Michael Jackson passed on, just a few minutes ago; not quite 51 in chronological age, and never more than a child at heart.
It's funny, the first song I can consciously remember playing on the radio, was a Jackson 5 song "I want you back".
The very first piece of recorded music I ever owned, was Michael Jacksons best album (yes, I absolutely stand by this statement. No solo artist ever produced a better blending of R&B, soul, funk, and pure dance pop), "Off the Wall".
Then, I was in elementary school when Thriller took over the world. You cannot believe how pervasive Jackson was in pop culture at the time. Forget Britney, Jackson was on t-shirts, lunch boxes, leather jackets, studded gloves... Everyone had thriller (our house probably had three copies), everyone had Michael Jackson merchandise (I even had a "beat it" jacket for a few months 'til I outgrew it) and most importantly he was coming out of EVERY radio, 24x7.
When I was young, Michael Jackson WAS pop music.
Unfortunately he was also a deeply troubled, disturbed, abusive, and clearly mentally and physically ill man.
Sometimes, it is so clear that an abuser is a victim himself, that you can't help but feel sad... perhaps not for the abuser, but certainly for the tragedy of it all.
In my opinion, Jackson never intended to be an abuser of children. He never intended any real impropriety. He never thought he was abusing, or hurting anyone. If he had thought so, I am almost cretain he would have taken his own life long ago.
And yet, it seems clear that he had inappropriate sexual, or at the least intimate, contact with prepubescent and adolescent boys and girls.
In his own heart, in his mind, in his development; he never matured past early adolescence. He lived out that stage of awkward sexual development, live for the world to see, 20 to 30 years after it should have happened.
Yes, it was horribly wrong, but you can see the tragedy of it.
Michael Jackson never had a chance. With that family, with that upbringing, with that damaged sensitive, arrested adolescence...
It is a shame that all the great music he made, is overshadowed by the damage he suffered, and caused.
However, there is still a legacy of 20 years of great pop music, (and perhaps the best male non ballet dancing put to film since Fred Astaire) before the demons caught up with him... and the almost 25 years since... perhaps we can't forgive that, but we can at least understand it.
Rest in Peace, Michael Joseph Jackson