Written by Mike Arnold
There are times in our lives when we will always remember where we were and what we were doing as we heard major news. Maybe it was when we heard the news of O.J. Simpson being accused of murder or the jury’s verdict of “Not Guilty”. Maybe it was major news in your family, a riot in your town, America being involved in war, or the 911 tragedy as the twin towers in New York City came crumbling down. One day I’ve always remembered was hearing the news about the death of Elvis Presley. I remember being at work and hearing the news from the guys on the night shift coming in to relieve us and telling us about the tragedy. It was unbelievable that the King of Rock could die so young. I also remember watching Monday night football with my wife Sandra as Howard Cosell tells the American football audience that John Lennon had just been shot and killed in New York City outside his apartment. Now another day I’ll probably remember is today, Thursday June 25th 2009, the day I heard the news of the death of Michael Jackson.
I first heard of Michael Jackson as a child listening to the Jackson Five. At that time it was The Jackson Five and The Osmond’s selling millions of records and constantly being played on the radio. Just as all child bands, the artists grow up and so do the fans. I didn’t think either band had a future in the mainstream music business as adults. Michael Jackson proved me to be severely wrong. I remember being at a disco in the 70’s when I first heard “Rock With You” and “Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough”. I couldn’t believe the music Michael Jackson was creating. Even at that point in my life I believed that Michael’s solo career would be short lived. Then he proved me wrong again!
From there Michael Jackson took it over the top by attracting rock music fans when he delivered the incredible album “Thriller”, which eventually sold over 100 Million copies! The songs from that album included rock and dance music. He definitely won me over as a mainstream artist. I remember a time when Sandra and I were watching our tiny 13inch black and white television in our very small one bedroom apartment as Michael Jackson stunned the world with dance moves no one has ever seen. It was something he called “The Moonwalk”. He was moving backwards although his legs looked as if he was walking forward. Sandra and I both jumped up with amazement and unbelief. I couldn’t stop talking about it for months. I was definitely a fan by now.
I was thrilled when I heard “Beat It” on our local rock radio in Nashville, but Michael went way beyond that by breaking the color barrier as MTV finally made a decision to play Michael Jackson videos (which led them to begin playing other black artists). I heard that CBS records threatened to remove all of their artists on their labels from MTV if they didn’t play Michael Jackson. It didn‘t take long until Billie Jean was played on MTV. More great videos were on the way, “Beat It”, and of course “Thriller”. Not only did his dancing impress me, but his videos did as well. I loved the “Thriller” video and at that time I couldn’t get enough.
I remember my son Justin being interested in music and dancing at a young age. I showed him some Michael Jackson videos and the made for TV movie on the life of the Jackson’s to show him the hard work it took to become a successful artist. I walked into our den one day and saw Justin studying Michael Jackson’s dance moves. He had the remote control to our VCR in one hand while keeping in time with Michael’s moves. He would rewind and play until he had the move down. He was even wearing a hat so he could sling it as part of the dance moves. Before long he was entertaining us, and our friends, with his dance moves to the song “Billie Jean”.
I’ve never seen Michael Jackson or the Jackson Five in concert. I had a chance once when The Jackson’s came to Nashville, TN on the Victory Tour in the early eighties. My friends who went to the show told me it was an amazing show. I was looking forward to the upcoming tour, but now it will never take place. Michael Jackson was a perfectionist, which may have cost him his life. As he prepared for his upcoming farewell tour, I heard he rehearsed and danced continuously for six hours a day. Rumors have said, between the exhausting rehearsals, not eating right, taking prescription drugs, and his fifty year old body, his heart finally had enough and screamed out, “I QUIT”.
Michael Jackson was also a shrewd business man. Paul McCartney once told Michael that the real money in the music business is in music publishing. That’s when he out bid Paul and purchased the rights to The Beatles songs. I heard Paul was furious and that ended their friendship.
Michael had all sorts of issues in his personal life and seemed to live a very strange life. All of that may be from not having a normal childhood and having to work extremely hard since the age of five. At least that explains his California home with a yard like a combination of a theme park and a zoo. I’ll miss Michael Jackson and his many images throughout his life, but most of all his unpredictable music, dance moves, and live performances.
I hope Michael Jackson will finally Rest In Peace.
Written by Mike Arnold
Tags: 911, Beat It, Bille Jean, Cause of Michael Jackson's death, Elvis Presley, Jackson Five, John Lennon, Justin Arnold, Life and Death of Michael Jackson, Michael Jackson, Mike Arnold, New York City, Paul McCartney, Thriller