Michael Jackson's success as a pop star was nearly eclipsed over time by controversy surrounding his strange and reclusive lifestyle, which earned him the tabloid moniker Wacko Jacko.

The life of the self-proclaimed King of Pop supplied the media with a steady supply of strange-but-true and strange-but-untrue stories. A small sampling follows:

* He bought a hyperbaric chamber enabling him to live for 150 years, and offered to buy the deformed skeleton of the Elephant Man John Merrick. Alas, both were tall tales planted in the tabloids by Jackson himself.

* In 2000, Jackson paid $150,000 (90,000 pounds) for an African voodoo chief to put a fatal curse on director Steven Spielberg, music mogul David Geffen and 23 other people on his enemies list, Vanity Fair reported.

* His handlers lobbied Buckingham Palace for Queen Elizabeth to give him a knighthood, a former Jackson spokesman said in 2005.

* The King of Pop title was conceived by two spokesmen in the early 1990s to deflect attention from such less-savoury nicknames, according to a former tour publicist. A Rolling Stone magazine article in 1991 said the Fox, BET and MTV networks were obliged to call him that in return for getting the rights to premiere his Black or White video.

* He wrongly thought he was receiving a special prize for Artist of the Millennium at the MTV Video Music Awards in 2002, when Britney Spears presented him with a birthday cake and extemporized that he was the artist of the millennium.

* Bubbles the chimp, once his faithful companion, is still alive. Aged 26, he lives in a Florida sanctuary for unwanted orangutans and chimpanzees.

* Jackson invented the moonwalk dance step in 1983, but gained just as much attention with another move, the suggestive crotch-grab, which he premiered in his 1991 Black or White video.

* To promote his 1995 album HIStory, he floated a 30-foot (10-metre) steel-and-fiberglass statue of himself down London's River Thames.
(Reporting by Dean Goodman; editing by Dan Whitcomb and David Storey)