Today is Michael Jackson’s birthday. He would have been 53. The day MJ died, I was crushed. I felt like I had lost a member of my family. (This is not an exaggeration.) As a child and into my adulthood, I was obsessed with Michael Jackson.
I danced around my house everyday trying to moonwalk, listening to Off The Wall like it was my religion. In a sense, I guess it was. In 1983, when the Thriller music video was released, I was petrified of what I saw. A scary werewolf and zombie! This was not my Michael! In 1984, I learned of his accident on the set of a Pepsi commercial shoot. I was 6 years old and cried myself to sleep that night, with my mom by my side, assuring me he would be okay.
That same year, I had the best Christmas of my life! I was the only child in the family at the time and kind of spoiled. I woke up to about a million presents under the tree but was most excited about my MJ goodies. A beaded white glove, a red leather jacket, a MJ microphone and a poster of the photo above.
Then as I got older, my love of MJ continued to grow but I quickly learned that not everyone was a fan. In 1993, the allegations arose and I felt the need to keep my admiration for Michael hidden. Kids were mean and made jokes. I felt like they were making fun of me. But still, I listened to MJ from Thriller, to Bad, to Dangerous, HIStory and Invincible. I had every album (still do).
When I was 18 and applying to college, I wrote one of my application essays on the track Earth Song another example of Jackson’s love for our planet and it’s children. He was a humanitarian and philanthropist and had donated and raised hundreds of millions of dollars for 39 different charities and countless causes. That essay got me into my dream school, NYU.
I saw him perform live twice in my life and both times I was swept away. In awe of how he moved, his voice, his talent. You can call him what you want but you could never deny his greatness.
The music was the magic. Michael Jackson sold 750 million records worldwide, won 13 Grammys, 26 American Music Awards and was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame twice, once for his time with the Jackson 5 then for his solo work. I can’t listen to his music and not want to dance or change the world. It’s an odd juxtaposition.
Oh yeah, can we talk about the style?! I mean, talk about a Fashion Icon! This is the man that gave us jeweled clothing way before the Bedazzler existed! Penny loafers, cropped pants, aviator shades, shoulder pads, fedoras, he made is all look cool.
It’s sad to think he’s no longer with us. I truly believed he had so much more to share. He was a tortured soul. I don’t think it’s possible to be the most famous man in the world from childhood and not lose your sh*t! It’s a sad reality but he left us with greatness. His music. Music that makes you dance and makes you feel.
Happy Birthday MJ! You are missed.