Saturday, July 4, 2009

Long Live the King of Pop

Much like other important dates in history, I will remember the day that Michael Jackson died: June 25, 2009. I will also remember so many things in my life and connect it with his music, for his is the songbook of our lives. I have not stopped thinking about his death since I heard about it, and I have been listening to his music more and just appreciating not only what he did for music but what he did for all of us. My phone was hit, while I was at work, with a string of texts saying that Michael Jackson had been rushed to the hospital and then texts saying that the King of Pop was indeed, dead.

Much like his life, his death has proven to be controversial. Just a few days ago, I was sitting in the employee lounge at work and an older coworker (who shall remain nameless in order to protect her identity and sanity) made a remark that she didn't understand why Michael Jackson was still making news, that he was a drug addict and a pedophile and putting him on the news constantly and institutionalizing him was sending the wrong message to the young people in our culture. Wow, none of that could be more wrong.

Michael's brother, Jermaine, has commented so many times about how Michael hated drugs, and to this day, I do not believe that Michael is a pedophile. He is a victim, a victim of his father, a victim of the media and their false statements concerning him, and a victim of arrogant people who cannot separate fact from fiction. Michael, in an interview with Martin Bashir, less than 10 years ago spoke of how his fear of his father made him "regurgitate" or throw up. He used to beat Michael and his siblings and most of all he deprived Michael of a childhood. So when Michael got older, he wanted to, in a way, have that childhood that he never had. He also wanted to ensure that children all over the world would have a childhood, and if his kindness is what makes people label him as a pedophile then they need to think again. The media constantly followed Michael throughout his career, and somewhere after the "Bad" album and before the "Dangerous" album, Michael was given the nickname "Wacko Jacko". What?!?! I still don't know to this day what that even means; and Michael's sensitive persona was one that would generate hurt feelings from a comment like that.

I think his music was truly from the mind and heart. When I think about Michael Jackson I am once again reminded of the legacy that he leaves all of us. I truly believe that there are very few people on this planet who can say that they were not influenced or inspired by him in any way. He was, in a word, universal. He was musical genius at its best, a dancing machine, precision so tight it would impress the best and the worst of dancers. Michael said that music just came to him, the words of a song just came to him. He said that dancing was not about thinking, but rather about feeling, and the biggest mistake anyone can make is to think about dancing. He was caring ,sympathetic, empathetic, and he not only changed the face of music but the face of society and our culture. Today, as in the past, when I watch his videos I smile because his is a greatness that cannot be matched.

Here are some words from his peers----

Madonna told People: "I can't stop crying over the sad news. I have always admired Michael Jackson. The world has lost one of the greats, but his music will live on forever! My heart goes out to his three children and other members of his family. God bless."

From a spokesperson for Janet Jackson:"Janet Jackson is grief-stricken and devastated at the sudden loss of her brother. She is in pre-production on a film and is flying immediately to California to be with her family."

From Lisa Marie Presley, who was married to Jackson from 1994 to 1996:"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."

From Jackson's friend Dame Elizabeth Taylor:"My mind... are broken. I loved Michael with all my soul and I can't imagine life without him. We had so much in common and we had such loving fun together. I was packing up my clothes to go to London for his opening when I heard the news. I still can't believe it. I don't want to believe it. It can't be so. He will live in my heart forever but it's not enough. My life feels so empty. I don't think anyone knew how much we loved each other. The purest most giving love I've ever known. Oh God! I'm going to miss him. I can't yet imagine life with out him. But I guess with God's help... I'll learn. I keep looking at the photo he gave me of himself, which says, "To my true love Elizabeth, I love you forever." And, I will love him forever."

From Quincy Jones, who produced Jackson's blockbuster albums Off the Wall, Thriller, and Bad:"I am absolutely devastated at this tragic and unexpected news. For Michael to be taken away from us so suddenly at such a young age, I just don't have the words. Divinity brought our souls together on The Wiz and allowed us to do what we were able to throughout the '80s. To this day, the music we created together on Off the Wall, Thriller and Bad is played in every corner of 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 little brother today, and part of my soul has gone with him."

