Open Thread: Remembering Michael Jackson

MJ1

Hosted by Special Correspondent Arturo R. García

The L.A. Times was the first “mainstream” outlet to confirm the news: Michael Jackson died Thursday afternoon, at the age of fifty.

Jackson’s legacy is at once sublime, sad and at times ridiculous. This was a man who America almost literally saw grow up in the public eye: his rise from being the precocious little brother in the Jackson 5 to the group’s lead songwriter (as The Jacksons) and into his own solo career. And, of course, his descent: the child-molestation accusations; the failed marriages; the skin-lightening treatments; the financial trouble; the drug addiction; and the ignominy of his final compilation album, King of Pop, not even being released in his native U.S.

But – and this is not to forgive or excuse anything he may or may not have done – it’s important to remember that, for a period of time, Jackson was the star in the music industry; Thriller was the album to own, as he became one of, if not the first performer of color to gain and maintain a foothold on MTV. Before “King of Pop” became a marketing slogan, his record sales and subsequent influence upon a generation of musical and dance performers made it a statement of fact. And as much as he might be remembered for the latter years of his life, there can be no doubt that the brightest moments of his early years still shine. Like this performance of “Billie Jean,” taken from the Motown Records 25th Anniversary Special in March 1983. We invite our readers to share their own thoughts in this space.