Monday, June 29, 2009
Still Can't Believe It!
This was the Michael Jackson that I first remembered from my childhood. it was the image that they published in TeenBeat magazine, and my girl cousins swooned over. (That and Donnie Osmond...yuck)
This was the period when i watched Saturday morning cartoons of the Jackson 5.
They were awesome.
Fast forward to Off the Wall..this album started to define the mega superstar. This came out when I was in Jr.High, and "Off The Wall", "Rock With You" and "She's Out of My Life" were catchy tunes that started his momentum. Much of his songs were written, including on Thriller, by Rod Temperton, who is famous for writing hit songs for Heatwave: "Always and Forever" "Mind Blowing Decisions". A soulful white guy that new how to pen hits. Still a favorite album of mine.
And then..Thriller. This album was the equivalent of an astroid hitting our earth. Everything from MJ dolls, lunchboxes, gloves (one) mirrored sunglasses, were populating the stores everywhere. The memorable videos for "Billy Jean", "Beat It" and of course the min movie "Thriller" had folks anticipating, "What will he do next?" His performance on Motown's 25th Anniversary with J5 was one of the most exciting things to see and was probably the equivalent of Elvis or The Beatles on Ed Sullivan.
I remember my friend, Wilbur buying a reproduction vinyl "Beat it' jacket when we were in Berkeley and he was the coolest guy out of his friends because of it. ($50 at the time was steep!).
Finally my ultimate Michael Jackson moment was actually seeing him.
it was 1991, by then, I was not much interested in Bad or any of his newer albums, and I was shopping at a comic book store in L.A. called Golden Apple.
A short bald man came in looked around, and went back out of the store. He returned with a thin frail man who crept in very slowly. i noticed he was wearing a surgeon's mask, so I didn't dare to look.
Continuing shopping, i almost bumped into the frail man, and looked at his unmistakable eyes...The ones that Billy Jeans' kid has....I apologized and said quietly "Hey Michael"...and extended my hand.
I remember he was a little over 6 feet tall and his hands were big. i shook it..which was more like a dead fish handshake, and asked for his autograph. He put his finger over his mask in a "shhhh" fashion.
He had been wearing black cordoruys, white socks, black loafers, red velvet shirt, black baseball cap pulled down and a red velvet surgeon mask.
Just then the doors, which had been closed for our guest exploded with two black guys yelling "HEY MICHAEL! Wassup? can we get your autograph??!!!!"waving a CD.
I managed to get his autograph as well as a magnet with his autograph.
Definately the biggest sighting in my life.
When I heard about his death from my girlfriend it was very surprising..but at the same time, not really. I also felt his life would end tragically. I also thought, what does someone like MJ look like old? like Marilyn Monroe, Elvis, John Lennon, James Dean....for some reason you can't picture them as aging celebrities.
Although MJ's appearance drastically changed over the years, and he had so many personal problems, at the end of the day, he really was an extremely gifted person. From a musical standpoint, I will always have good memories of his music being a part of my soundtrack of life.