Friday, June 26, 2009

Michael Jackson dead at 50

Some people younger than me might only know him as a freak but I grew up with this man. I don't go crazy when famous people die. I feel bad for their families of course but I don't get hysterical as I didn't know them personally.

THIS however breaks my heart into a million pieces. It just does.

This photo takes me back to me and my three year old brother dancing in our NYC apartment to "ABC". My parents, who didn't like us to watch too much TV, would let us watch American Bandstand and Soul Train just in case the Jackson Five were going to be on and the J5 cartoon.

The first album I ever had was J5's "Looking Through the Window". It was a present. My poor parents almost went deaf with all my screaming. I asked for money to buy Right On! and Teen Beat magazines whenever Michael or Jermaine were on the cover. Tito was too old for me. ha.

Then we moved out to the 'burbs and it was the era of "Off The Wall". I can still see my classmates, all who were white except for two, dancing to "Working Day and Night". Many discussions were had as to who was really going to marry MJ.

I have mentioned before meeting him around 12 years ago for work and it was sad. He had changed so much and not in a good way.

The Michael Jackson I grew up with "died" a long time ago. While this news doesn't shock me, part of me still doesn't believe he's dead at only 50.


Lola said...

This broke my heart too. I was one of those kids dancing to his tunes as a child and then as a young adult too. Like you and your mates, I grew up with MJ.
This post was a beautiful tribute to an important piece of our youth.

Grazie, A.
Lola xx

Amanda said...

My mom sent me an e-mail stating "one of your idols has died" and attached a news article. I never went around saying he was one of my idols, but looking back over the years I realize he really was. From singing "Beat It" at the top of my lungs on a bench in the middle of a shopping mall at age 3 to learning the dance moves to the same song in my mid 20s - he and his music have been such a huge part of my life.

You said it best though, the Michael I loved died long ago. Today, I am devastated that he won't be around to create new music.

Sorry for going on and on...

Scintilla @ Bell'Avventura said...

I remember him as the little cute one in a group of brothers. Another legend has gone.

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

I'm still in shock.

Like you, I grew up with the Jackson 5 and then his break-out success, moving on to becoming one of the most influential singers and dancers that the world will ever see.

I moved to the Soviet Union just a couple of weeks after Bad came out and brought that cassette with me. It may have been the single biggest thing to break the ice with "the American teacher".

GigiSxm said...

I know, i missed the old Michael too. That's the one i mourn.

Anonymous said...

I came across your site recently and was so tickled by your adventures that I decided to go back to the beginning and read all your blogs. It was 4 days well spent. When I heard the news yesterday you were the first person I thought about. MJ was such a huge part of the 'black experience', hell the American experience. It's sad to know that everyone born from today on really won't grasp just how much of a genius he was musically. All that will be overshadowed by the last 10years of his life. I feel bad for his family, especially his kids who now find themselves in the real world without their Peter Pan.

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

lola - I was listening to some pre-Thriller MJ and just sobbed. Actually I'm a little surprised how much this upsets me. I think it's because of my age and that my earliest memories involve his music.

amanda - it's okay. you didn't go on and on. God how I drove my parents crazy with all my MJ nonsense. :)

scintilla - I hear you. I'd rather remember that version then the late 80s on version.

jen - Other than Madonna there is no other singer as well known world wide. Beyonce and Britney do well but the two of them came post MTV. It's easier for them. MJ, Madonna are in the Beatles, Stones level of fame and longevity. I don't know Britney, Beyonce or any new artist will have a career spanning over four decades. The music industry has changed so much.

gigi - I agree.

anon - thanks for stopping by and reading. I agree while he was a big part of the American experience for black Americans of a certain age, he and his brother were a major presence.

Sad how his later adult life ended. I wonder if we will ever find out why.

michelle | bleeding espresso said...

Beautiful post. I'm with you in that this wasn't exactly shocking, and yet it kind of is. In any event, it's definitely very, very sad, particularly for his children :(

Skywalker said...

You're not a freak for liking MJ and I too wasn't really shocked but its still hard to believe that he's gone.

