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Katherine Jackson

Katherine Jackson

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"It's one of the greatest losses," said Tommy Mottola, former president of Sony Music, which released Jackson's music for 16 years.

"In pop history, there's a triumvirate of pop icons: Sinatra, Elvis and Michael, that define the whole culture.

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His music bridged races and ages and absolutely defined the video age.

Nothing that came before him or that has come after him will ever be as big as he was." Jackson "had it all.

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talent, grace, professionalism and dedication," said Quincy Jones, Jackson's collaborator on his most important albums and the movie "The Wiz." "He was the consummate entertainer, and his contributions and legacy will be felt upon the world forever.

I've lost my little brother today, and part of my soul has gone with him." Jackson was born Aug.

29, 1958, in Gary, Ind.

His mother, Katherine, would say that there was something special about the fifth of her nine children.

"I don't believe in reincarnation," she said, "but you know how babies move uncoordinated? He never moved that way.

When he danced, it was like he was an older person." Katherine Jackson, who worked for Sears, Roebuck and Co., taught her children folk songs.

Her husband, Joseph, a crane operator who once played with the R&B band the Falcons, played guitar and coached his sons.

The boys were soon performing at local benefits.

Michael took command of the group even as a chubby-cheeked kindergartner.

"He was so energetic that at 5 years old he was like a leader," brother Jackie once told Rolling Stone magazine.

"We saw that.

So we said, 'Hey, Michael, you be the lead guy.' The audience ate it up." By 1968, the Jacksons had cut singles for a local Indiana label called Steeltown.

At an engagement that year at Harlem's famed Apollo Theater, singer Gladys Knight and pianist Billy Taylor saw their act and recommended them to Motown founder Berry Gordy.

So did Diana Ross after sharing a stage with the quintet at a "Soul Weekend" in Gary.

Ross said later that she saw herself in the talented and driven Michael.

"He could be my son," she said.

Another Motown legend, Smokey Robinson, would describe the young performer as "a strange and lovely child, an old soul in the body of a boy." Motown moved the Jacksons to California, and in August 1968 they gave a breakthrough performance at a Beverly Hills club called The Daisy.

Their first album, "Diana Ross Presents the Jackson 5," was released in December 1969, and it yielded the No.

1 hit "I Want You Back," with 11-year-old Michael on the lead vocals.

"ABC," "I'll Be There" and other hits followed, and the group soon had their own television series, a Saturday morning cartoon and an array of licensed merchandise aimed at youngsters.

There was a price: childhood.

"I never had the chance to do the fun things kids do," Jackson once explained.

"There was no Christmas, no holiday celebrating.

So now you try to compensate for some of that loss." Joseph Jackson ruled the family, by most accounts, with his fists and a bellowing rage.

In a 2003 documentary by British journalist Martin Bashir, Jackson said his father often brandished a belt during rehearsals and hit his sons or shoved them into walls if they made a misstep.

"We were terrified of him," Jackson said.

In the Bashir interviews, the singer said his father ridiculed him for his pug nose and adolescent acne.

He also described, with obvious discomfort, having to listen to an older brother have sex with a woman in the hotel bedroom they shared.

Onstage, Jackson seemed to know no fear.

"When we sang, people would throw all this money on the floor, tons of dollars, 10s, 20s, lots of change," an adult Jackson once told Newsweek.

"I remember my pockets being so full of money that I couldn't keep my pants up.

I'd wear a real tight belt.

And I'd buy candy like crazy."

http://www.latimes.com/news/obituaries/la-me-jackson-obit26-2009jun26,0,1970798.story
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