo career, starting with Off the Wall in 1979 and, three years later, Thriller, which became the best-selling album of all time. In addition to its success as a record, Thriller helped advance music videos as promotional tool and brought Jackson a level of mainstream recognition black artists had not previously received. Its top hits "Billie Jean," "Beat It" and "Thriller" became hallmarks of the 1980s.
Jackson would go on to release other influential, best-selling albums, most notably Bad and Dangerous, but Thriller had marked the dizzying apex of his career. Over time, his personal life, rapidly changing physical appearance and bizarre personality quirks would overshadow talk about his music. Through his career, the singer underwent round upon round of plastic surgery, drastically altering the appearance of his face, most notably his nose, chin and cheekbones.
He also lightened his skin; amid rumors he was bleaching his flesh, Jackson eventually disclosed the lighter tone arose from his vitiligo, which made his skin sensitive to light and caused splotches he had to even out with pancake makeup.
If Jackson's striking appearance made him seem odd, his idiosyncratic behavior only accentuated the effect. He was often seen with a chimp named Bubbles and in regal, glittering outfits. It was falsely rumored he had acquired the Elephant Man's skeleton.
Then there was Jackson's home, Neverland Ranch, whose Ferris wheels, movie theater and menagerie only underlined Jackson's flamboyance. The singer invited children to the compound and faced repeated charges of child molestation; he settled a 1993 case brought by the family of a 12-year-old boy for a reported $20 million. More devastating were charges from a 15-year-old who appeared with Jackson in the British docmentary "Living with Michael Jackson," in which he discussed the practice of sharing a bed with children.