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Saturday, 27 June 2009

Some thoughts about Michael Jackson

I was as surprised as anyone to hear the news of the death of Michael Jackson yesterday, who was undoubtedly a remarkable and ground breaking artist, yet am somewhat bemused at the outpouring of grief that has followed. I seem to be the only one who has not experienced great sadness and a sense of personal loss, which I must admit, I find quite strange. Of course we have seen this phenomena before when someone famous dies, most famously with Princess Diana, yet it still it seems to me at least, somewhat out of proportion. To be honest, I felt more grief and more shock when I heard about the death of Marvin Gaye, who in his own way was just as iconic. I can still remember exactly where I was and what I was doing when I heard the news, the same as people are now saying that they will always remember where they were and what they were doing when Michael died.

I was never the most ardent of Michael's fan, but I was a fan nevertheless. I still have my original vinyl copies of Off the Wall and Thriller, his best selling albums, and even went to see him once at Milton Keynes Bowl. I am somewhat ashamed to say that I can remember little about the show, other than the crowds and the noise - it was an outdoor arena not far from where my brother and his now ex wife were living, and we were so far back from the stage that we could not see a lot.

So much has been said and written about the man in the 36 hours since the story broke, that there is not much that I can say. It seems ironic though that those who castigated him the most during scandals which rocked his career and saw his popularity plummeting, have been among the first to say what a genius he was and how much he will be missed. Some say that this is par for the course and part of parcel of being a journalist - who are after all not paid to give their personal opinions.

Yes the man was a legend, and yes he was also an enigma, yes he was gentle and misunderstood, and yes he was a genius. He was all of these and a lot more, and yes, his records will now undoubtedly go back to number one. But, try as I might, I do not feel this sense of loss.

When the time comes as it surely will, when Stevie Wonder dies, then I will feel a sense of loss, and then I will be upset, for I feel for Stevie and his music the same way that many it would appear, felt for Michael. Listeners on LBC radio have been phoning in to say that Michael's songs formed a soundtrack for their life, and I can say the same thing with Stevie.

I have wonderful memories of the four concerts of his that I have now been to (I am always the embarrasing one who recognises his songs after the first note and sings along), of dashing out to the record shop on the day his records were released to get my copies and then listening for hours on end. So many special memories of special times. I hope that Stevie has many more years on the planet yet, for the sake of his children as well as fans.

That is the most important thing for Michaels memory right now - that his children be spared the media circus and protected from the public gaze to live as normal a life as possible with those who love them.

The outpourings will no doubt continue for a while (until at least the funeral), so I will simply sit and listen, allowing his fans to honour him in the only way they know how.

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