What do you expect when you return home late at night after a day’s hard work? Cold coffee, a foot massage and a snug bed. You don’t expect to hear that your idol has died.
That’s what happened on Friday on June 26. It was the weekend and I was planning to let my hair down as I entered my house after work. I was dumbfounded by what I came to know on news. Michael Jackson had died of a heart attack.
This couldn’t be happening, I told myself. No more King of Pop.
As news channel after news channel and SMS alerts informed me about how Jackson was taken to the hospital after his heart stopped beating, no words came out of my mouth. It was unbelievable.
It has sunk in now. Giving interviews about him, watching news, checking out fans mourning on net has finally left no doubt in my mind that moonwalk will never be the same again. But as I see his concert CD, the fact hits back with full gusto: we are sorely going to miss the showman’s antics that
made us swoon.
When I came to the UK in 1991, the only western music and culture icon I was aware of was Michael Jackson. He was huge back in India, even though not many knew his work! He represented the cultural import in India.
As a child I, like millions others, was crazy about the things he did. The way he grabbed his crotch was outrageously rebellious and wicked. We copied his style any way that we could- his glares, his jacket, the sequined glove, the hair et al.
His influence shows in every music and dance act of today- from Timberlake to Ganesh Hegde to me. His videos began the pop revolution and the on-screen magic that he began has reached another level today with all the technologies we have.
I tried the moonwalk many a times but couldn’t do it until this year when I tried the sidewalk version of it on the show ‘Jhalak Dikhla Ja’!
I am moved not only because I am a fan, but also because at a level, I identify with the pain the Jackson went through. When I began making music in the UK in 1995, we faced a lot of racial bias. It is through sheer hard work that I became a part of the music scenario there. It was incredible for Michael Jackson to rise at a time when the Blacks had just got legal rights in the US. Had it not been for the success of Thriller, MTV wouldn’t be airing his videos day-in day-out like its doing now as it was primarily a White channel.
As a child, he faced a lot of hardships which makes his life a sad story. The controversies that hounded him never affected me. I understand him now completely because many false accusations, claims etc are regularly thrown at me too. I have realized that celebs have to pay this price.
MJ, being the biggest of ‘em all, attracted the worst kind of publicity. I have seen how people can do anything for money and for their 15 minutes of fame. I don’t believe in any rubbish that he was accused of. He was a star, and those who got attached with him in any way became famous and rich too.
I guess he cared a lot about what people said about him and must have taken to anti depressants which killed him, as reports suggest.
That said, there is little doubt that in the last decade, Michael slipped from Number 1. But that, I believe, was because he was not making the music he is known for. In the 90s, the era of pop as we knew it in the 80s had vanished. In came hip-hop, rock and a lot of other hard genres. That Niravana’s debut grunge-rock album ‘Nevermind’ knocked his Dangerous off number one on US Billboard chart was a sign of times to come.
But Michael didn’t change even as his contemporary, and another legend of our times, Madonna wonderfully adapted and continues to make music which sells millions of copies even today. Every thing has a time and Jackson was caught in his own warp.
That, of course, doesn’t mean that time has worn the spark off his tracks. There is no question of my remembering him- I am not going to forget this man! I am sure that I will tell my children of a man who walked like an alien on this Earth and I know even they will pass on his tunes to their kids.
Michael’s music comes to me first and then his dancing and then the way he magically fused both to become a neat package. His appeal won’t wither way because he may have died, but his music won’t. The ultimate star of our generation has gone on to shine in another universe, but not before leaving us all starry eyed.
(The views expressed by the author are personal)