But by the time of his death in June 2009, the singer had shrivelled to a mere 8st 10oz, his body ravaged by surgery, prescription drugs and an apparent battle with anorexia.
The star’s autopsy report made for horrifying reading, revealing Jackson, 50, had nothing but partially dissolved pills in his stomach after reportedly surviving on just one tiny meal a day.
His hips, thighs and shoulders were covered in puncture marks from what were believed to be from painkiller injections.
Jackson’s lips had been tattooed pink while his eyebrows were black tattoos and the front of his scalp had also bizarrely been tattooed black to blend with his hairline.
Meanwhile, the star’s knees and shins were mysteriously bruised and he had cuts on his back, suggesting a recent fall. His body was also mottled with areas of light and dark skin, confirming he did indeed suffer from pigmentation disease vitiligo.
But more disturbingly, his wavy, shoulder-length hair was found to be a wig that had been glued onto his head.
Beneath it, Jackson was completely bald apart from patches of ‘peach fuzz’ on his scarred scalp.
“He was skin and bone, his hair had fallen out, and he had been eating nothing but pills when he died,” a source close to the singer told The Sun.
“Injection marks all over his body and the disfigurement caused by years of plastic surgery show he’d been in terminal decline for some years.”
Jackson is believed to have first started wearing a wig after his hair caught fire during filming for a 1984 Pepsi commercial, leaving him with second and third degree burns.
The shoot at LA’s Shrine Auditorium required him to dance down a short flight of stairs as fireworks were let off around him.
But a technical problem during the sixth take saw the pyrotechnics explode too early, causing sparks to ignite Jackson’s heavily gelled hair before it burst into flames.
The star ended up being carried out by a stretcher, with a bald, burning patch above his left ear clearly visible.
It has often been speculated that the accident was the beginning of the singer’s pill addiction.
He was prescribed severe pain killers to cope with the agony of the burns to his scalp and face and went on to become hooked on prescription medication – a dependency that would ultimately kill him.
His brother Tito previously told the Mirror: “He had been taking pain medicine because of the burns and evidently he got some kind of addiction from it.”