Last night, BBC Four aired a documentary, Michael Jackson’s Journey from Motown to Off the Wall. The documentary was first aired in 2016 and follows his early years until the release of his first solo album, Off the Wall on 10th August 1979.
I have been a Michael Jackson addict since the day I first saw the grainy, flickering black and white footage, of a skinny little boy from Gary, Indiana auditioning for Motown with his brothers in 1968.
There was something very special about his performance even then, we were similar in age and I was mesmerized. His feet seemed to glide across the floor as he danced, before effortlessly executing that idiosyncratic spin with effortless panache. It was talent at its rawest and, looking at that footage again now, there was a sense of inevitability that this instinctive young performer was destined to become one of the greatest entertainers of our time.
In an interview, a nine-year-old Micheal Jackson said, I don’t sing it if I don’t mean it. A remark that, nine years after his untimely death, still sends a shiver down my spine. He always sang with such passion.
She’s Out of My Life, written by Tom Bahler, has reduced me to emotional pulp a thousand times, there is such a purity and passion in his voice, especially when he performed it live.
He went on to write music that would capture the hearts and minds of global audiences and inspire future generations. There was a time in my life when I was obsessed with Aerobics and spent most of that period working out to his sixth album, Thriller, which sold 66 million copies in 1982.
In 1984 whilst filming a commercial for Pepsi, he suffered burns to his face and scalp and needed surgery to repair his injuries and it is believed it was at that time he begun experimenting with plastic surgery. His face, especially his nose, would become dramatically altered during the years that followed.
I never had the ultimate experience of seeing him in concert and that it is something that I will always regret. I cut my music teeth on Motown music and was fortunate enough to see Diana Ross in concert many times, as well as Stevie Wonder, which is some consolation. I wanted to go to one of the planned concerts that were scheduled to take place at London’s O2 from 8th July 2009, a part of the This Is It! Tour, but they sold out in just four hours. Sadly, the shows never happened as he died on 25th June 2009, aged 50.
His music will always have a special place in my heart. As I write this, I am listening to HIStory, Discs 1 and 2 cover his motivating music from 1978 to 1995.
The shy little boy who became the global King of Pop in what seems like a blink of an eye and sold millions of albums in his wake, the legacy of this phenomenal creative genius.
At the start of the 1990’s the child molestation rumours were rife. Maybe his increasing eccentricity was the price he paid for his notoriety, but he should always be remembered for his prodigious talents as a dancer, songwriter, music producer and singer and not for the detrimental aspects of his troubled adult life.