I suppose people of my age look at the sudden death of Michael Jackson the same way our parents looked at the sudden death of Elvis Presley. The news was announced about the same time of day. Both artists had basically slipped out of public life and into a bizarre drug induced state of being.
Elvis died at 42. That’s younger than I am now. MJ died at 50. Elvis helped usher in the age of television, and forced many a dad to buy a tv to satisfy little girls. Jacko ushered in the age of music video. Before “Thriller”, music videos were nothing to brag about.
In 1983 when the video first came out, I saw it debuted at a dance club in Knoxville. The dj stopped the music playing and announced he’d be showing a video on an overhead screen. No one had seen anything like that before in a dance club.
And no one had ever seen anything like “Thriller.” A movie really. A complete story with a killer bass track and dance moves like no one had ever, EVER seen before. No one on the dance floor that night was moving. We all stopped to watch. More still and quiet than that dance club had ever been before or since.
And the thing about the video was, you couldn’t just go watch it if you wanted. MTV didn’t show it every 20 minutes but made a big deal about the fact it was the only channel to see it on. You watched MTV all the time hoping to see it.
How different that would be handled today.
Who was bigger? Elvis or Michael? I couldn’t tell you even though I got to experience the success of both. I remember Elvis’ tv specials AND Michael’s video s and concerts.
It’s amazing how their lives and deaths are so similar.