Cheung was born and grew up in Quarry Bay in the eastern part of Hong Kong Island. His father is from Tianjin and his mother is from Shanghai. In 2007, Cheung revealed that the paternal side of his family are mostly seamen, including his father, paternal cousin, and older brother. His first language is Cantonese, but he also speaks Mandarin and English. He sings Cantonese, Mandarin and modern English pop songs. Cheung is known for his rich baritone voice.
Cheung originally started working as a reservation officer for the airline Cathay Pacific. His music career started when he won the Amateur 18-Hong Kong district singing contest in 1984 with the song Fatherland (大地恩情) by Michael Kwan. He bested more than 10,000 other contestants. After winning the contest, he was signed by the then Polygram Records, now Universal Music Group. Although encouraged by a bright start, he was not able to achieve immediate supremacy in Cantopop, then dominated by Leslie Cheung, Alan Tam, Anita Mui and Danny Chan. In 1985 he won his first two major awards together with the 1985 RTHK Top 10 Gold Songs Awards and the 1985 Jade Solid Gold Top 10 Awards.
In 1991 he released the song "Loving You More Every Day" (每天愛你多一些), a translated version of the Japanese Southern All Stars hit, Midsummer's Fruit (真夏の果実). The album True Love Expression (真情流露) in 1992, as well as the subsequent release, Love Sparks (愛火花) in 1992, achieved audited sales of over 400,000 copies in Hong Kong alone.
His subsequent albums included 1993 "Me and You" (我與你) and 1994 "Born to be wild" (餓狼傳說). In the 1994 Billboard Music Awards in the US, he was named the most popular singer in Asia. He received numerous music awards both in Hong Kong and elsewhere, including the best-selling Chinese singer in the World Music Awards for two consecutive years in 1995 and 1996 held at Monaco. Cheung was also elected as one of the world's Top Ten Outstanding Young Persons in 1999.
Amongst his hit songs, some of his most famous were Amour, "Just want to spend my life with you" (只想一生跟你走) and "Goodbye Kiss" (吻别). The album The Goodbye Kiss (吻别) was one of the best-selling albums of all time, achieving more sales in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Southeast Asia than ever attained before, with more than 4 million copies sold in 1993, making him one of the PolyGram's top 10 artists worldwide that year and he was the first Asian artist to do so. It made him the first singer with non-Taiwanese citizenship to win Taiwan's Golden Melody Awards. The album was also instrumental in helping Cheung break into the mandopop market. Due to these great songs and albums, Cheung is generally considered to be the pre-eminent member of the Four Heavenly Kings of Cantopop. He is regarded by some sources as the best singer of the four.
In 1995, Cheung staged his record-breaking 100-show world tour titled "Yau Hok Yau" (友學友), literally a pun of "friendship Jacky Cheung" reusing the same Chinese characters found in his name. The tour started with 34 shows from 8 April to 9 June at the Hong Kong Coliseum. Then the tour continued at Perth Brisbane Australia and returned to Taipei and mainland China. It then expanded to Madison Square Garden in the US, different parts of Europe, Singapore, India, Malaysia and Japan. He was regarded as the new Michael Jackson by Business Week.
His successful music and acting career has made him one of Hong Kong's icons. Cheung was elected by Time Magazine as one of the "25 most influential people in the New Hong Kong" in 1996.
In 1999, he was named one of the Ten Outstanding Young Persons of the World by JCI (Junior Chamber International), a worldwide federation of young professionals and entrepreneurs. In 2000 he was awarded by RTHK, the Golden Needle Award. This award, the equivalent of a lifetime achievement award, recognised outstanding contributions to the music industry.
In 2004, Cheung released Life Is Like A Dream, an album in which Jacky co-produced with long-time collaborative partner Michael Au, and Jacky composed the melody for all songs, and penned the lyrics for three of them. He had songs dedicated to his eldest daughter, his wife and his friends who had all died in 2003.
Cheung won the Best Selling Cantonese Album Award in the Hong Kong IFPI Awards of 2005 with his live album, Jacky Live Performance, which he accepted in person for the first time in years. This is despite poor ticket sales due to the concert was meant to be a one-night-only charity concert in nature, and the fact that Jacky attempted to sing mostly songs from other artists for the first time. In the fast-changing scene of canto-pop, Cheung has been able to maintain his popularity and sales power for more than 20 years after his debut, which is unparalleled in the history of Hong Kong pop music.
