When I was a kid, growing up at the start of cable TV and MTV, Michael Jackson was a superstar. The first nudity I ever saw was the movie Hair, shown on HBO soon after my parents subscribed to cable TV. I remember watching, repeatedly, as the hippies went skinny dipping. I was 13-ish. It was a big deal. The channel changer was a large console that was connected to the cable box by a cord, and looked like this: This was the type of box where you could find the Playboy channel even though your parents didn't subscribe to it, use the roller wheel at the right to go in-between channels, and see odd, partially scrambled porn. It was the best thing ever. "I think I saw a booby!" "Nope, that was static." "Crap!"
The Beat It video and others were major events, along with Madonna's Lucky Star and especially my favorite video of all time, A-Ha's Take On Me. This was when a Weird-Al parody was a big deal, like Eat It. He wore a fat suit! Wow!
In 1984, for a birthday present, my mom got me and my friends tickets to the Victory Tour at Mile High Stadium. We all waited in line for the better part of a day, and got nose-bleed seats for our efforts. I remember not being able to see anything but the lights. Still, it was great.
As a souvenir, I got a 3/4-sleeve concert t-shirt with the Jackson-5 on the front. As I remember it, it was a baseball shirt of the times... black body with 3/4 white raglan sleeves, with a Victory Tour iron-on in the middle of the chest. As fate would have it, my future wife saw the same show somewhere in Pennsylvania that year and got the same t-shirt. It must have been fate.
Now, umpteen years and innumerable oddities later, Wacko Jacko is dead.
There's no need in going through the incredible psychoses he exhibited in that past decades+. Instead, I choose to remember the weird kid, just a bit older than me, who wowed the Grammy crowd with his moonwalk, and made a crazy music video with Vincent Price narrating.
When history makes its decision and figures out what is the essence of Michael Jackson, I hope that it skips the last 20 years of his life because the first 30 years were amazing.
Mike, as completely screwed up as you were, I have fond memories. RIP.
Update: Welcome to all you folks out there who can't spell the word "dead!" By my rough count, over 50 people have searched on variations of "michael jackson ded" and landed on this post.