King of Pop Michael Jackson dead at 50

Posted on 25 Jun 2009 at 5:34pm
How I would prefer to remember him.
How I would prefer to remember him.

The news came via a Facebook post that Michael Jackson died. The time was about a quarter to five but a quick check on CNN.com said that he was hospitalized in Los Angeles. TMZ had reported his death around the same time, but who really considers them a viable source? CNN was careful with their coverage — frustratingly careful. As other sources kept mentioning his death, CNN graduated Jackson’s status to comatose. The L.A. Times reported at 5:15 CST he had died.

A true pop icon is gone. This is this generation’s Elvis Presley — now leaving the earth in tragic fashion. Despite the last couple of decades when Jackson lived an eccentric existence, complete with face masks, dangling babies and lawsuits, his musical genius was never denied. And could never be denied.

His career is legendary but for those living under a rock, his timeline from child star to teen idol to the King of Pop and then his downward spiral (with different faces to go with each phase) can be found here.

The Jacksons Victory Tour was my first concert at Texas Stadium. Eddie Van Halen showed up to perform his “Beat It” solo. It was earth-shattering. I had become a Jackson fanatic and was never embarrassed to admit that I had a cool vinyl Thriller jacket as part of my middle school wardrobe. His albums and singles and goofy memorabilia (yes, I had the MJ dolls with removable gloves) cluttered my room because not only was “Thriller” the biggest record at the time, it really was a moment of genius that transcended genres and moved me … and the world.

Go back and listen to and watch “Billie Jean.” Its undeniable brilliance from its suspenseful lyrics to its innovative beat to the noir-ish video is unparalleled save maybe for fellow 80s megastar Prince. Madonna had not yet reached her artistic potential to compare. This song alone could have shaped a new musical era in the time but the power behind the entire album imprinted his style into pop music now. Usher and Justin, anybody?

Today is a sad day. It’s a shame his life was tainted by controversy and flat out weirdness, but hopefully he will be remembered for his truly awesome talent and the impact he had on the world.

And for a goofy kid growing up in Mesquite that was willing to wear that jacket, he was a hero.

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