Thursday, June 25, 2009

Remembering Michael Jackson

It’s often said that death comes in threes. This week, the entertainment world lost three beloved figures -- Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson.

RIP King of Pop: Michael Jackson circa 1984

Like everyone else, I was shocked to hear the news today of Michael’s passing from cardiac arrest at the age of 50. As seminal images from his life flashed across the TV, I couldn’t help thinking about my own memories of him.

I was just eight years old when Michael reached the apex of his stardom with the release of “Thriller.” I remember covering my bedroom wall with posters of him, and excitedly buying a sequined glove and the “Beat It” zippered jacket.

All About Michael: Wearing a Jacksons t-shirt and sequined glove in front of my Michael-themed wall, summer 1984

I also recall tuning in with my cousins for Michael’s iconic performance of “Billie Jean” on the Motown 25 Anniversary special. We also memorized his “Thriller” routine, dancing every single step of it together while watching the video again and again.

I had the good fortune to be at the September 2001 tribute concert celebrating Michael at Madison Square Garden. He only took the stage briefly, with his brothers in tow, but I’ll never forget it. As a performer, no one could top him.

It’s fair to say that, in recent years, Michael was known more for his personal dramas than his music. Whatever his idiosyncrasies may have been, though, he left an indelible mark on those of us who grew up listening to him.

In his biography of another legendary musician--Frank Sinatra--Pete Hamill wrote the following:

“In their work, all great artists help transcend the solitude of individuals…they supply a partial response to the urging of writer E.M. Forster: ‘Only Connect.’ ”

Like Old Blue Eyes, that’s exactly what Michael did. Rest in peace, King of Pop.

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