Tuesday, July 07, 2009

ode to mj

On Thursday, June 25, 2009 at 2:26 PM pacific standard time, Michael Jackson was pronounced dead at the UCLA medical center after having a heart attack in his home in the Belair section of Los Angeles and inordinate attempts to revive him at the age of 50. His death is a loss to the entertainment industry and the world at large.

Michael Joseph Jackson was born and raised in the mostly black urban area of Gary, Indiana. It was this meager beginning that may have lead to story behind his greatness and future ups and downs emotional since he was selected to hold in title his father’s name. He was the last born of seven children but was always the star when he started his musical career as a child with his family forming the Jackson 5. His childhood was not that of the average child. While kids his age were out playing and living lives as children do, he was working, mastering his craft as many great prodigal seeds have done historically.

The Jackson 5 was formed in 1964, but did not suppurate the attention and dedicated following it would attain until 1968 when the group was discovered by Bobby Taylor of Bobby Taylor and The Vancouver’s while the group performed on the regional club scene. From there they were introduced to and received the chance to audition for Berry Gordy of Motown.

Michael Jackson was not just the average entertainer, he was the case for exception for he was an indescribable talent that was encompassed in the form of the great singer and showman and dancer – without a doubt he was the best. For people such as me, it is impractical to accept his death and describe the loss of such a creative genius for I was born under his influence. It was first through the blue labeled Motown record 45’s that I would play on my component set as a kid, and later through television, where I remember the first time I saw him and his brothers outside the covers of Ebony and Jet Magazines on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1969. I can still lucidly see that purple Brim he wore while moving fluidly to the music while he and his brothers sang “One More Chance”.

The first four released singles of the Jackson 5, "I Want You Back", "ABC", "The Love You Save", and "I'll Be There" all were US No1 hits. To this date I remember them all and know ever word to each song and others. As a child growing up in Memphis, seem like all the boys in his age group wanted to be like him. He received a lot of love from young girls in elementary and junior high schools, but the truth of the matter that most of them had major crushes on his brothers, Marlon and Jermaine. Even still, we all wore big afros and puff sleeved shirts with flapping collars like the Jackson 5.

Jackson was an eclectic performer and had [polished his craft at an early age given he had been performing since the age of five. With the Jackson 5, he recorded 14 albums under the Motown Banner. I saw the group once perform on the Cher show. All I can recall is them dancing, jamming in unison with their perfectly rounded Afro’s bouncing to each move, with Cher in the middle trying to maintain the beat, also with her version of the Afro.

When he started his solo career, it was as if instantly he was jettisoned as the greatest showman on earth. First there was Thriller in 1982. That album sold more than 7 million copies. No one in the current era has sold as many or seen such success from one album since.

With Thriller, Jackson turned the music video industry on its back. It was more of a short movie than a video. It was direct by John Landis and was the first epic video produced and played on networks the likes of BET and MTV of its kind. I still recant folks playing that video over and over again to learn the dance. The build up was so great that my father was just as excited to see it as I was being a junior at Morehouse at the time. But what really made the video for me, outside of its creative prowess was the presence of former Playboy model Ola Ray. The video was surprising also because at the time Jackson was a Jehovah’s Witness.

Critics proclaim it is or may be the greatest music video ever made. However, Jackson has a plethora of unique videos that like his musical and dance skills will go down in history among the greats. There was the “Jam” video which feather the youthful Kriss Kross, Michal Jordan and the lyrical presence of Heavy-D. There was also “Bad” in 1986 that should his appreciation for musicals for the dance scenes seemed to me to mimic one of my favorite musicals of all time – “Westside Story.” It did not hurt that the Album bad went six times platinum as well. But of all the videos he created, including Smooth Criminal, my all time favorite will be “You Rock My World.” The movie/video paid tribute and featured Marlon Brando and his classic 1954 movie “On the Water Front”. It included the noted Billy Drago, Michael Madsen and Chris Tucker.

His adventures were well documented for it seemed as if main stream media had a problem with not being able to predict or explain his actions or behavior. But such has been the tradition of a mainly Eurocentric press when dealing with successful and well know black men. Jackson knew this and felt it every day regardless of such attention being justified or not. From his personal friendships with Elizabeth Taylor and Diana Ross to his first failed marriage with Lisa Marie Pressely, to his admiration for a Chimpanzee named Bubbles that he dressed like himself, he only attracted questionable press from the main stream media.

Once while attending the Grammies, he took two dates: Brook Shields and the child star Emmanuel Lewis. Some speculate that this was what brought the extreme scrutiny to Jackson and his fondness of young male children. Anything Jackson said or did was ground for a feeding frenzy for the press. He was taunted for his self comparison to Peter Pan, the multiple corrective and cosmetic surgeries he had performed on his face with respect to his nose and skin and his attempt to purchase the bones of the famous Elephant Man in 1987. It is strange that these tend to be what is spoken about mostly, and how people forget the fire that burned him doing the filming of a commercial for Pepsi, or how his first surgery was conducted to repair a broken nose after he fail from the stage in 1979.

The persecution was so extreme that Jackson left the Jehovah’s Witness and reportedly joined the Nation of Islam under the leadership of Minister Farrakhan. Maybe it was all the attention. The civil suits and criminal allegations of child molestation that led to what may have increased the stress on his heart. I will not go into his supposed dependency and addiction to prescription pain killers for the main stream media has ridden that wave to the shore and beyond.

