Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Influences #5 Michael Jackson


Say what you want about MJ, the dark cloud of his personal life and the abnormal behavior. The accusations of child molestation. The man could write! He could dance! He could sing! He was a visionary and an innovator. He was a performer, the most electrifying entertainer that ever lived.

I will always remember Michael as a humanitarian for the children. A man of peace. Pushed hard in his childhood by his domineering father, it is my opinion that he had no choice but to strive to be the best. His videos always ranked as the most entertaining of all time. Nobody took advantage of the video medium more than Michael.

With all his talent, people tend to overlook the fact that he was a great songwriter. Sure, his dancing was second to none and perhaps with the exception of Elvis Presley, nobody has been impersonated more.
Eccentric? Sure, but then again, so are all the great ones. That may be the price that is paid. To be secluded from the rest of the world. Stars always have a problem with privacy, this is a documented fact, but when you’re the biggest star of them all, it has to be worse. Not that I ever feel sorry for actors and singers and the like, when you decide to go into the entertainment business, you know going in what the deal is.

For nearly 45 years, Michael Jackson spent the most part of his entire life in the spotlight. Hit after hit with his brothers, and then as a solo artist, Michael stood alone as the voice for not just one generation, but for three or four. His influence continues to this day for many. He was the king of pop, the king of videos, and the king of entertainment in general.

Many people do not know that he had a sixth brother, Brandon, who died at birth.

After his breakthrough solo album, “Off The wall” separated him from his brothers, no one even dared to think he would shatter record sales with his second solo release, “Thriller” in 1982. All but a couple of the songs on that album found its way to the top 40 pop or soul charts, producing hits such as, “Billie Jean”, “Beat It” “Wanna Be Startin Something”, “PYT (Pretty Young Thing)” and the title track itself, “Thriller”, just to name a few.

In December 2009, the music video for "Thriller" was selected for the National Film registry by the Library Of Congress, "Thriller" is the first music video ever to be inducted.

Michael Jackson reunited with his brothers in 1984 for their “Victory Tour” and donated all 8 million dollars he received for it to charity.

“We Are The World” song won four grammys (One for Michael for song of the year) It became on of the best selling singles of all time, with nearly 30 million copies sold and millions donated and millions of dollars donated to famine relief.

His album, “Bad” out-did his “Thriller” album in terms of top 40 hits. (Seven) Five of which hit Billboards Top 100 at number one. Those songs were, “Bad”, “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You”, “The way You Make Me Feel”, “Man In The Mirror” and my personal all time favorite Michael Jackson song, “Dirty Diana”.

In 1992, Michael Jackson founded the HEAL THE WORLD FOUNDATION.

In January 1993, Jackson made a memorable appearance at the halftime show at Superbowl XXVII. The performance began with Jackson catapulting onto the stage as fireworks went off behind him. As he landed on the canvas, he maintained a motionless "clenched fist, standing statue stance", dressed in a gold and black military outfit and sunglasses; he remained completely motionless for a minute and a half while the crowd cheered. He then slowly removed his sunglasses, threw them away and sang four songs: "Jam", "Billie Jean", "Black or White" and "Heal the World". It was the first Super Bowl where the audience figures increased during the half-time show, and was viewed by 135 million Americans alone.

Michael married Lisa Marie Presley, daughter of the legendary Elvis Presley, in May of 1994. Many people don’t know that the two first met in 1975, when seven year old Lisa Marie attended one of Jackson's family engagements at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino while attending a Jackson family engagement.

Michael proposed to Lisa Marie in the fall of 1993 over the phone.

The marriage was, in her words, "a married couple's life ... that was sexually active". At the time, the tabloid media speculated that the wedding was a ploy to prop up Jackson's public image. The marriage lasted less than two years and ended with an amicable divorce settlement.

Through it all, I, like so many millions of others, couldn’t help but be a fan. As a songwriter, I would like to think I learned a thing or two about the craft from listening to his songs. More importantly, I think I learned more from him as to “what not to do” than any other performer. Most notably, not to throw slumber parties with children. Even if it was innocent, the appearance alone is cause for concern.

Personally, do I believe he did such horrible things? … No. I don’t. But that’s just me.

As gentle and kind and as giving as Michael was in his life, I would lose faith in all humanity if for one moment I thought such a thing was possible. I think he was just misunderstood, and perhaps he was an easy target by greedy sharks. Not that he helped his situation with those aforementioned slumber parties.

Still, through it all, Michael Jackson was more than a performer, singer, songwriter, actor … he was a giver of love and hope for children all around the world. He was inspiring.

And this is how I will always remember him.

Rest in peace Michael Jackson.

Rest in peace.


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