I doubt you’re so dedicated to the charms of Pop Junkie, heading this way before any other form of media, for this to be breaking news, so you will know by now that, on a day when Sky Saxon, Farrah Fawcett and Swells passed away, Michael Jackson is also no longer with us.
I have written before on these pages, more than once, that I don’t care for his mega-selling 80s albums and have a huge distaste for the “you’ve got to see the video” attitude towards music in that awful decade, but I do have a great fondness for the Jackson 5, latterly The Jacksons, and can acknowledge that the singles from 1979’s Off the Wall are pop classics.
Once the acres of newsprint that’ll be churned out over the next week have been turned to landfill, thousands of webpages, like this one, will still be there saying their own little piece on ‘The King of Pop’ or ‘Wacko Jacko’. Though most will be gushing, citing Billie Jean, Thriller, Beat It and Bad, some will be guarded, or perhaps vitriolic, citing the child abuse allegations. I imagine that sometime in the future, be it weeks, months or years, the real truth of the sleepovers, of life at Neverland, will be told. That is when the world’s lasting opinion of Michael Jackson will be formed. Genius or Monster.
It’s a sad thing to realise that sometimes the greatest works of art are the result of a great deal of pain to those who make them. The beautiful, smiling young kid who could dance better than James Brown and sang the joyous, uplifting pop of ABC, I Want You Back or Rockin’ Robin, had already suffered years of mental and physical abuse at the hands of his father.
Like one of his and my heroes, Sammy Davis Jnr, Michael was a Song and Dance man. Unlike Sammy, who loved life and led it to the full (not without some pain along the way), Michael could not only sing and dance, he wrote, produced and controlled the whole shooting match, yet led a life that I don’t think anyone would envy.
Whatever the outcome, whatever truth is revealed about the man, the kid that was Michael deserves some peace.