From Berry Gordy, founder of Motown Records:"I am shocked beyond words. It's like a dream — a bad dream. This cannot be! How can Michael Jackson not be here? As a kid, Michael was always beyond his years. He had a knowingness about him that was incredible. When I first heard him sing Smokey's song, "Who's Lovin' You" at 10 years' old, it felt like he had lived the song for 50 years. "Somehow, even at that first meeting with him, he had a hunger to learn, a hunger to be the best and was willing to work as hard and as long as it took. I had no concern about his ability to go to the top. He was like my son. He had warmth, sensitivity and two personalities. When he was not on stage, he was loving, respectful and shy. When he WAS on stage, he was so in charge you would not believe he was the same person. "Michael was and will remain one of the greatest entertainers that ever lived. He was exceptional, artistic and original. He gave the world his heart and soul through his music. I extend my sympathies to Joe, Katherine and the entire Jackson family. My prayers are with them."

From Brooke Shields, who befriended Jackson in the early 1980s:"My heart is overcome with sadness for the devastating loss of my true friend Michael. He was an extraordinary friend, artist and contributor to the world. I join his family and his fans in celebrating his incredible life and mourning his untimely passing."

From Smokey Robinson, fellow Motown legend:"It is always hard to lose a friend. I will miss Michael and all that he brought to the world through his music and his creative genius. I know his legend will live on and the world will miss him dearly."

From singer/dancer and American Idol judge Paula Abdul:"Words cannot begin to express my heartfelt sorrow upon hearing the news of Michael Jackson's passing. I was blessed to be able to work with, and witness first hand, his tremendous talent and growth through the years as he truly became an icon. Today we have all lost a legend who has touched each of our lives through his music and showmanship over the past five decades. To his family, the entire Jackson clan, and to all his adoring legions of fans throughout the world, my prayers and deepest condolences to all."

From hip-hop artist Ne-Yo: "Michael Jackson will live forever through the thing that he put all of his life energy into: his music. I will do my part to keep the melody alive, to keep the energy forever changing form, but never ever dying!! Long live Michael Jackson."

From 'N Sync's JC Chasez:"Words can't begin to describe my sadness for the loss of Michael Jackson. I was honored and humbled to have the opportunity to perform with him several times and he had a profound influence on my career. Michael forever changed the world of music and entertainment and I will always remember him for his kind and sweet spirit."

From Chasez's former bandmate Lance Bass:"I am stunned and deeply saddened by the sudden loss of Michael Jackson. Michael was a huge supporter of my career but more importantly he was a good friend, had the biggest heart and it was an honor and pleasure to be able to work with him and know him. There will never be another Michael Jackson, my thoughts and prayers are with his family."

From Oscar-winning director Martin Scorsese, who helmed Jackson's "Bad" video:"Michael Jackson was extraordinary. 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 all 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."

Oscar winner Jamie Foxx told Extra:"You cannot say enough about what he has given to us musically and culturally. We take for granted people like him... all he wanted to do was give us great music and that's what he did. Every single day was dedicated to us."
"I'll tell you this. Seeing him in concert in 1983, the Victory concert with his brothers, to watch people faint in the audience. Grown men fainting. Women fainting just because he was that dynamic... all you can say is that you hope we put our arms around his family. So much turmoil toward the end of his career... and I think that's the only thing that you can really hope for is that there is finally peace to this whole situation."
"What a great time. What a great entertainer. There will never be anybody [like him]... So our condolences go out to his family and let's take time... to do the right thing and honor the beauty of what Michael Jackson was and not the craziness and all of the circus things that the media can grab a hold to sometimes and just go nuts. Let's just honor that guy for all he's done and that's all you can say."

From John Landis, the director of Jackson's epic "Thriller" video:"I was lucky enough to know and work with Michael Jackson in his prime. Michael was an extraordinary talent and a truly great international star. He had a troubled and complicated life and despite his gifts, remains a tragic figure. My wife Deborah and I will always have great affection for him."