Michael Jackson was one of a kind and across the board, the stardom and success musically that he achieved will likely never be attained again with current generations. He single handedly bridge the gap for decades from James Brown – his childhood idol to the likes of Ne-Yo, Chris Brown and other R and B artist who use dance as a part of their entertainment performance package. His focus on detail and meticulous preparation is what made him standout form all other musicians maybe with the exception of Prince. His music for me as well as many of his generation could serve as a sound track of their life. He was also a kind and caring man. He opened the doors of his home to the poor and those who were less fortunate. He was also a humanitarian and philanthropist. In 1986 Jackson gave $1.5 million to set up the "Michael Jackson UNCF Endowed Scholarship Fund” to aid students majoring in performance arts.

I will never forget the first time I saw Michael Jackson. He was in Memphis with his brothers and they opened for the legendary James Brown at the Mid South Coliseum. He rocked it. That’s what I will remember about him most – the way in which he magically connect with his audience, no mater their age, race, creed or ethnicity. Yes, he is more than the one glove and red jacket; although he was the only performer I ever saw that could rock a bow tie and ankle beaters, it never was of major importance for he would give his all on stage no matter the circumstance. Never will there be another Michael Jackson. Never will there ever be a showman of his stature. He may have left this realm of the physical, but we will live in spirit via his music and dance forever in my mind. This will be true for each and every year, for I will continue to play the Jackson Five Christmas album and honor the man who as a child sang “Give love on Christmas Day”


msladydeborah said...

You rocked this!

Joey Pinkney said...

From one Memphian to another, Thank you. Thank you for highlighting Michael Jackson and his musical legacy. Thank you for highlighting his desire to give instead of take. (There aren't many stories floating around, if any, that he took some unsuspecting person to the cleaners.)

Thank you for respecting the person and loving his accomplishments, instead of the other way around. I'm so tired of people being fanatics to the point where they sound like they would cry more for him than if their grandma died.

Your blog post was refreshing...

ingridspeak said...

Thank you for this. There will be those who remember his troubles. I prefer to remember his genius.

tasha212 said...


Loved this post. MJ will certainly be remembered always.

Erin Michell said...


His Bad Tour was the first concert I attended!!! It was a great performance

Loc'd-n-Loaded said...

Great post! I will always love MJJ, he is the greatest entertainer that ever was. period.

Sheliza said...

What a nicely written post. I told my children they will never see another entertainer (EVER) like the Great Micheal Jackson.

BTW, I have not been commenting because I was having connection problems. Turns out I had to change internet browsers. Now I can get on your blog with no problems ;)

ChocolateOrchid said...

Hey Raw Dawg!

Great ode to mj post!!
Loves it!

Shannon said...

Beautifully written!

News Revolver said...

Michael was a special person and touched the lives of many, as was evident in the way he was mourned. I never paid much attention to the allegations that he's faced over the years, but focused on his talents and how he single-handedly shaped the music industry. Bruh will be missed!

neshia said...


KELSO'S NUTS said...

THE LOVE YOU SAVE was the anthem of my elemenatry school years and is still one of my favorite songs.

Everything through THRILLER was top-shelf in my opinion although the success of THRILLER had the adverse effect of changing the A & R model such that all label money was directed at one or two acts and that high volatility strategy meant all sense of artist development and career path was lost for a long while. From quality acts such as Gregory Abbott in R & B and Soul Asylum in rock.

It was not until NWA's and Nirvana's breakthroughs for Ted Field and David Geffen, respectively that the old model and the big roster came back. New technology has, of course, changed everything. There will probably never be one act as influential as Michael Jackson or the Beatles again.

His personality was weird enough but he was an EARNER and as everyone in the money game knows EARNER's quirks are tolerated. That's not such a bad thing, I suppose. We are all human beings. If I have no trouble looking past Darryl Strawberry and Lawrence Taylor's foibles and appreciating their outstanding play, I can't very well twin Michael Jackson the performer and Michael Jackson the person with any bizarre idea of bringing down his immense talent in the former category or erasing some behavior that could be interpreted as way, way, worse than a predlicition for drugs and alcohol. Nevertheless, when someone is jammed up in the system in any way (other than say a Dahmer or Madoff) I tend to see the individual because the institutions can take care of themselves.

He'll be missed for his accomplishments and for his oddities. I suspect MJ, his handlers, and the entire Chandler family all equally complicit in a terrble folie d'grandeur. There was circumstatial evidence that he exploited undocumented alien families, but anyone who paid a gardner or stone mason less than the minimum or even union wage is guilty of something similar.

He'll be missed.

The closure of 60,000 bank accounts in Switzerland set off a major panic through the financial markets yesterday and if the US governments pressure on President Merz sets off a global financial fire, the US will be the least able to withstand it. That to me is more important than one star's unsunusal life.

Contrary to popular belief, life is not "cheaper" outside the US just as it's not "cheaper" in US minority communities. Everyone's life is worth the same. If 60,000 American citizens or residents can have their money seized by the US government and that act causes the Swiss democracy to falter, there will be pain far worse than accusations of pederasty felt throughout the world.

Even among *THE RICH*

T.C. said...

Thanks for this! I learned something new, i never Knew that his first nose surgery was because he broke it...see how they don't say stuff like that...

he was truly one of kind there will never be anyone that can even come close...

i hope that they let him rest in peace and let his children grieve but that would be too much like right

BuelahMan said...

Hey Bro',

I have a different take on this and want you to read it.


Anonymous said...

How sad in every sense of the word.
He of sleepover, "Sue me, jew me; kick me, kike me fame," is gone.
He who stole the music of African-European artist Manu Dibango, who wrote SOUL MAKOSSA when the Bleached One was thirteen years old. Pathetic!

Anonymous said...

"Sue me, jew me; kick me, kike me."
"Nig me, nag me; coon me, klll me."
I don't think so.

Carla said...

Thanks for this informative tribute. My only regret is never having seen him perform live. I think I've learned so much more about Mike postumously.

BTW, Mike was not the last of 7 children. He was the 7th of 9 (living) children.

RIP MJ, the G.O.A.T.

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