With the death of Farrah Fawcett, the entire world was in for another surprise shock when Michael Jackson suddenly died Thursday at the age of 50. Jackson was in the process of a comeback tour in London when it happened. It has been stated so far that it may have been cardiac arrest following a collapse, and that prescription drugs may also play a part in it. But so far, it has been speculation at the moment, as the investigation is still ongoing, and an autopsy was scheduled yesterday.
Jackson, one of nine children, was born in the steeltown Gary, Indiana. In the 1970s, he and his brothers hit teen idol status as the Jackson 5 with classics such as “I Want You Back” and “ABC”, both of which went to #1. They were in commercials and even had their own Saturday morning cartoon show. After leaving Motown, the group took control of their music and career when they signed with Epic Records, but as he reached adulthood, Michael wanted to break out on his own.
In 1979, he partnered with the legendary Quincy Jones, with his first solo album Off The Wall. The album spawned the #1 hits “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” and “Rock With You”, which led things to come for Jackson in the 1980s and beyond – thanks to Thriller (1982). After seeing the 1981 horror classic An American Werewolf in London, he enlisted director John Landis to shoot the 13-minute music video of the title song. Thriller went to #1 and went to become one of the biggest albums of all time – spawning multiple Top 10 hits. Songs such as “Billie Jean” and “Beat It” were a groundbreaking mixture of rock, pop, R&B, and soul.
With the hat, one hand glove, and the legendary Moonwalk, Thriller proclaim Michael Jackson’s eternal reign as the King of Pop.
“To this day, the music we created together on Off The Wall, Thriller, and Bad is played in every corner in the world and the reason for that is because he had it all… talent, grace, professionalism and dedication. He was the consummate entertainer and his contributions and legacy will be felt upon the world forever. I’ve lost my brother today, and part of my soul has gone with him” – Quincy Jones (TV Guide)
His next album, 1988’s Bad, kept his momentum going with songs such as the title track, “Man in the Mirror”, and “Smooth Criminal”. The video for Bad was directed by Martin Scorsese and starred a young Wesley Snipes.
“When we worked together on ‘Bad’, I was in awe of his absolute mastery of movement on the one hand, and of the music on the other. Every step he took was absolutely precise and fluid at the same time. It was like watching quicksilver in motion. He was wonderful to work with, an absolute professional at times, and – it really goes without saying – a true artist. It will be a while before I can get used to the idea that he’s no longer with us” – Martin Scorsese
By the 1990s and 2000s, the King of Pop’s career took a backseat due to his so-called controversial personal life. The press dubbed him “Wacko Jacko”, as allegations of sexually abusing children were made that would follow him until his unexpected death. Jackson always claimed his innocence, and stated in interviews that he does have sleepovers with children at his Neverland ranch but that they were innocent and pure. He married Lisa Marie Presley in 1994, and the couple appeared together in the video, “You Are Not Alone”; the marriage lasted almost two years.
“I am so very sad and confused with every emotion possible. I am heartbroken for his children, who I know were everything to him, and for his family. This is such a massive loss on so many levels; words fail me” – Lisa Marie Presley
Shortly after, Michael met and briefly married Debbie Rowe, with whom he had two children: son Michael Joseph Jackson, Jr. and daughter Paris Michael Katherine Jackson. He also had a third child in 2002, Prince Michael Jackson II (Blanket), via artificial insemination from a surrogate mother and his own sperm cells.
Fans paid tribute outside the Apollo Theatre in New York Thursday night when news broke at the same time around Farrah Fawcett’s death. Michael Jackson broke down walls and barriers as he brought diversity in the early stages of MTV where there were no music videos from African-Americans artists during that time. Like the Beatles, he and his brothers pave the way for the Osmonds, New Edition, Justin Timberlake, Usher, and several artists and groups over the years ahead.
Michael Jackson made us laugh, made us cry, made us scream, and made us think. He changed the face of popular music and left an undeniable mark on the world that will never be scratched – because as there’ll be one King of Rock and Roll (Elvis), and there’ll always be one King of Pop, and that is Michael Jackson.
May he long live through his music and through our lives forever.