I was sitting in a pub last night, waiting for my friend to go up on stage and perform for their open mic night, when I heard the news. At first, I wasn’t sure if it was just a rumour. My friend got a text from his mother saying that his girlfriend had heard from somewhere that Michael Jackson had died. I wasn’t sure whether or not this was a frenzied rumour, but for the most part, I shrugged it off. The ‘King of Pop’ had been through a lot. Whichever side of the fence you’re on, regarding his personal life, you can’t deny that. Despite all of the negative media attention, through harbouring a persona that people loved to hate, and despite all the controversy (without mentioning his piles of debt) he still managed to survive, and sell a ridiculous 40,000 tickets an hour for what was going to be his farewell tour. To me, at least, Michael Jackson was ‘Invincible’.
I whipped out my iPod Touch and started scowering the internet. The LA Times were the first news outlet to officially declare him dead, but finally, the BBC News website published the news, although all references to him being ‘dead’ remained in inverted commas for some hours. There was a small glimmer of hope, that I was refusing to let go of, but it soon dawned on me that he was actually gone.
I have always been a fan of Michael Jackson and his work. Contrary to his somewhat dubious court appearances, I did not think that he was a paedophile; instead just a very troubled and lonely man who was deprived of a proper childhood. In fact, I remember my first ever audio cassette was a collection of his songs recorded off the radio by one of my American cousins. Like many children growing up in the late ninties, Michael Jackson provided much of the soundtrack to my upbringing. While I was not an enormous fan, I was certainly aware of his material, and his presence on the social consciousness of the time. I still know all the words to ‘Billie Jean’, even though never actually having owned the track, and I can still do the ‘Thriller’ dance. Love him or hate him, Michael Jackson was undeniably one of the most seminal artists of the 20th century.
Facebook was awash with messages of condolence last night, and not much changed into the morning. Of course, as with every celebrity death, there are a group of sour individuals who feel it necessary to lambast Michael Jackson’s name, and spread horrible jokes about him, as they feel there are far more pressing issues at hand, than the death of one popstar. That might be true. The atrocities in Iran are nothing short of attrocious, but I think the public should be allowed to mourn one of their biggest icons. Love him or hate him, the death of Michael Jackson has affected us all profoundly. Whether we cry, mourn, laugh or shout, we’ve all been affected in some way, which will take some time for us all to digest. For such a big star to just disappear is shocking, to say the least. Although, certainly, I am sure that there will never be another ‘King of Pop’, certainly not in my lifetime, maybe not ever. Rest in peace, Michael. You shall be missed, dearly.