My first concert ever was a Michael Jackson Concert. It was just me an my dad at The Great Western Forum and I was probably about 6 so I’m guessing it was the Bad tour. I was too young to really know what I was seeing but it definitely made an impact. My memory is hazy but I know my dad and I stood at the railing, my earplugs in place, and I just stared at the stage.
“Beat It” get the Weird Al treatment and “Eat It” pushes MJ further into my consciousness although I am still more familiar with him as a celebrity than I am with his music.
Dangerous is released. I am 9 years old. This is epic. “Black or White” spawns a million playground jokes about his skin color. My friend Brian has a “Black or White” parody on their answering machine. Something about how anyone can leave a message, it don’t mater if you are… well you get it. Awesome.
All the child molestation stuff comes out and I guess I just assumed he was “Wacko Jacko” and had been getting pervy with kids. A kid in my class says he knows one of the boys suing MJ. Coming from this kid the whole thing now seems less credible. But what do I care, I just drive by Neverland, I don’t sleep there.
MJ’s marriage to Lisa Marie Presley furthers my opinion of him as a weirdo. To me he is still more of a joke than a legend. Second marriage to that weird lady doesn’t help.
Alien Ant Farm cover “Smooth Criminal” and it takes me over. Every time it comes on KROQ I crank it and rock out to the max. I am inspired to go back and give MJ chance as an artist, not just as “wacko Jacko.”
“Billie Jean” becomes my go-to MJ song and I realize that if he can create a perfect song like that then he is clearly more than just tabloid fodder. More and more of his songs make their way into mu iTunes.
I see the Jackson 5 tribute show at Madison Square Garden in NYC. The highlight of the night is MJ’s performance. He is just breathtaking to see perform live. He makes it through only a few songs before a split seam up his backside sends him offstage. Whatever, it was epic. The date was September 10th, 2001. The next morning I am unknowingly on the last train out of the city as I head back to campus. Thoughts of the show are quickly overshadowed but I can still remember how amazing it was to see him move.
The Martin Bashir interviews air and it is clear that MJ is just a boy trapped in a man’s body. A boy who never had a childhood and never grew up. Suddenly his “molestation” incidents seem much more like innocent child’s play than anything predatory. He just has so much love for the world and never learned how to show it. I feel for him.
I am walking to get dinner in San Francisco with my friend Joe and we are catching up on old times when he suddenly interrupts me to blurt out that “The King Of Pop is dead.” I am stunned. Stunned that he is dead and stunned that he was 50. It was just 8 years ago that I had seen him dance, and I mean DANCE! Wow. What an amazing man. You gave the world so much and it rarely repaid you. You deserved better. I hope you know how much love the we all have for you. May you finally find peace.