Thursday, July 2, 2009

R.I.P. Michael Jackson

I attended my very first music concert in 1981. I was 12 years old and in the 7th grade. I had been in Hamilton, TX. visiting my Grandmother. It must have been a Sunday morning, because that's when she got a copy of the Dallas Morning News. I saw an ad in the newspaper for the Jackson 5 Triumph Tour featuring Michael Jackson.

I don't know why this particular concert struck me as something I wanted to do. By the time I hit Junior High and started to get into music, the Jackson 5's were fading into pop culture memory. Michael had just recorded his Off the Wall album but it hadn't been released yet. They were at a moment in time where one of the the biggest bands of the 1960s and 70s was about to be eclipsed by baby brother and forever make them a footnote in his bio.

But, the ad hit a chord in me and I told my Mom I really wanted to go. Not much more was said about it but a couple of days before the show my Dad came to me and held out 2 tickets. He had a hotel room in Dallas and we were going. Just the two of us. Note that $10.50 ticket price. Those were the days!

I remember the concert being exciting and electric. And Michael was definitely the star of the show.

This was the set list:

Intro/"Can You Feel It" , "Things I Do for You", "Off the Wall", "Ben", "This Place Hotel""She's Out of My Life" , Movie And Rap, Including Excerpts of: "I Want You Back"/"Never Can Say Goodbye"/"Got to Be There" , Medley: "I Want You Back"/"ABC"/"The Love You Save"
"I'll Be There" , "Rock With You" , "Lovely One" , "Working Day and Night" , "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" , "Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground)"

You could tell he was on his way to bigger and better things and this concert was to launch him into the stratosphere. This was before we found out he slept in an air chamber. Before the purchase of the Elephant Man remains. Before the monkey companion. Before Macaulay Culkin and Emmanuel Lewis were his best friends. This was when Michael Jackson just looked like a star. The biggest star in the world.
I had another encounter with Michael Jackson in my late-20's. I was in Las Vegas with my boyfriend/fiancee (now my husband). We were in the Forum shopping mall between the Mirage and Caesars Palace. We were walking past the Warner Brothers store, when in walks Michael Jackson with bodyguards. Within seconds the store gates came down and only the lucky few who had been in the store were allowed to stay inside. Michael wandered the store for 20-30 minutes picking out items to purchase. Since we had been right there, we were front row at the store windows watching him shop. Within 5 minutes, word had spread throughout the mall that he was there and we were pressed up against the windows with people 20 deep behind us all straining to get a glimpse of him. Strange to think back on that and how that was his life. Being watched like an animal at the zoo, him behind caged doors and glass walls.
I have had him on my mind a lot this week. Thinking back to this show and wondering how a man with such talent and promise could become so lonely and twisted. My heart goes out to him and his children and family. I know he is in a better place and I hope he is happy now.

He's probably teaching the angels how to moonwalk and serenading Jesus. "Mama say ma sa, Ma ma coo sa"