LOS ANGELES — The king is dead.

On the afternoon of June 25, music icon Michael Jackson’s heart suddenly stopped at his Hollywood home. Paramedics and doctors could not revive him. The media competition began. Gossip website TMZ.com reported it first, and soon ABC and NBC were quoting the celebrity gossip site as if it were CNN or BBC “"‚  as if it were a colleague. CNN confirmed it last, but the news was true all the same. The King of Pop was gone forever. Michael Joseph Jackson, age 50.

Fans responded quickly.

A swarm gathered at UCLA Medical Center with pictures of his face and shirts with his name.

As news of his death sent shock waves the world still mourned the passing of Farrah Fawcett, who lost her battle with cancer, and Ed McMahon, whose combination of medical illnesses took his life several days ago. Three icons in a matter of less than a week, and in its wake the public still grapples to cope with it. Yet it was Mr. Jackson’s death which proved to overwhelm the public.

Jackson once revealed in a televised interview that the most honest song he has ever written, the song he feels people should examine when it comes to him, is “Childhood” from the album HIStory. The first verse of the song reveals a poignant fact, “no one understands me.”

And in the aftermath of his sudden death, questions still abound in attempts to understand how this King of Pop, the artist who enamored fans with his dancing and music, could have fallen from grace so tragically.

Although we may never know the truth to the molestation charges pressed against him, the scandal was detrimental enough and made a lasting impression. Mr. Jackson lost credibility among many fans and friends as his antics grew increasingly questionable “" from wearing pajamas while on trial or jumping on the roof of his car before onlookers outside the courthouse.

What does remain is a prolific body of work which has inspired generations of musicians, artists and actors.

The beginnings of Michael Jackson, as one of seven musically gifted children, hail from Gary, Indiana. At age five, Mr. Jackson began to reveal his flair for singing during school recitals and eventually became a part of his father’s dream team later known as The Jackson 5. Michael quickly became the most adored brother, captivating audiences as the years went by and fame grew quickly.

After a momentous meeting with legends Barry Gordy, Smokey Robinson, and Diana Ross, it appeared that Mr. Jackson and his brothers were on their way to being stars with hits like “ABC,” “I Want You Back” and “I’ll Be There.”

The price of fame eventually came at a cost. Unlike most children his age, Mr. Jackson’s catapult toward the limelight cheated him from normal childhood experiences “" a factor that would become a recurring theme in his music and life.

Where most child stars fall into the shadows of entertainment history, Mr. Jackson developed into a man and flourished. And it appeared, with the success of his solo project “Off the Wall” that he might do well after all, but no one could have predicted what would happen in 1982.

Thriller, a compilation of songs that fused his R&B roots with rock and pop, forever bridged the gap between rock and soul. The diverse tracks and addictive melodies pushed the album to record heights. It remains the top selling album of all time. Added to the appeal of his music was the timing of another trend: MTV. Jackson saw the potential in using music videos and was one of the first to use it heavily to promote his work. The apex of this phenomenon came with the featurette video of “Thriller,” an homage to classic horror films, in which Jackson incorporated his own style, music and choreography.

This also marked a period of Michael Jackson’s change in appearance. Mr. Jackson, who was rumored to have undergone excessive plastic surgery, suffered from a debilitating skin disorder called Vitiligo which causes one’s skin pigmentation to become patchy in appearance. This would be the first in a string of social dissections of his eccentricities. Even though his life was often plagued by public scrutiny, the popularity of his music throughout the course of the 80s never faltered, as legions of fans copied his moves and style as “The Gloved One.”

In the end, while most people permanently decided to love, admire, or loathe Michael Jackson, it was the media that truly had the mood swings. There’s no doubt he was often the center of attention by tabloids and the press “" a fickle beast that one moment adored him and the next shut him down.

But the boy from Indiana, whose humble beginnings rooted in a band of brothers, who captivated the world in the 1960s, is gone. And the performer who showed us how to moonwalk, dance the Thriller, and ask the tender question, “Who’s Lovin’ You?” is long gone. And so, too, is the eccentric, increasingly insular celebrity. The legend of Michael Jackson will never be forgotten.

John M. Guilfoil and Brooklynne Peters of the Blast staff and Blast correspondent Ashley Dean contributed to this report.

About The Author

Conception Allen is Blast’s West Coast Bureau Chief. Known to most as Connie, she covers entertainment and has degrees in media arts and culture studies. She is also on the Blast Art Team, designing kick-ass graphics.