You can really be surprised by who can influence us.

Angie said...

I am having trouble writing anything concise on this topic. I am saddened as well and feel a loss of part of my childhood (for lack of better phrasing). Thanks for the MJ tribute...

milanesemasala said...

Beautiful post. I only found about about it this morning when I turned on the radio. It was strange for me because for some reason, every day this week I thought about him, be it a random conversation or listening to one of his songs on the radio.
I loved MJ during his Thriller phase, had his posters on my walls, wore MJ buttons, wanted to marry him, etc. I grew out of it eventually and then the stories of his weirdness sort of clouded my good memories.
I think his death has hit our generation so hard because we grew up with his music and remember the immense talent and the impact of his worldwide success in the mid-80s. It was a more fun and innocent time (or so it seemed).
It's also doubly sad for the way his life ultimately turned out. RIP Michael.

Gibber said...

*sigh* I don't even know where to begin. I was really too young to be into the off the wall MJ until after it came out, so it was really the thriller album for me. Then I went back and got into all the jackson 5 stuff. Russ Parr had an interesting comment that I think is so true. Even with some of his later materials that didn't become number 1 hits, they were still GOOD, and there was still something in all his songs for everyone.

I can't even imagine how his childhood affected the man he eventually became, but it is tragic.

But today, I choose to remember the music. And I was just telling someone how excited I was for his comeback. "I hope he does it like Mariah...just POW, here I am bitches!" So sad that he'll never get to do that.

You were the first person I thought of when I heard the news. I knew you'd have a great post up sis. *tears*

Tina said...

This broke my heart too. :-( Gosh, I remember jumping on the bed to his records when I was a kid, I remember the poster of him above my bed, how I was SO totally going to marry him when I grew up. He was my first celebrity crush, my first pop star.
I feel sad for him as in his later life he has struck me as a lost soul. Poor guy.
Last night I cranked up PTY at top volume and danced around the room in his memory.
He'll always be the king of pop.

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

michelle - I wonder what is going to happen to them? His immediate family is not the most functional.

skywalker - yes you can be.

angie - I was going to write about his talent but instead tried to figure out why I was so upset this morning. I'm better now. I played a bunch of his early music.

milanese - I agree for younger boomers and for Gen Xers Michael Jackson was a huge deal. I grew up in the 80s and while there was a lot of heavy things going on in the world, it did seem like a more innocent time.

gibber - Mariah did come back hard didn't she? I agree about his childhood. It was MESSED up. I wonder what Joe Jackson is thinking now? As a parent to outlive your child must be hard. MJ was a rare talent.

tina - he was my first "crush" too. I put that in quotes as I was only five. :)

Ms. Violetta said...

MJ impacted many of our young lives. I know he did mine. I'm still shocked. It wasn't the way I expected his life to end. I just don't know what to say. On the other end of the spectrum, Farrah Fawcett has also died and she was very much a beauty and fashion icon for me in my youth. I tried so hard to achieve her famous "flip" hairstyle.
May both of them rest in peace.

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

ms. violetta - poor Farrah. I really thought she was going to beat cancer.

This Time Now said...

He was the greatest. He really was and when Off the Wall appeared on the scene I fell completely in love for the first time in my young little life. I begged my father to let me go to the concert but he thought I was too young (I was, but who cared, it was Michael Jackson, a complete angel!) All day today as I ran some I sang along to some of his songs and others, I just listened and was transported elsewhere, anywhere but here. May he rest in peace.

This Time Now

tony starks said...

I don't noramlly respond to blogs but I enjoy reading this one because my sister writes it...MJ death has really shaken me and I really don't have a good reason to explain why. The man was a musical savant who made his mark on todays culture in ways we cannot even contemplate.

The younger generation will only remember what the media and all of us fixated on for the last years of his life, the oddity of MJ. Some of us will flip through the channels tonight and watch a couple mins of a video on MTV or VH-1 not knowing that MJ Made MTV or spawned a whole generation of artist that what to be him. MJ may you finally rest in peace...your legacy and your music will stand the test of time...

Gibber said...

