Born to amuse/To inspire, to delight/Here one day/Gone one night – ‘Gone too Soon’, Michael Jackson, 1991
Today marks exactly one year since we lost – in my opinion – the greatest entertainer I will know of in my lifetime. I was, and still am, an absolutely huge Michael Jackson fan, so naturally I was absolutely devastated by his passing. It will always be one of those “Where were you when…?” moments, just like Princess Diana’s death or 9/11.
I was in my bedroom at around 10pm, chatting to my mum about her recent holiday in California. It was her first trip to the U.S. in all her 60 years, so she was like an excited child. My phone then rang and it was my close friend asking me if I was okay. I didn’t know what she was talking about, so I replied: “Yeah, why wouldn’t I be?” Then she asked: “Haven’t you seen the news?” The minute she said that I instantly knew it would have to be related to Michael Jackson. I immediately became hot, and picked up my remote control to change the channel to Sky News where I saw the breaking news: ‘Unconfirmed reports – Michael Jackson dies after suffering caridac arrest’. My mum had to hold me, because from what I remember I became light-headed and she thought I was going to faint. There was no way I would have gone to sleep and woken up to the news, because I was receiving constant phone calls and texts messages through the night – anyone would have thought I was actually related to him! I LOVE Michael Jackson! (I even referred to him as my uncle, because I used to be married to one of his 3T nephews… but that’s a story for another time!). I remember there was speaculation that he was in a coma, so I was just praying and praying that this was the case, and he’d wake up from it. I didn’t go to bed until after 3am, when it had been confirmed, and I think I slept for a total of about one hour before I had to be up for work. I didn’t cry, but I did throw up in the morning as soon as I got to the bathroom and remembered. And I pretty much avoided all newspapers and magazines until the coverage died down, because I didn’t want to read any of the tabloid hypocrisy. His was the celebrity death I dreaded the most.
One year on and there are still so many unanswered questions surrounding his passing, but we have also really been reminded just how much of a musical genius he was, through the constant airing and countdowns of his music videos, and even the fantastic West End show Thriller Live, which is an amazing tribute to him. I firmly believe he achieved exactly what he was put on Earth to do – to entertain, to inspire, to delight, and to be a great influence. He was never meant to grow up to be a doctor or lawyer or office worker. I just hope his name and image do not become a tacky merchandising tool, a bit like with Elvis (sorry Elvis fans), and I also hope that his more vocal siblings don’t try and make money off him in the name of ‘memorial’.
I personally don’t think it was his time to go yet, though others do. The fact that in recent years he didn’t achieve the musical heights of the 80s and 90s, and yet the tickets for his 50 proposed O2 shows sold out in a matter of hours, and young children, like my seven year-old nephew, instantly recognise “Michael Jackson!” show me that his legacy will live on forever.
Rest in perfect peace Michael Joseph Jackson x