5 Responses

  1. Lily Strange

    While I always felt sorry for Michael Jackson after learning about the abuse he’d endured, I really didn’t know the extent of his suffering, both physical and emotional. I honestly never have believed that he molested anybody. Some of his behavior could be classified as inappropriate, but I don’t think he was behaving sexually towards these kids–he just wanted to be one of them and to have the childhood he never was allowed to have.
    This was a well-written and concise article. Thank you.

    Reply
  2. Conception Allen

    Generally, Jackson’s behavior would warrant the suspicion. Most men Jackson’s age would never think of “sleeping” beside young boys as acceptable. Yet, Jackson, im my opinion, never had the chance to emotionally develop into an adult. I know people reference it as a Peter Pan Syndrome, but you add the knowledge with the alleged abuse? It’s going to produce someone who is incapable of dealing with adult issues which include sex. Plus, the strong practice of his faith also furthered complicated things.

    I have a hard time demonizing someone who clearly, mentally, has limited emotional range. Sure, he learned to mimic and live up to the basic functions of being an “adult” but behind all of that is an alternate side of his genius. He’s is said to have told his friend that he preferred the company of children because they didn’t hurt him. It’s clear he’s emotional fragile.

    Yet at the same time, I feel like I can only credit his trauma to an extent, you know? Because being bound to one’s comfort zone teamed with his emotional issues are just detrimental. He needed help, therapy, and more people willing to combat his self-destructive behavior than appease him.

    It’s really tragic that someone so talented was marked with so much personal trauma. In a way, he’s a bit of the darkside to the Truman Show.

    We have this child bred to be a star without any kind of normality for a person his age, THEN he’s put on the stage in order to perform before crowds approx the age of eleven. Since then when has he had the chance to go through the normal rites of passage without being at the forefront.

    In an industry right now where people are desperate to be “famous”, Jackson is an example of the pitfals of such big dreams. Typically, I’m a bit harsh in my opinions when it comes to celebrities, actors, musicians who complain about bad press when they put themselves in front-in-center. Yet, I can’t help but think that Jackson never really wanted this fame, he was forced into it, and did the best he could under the circumstances.

    And what’s worse is we witnessed the lows with much cruelty. Wacko Jacko? Really? People wonder why he has a complex.

    I just have mixed feelings, we all knew – whether we like it or not – Jackson wouldn’t really go gently into that good night, lol. But the manner and the swiftness of his sudden death just makes it hard to process.

    I have vivid memories of watching him on MTV and award shows as a child, and I keep thinking, “What happened?” Then aptly my friend replied, “life happened.”

    Reply
  3. Mae

    I dont think he ever molested anyone. I think the parents of the so called victims, were the perpetrators of taking advantage of his billions and seen their golden egg and their child was the pawn. I bet any of those children that are now teens or young men now, in looking at his recent death, are forever going to be burdened throughout their life of being rich over someone’s generosity and Michael’s naiveness of just how mean people can get to gain riches!! It was not like he did not share his fortune already, these families took advantage of it. Then his family, being plagued with him telling the truth of a cruel father, upset by his openness, began to step down and let the cards lay where they may, as they took back stage pass of just watching their family member drown in a sea of lonliness, as if to allow a taste of his own bad medicine with reprecussions of distance and lack of consciousness. I think the interveiwer that brought out the lurid details of “sharing your bed” made a mint on allowing people’s minds to run in the gutter full speed, when in our culture, Native American culture, it is the same theory and belief, when you give your bed, share your bed (no folks not do nasty things), you give the most precious gift of sincerity and genuiness of respect of another person. He naturally felt like doing that! He turned to drugs to ease the stress from the disbelief of people believing the sick rumors and his family turning their back because of rattling of their closet. The interviewer made it sound bad and tales began to spin out of control and money mongers came out of the woodwork to gain access to making a fast buck using their child as a pawn! One day day that child will grow up, seeking to rid the demons that will have been plaguing their life and tell the truth, I swear he will!!!

    Reply
    • Conception Allen

      What I found interesting in that pointed interview was that the interviewer never made it clear whether the “bed sharing” was one of a sexual nature or not…I think it would have been vastly more interesting if people could have heard what his method of thinking was about it, you know? But that’s giving more credit than it’s worth. Regardless of the intention, it seemed clear to me that there would be no other conclusion than a sexual context given by that statement.

      Whereas you have mentioned, sharing a bed can be interpreted in different ways. And also, didn’t anyone else notice that he elaborated on his comment by saying that for a child who had been hurt and allegedly abused like him, that it was different?

      I don’t know, the world will have to come to its own conclusion. Again, I saw Jackson as asexual in his personal life, too busy being a child to ever have the typical sexual behaviors for a man his age. So, the idea of him being a pedophile seems off. I mean it seems like with the way Jackson was showcase as a “freak” made such statements and accusations plausible.

      Reply

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