I have been around long enough to have lived through the deaths of a number of world famous people: King George VI, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, Marilyn Monroe, Martin Luther King, Jr., Sir Winston Churchill, Elvis Presley, John Lennon, and Princess Diana, to name a few over the decades.
The latest is now Michael Jackson.
Three of these bore the title King: George, Elvis and Jackson. One of them was a King: Martin Luther.
Some died of natural causes: George, Churchill, and possibly Jackson (apparent heart failure).
Four of them were murdered by assassins: the two Kennedy’s, King, and Lennon.
Monroe and Presley overdosed on drugs.
Diana was killed in a traffic accident.
Those who died too young: George, the Kennedy’s, King, Presley, Lennon, Diana, and now Jackson.
In each of these cases, people like me who did not personally know any of them is somehow expected to feel something, if one takes the outpouring of sentiment one sees in the media as a guide to life.
The only one on my list that truly gave me a sinking feeling was JFK. I was 17 when he was shot. I had lived through the Cuban missile crisis that he had stick-handled adeptly and it seemed to me at the time that the world had just become a more dangerous place without him in it. There was a spillover effect when his brother and King were also murdered, but it was as a tail to JFK’s head.
Time and historical revelation have revealed that he was a more flawed individual than a teenage lad knew. Although, nothing about his shortcomings takes away his two triumphs: the Russian showdown and the space program.
I didn’t feel very much about George and Churchill. They were for my parents to ponder. For me, they were just historical figures.
The others who died by bullets or drugs had little impact on me, except there is always a bit of twinge one gets that life is fleeting when their young age is factored into the equation.
Jackson is the only one in the group who had a rise and fall just before his death. He had it all and it was blown away by some bad judgments on his part. It is always sad to see a person fall in this fashion, but the decline has been some time in the making and is not news.
We are being exhorted by the commentators in the media to forget the freak show that became Jackson’s life in the last 15 years. We should remember his contributions to music and the entertainment industry.
I listen to music radio, particularly stations that play hits from the past. Mercifully, very seldom is Michael Jackson played on air. My own selection of Jackson’s output is limited to Billie Jean. The rest I could cheerfully discard. His voice was crap. There is nothing attractive about a grown male sounding like a 13 year-old girl.
If you want to listen to a cringe-producing song, play that duet he did with Paul McCartney, The Girl Is Mine. Michael Jackson is the one on the right in the picture below.
“I told you Paul, I am a lover not a fighter”, says Jackson, sounding exactly like a eunuch.
His main claim to fame came from his stage performances and music videos which were very dependant on his excellent dancing routines for impact.
Although I can get past the incessant face surgery and the pigmentation issues, the image of him dangling his infant child off a hotel balcony with a towel covering its face is hard to erase.
That is why I thought irreverent comedienne Sarah Silverman’s twitter comment best reflected my feelings:
Did you hear Michael Jackson's kids are free? That's not nice. I'm sorry. Ugh, I feel bad for saying that. LOOK A BLUE CAR!