Every Friday on this blog is “Makin’ it Happen Friday”, where I feature another musician who’s found a way to make a living playing music. I am constantly inspired by others, and hope to pass that inspiration on to you.
Normally I would use this space to spotlight another musician who is Makin’ it Happen. But I couldn’t bring myself to talk about anyone but Michael Jackson today. His passing is of huge cultural and generational significance, even as it’s being co-opted by the news media (hearing Wolf Blitzer set up “Thriller” is quite a surreal experience).
Many of my colleagues in the blogosphere are writing heartfelt tributes today. As usual, Darcy James Aruge is at once poignant and thought-provoking. Motown Records has posted thoughts from Berry Gordy, Smokey Robinson, Lamont Dozier and Yusuf (Cat Stevens). And MJ’s long-time friend and producer Quincy Jones released a short but touching statement. And my man Andrew Durkin stirs it up with his thoughts on what really killed MJ.
While it’s inevitable that most of the coverage will focus on his mega-hit albums like “Thriller” and “Bad”, my history with Michael dates back to Jackson 5’s first hit for Motown. “I Want You Back” was the first time I heard Michael’s angelic but powerful voice. I remember seeing footage of the band on the Ed Sullivan Show and wanting to be Michael. I used to stand in front of the mirror in my bedroom singing into a hairbrush and trying feebly to cop his dance moves. Even at that young age Michael knew how to be an entertainer and his electric personality fascinated me.
Through the magic of the internet I have been watching that very same clip all morning and wanted to share it with you. Here is the Jackson 5 performing a medley of “I Want You Back/ABC/The Love You Save” on Ed Sullivan in 1970. All I can say is, “Wow!”
In searching for this video, I also found one I had never seen before. This is video of the rehearsals for the “Thriller” video:
As Darcy said in his post, it is up to us to decide how to remember MJ. For me, he’ll always be that smiling, dancing, ass-kickin’ little kid I saw on Sullivan. And I’m sure I’ll watch the masterpiece that is the Thriller Video many, many times.
How will you remember MJ?