Today’s death of Michael Jackson, though sad and, in a lot of ways tragic, leaves me with mixed feelings. Although I’ve been disgusted with Mr. Jackson’s behaviour over the last decade or so, his talent and innovation were undeniable.
I clearly remember his performance on the Motown 25 TV special in 1983 and how impressed I was even though I didn’t listen to mainstream pop music or enjoy Motown TV specials. The last time I had seen him he was still lashed to the Jackson 5 and fast becoming a has-been so this was a remarkable ressurection and completely unexpected. But as the years passed and his star diminished with bizarre behaviour and various legal problems I was suprised that I felt anything at all when I heard of his death this afternoon.
Michael Jackson had transcended typical celebrity and fame to become part of our lives whether we liked it or not and his passing will no doubt have a variety of effects depending on age and musical tastes. He was, for a period, an absolute musical power and eclipsed and inspired the careers of many pop artists of his time and in the future.
I admit that I never purchased his ‘Thriller’ album or any other of his recordings but his music was ubiquitous whether we liked it or not. He invented the present music video and contributed to a dance, music production, marketing and other aspects of the business but was obviously haunted by a variety of demons. He became eccentric (a word we use for famous and wealthy people that are completely nuts) and destroyed his reputation and legacy although a vast contingent still adored and idolized him no matter what stupidity he became immersed in.
I won’t miss Michael Jackson the pederast and drug addict but rather his contributions to my life when he was at the top of his game. His music reminds me of my life in Victoria, my girlfriend at the time (who would succumb to MS in 2000), my job, my fellow employees, youth and all the joys and pitfalls of my 20’s.
His music was present at parties, nightclubs, on radios, in elevators and and as a result became part of the soundtrack of my life during the early and mid eighties. So it’s not Michael Jackson the human being or ‘king of pop’ celebrity trainwreck that I’ll miss but his music that attached itself to specific moments of my life. I have no doubt that many, many other people will feel the same way when they hear of his death.