In 2007, Cheung staged his "Year of Jacky Cheung World Tour 2007". The tour started on 18 February 2007 at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. When the tour ended in Hong Kong on 3 February 2008 after touring 58 cities around the world, a total of 105 shows had been given, attracting more than 2 million fans. 105 became the highest number of shows in a tour by a Chinese artist, breaking the previous record of 100, which was also set by Cheung previously. In the same year, he also released a Mandopop album zh:在你身邊in which he is the sole executive producer of the album for the first time after Michael Au suddenly left to further his career in Beijing.
In 2009, Cheung recorded "Private Corner", his first jazz album for which he coined the phrase "Canto-jazz". The album was produced by Andrew Tuason. "Everyday Is Christmas", "Which Way, Robert Frost?", "Let It Go", "Lucky in Love" and "Double Trouble" were co-written by Roxanne Seeman in collaboration with Tuason, tailor-made for Cheung. "Lucky in Love" is the end-credit song of "Crossing Hennessy", Hong Kong movie starring Jacky Cheung and Tang Wei, produced by Bill Kong. Nokia's music download service website (Ovi.com) announced that 'Everyday Is Christmas' was the 10th most downloaded Christmas song in the world in 2010, joining classic hits such as Wham's 'Last Christmas' and Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas is You". Cheung is the only Chinese language singer to make it into the Top Ten.
In 2010, Cheung started his "Jacky Cheung 1/2 Century World tour". This tour started on 30 December 2010 at Shanghai, and ended in Hong Kong on 30 May 2012. For 1 year and 5 months, his tour included 5 countries 77 cities, overall 146 shows, more than 2,800,000 audiences. 146 became the highest number of shows in a one tour by Chinese artist. Previous record of 105 was also made by Jacky Cheung on his 2007–2008 World Tour. Both 2007 and 2010 World tour was led by Andrew Tuason as Cheung's Musical Director. At the beginning of that year, he also attempted new musical styles. His new album, Private Corner, became his first ever Jazz album in Cantopop history, it also featured other non-mainstream Cantopop styles such as strings quartet, Waltz and Hymn. The special edition also featured a special glass-CD, also a first in Chinese pop history. "Double Trouble" from Private Corner was a featured produced number in the "Jacky Cheung 1/2 Century World Tour".
In "Jacky Cheung 1/2 Century World tour", he set a Guinness World record for the largest combined audience for a live act in 12 months, with 2,048,553 audience members. During the first 12-month of the tour, was ran from 30 December 2010 to 29 December 2011, with 105 live concerts in 61 cities across China, USA, Malaysia, Singapore and Australia.
Cheung won the RTHK"金曲35周年榮譽大獎 Honor of Golden song 35th Anniversary Award" in the 2012 RTHK Top 10 Gold Songs Awards, as he has the greatest number of RTHK Golden Songs since the award has been started.
Cheung not only performs solo but often performs duets with female singers. Cheung recorded a duet with Filipino singer and Asia's Songbird, Regine Velasquez for the song "In Love with You", the song was included in her multi-platinum album "Listen Without Prejudice". In 2008, Cheung and A-Mei, the popular Taiwanese singer, performed Zhu Fu ("Blessing") as a duet in a benefit concert for victims of the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. Other duet partners include:Priscilla Chan – "A Pair of Lonely Hearts" (一對寂寞的心), (愛和承諾), (接近)
Faye Wong – "Love's Promise"
Kelly Chen – "Waiting for Your Love"
Anita Mui – "Love is Hard"'（相愛很難, (祝福)
Shirley Kwan – "Youngster No Love" (年少無情)
Coco Lee – (從頭到尾)
Sandy Lam – (日與夜)
Vivian Chow – (留住秋色)
Regine Velasquez – "In Love with You"
Cally Kwong – "Only Love Persists" (祇有情永在)
Karen Tong – "Miss Each Other in the Wind & Rain" (相思風雨中)
Vivian Lai – "Long Flow, Never Rests" (長流不息)
He Ruhui – (似曾相識)
Francesca Kao – "You're the Most Precious"
Karen Tong – (情濃半生)
Chen Jia Lu – (花與琴的流星(雪狼湖)), (愛狼說(雪狼湖))
In 1997, his work on the groundbreaking Cantonese Broadway-style musical Snow.Wolf.Lake was enthusiastically received by both audiences and critics. Cheung not only played the male lead, he was also the artistic director for this production. The first female leads were played by Sandy Lam in Hong Kong and Nadia Chan in Singapore. Kit Chan played the second female lead. They achieved 42 consecutive full-house performances at the gigantic Hung Hom Hong Kong Coliseum which remains the record today. In November 2004, Cheung and his concert manager, Florence Chan Suk-fan, worked on a revised Mandarin version of Snow.Wolf.Lake so as to bring it to a wider audience. The female leads this time were Evonne Hsu and Nadia Chan respectively. The market budget alone exceeded HK$15 million. The estimated budget for this revised production was HK$100 million and the show premiered on 24 December 2004 in Beijing.
