Thursday, June 25, 2009

In memoriam: Michael Jackson dead at 50

August 19, 1984. The Pontiac Silverdome, just outside of Detroit. The last night of the Jacksons Victory Tour stop in the area. Some kid I barely knew, but he had a car, some money in his pocket and like me, the desire to say the hell with it and just go.

The show was completely sold out, but we were able to find someone in the parking lot that would actually sell a couple of kids obstructed view tickets and not just rip them off.

Once inside, we found a spot on the first balcony near the side of the stage where no one seemed to mind that we stand (including the bouncers).

We both stood there in awe as the Jacksons ran through their litany of hits. But it was the MJ's solo encore of "Billie Jean" and "Beat It" back-to-back that will be forever burned in my brain. At one point there was a magical illusion, and Michael "disappeared" for the stage, to reappear on a riser high above the crowd. It was one of the coolest and most magical concert moments of my life.

Yeah, Mike had some issues. Who doesn't? But if you grew up in that household and went on to become what he became (The king of flipping Pop), you'd be more than a little tweaked yourself.

I don't know, I've met all kinds of artists that are just such assholes (you'd be surprised) that the public at large love and think the world of. I never had the privilege of meeting MJ, but I'm sure he was a decent-enough guy trying to make sense of pure insanity.

What I do know is that I grew up listening to his music. By the time he hit his stride with "Off The Wall" and "Thriller" (I'll never forget sitting on the floor of teen club Spanky's in Waterford with a large crush of kids to watch the debut of the "Thriller" video on the big screen before they started the music for the night), his influence on not just music but pop culture at large was overwhelming.

Wow, I'm just remembering when a good friend with a button-maker and I made a killing selling Michael Jackson pins we made out of magazines. We did have to refund one girl's money though. In a frenzy, she'd bought a pin of Michael after his hair caught on fire, laying on a stretcher all bandaged up. I felt bad and gave her a much better one of him wearing a yellow sweater vest and matching bowtie. She was so happy she squealed.

Michael Jackson, spreading joy all over the world. Rest in peace, brother. You've earned it.