Tony Starks said: Some of us will flip through the channels tonight and watch a couple mins of a video on MTV or VH-1 not knowing that MJ Made MTV or spawned a whole generation of artist that what to be him.

sibling, you are so correct. Michael Jackson MADE MTV. No one did videos like he did - he turned them into an artform. It's too bad MTV hardly plays videos anymore, but when they occassionaly do in the mornings, NOTHING I see even closely resembles some of the stuff MJ put out.

*sigh* Going to go home and be sad some more

Los Angelista said...

I'm still so full of grief. My sister just told me she hears the funeral may be in Gary. If it is, since I'll be out that way, I think I'm going to try to go stand out on the street to wave him home.

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

This Time Now - I was meeting some friends last night and the bar was playing a bunch of Michael Jackson. The Italians, all different ages, knew every single word. Watching the coverage of reaction from the around the world is something.

tony stacks - okay your comment made me start with the tears all over again. While his music and talent meant a lot to me I think one of the reasons I am so upset about his death is because of the all the drama and dysfunction that was in his life. That someone who brought so much joy to people had so little in his own life. To butcher his face like that something had to be seriously wrong with his sense of self. I don't know. I'm just sad.

gibber - not to sound like the old lady screaming "You Kids, Get Off My Lawn!" but you are so right. His videos still stand up. And I remember them. Can't say the same for most of the current stuff.

On Jezebel one of the editors said MJ was not a great singer, he was also a great dancer/choreographer ala Gene Kelly or Fred Astaire and a song writer (in the true sense of the word not like you know who)

Also remember MTV would hardly videos from black artists until MJ came along. I can understand why Madonna can't stop crying. They defined the '80s and built Music Television.

los angelista - I thought I was fine late yesterday. Then I met up with two friends one an American and other Italian. They started talking about him and that was that. I can't watch any more news coverage.

mswoodenshos said...

Like you, I don't get hysterical when someone I didn;t know personally dies, but this did make me sad. And like you, I feel like the MJ I grew up, the MJ I also discussed marrying during the "Off the Wall" era, died long ago. That said I do pray for his family during this time.

Diana Strinati Baur said...

I also agree with everything you wrote. I also feel that the MJ I knew and loved died a slow death between "Thriller" and "Dangerous" and morphed into something else. At some very deep level I can see that he was a person totally unfit for the life he would lead, and that his unbelievable talent would eventually be outweight by his inability to accept himself and to cope with what he had in essence created.

But the MJ from my own childhood was the one from yours, that bright eyed, grinning boy, with talent and promise, galore.

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

mswoodenshoes - I was hoping in death he'd get some peace but something tells me the drama over his estate is just beginning. sad.

diana - I agree that he didn't seem able to cope with the life he had. It doesn't surprise me one of his closest friends was Liz Taylor, another former child star. After seeing an interview with Joe Jackson years ago with either Diane Sawyer or Oprah, I remember thinking, MJ didn't have a chance with a dad like that.

J.Doe said...

I liked Michael Jackson's music growing up, and also his videos but I never really considered myself a fan. I remember childhood friends saying they were going to marry him/have his children, but I never was crazy over him like that. His child molestation trials and getting wierder and wierder as time past didn't affect me so I watched or read about it with a cool impartiality. Therefore I was really surprised when during a tribute to MJ I burst out into tears and was so, so very sad.
His death was 100% preventable. Many people around him knew he was on a dangerous path with all those prescription meds but no one could save him from himself.
Thanks for this tribute post nyc carribean ragazza. How sad it all is...

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

j. doe - While I still continued to listen to his music, I wasn't a "stan" post Dangerous. I liked "Butterfly" and "You Rocked My World", but by that time it was hard for me to even look at him. I had a hard time connecting that man to the man from the '80s. When I heard about his death I was surprised at my reaction.

I just read he only weighted 112 lbs. That is extremely low for someone of his height and the autopsy said he had no food in his system. What kind of life was he living? Was there anyone in his life that wasn't on his payroll?

glamah16 said...

Its like we lost a long lost brother, yet nothing ever changed.

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

glamah - I know. :(