Friday, June 26, 2009


Turned on the radio last night just before heading to sleep, listening to 6Music when between songs they head over to the news room. An unusual thing to happen on a predominantly music station, and there I hear the news that Michael Jackson has been rushed to hospital and there are reports that he wasn't breathing. Immediately it sounds very grave and I feel a sense of shock, this is not a man whose time it is to die. Then there are the rumours that he has died and I just can't get to sleep, so wander downstairs and watch some 24 hour news, where this is the top story. At that time there are various reports that he has died or in a coma, until eventually the sad news is reported that he has died. Unbelievable. How can someone I have never met, nor indeed, desired to meet's death cause me an emotional shockwave? There are few celebrity deaths that have stirred me, and I can still remember the events now. Waking up in November 1991 to hear that Freddy Mercury had died, even though his illness was well known, probably the first person to die that I would recognise as a pop star. Then getting into grunge music during my teen years, being particularly influenced by the music of Nirvana, there was the shock of Kurt Cobain's suicide in April 1994. This news I remember hearing during a power cut at home, listening to the radio on my walkman. The news of Princess Diana's death in 1997 shocked the world, and finally the death of John Peel in 2004. Michael joins this list, and it's interesting that the majority of this list are in someway connected to the music industry. I love music, and growing up in the 80s, Michael Jackson was just part of the scene. Everyone new who Michael Jackson was, even when i wasn't really into music, I was aware of Thriller, that video, and his pepsi advert where he caught fire. Autumn 1987 I can vividly remember a newsround dedicated to the release of Bad, people rushing into the stores and buying handfuls of LPs. Everyone at school could sing "I'm bad, I'm bad, you know I'm really bad." A few years later I remember sitting glued to the bbc who were going to exclusively show Michael's video to "Black and White". The suspense surrounding it was justified, it was a ridiculous bombastic and expensive video featuring Slash on guitars. To be honest I recall being fairly ambivalous to the music, but was completely blown away with the special effects used to morph people's faces from one to another. The first time I'd seen such technology, something which will cause no stir these days, but back then it was the talk of my peer group. How could a computer morph people's features - amazing! Though the succeeding periods saw the demise in the quality of his music, he continued to be headline news and sell records by the bucketload. Hi unusual and eccentric behaviour, his fascination with children began to lead to him being vilified by the press - culminating in the Martin Bashir documentary which painted Michael as the weirdo we all thought he was. Though I'm sure this documentary was deliberately made to portray him so, and I expect if they wished they could've compiled footage to portray a completely different person. However, even during all these allegations, Michael continued to showboat, turning up to court in pyjamas. So I guess throughout my life, Michael has continually been in the headlines - for exceptional music and for his eccentricities. And his music, particularly from the 70s and 80s always makes you want to get up and dance. I was hoping that his forthcoming live performances would be great and remind people that it was the music and performances that were what made him Michael Jackson, not his eccentricities. His death will sadden many, and I'm sure there will be swathes of over-emotional fans, cos he had such a crazy fan base, and I remain saddened. The death of an ever present showman who has always been there throughout my life has gone. A stark reminder to the fragility and shortness of life, we are just dust in the wind.