He was lauded and ridiculed. He broke down barriers and built them around himself. He soared to heights unimaginable with his music, and he made the ignominious front page of gutter tabloids worldwide. For Michael Jackson, the spotlight was always present, and the rest of the world followed. From the time he was a child, it was obvious Michael Jackson was something special. He and his brothers shot to stardom as the Jackson 5 in the 1970s. But it was in the 1980s, when Jackson became a worldwide phenomenon, that his impact really began to be felt. Pop music went into a Jackson era. From the elegant ballads to the down-and-dirty grooves and ecstatic dance hits, he dominated the music world. "Billie Jean," "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin,'" "Bad," "Man in the Mirror," "Beat It," "P.Y.T." His album "Thriller" had nine songs; seven of them became hit singles. He became much imitated, from his hair to his clothes to his dance moves. Jackson was also a fashion icon, his heavily zippered leather jackets a de rigueur 1980s fashion accessory, his single, spangled glove beyond compare. Then rumors began, from his pets to his sleeping habits to his cosmetic surgery. Add to that child-abuse allegations and financial troubles, all fodder for the press. He was treated as a traveling circus. But he kept many fans. His death at age 50 prompted many of them to pour out their grief through music and dance, impromptu shrines at symbolic locations and heartfelt remembrances. "This is a very sad day,"sobbed CNN iReporter Melissa Fazli. A fan outside Grauman's Chinese Theater in California called Jackson an innovator. "He's basically an icon in his own time -- legendary ... I'm still mourning, and at the same time missing him. It's a little bit much to bear."