2009 Jun 27

written by Sherri Joubert

Michael Jackson was about 2 years older than I am. I grew up with him, watching the Jackson 5 on TV, learning the songs and singing along. When Michael’s first solo album came out, I bought it. When his second solo album came out, I bought it, too.

I still have “Off The Wall” and “Thriller” on vinyl in nearly new condition. I have always taken very good care of my records (they are in their paper sleeves, in their cardboard covers, inside plastic protective sleeves; you have to take off all three pieces to get to the album).

"Off The Wall" and "Thriller" Album Covers

"Off The Wall" and "Thriller" Album Covers

Those two albums were a significant part of the soundtrack of my early college years. “Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough” was an actual reality for my friends and me back in the early 1980’s, dancing until the bars closed and kicked us out. Our favorite MTV music video was the full-length version of “Thriller”. It was like a short movie rather than a music video, and it had the best performances, props and production values of any music video ever made at the time. I can’t speak for the period since then because I haven’t watched MTV in over 25 years.

After “Thriller”, my studies took a much more serious track because I had to buckle down and finish college. I quit going out and quit collecting albums. When I graduated it was time to launch my career, and I became an NPR/talk radio listener instead of a pop/rock listener.

By the time I was paying attention to pop/rock again, Michael’s adult life had gone from astronomically successful to tragic. He wasn’t performing much in the U.S. and he wasn’t coming out with new, chart-topping albums.

I have seen him on the news from time-to-time, mostly going into and coming out of court houses, and holding a child out of a hotel window over the balcony. The Michael in that footage looked nothing like the Michael on the covers of my albums, except he seemed to frequently dress in real life as he dressed for the stage.

I wondered how such a brilliant musician and performer could head down such a disturbing path, but I wondered the same thing about Elvis Presley. Both icons were surrounded by enabling people who continued to give them drugs and alcohol on demand.

The full results of Michael’s autopsy won’t be available for several weeks because that is how long all the toxicology tests will take to complete. The coroner who performed the autopsy reported indicative signs of a drug overdose or negative drug interaction episode. His lungs were filled with fluid and weighed considerably more than normal lungs.

Regardless of Michael’s personal problems, he is one of our brightest stars and broke many barriers in the music industry, in race, age, stage and video performance, and album sales. He sold more albums than any other artist in history so far. His music is also popular with at least 3 generations of people. I’m sure sales will speed up for awhile now.

I am saddened by Michael’s sudden death. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family, friends and fans all over the world.

Photo by BellaGaia

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