Michael Jackson’s often wildly eccentric behaviour earned him the nickname “Wacko Jacko” in the tabloid press.
He was rumoured to have bought the Elephant Man’s bones, Jackson allegedly shared a bed with a chimp and then married the daughter of another pop culture giant in a lifetime spent in the public eye.
Over the years, his image changed from cute child star to that of a secretive singer who was the target of ridicule and devotion in equal measure.
The release of Thriller in 1982 made him a massive international superstar and the first cracks in his public persona began appearing not long afterwards.
While filming an advertisement for Pepsi in 1984, an explosion set his hair on fire and he was stretchered from the studio.
Around the same time, wild stories about his personal life began to circulate, including that he slept in an oxygen tent and had adopted a chimp called Bubbles.
The last was certainly true and the animal sat in on the recording sessions of the Bad album.
Soon the tabloids were dubbing him “Wacko Jacko” and he retreated to his Neverland ranch, complete with its own zoo and funfair.
The video for his single Bad in 1987, which saw the star with distinctly lighter skin, led to rumours he had undergone plastic surgery and skin bleaching.
Four years later, he admitted to talk show host Oprah Winfrey he had had plastic surgery but insisted his changing skin tone was the result of a “disorder that destroys the pigmentation of my skin”.
His appearance at the Brit Awards in 1996 again pushed him on to the front pages when Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker took exception to his bombastic performance of Earth Song and ran on to the stage.
In 2002, he was criticised when he dangled his 11-month-old son Prince Michael II from the window of a Berlin hotel in front of an astounded crowds.
The same year he made an appearance before disbelieving fans of the English third division football club Exeter City with his friend – and Exeter fan – Uri Geller.
In March this year he unveiled a string of dates in London.
In what would prove to be his last public appearance in the UK, he put on a bizarre display that left the assembled journalists baffled.
When he finally appeared he repeatedly walked away from the microphone before saying: “Thank you all. This is it. I just want to say these will be my final shows, performances in London. This will be it.
“When I say this is it, I really mean this is it.”
During a speech littered with long pauses, Jackson said: “I’ll be performing the songs my fans want to hear.
“This is the final curtain call, OK, and I’ll see you in July.”
He waved to screaming fans gathered in the O2 arena and told them: “I love you. I really do. You have to know that.
“I love you so much, really, from the bottom of my heart.”