Bless His Soul: The Tragic Death of Michael Jackson
The Michael Jackson comeback concert series in London was supposed to be the event that got his career back on track. However, the stellar life and career of perhaps the world’s greatest entertainer ended abruptly as a result of cardiac arrest on June 25, 2009.
The death of Michael Jackson sent shockwaves throughout the music industry and the entire world. Everybody had their own personal story of how the “King of Pop” influenced their lives. His impact on my life was just as profound as most fans around the globe.
Unfortunately, I was not alive when the Jackson 5 burst onto the pop scene with I Want You Back in 1969, but I was blessed to be around when his solo career reached seemingly unimaginable heights.
I was born in May of 1979, a few months before he released his breakthrough solo album Off the Wall that September. Understandably, I cannot remember a day in my life that his music was not making an impression on me.
I can remember being five-years-old and the Thriller album was annihilating the completion on the Billboard charts. I remember my father offering to buy me my first album (something today’s generation knows nothing about with the popularity of CDs and later iTunes), and without hesitation I said I wanted Thriller. My father told me no, because he was going to buy me Deniece Williams’ LP Let’s Hear it For the Boy.
No disrespect to “Niecy,” who happens to be from Jackson’s hometown of Gary, Ind., but no five-year-old kid could appreciate the enormous talent that Williams possessed at that time, and I was no different. Actually, I found out later that the album was really for my father as he listened to it constantly for hours, and that he just wanted to pretend that he was buying me something for behaving well in kindergarten.
Nevertheless, my mother was able to make up for my father’s mishap by purchasing me and my sister tickets to see Jackson and his brothers on their Victory Tour in 1984. To this day, the Victory Tour is still one of the most celebrated spectacles ever witnessed by music fans.
My mother paid $30 each for the four of us to attend this concert, which was an astronomical price for a concert in 1984. I was so excited the day of the concert that I could not sleep that day during nap-time at the daycare that I attended after my kindergarten class let out at midday.
The daycare employees warned my mother that I would not be rested enough to enjoy the whole show that night because all I talked about that day was seeing my favorite singer live on stage. Their words proved prophetic.
Although only five-years-old, I vividly remember being at the Astrodome in Houston that day for the concert. I remember exactly where our seats were as well. We were not fortunate enough to get floor seats, but our seats were directly facing the stage.
I remember the opening act, a comedian with no comedic talent. I don’t know where the Jackson family found him. And I remember videos from the Victory album being played on the big screen monitors throughout the Astrodome. Unfortunately, that is all I remember besides briefly waking up at the urging of my mother and getting a couple of glimpses of Michael Jackson on those monitors.
The next day, my sister was bragging about the show that I missed and describing every detail of the show. I distinctly remember her saying that Jermaine Jackson was wearing a purple outfit that night.
Nevertheless, I can always say that I was in the same building with the “King of Pop” for one night of my life when he was truly the “baddest” dude on the planet.
The death of Michael Jackson hit me like a ton of bricks. Rumors had been circulating that he was considering doing a Jackson family reunion concert in Arlington, Texas in July 2010 and I was preparing to be one of the first to purchase tickets online. I saw this potential show as a way of making up for my mother wasting her hard-earned money 25 years earlier.
Despite, the untimely death of Michael Jackson and the fact that I never technically saw him live, I am blessed to have grown up on his music and dancing, and maybe that is just as good. In spite of the recent death of Michael Jackson, to have lived at the same time that the world’s greatest entertainer lived leaves me with memories that will never fade.
In 1978, The Jacksons released a song on their Destiny album entitled Bless His Soul. I pray that God blesses the soul of Jackson and his entire family as they grieve the death of Michael Jackson. I know my soul has been truly blessed by his music and the contributions he made to society. Rest in peace Michael Joseph Jackson!
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Smith is publisher of Regal Black Men’s Magazine.