Michael Jackson was born in Gary, Indiana. He is the second-youngest brother of seven and the eighth of ten children of Joseph and Katherine Jackson. He showed musical talent early on and joined his brothers when they formed a group in 1964. In 1966, after taking co-lead singing duties with brother Jermaine, the group's name changed from "The Jackson Brothers" to "The Jackson 5". The group played at local clubs and bars, building up a following and eventually signing a contract with Motown Records in 1968. The group hit stardom, with their first four singles which charted at number-one on the Billboard Hot 100. As a solo artist, Jackson released Got to Be There and Ben in 1972. These were released as part of the Jackson 5 franchise and produced successful singles such as "Got to Be There", "Ben", and a remake of Bobby Day's "Rockin' Robin".
The group's sales declined after 1973, and the group chafed under Motown's strict refusal to allow the Jacksons creative control or input. In 1976, the group signed a new contract with CBS Records (first joining the Philadelphia International division and then Epic Records). When this became apparent to Motown Records, they sued the group for breach of contract.
As a result of the legal proceedings, which were complicated further by the fact that Jermaine Jackson was married to the daughter of Motown president (Berry Gordy), the Jacksons lost the rights to use the "Jackson 5" name and logo and also Jermaine, who wanted to stay at Motown. They changed their name to "The Jacksons", featuring youngest brother Randy in Jermaine's place, and continued their successful career, touring internationally and releasing six more albums between 1976 and 1984, with Jermaine eventually re-joining in 1983, making them a sextet.
In 1978, Jackson starred as the scarecrow in The Wiz with former-label mate Diana Ross playing Dorothy. The songs for the musical were arranged by Quincy Jones, who established a partnership with Jackson during the film's production and agreed to produce his first solo album in four years. Off the Wall, released in 1979, was a worldwide hit, and became the first album in history to spawn four top-ten hits, including "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" and "Rock with You".
In January 1980, Jackson won his first awards for his solo efforts at the American Music Awards. He won "Favorite Soul/R&B Album" (for Off the Wall), "Favorite Male Soul/R&B Artist" and Favorite Soul/R&B Single (for "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough"). Later that month, he also won two Billboard Awards (for "Top Black Artist" and "Top Black Album").
On February 27, 1980, Jackson won a Grammy Award for "Best R&B Vocal Performance, Male" (for "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough").