In the lexicon of pop culture, Michael Jackson is legend. In an extraordinary career that began when he was five, Michael Jackson notched up milestones including recording the most successful album of all time (Thriller) and winning eight Grammys in a single year, a record. To celebrate his 55th birth anniversary, here are 15 things about MJ only a true fan would know.

1.Michael Jackson described his own voice as a pre-teen singing with The Jackson 5 as sounding “like Minnie Mouse.”

2.The first song he ever sang publicly was Climb Every Mountain from The Sound Of Music at age five.

3. His famous dance move, the moonwalk, is said to have been based on the routine of mime artist Marcel Marceau.

4. Billie Jean was the first music video by a black artist to air on MTV.

5. Apart from his famous chimpanzee Bubbles, MJ also own llamas called Louis and Lola, a boa constrictor named Muscles, a ram called Mr Tibbs, a python called Crusher.

6. He was godfather to Lionel Ritchie’s daughter Nicole and Bee Gees singer Barry Gibb’s son Michael.

7. He was close friends with actor Macaulay Caulkin who appeared in the video of Black Or White, is godfather to MJ’s children Prince and Paris, and co-designed the amusement park in Neverland ranch.

8. MJ’s favourite Beatles song is Come Together. A cover version is featured on the album HIStory.

9. He bought the Best Picture Oscar awarded to David O. Selznick for Gone With The Wind for $1.5 million in 1999.

10. MJ loved climbing trees and wrote many songs while sitting in his favourite tree, called Giving Tree, at Neverland.

11. The rented Los Angeles mansion he was living in when he died once belonged to Sean Connery.

12. The music video of his single Liberian Girl features an extraordinary ensemble of the era’s stars including – John Travolta, Olivia Newton-John, Whoopi Goldberg, Steven Spielberg, Quincy Jones, Virginia Madsen, David Copperfield, Danny Glover and Dan Akroyd. MJ himself appears very briefly, at the very end.

13. MJ was close friends with actor Lou Ferrigno, who had played The Incredible Hulk on TV. Mr Ferrigno also appeared in the video of Liberian Girl and was invited to be MJ’s personal trainer ahead of the This Is It concerts.

14. MJ moved to Bahrain, on invitation by the Sheikh of Bahrain, after he was acquitted of sexual abuse charges in 2005.

15. As a child, MJ loved the story of Rip Van Winkle and the animated character Pinocchio.