Like many of you, I was shocked and hurt to hear of the death of Michael Jackson.
He was an entertainment superstar, and a defining figure of my generation.
He was perhaps the ultimate black “crossover” figure. His Thriller album is the best selling album of all time, with over 100 million copies sold worldwide.
It is amazing to think that a black kid in a soul music kiddie band from Gary, Indiana could grow up and achieve such commercial music heights. Only in America.
Sadly, Jackson will be remembered as much for his eccentricity as his talent. A little while ago, I wrote a post about a play that featured the story of a tragic mulatto.
And that popped into my head when I thought of Jackson. Jackson had facial surgery numerous times, resulting in a face that lacked blackness, and common sense. The brown skinned, afro coiffed, and chubby-cherub face of his early career was replaced by a very light skinned, almost ghostly caricature.
And so, a man who was rich enough to have anything used his wealth to destroy that which made him famous: his own image.
Still, none of that diminished his talent or impact. Michael Jackson’s music was pop and R’n’B at its best. His stuff sounds good, even today; it stands the test of time, and it will continue to do so.
Whatever demons drove him in his later life, I hope he is free of them now.
From Youtube, here is an ode to Michael Jackson and all the black performers who paved the way for him.