Posted by Rojas @ 6:34 pm on June 25th 2009

Michael Jackson dead at 50

The first album I owned, as an eleven year old, was Michael Jackson’s Thriller. I am not convinced that I have ever owned a better one.

I don’t know that anyone born after 1975 can have any idea of just how big a star Michael Jackson was in his prime. In 1983 and 1984, MJ achieved a level of celebrity that might be unequalled by any other entertainer in the history of the planet. Perhaps you could make a case for Michael Jordan at his absolute peak, or maybe Sinatra or Elvis at theirs.

At that time, Jackson was not yet a freak. He was eccentric, true; he had the hyperbaric oxygen chamber to sleep in and a Chimpanzee named Bubbles. What he also had was a once-in-a-generation combination of singing, writing, and dancing talent, backed up by the man I still consider to be the best pure producer in rock history, Quincy Jones. And so, a man who craved privacy more than anything else launched himself to a level of stardom that made that privacy impossible. He became inescapable at a time when he himself desperately desired to escape.

It broke him, of course. Shattered his psyche at a fundamental level; rendered the man who was once the most adulated man on the planet to a spectacle of public ridicule; more or less destroyed the quality of his work. There are, weirdly, some parallels between the careers of Michael Jackson and Hunter S. Thompson. Both were incandescent, unstoppable forces in their genres, but neither was anywhere near prepared to handle the success that they were certain to attain.

It’s a damn shame. But I suspect that the memory of the young Jackson, carrying forward the best traditions of Motown, will remain after the freak has faded. RIP.


  1. His real music was funky and timeless and I am glad we had him.

    Comment by Jerrod — 6/25/2009 @ 11:26 pm

  2. He was a troubled soul and a phenomenal talent and it took me by surprise how saddened I was to hear about his death.

    Comment by Liz — 6/26/2009 @ 12:01 am

  3. For some reason the tragic death of a teenage Iranian girl named Neda, who was among multitudes seeking justice, bothers me more that the unsurprising demise of a narcissistic superstar. Call me old-fashioned.

    Comment by James — 6/26/2009 @ 2:06 am

  4. Well yes, absolutely: Neda’s death, and the death of all the other Iranian protesters, is certainly more tragic and worthy of our attention. They are not mutually exclusive. Human nature causes all of us, except you I guess, to react more to the death of people with whom we are familiar. And seriously, MJ’s death was suprising. Aside from his face, his physical health seemed fine, he was active and energetic.

    Comment by Jack — 6/26/2009 @ 11:07 am

  5. With the Iranian regime now claiming that the CIA killed Neda, perhaps we should look into whether the Revolutionary Guards killed MJ.

    Comment by Rojas — 6/26/2009 @ 11:54 am

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