For our generation it is perhaps comparable to the death of Elvis Presley in 1977. In years to come our children might ask where we were when we heard that Michael Jackson had died as he did at age 50 in California yesterday afternoon.
Jackson was, quite simply, a musical genius. He had a voice, a musical style, and a stage performance like no other artist that came before him or has come since him.
He may also have been a paedophile. This cannot be ignored because he has died but nor cannot it be allowed to dominate his obituaries because not only has it never been proven beyond doubt but it would overshadow a man who became a musical legend.
So how do we remember him? Should we remember the boy who was the adorable face of The Jackson 5? The man who was behind the best selling album of all time, Thriller? The performer who gave us the moonwalk and who was still able to sell out the 02 arena in minutes for 50 concert dates due to begin in a matter of weeks?
Or should we remember him as “Wacko Jacko” whose Neverland ranch was a sordid children’s funfair where allegations regarding his behaviour with children emanated from, who adopoted a chimpanzee and called him Bubbles, who dangled his baby out of a hotel balcony and whose face became literally and totally unrecognisable from what it once was?
We should probably remember all of this but history may ultimately highlight only the good things about Jackson. After all, ask your parents about Elvis Presley and they probably won’t mention the health problems and the drug abuse but the man who changed the face of rock ‘n’ roll forever.
Michael Jackson changed the face of pop music forever, a genius but a very flawed man. But then again aren’t all geniuses supposed to be flawed?