Director Steven Spielberg told Entertainment Weekly: "Just as there will never be another Fred Astaire or Chuck Berry or Elvis Presley, there will never be anyone comparable to Michael Jackson. His talent, his wonderment and his mystery make him legend."

Rev. Jesse Jackson said:"Michael Jackson, the consummate artist and creative entertainer whom I have known since he was a teenager, is dead.
How difficult it is to construct that sentence. We are out of our joy and he is out of his pain. Several generations have not lived a day without Michael Jackson in their lives.
I remember his performance, along with the Jackson Five, at the first Black Expo. I remember Suzanne de Passe taking the boys, as their chaperon, to Fred Segal to buy clothes. I observed him from the Regal Theater, to 'expo,' to 'We are the World,' to 'Thriller,' to 'Beat It' — he was always there.
He was my special guest at my 66th birthday party. I was with him at Neverland through his darkest hours but, through it all, Michael was a survivor and a contributor to his art — a rare vintage. Now the King of Pop deserves his rest."

Music legend Tina Turner:"I am shocked and saddened by Michael's passing. I, along with his millions of fans, looked forward to seeing him tour one more time. Now, may he rest in peace.

From singer and actress and Jackson's close friend Diana Ross:"I can't stop crying, this is too
sudden and shocking. I am unable to imagine this. My heart is hurting. I am in prayer for his kids and the family."

Recording artist Chris Brown:"Michael Jackson is the reason why I do music and why I am an entertainer. I am devastated by this great loss, and I will continue to be humbled and inspired by his legacy. My prayers are with his family. Michael will be deeply missed, but never forgotten. He's the greatest... the best ever. No one will ever be better."

Model Naomi Campbell said:
"I grew up with Michael Jackson, he was a good friend and the most exciting and innovative entertainer to have lived. No artist has connected to their audience like Michael and no one will ever be able to match what he has achieved. He gave back to people through his charity work and was an amazing father and human being. Michael touched people of every race, nationality, age and was the first truly global superstar. He is one of the all time greats and his role in popular culture will never be surpassed and never ever be forgotten."

from American Idol winner David Cook, "The impact Michael Jackson has had on me as an artist is the same impact he's had on everyone ... he blew pop music wide open, and made it bigger than just music, you know?" Cook told MTV News. "That's viewed [in terms of] the short films he made for music videos, plus look at the cultural gaps: There's people that know no English except for the two words 'Michael' and 'Jackson.' And that's pretty incredible."

Usher said, "He influenced me in so many ways, more than just music ... as a humanitarian, as a philanthropist, as an artist, as an individual who transcended culture. I wouldn't be who I am today without Michael Jackson," Usher said. "They say if you ever want to be great, you've got to study who the greats studied, so, of course, I studied his moves — studied them down to a T. But there was much more to him than that. Really, he created an eclectic style of life and, throughout the years, from his childhood to his adulthood, he managed to continue to be successful, but also to continue to push the limits and push everyone's expectations." "I think Michael Jackson is by far one of the most impactful artists in music ... when MTV did not play African-American videos, he took a stand and said, 'This is a must,' and you look what it became after that," Usher said. "You can't say that you are an artist in this century and [not be] influenced by Michael Jackson. I consider myself very fortunate to have had the opportunity to share the stage with him, to know him personally, and I am always going to remember him. I'll be a fan for life ... this is a tragedy to say the least, and it has affected all of us."

Justin Timberlake described the outpouring of emotion for Jackson from friends and fans as a "testament to how big a deal it is, obviously, because he's created so many cultural photos in people's minds with his music that he was and always will be the king of pop."
"To create the things that he created with his music is untouchable. He opened the minds of the world to be able to do that through his music... [it's] a feat not accomplished by many people, maybe only a handful of people. I don't think anyone ever did it like him. watch his videos and see what all the fuss is about!

No comments: