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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Michael Jackson 1958-2009

In the 50s, there was Elvis. In the 60s, there were The Beatles. In the 70s, there was really no one. It wasn't until the 80s that another legend graced our radio and television. Michael Jackson had landed and soon became the "King of Pop". With the release of Thriller and the rise of MTV, the man changed music like Elvis and The Beatles before him.

Jackson died today at 50. Shocking news for sure. He leaves a legacy that at times was controversial. He definitely had a fall from the top in the early 90s. It's hard not to overlook all his accusations of pedophilia, but at the same time it's hard not to recognize the man's extraordinary talent.

For what it's worth, I'm going to remember him for all the music he gave us. I actually liked Michael Jackson when I was a kid. I remember being obsessed with the song "Black Or White". I used to sing it (poorly) and dance around (also poorly). That's how much influence he had.

Jackson's career is one that will be never duplicated. He was one of those rare talents that people saw grow up. He got his start in the 70s with his four brothers, Jackie, Jermaine, Tito, and Marlon as the Jackson Five. Clearly the star, he started a solo career that became iconic.

He changed the landscape of music in the 80s. In 1982, he released Thriller, which was not only a phenomenal album, but the music videos off the album were incomparable. The title track's video is arguably the greatest ever produced. "Beat It" and "Billie Jean" also have stood the test of time. Say what you will, but it's actually a great album. It won an amazing 8 Grammys including Album of the Year. It has sold over a 100 million copies worldwide. It's arguably the quintessential album of the decade.

He cemented his legacy even more with the famous moonwalk during the Motown 25 show in 1983. He was literally the "King of Pop". With his longtime producer, Quincy Jones, and Lionel Richie, he also co-wrote the charity single, "We Are the World". Nearly 20 million copies were sold and millions of dollars were donated to famine relief.

He followed Thriller's success with Bad (1987) and Dangerous (1991) before his fall from grace. And, sadly the boy the world fell in love with, really fell hard. Jackson's skin continually got lighter and lighter until he was pale white. His nose got smaller and smaller. The guy got plastic surgery galore. In 1993, he was first accused of child sexual abuse. It didn't end there. At the start of this decade, he went on trial for child sexual abuse. In 2005, he was acquitted of all charges, but let's be honest. It's hard to believe his innocence.

I personally like to remember Michael prior to 1993. I plan to remember the legend for what he gave us from the young boy dancing and singing with his brothers to the young man doing the moonwalk with the one glove. He was one of a kind.

In a lot of ways, his premature death ranks up their with other musical legends such as Elvis Presley and John Lennon. And, I don't usually associate too many people with those two men. As screwed up as he was, Jackson was that special.

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