Thursday, June 25, 2009


The biggest music story since the Lennon murder and the story that will overwhelm us for the next few weeks. Maybe, the most recognizable face on the planet. Along with Elvis and The Beatles, Michael Jackson influenced not only music but culture. MTV was never the same after him, his dance moves and ground breaking videos paved the way for a completely new generation of performers. KY 102 in Kansas City played "Beat It", over the tumultuous objections of the masses. We would have never ever considered any other artist of that pop genre. I started listening to him and his brothers in the summer of 1970. "The Love You Save" blasted out over the crackling AM radio waves from cities far away. Then "ABC", "I'll Be There", "Never Can Say Goodbye" and "Ben' From 1972 to 1979, his career didn't shine so brightly. In 1979, "Off the Wall" was about as good as it got. It got better in 1982. "Thriller" has sold 45,000,000 copies and is one of the best selling albums of all time. He released "Bad" and then it all went south. Constant surgeries, weirdness and charges of child molestation tarnished all he accomplished and made him seem down right creepy. Like Van Gogh, he crossed the fence from being crazy to a genius consistently. I could not ever imagine growing up like that, having been pushed and manipulated to an exponential degree. We wonder why he was "eccentric".
I feel more bummed and sad than I thought I would. Yes, I know he's been accused of some heinous crimes. He was one of the more strange men on the planet. He was also quite the performer. I saw him and his brothers at Arrowhead in 1984. They were all about one inch tall, that's how far away the seats were. I'll never forget that night because it was the first night of the reunion tour. I brought my niece and a friend's daughter. They squealed.
From Elvis, to The Beatles, to Michael Jackson. This is one of those moments in your life that you will remember exactly where you were when you heard the news. I was prepping for the show when the local sales manager said .."you won't need any show prep, Michael Jackson just died." I tried to get it confirmed before I went on the air. TMZ had it, no one else. I interviewed the author of "Etta", a story of Etta Place, the girlfriend of The Sundance Kid, played a game, talked about what a weird day it was, then at about 5:27, it broke on the national news and I announced it. Still find it difficult to comprehend. Someone somewhere today put it like this: "The only thing that can eclipse the strangeness of the last 20 years of his life...was the pure genius that was Off The Wall and Thriller."

One of my favorite songs by him:


Anonymous said...

Genius, really? Michael Jackson was a freak, period. Granted, he had talent; mostly moves, and his moves propelled him to such a high level of popularity. King of pop? No, maybe master manipulator of pop culture. Would the entertainment industry have been the same without him? I would venture to say it might have been better. Perhaps, without Michael Jackson, the music industry would be more based on musical talent, and less on dance moves and freaky behavior.

Any life, lost, is sad. My condolences go out to the Jackson family and his loyal followers. I may be the only one, but I will not miss him and believe his contributions to the entertainment industry have been far too overrated.

RR said...

and it's your right to say that. His personal life was a wreck and as I stated, he probably did some things that were pretty heinous.Back, having been in the music business since 1976, I think I can apeak pretty honestly about his contribution to MUSIC, not society. I'll go back to before then when "Thriller" and "Off The Wall" were released. Masterpieces, both of them. Thanks for stating your views on my blog. It is appreciated. YOu have you opinon, I have mine.

Brian Holland said...

Don't you just love these people who post negative comments and don't even have the stones to sign their name to them? I've ceased approving anonymous comments on on my blog like that one above.

When the radio and WHB became my constant companion when I was six years old or so, "I'll Be There" was one of my favorites. So was "Never Can Say Goodbye"--Michael's lead vocals and his brothers' harmonies elevated those songs to the stratosphere. While it's sad that he's gone now, it's as if he's been gone for quite some time now--I think we lost the REAL Michael Jackson about 20 years ago--and I find that even sadder.

barbinkc said...

Weird behavior, sure, but this was an extremely shy man who dealt with enormous pressures in the spotlight from a very young age. I don't know if he was innocent or guilty. I can only say what my take was on the man. I think he was trying very hard to create some sort of childhood for himself that he never had. I think he was so extremely shy (and having shyness myself, I can relate) that he simply could not handle the enormous fame (and lack of privacy) that he lived with from a small child. I think in many ways he was exploited (including the child molestation charges - easy target, tons of $$$). I think his obsession with children came out of trying to create a childhood for himself moreso than deviant sexual behavior. I could be wrong, but that's the way my gut has gone on this issue. All that aside, he did make a tremendous mark on the music industry, as is exemplified by the massive amount of people who are mourning his death all across the globe. It is John Lennon's death all over again. (If you doubt me, dig up some footage from his death. People mourned all over the globe.) Randy is right, you are entitled to your opinion. I don't happen to agree with it.

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