Thursday, June 25, 2009


A music legend. A tragic figure. An American icon. What more can we say? For better or for worse, Michael Jackson will be missed.

I'll never forget the impact that Thriller had on my young existence in 1983. I had just moved Upstate with my father from Long Island, and quickly made friends with some of the kids who lived in the Village Gardens condominiums where Dad called home back then. All these kids would listen to was Michael's 1982 breakthrough masterpiece, and I was quick to fall prey to those unbelievably funky grooves Quincy Jones had thrown down for the gloved one. The minute Eddie Van Halen's dropped that immortal riff on "Beat It", I was hooked. Then you had "PYT", "Human Nature", "Thriller", "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'"...Then he dropped another bomb with Bad and clobbered us with even more smashes--"Dirty Diana", "Man in the Mirror", "Smooth Criminal", "The Way You Make Me Feel" and, of course, that unforgettable title track with the video so lovingly pariodied by Weird Al Yankovic and immortalized in the Martin Scorsese-directed long-form video shot on location in NYC.

Sure, Michael later on in life was one weird bastard who had some major skeletons in his closet that certainly left many of us who grew up on Off The Wall, Thriller and Bad second guessing our allegiance to his throne as the King of Pop. But the news of his death still peirces the heart of that nine-year-old boy this writer once was 27 years ago, the one who tried so valiantly to mimic Jackson's iconic moonwalk to impress the pretty girls sitting by the diving boards at the Ulster County pool.

Many people watching the coverage of Michael's sudden death at UCLA Hospital of an apparent cardiac arrest at the all-too-young age of 50 tonight are no doubt conflicted by their awe of the boy who grew up before our very eyes and provided us with so much hot music spanning nearly 40 years and the disgust of the misunderstood man branded a chimp lover, a child molester and a plastic surgery disaster on the world stage.

But regardless of where you stand in your opinion of Mr. Jackson, you know damn well that when his music comes out of those speakers, you're the same dancin' fool you were when you first heard the King of Pop.

Rest in peace, Michael. -Ed.

Michael Jackson at the Motown 25 Special:

"Smooth Criminal"

Jackson 5 on the Carol Burnett Show:

Michael live with his brothers on The Jacksons' 1984 Victory Tour:

"She's Out of My Life"

Jarvis Cocker taking the piss out of Michael Jackson's performance of "Earth Song" at the 1996 BRIT Awards:

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