From a fresh-faced young showman with the Jackson Five to a massive pop icon followed around the globe by hoards of screaming fans, Michael Jackson has long been a source of fascination, filling newspapers and magazines.
Tales of oxygen chambers, chimp chums, shopping sprees and physical transformation have also brought intrigue and amusement and earned the singer the nickname Wacko Jacko.
Disquiet over the 50-year-old star's behaviour turned to alarm after a documentary in which the singer pronounced sharing a bedroom with a child to be "charming" and an incident in Germany in which he dangled his baby son Prince Michael II over a balcony.
In a 2003 interview with Martin Bashir, which was supposed to bolster Jackson's image, the singer said of sharing a bed with a young boy: "It's a beautiful thing.
"It's very right, it's very loving. Because what's wrong with sharing a love?"
A warrant was issued for his arrest on charges of sexually molesting 12-year-old Gavin Arvizo. Jackson surrendered himself to police amid a media furore.
He pleaded not guilty to the allegations and after a trial conducted in the full glare of the world's media, Jackson was cleared of all the charges.
Since his acquittal in 2005, Jackson has kept a low profile.
His famous Neverland ranch in California, which he bought in 1987, was closed in 2006.
Jackson was launched into the limelight at the age of five.
The talented Jackson children had a tough upbringing and as he grew up, his appearance altered drastically.
Jackson has denied undergoing extensive plastic surgery, claiming instead he suffered from a skin condition called vitiligo and he had treatment to improve his breathing and singing.
The Peter Pan of pop's Neverland ranch was a child-like fantasy complete with a zoo, Ferris wheel, roller-coaster and video arcade.
Eyebrows were further raised when Jackson took to sleeping in an oxygen chamber and adopted a chimp named Bubbles as a companion.
He often conveyed an androgynous image and his marriage to Lisa Marie Presley, the daughter of Elvis Presley, was greeted with some surprise.
The 1994 union, which collapsed after 19 months, came just months after the singer's reputation was rocked by allegations of child abuse by 13-year-old Jordy Chandler.
He reportedly settled the case out of court for £11 million (20 million dollars) although he has always denied wrong-doing.
Jackson's second short-lived marriage, in contrast to the high profile of his first, was to nurse Debbie Rowe in 1996.
He named their two children after himself - Prince Michael Jackson and Paris Michael Katherine, and took an unusual approach to protecting them from the media glare by covering their faces.
After the couple divorced in 1999, Jackson took on sole responsibility for their children's upbringing.
His third child, Prince Michael II, was born to a mystery surrogate mother he never even met.
In 2002, Jackson caused a public outcry by dangling the baby - referred to as "Blanket" - out of a third-floor hotel balcony in front of the world's press.
He later said he regretted the incident.
In November last year, Jackson and an Arab sheikh suing him at the High Court in London for £4.7 million parted "amicably" after agreeing a settlement to their dispute.
The singer had been due to give evidence at the Royal Courts of Justice in the case involving the King of Bahrain's son, Sheikh Abdulla bin Hamad Al Khalifa.
But on the eve of his highly anticipated appearance, his trip to London was cancelled after lawyers agreed the settlement.
Jackson was invited with his children and entourage to Bahrain by Sheikh Abdulla, who lavished money on Jackson and built a recording studio, which he believed would be used to record albums by Jackson using material the sheikh had helped to write.
But Jackson insisted there was no valid agreement and that the sheikh's case was based on "mistake, misrepresentation and undue influence".
He said sums of money paid out by the sheikh were "gifts".