Just after starting the laptop this morning.
The answer to the inevitable question: where was I when I knew Jacko was dead? Things have changed over the past 45 years: I was too young to understand the word “assassinated” when the news of JFK’s shooting interrupted the early evening TV at my parents’ then home in West Yorkshire.
There are tragedies in showbiz: shouldn’t we get over it and carry on? Well, yes, but Michael Jackson should be remembered, if only for the prodigious amounts of sales he generated: albums, concert tickets, videos, and other merchandise in previously unheard numbers. Thriller pushed on through the fifty million mark – heck, that’s serious selling. Yet he managed to spend at a rate that left him flirting with bankruptcy at the end.
The sad fact is that Jackson packed a lot more pain than pleasure into his fifty years. His childhood – Gary, Indiana is a tough city in which to be born – was less than happy, and becoming a superstar meant that much of what we take for granted was denied him: going to the movies, out for a few drinks with friends, browsing round the shops and markets, taking a weekend break in Paris or Rome, a walk along the beach and a swim in the Med were all off limits. Being normal was not available.
So the world of Michael Jackson developed away from the company and attention of ordinary folks. He then appeared eccentric to many journalists – hence the tag of Wacko Jacko. And his almost child-like admission that he shared his bed with young children was, unsurprisingly, jaw dropping. That the accusations of child molestation did not come earlier than they did – that was the only surprise.
Will anything from his life endure? Yes, of course it will. Jackson didn’t move tens of millions of albums without there being some quality there. Today, someone somewhere will listen to a Michael Jackson CD for the first time, and be as entranced as all those fans who went before.
The defence rests.