Friday, June 26, 2009

Michael Joseph Jackson 1958-2009

Yesterday was one of those days in history on which you will remember where you were, what you were doing when you heard the news. I was on my way to seeRebel Starr at their Listening Party. I was on an el train when suddenly, everyone's cell phones began to ring, including mine. Michael Jackson had been rushed to UCLA Medical Center in cardiac arrest. An ambulance crew was seen to be performing CPR as they wheeled Michael into the ER. All the passengers were riveted to their phones as updates came in. Finally, as we approached the Williamsburg Bridge, it was confirmed that Michael Jackson had, in fact, pased away at age 50. A collective outpouring of grief swept through our little subway car. A musical icon we'd known and listened to all our lives, was gone.

Michael Joseph Jackson was born on August 29, 1958 in Gary, Indiana. His musical career began in 1969 when Michael and his brothers formed the Jackson 5 and appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show. In 1971, a year after the Ed Sillvan appearance, Michael released his first solo album (pictured). This was the beginning of a career in which he would go on to record the biggest selling album in history, Thriller, with an accompanying 20-minute music video which rocked the world, and was a milestone in the then-new genre of music presentation. Michael redefined the style and substance of pop music and became a globally recognizable entertainer. In 1978, he starred with several iconic personalities, includingDiana Ross, Richard Pryor, Nipsey Russell, and the incomparable Lena Horne, in the movie adaptation of Broadway's "The Wiz". During 1979, Michael earned even greater fame with Off The Wall followed by Thriller, Bad, Dangerous, HIStory Book I, Blood On The Dance Floor, Invincible, and his final album, Number Ones, released in 2003.

In the years following the release of Thriller, Jackson's life became turbulent, as he underwent radical changes in his appearance and behavior. His numerous legal troubles dogged him until the end of his life, but Michael didn't let that stop him. At the time of his death, he was preparing to embark on a 50-show comeback tour in London, UK. A parallel release of a new album was also scheduled for next month, but all that changed when the music stopped for us and for Michael Jackson. An American icon has passed from among us. I will remember him as very definitely an important part of the soundtrack of my life. Rest In Peace, Mike.

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