While Cheung is known for his singing, he has also acted in many films. He received the Best Supporting Actor award in the 8th Hong Kong Film Awards for his work in As Tears Go By (1988) as well as the Best Supporting Actor Golden Horse Award for his work in The_Swordsman_(1990_film) (1990). That same year he also collaborated with John Woo and Tony Leung in the film Bullet in the Head. For his work in July Rhapsody, he also received the Best Actor Award at the New Delhi Film Festival for his portrayal of the protagonist role. His song Perhaps Love, which serves as the theme song for the multi-award-winning film Perhaps Love, also won the Best Song Award at the 2005 Hong Kong Film Award and the CASH Best Song Award at the 2005/2006 CASH Gold Sail Music Awards. He also starred in Taiwanese mini-series called Love Scar with F4 member Jerry Yan and Karen Mok, where he acted as Jerry Yan's older brother.
In the 2004 released and Wong Ching-po directed triads drama film, Jiang Hu, Cheung played the role of Lefty, the best friend and right-hand man of a crime boss, Hung Yan Chau, who is played by Andy Lau. The film includes several actors from the cast of Infernal Affairs. As of August 2013, he is one of a handful of Chinese singer-actors who have never starred in a television drama.
Cheung was named the spokesperson for Hong Kong Disneyland in 2004. He took part in a number of large-scale marketing events organised by The Walt Disney Company and Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, beginning with the hosting of a TV program, Magical World of Disneyland. He recorded a multi-lingual song for Hong Kong Disneyland, entitled One. The music video for One was filmed at Hong Kong Disneyland. He also recorded for the Hong Kong Disneyland: The Grand Opening Celebration Album.
In December 2006, Cheung performed live the theme song "Together Now" at the Opening Ceremony of the 15th Asian Games in Doha, Qatar. He was introduced as "the most popular Asian performer in the world".
In 2010, Cheung, Jane Zhang, and K'naan sang a Mandarin version of "Wavin' Flag (The Celebration Mix)" for the 2010 Fifa World Cup.
In 2012, Cheung sang "中国节拍·震动世界", the cheering song of China for the 2012 London Olympics.
On 15 February 1996 in London, he married Hong Kong actress May Lo Mei-mei, with whom he has two daughters. Cheung is also nicknamed "God of Songs" (歌神), and he is the second person to hold this title, after former Cantopop singer Sam Hui. In an interview with Ray Cordeiro (Uncle Ray), Cheung stated that the title was more appropriate for Hui than for him, even when his singing ability is not the best, since he actually wrote and popularised Cantopop songs. He also informally asked Eason Chan, the successor to the title of "God of Songs" (by phonetic similarity) and a fan of his, to be his "Master" because Chan had received proper qualification in music and vocal training in England, but Cheung never had.
He is a Buddhist and a vegetarian.
In March 2009 he became the first Cantopop/Mandopop artist to contribute items to the Hard Rock franchise memorabilia collection. Items are to be exhibited at the Hard Rock hotel in Macau. A joint donation is also made to donate HK$600,000 to the Children's Cancer Foundation and ORBIS Macau. In September 2009, Cheung, was one of the super ambassadors of End Child Sexual Abuse Foundation (ECSAF) founded by Josephine Siao; he attended the charity fundraising event for ECSAF's 10th anniversary in Hong Kong.
IFPI Gold Disc Award1989 87'演唱會 Polygram
1990 絲絲記憶精選 Polygram
IFPI Platinum Disc Award1985 Smile Polygram
1986 遙遠的她 Polygram
1987 相愛 Polygram
1987 Jacky Polygram
1988 昨夜夢魂中 Polygram
1990 給我親愛的 Polygram
1990 祇願一生愛一人 Polygram
IFPI Top 10 Sales Album2003 Where is he 他在那裡 What's Music
2004 Black & White What's Music
2005 活出生命 Live 演唱會 What's Music
IFPI Top 10 Sales Artist2005
IFPI Top Sales Album2005 活出生命 Live 演唱會 What's Music