One of the world’s greatest entertainers, the king of pop, Michael Jackson, has passed on. He was 50.
Arguably one of music’s greatest innovators, he revolutionized the way music is delivered and provided a stage persona like none other, bridging the gap that was, at the time, firmly wedged between traditional rhythm and blues and the pop world. As a young child, my father introduced me to the tunes of a young Michael, the dynamic fireball who got his start fronting family band The Jackson Five…and from the first flick of the needle, I was mesmerized.
Since then, my father and I watched countless bits of footage of his precocious pop sensibility, his slick sliding of the feet, and the remarkable way, at just age 10, he could pull off the pinky ring and brilliant ‘fro. From there, my Mum often would detail the exact moments in which she first saw him perform “Billie Jean” live, in 1983, as a solo artist; the night he paused, turned toward side stage, and slid his shoes across what felt like a mile of stage.
And his music comforted me as a young girl. I wore out my Jackson 5 cassette tapes, which I’d play on repeat via a little boom box which sat on the floor of my bedroom, the accompaniment to an afternoon playing Barbies–all of who could dance the moonwalk in their own right.
Now, all I have is a few 45s to spin; the epic single “Billie Jean”, off the astounding and epic record Thriller (which garnered 7 out of 9 tracks total as Top 10 hits), released in 1982 and minted beautifully in cherry red vinyl..and the Jackson 5 classics, all on the Motown imprint–some warped from overplay so badly they’ll, for ever now, have to remain in sleeve.
So I write this in honor of my Pa, who introduced me to the king of pop’s tunes and who died at age 50, just as Michael did, and to the tunes that cemented my love for music as a child. And to those Barbies of mine, who sit in a crate somewhere in my Mum’s basement–they are undoubtedly doing a musty moonwalk in honor of the man, tonight, too.
You will be missed.
[The Jackson Five – The Love You Save (live, accapella).]
[The Jackson Five – I Want You Back (live, Goin’ Back to Indiana Special).]
[Michael Jackson unveils the moonwalk and “Billie Jean”, March 25, 1983, at 25: Motown.]