R.I.P. Michael Jackson (August 29, 1958 – June 25, 2009)…
So the long saga, sometimes thrilling, sometimes not so much so, has come to a premature end. The talent of the self proclaimed King of Pop is undeniable. While his tabloid lifestyle dominated the later part of his life, it is not my intention herein to question the whys and wherefores. Whether you considered him a freak or a genius, I shall leave the non musical flotsam and jetsam of his life to those more knowledgeable than I to debate.
Jackson, who was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1984, dominated the pop landscape during the 80’s in a way that few, if any, had before or have done since. As a solo artist he had a total of 13 number one Billboard Hot 100 hits, including 3 during 1983 alone (yeah, they were from THAT album). His first number one was a love song to a rat that went by the name of Ben (1972). His last was You Are Not Alone (1995) from his double cd HIStory.
Thirteen more number ones on the Billboard R&B charts, 29 Top 10 Hot 100 its. During his heyday, high profile guitarists Eddie Van Halen (Beat It) and Steve Stevens (Dirty Dianna) added their considerable guitar prowess to the proceedings. Sir Paul McCartney sang a duet with MJ on Say Say Say, one of those three aforementioned number ones achieved during that heady year 1983. Not to shabby for any artist.
Then there was Thriller. The world wide number one selling album of all time which, to date, has sold in excess of 100 million copies. That’s a lot of damned zeros folks; and it will only go up in the days and weeks to come.
Admittedly Michael started to loose me the night I sat in anticipation of the video premiere for his then current single Black Or White. The song itself was quite good; very catchy even. But when the main part of the video ended and Michael went on a rampage in a city street, smashing car windows, “Hooooooooooooo”ing here and there, with no apparent rhyme nor reason, well, it just reeked of being controversial for controversy sake.
I understand and appreciate that sometimes you have to shock to get your point across, but, for the life of me, I just can’t figure out what the hell his point was. Apparently, neither could he since the very next day he made a public apology following the world wide uproar that followed. While I never followed Michael that closely at the best of times, I believe that was the one and only time the full video was played on the public airwaves.
The first time I heard a young Michael singing was when he performed “ABC” with his brothers in The Jackson Five. I still love that song.
So rest in peace MJ. Visionary, humanitarian, freak? From today and moving forward none of that should matter. At the end of it all, the only thing that any artist can truly hope is that their art stands the test of time, long after they are gone.
On that point alone I don’t think Michael Jackson has anything to worry about.