25th June 2009 (26th June morning in India). I woke up due to a call at 3.30 AM in the morning. A call from my dear friend in London. She was crying. All she said was come online. By the time I went online, one more call followed from LA, from a source close to MJ who said "Mike is dead!". I couldn't believe my ears. The next thing I did was googling news for Michael Jackson and saw the news "Michael Jackson feared dead". Still I didn't believe. For me Michael Jackson is far more than King of Pop, far more than the God of Show Business he was something more important. He was my guru when it comes to music business, music presentation and arranging music. Music business leads to PR. Which artist do we know to have handled PR as effeciently as Michael Jackson??? He is the ruler when it comes to using negative publicity to one's benefit. And this is the same reason my student mind (his PR student) made me think for a moment that this is some gag to promote the concerts. In my mind I hoped that this was some PR stunt though I knew it would be wrong, I didn't want to loose him. But I was wrong. My worst vision had come true. It was in 2001 when Invincible was launched I had told my friend about this. He didn't believe me then. He called me saying "your words are ringing in my ears loudly now".
When the investigation started and things started surfacing, news started getting as controversial as Michael's life. Lisa Marie talking about Michael knowing about his sudden death at this age was not surprising for me. When the medication overdose was doing the runs with things like demerol it was obvious that Michael had given indications about this in his 1995 HIStory album called MORPHINE. The bridge goes -
Relax .... This won't hurt you
Before I put it in .... Close your eyes and count to ten
Don't cry ... I won't convert you
There's no need to dismay ... Close your eyes and drift away
Demerol Demerol... Oh God he's taking demerol
Demerol Demerol... Oh God he's taking demerol
He's tried... Hard to convince her
To be over what he had... Today he wants it twice as bad
Don't cry... I won't resent you
Yesterday you had his trust... Today he's taking twice as much
Demerol Demerol... Oh God he's taking demerol
Demerol Demerol... Oh my Oh God it's Demerol
It is not very obvious. I think every artist is spiritual and a visionary. Michael had business skills, spiritual skills, many more things. What made him weird was his isolated life from the real world since he was on the stage with thousands of people in audience since he was 10. Imagine yourself living a life like that. Why wouldn't you be weird or strange not understand how to behave in real world. Not to mention that every person he tried to befriend was trying to gain something from him. Through the history he showed in his actions and interviews that he had a very few trustworthy friends and never trusted his family which was always trying to encash on his publicity. His biographers always mentioned about his sadness and his non-stop efforts to run away from his family. The recent news about his will not to be disclosed to his family seems to be the last thing to prove that. He loved them as well. He loved Janet and Jermaine. But still through all that he stayed away from them remaining untouchable. He couldn't be comfortable with selfish people around so he used to surround himself with robotic mannequins in his house. His friends were celebrities and very few of them remained to his side through thick and thin including Marlon Brando, Elizabeth Taylor and so many others, the list will go on endlessly.
His humanitarian efforts and his kindness is not as publicized as much as his weird behavior is. He was always caring and very passionate about helping the helpless. There are many reports that have always surfaced where Michael has donated to a individual or to a organisation. The media never had any interest in any of these records until now. The total charity Michael has done would be as equivalent to the debt he is pressured under. He has supported 39 charities and his own foundation along with charity singles like "We are the World". This is a hyped story about Michael oweing $450 million in debts. Its not hyped because of the kind of amount it mentions, it is hyped because it doesn't mention the assets of over $1 billion he owns, including the famous Beatles songs. What does owning a catalog mean. In the layman's terms. Whenever a beatles song like 'yesterday' is played on a radio, television or a concert, the royalty goes into Michael's pockets and not of any beatles members. He is also rumoured to own many catalog albums of Eminem and Beyonce.
There was Elvis, Lennon (Beatles) & then Michael Jackson. I think this would be the last star of that popularity calibre and influential status worldwide. Madonna and Prince are as accepted in the western countries but media would ignore this fact very nicely. They should go to an African or Indian slum areas and ask 10 people whether they know Elvis, Madonna, Beatles, Madonna, Prince or Michael Jackson. The answer obviously has to be Michael Jackson. He is known more than a singer and a normal celebrity (a small word to decribe his popularity). Michael Jackson is known for endless things like dancing, revolutionized music videos, new innovatory pyrotechnics and illusionary effects on stage. Industry analyists say that Michael redefined the terms - Performance and Musical Genius. Its not because he had all the money in the world to put his ideas in practice. Michael Jackson was a disciplined artist from his childhood. His childhood was spent of rigourous practice sessions that sometimes lasted more than 12 hours. He might have been weird in the normal world, but he was the best in his singing, musical arrangements, compositions, dance, stage setup, sound, everything in detail. He was that shy perfectionist that never left behind any effort by himself when it came to presentation of his work.
Michael Jackson's moonwalk was first showcased on the Motown 25th anniversary special with the famous white glove. Very less people know that after the concert ended Michael was frustrated and crying because he couldn't stand on his toes at the end of the moonwalk as long as he had planned too. Being a perfectionist practicing for hours he though he had done a horrible job and was crying crazy. Suddenly he met a kid on his way out who said you were incredible. That made him smile. He said that kids never pretend or lie. He then believed that he had infact given a great performance. The confirmation for this came when he got calls from greatest dancers and celebrities who watched his performance again and again. That was the start of the moonwalker era who was about to make the record never broken till date. Thriller his 2nd album as an adult had shattered all records and till date happens to be the highest selling album selling over 59 million copies. If the total sales of his albums were to be counted they are well over 750 million.
What was his effect on Bollywood? HUGE! See Hritik do those mind boggling steps. EK pal ka jeena famous step is just a modified version of thriller dance with hands pushing in. His famous FILMFARE performance in red jacket was MJ's Billie Jean performance. I am not demeaning Hritik here in anyway. I love him as anyone else does but mentioning him here is important because he is the latest and biggest sensation in the industry and if something influences him forget the others. By now everyone also must have read blogs and comments by Ram Gopal Verma, Amitabh Bachchan and A.R.Rehman. We have a horde of artists like Mithun, Govinda, Ganesh Hegde, Shaimak Davar, Farah Khan and a lot more influenced by MJ And known as big MJ fans. Would anyone care about breakdance if there was no moonwalker who was marketing himself so deeply into the world audience? Michael's marketing was phenomenal. Watch the Nazi kind of march video and the huge statue he flown over the river thames when he was launching HIStory. Black or White happens to be the song premeire watched by the highest number of audience in world history. The production cost of HIStory and Invincible albums are known to be highest in music history.
Which other artist would surpass this. Induction into Rock & Roll Hall of Fame twice, Guinness World Records calls him "Successful Entertainer of all Time", 13 Grammy Awards, 13 Number 1 singles, 750 million sales worldwide and not to mention his concert which was bound to happen in july "THIS IS IT" selling more than 50 concerts in just 8 hours making it "The Highest Selling Concert at a single Venue", "Fastest Selling Concert Ever" & "Concert with highest audience at a single venue". Michael died on the verge of his sure-success comeback. I think that everyone knows a rule by now. The greater the success.. the equivalent price one has to pay in terms of allegations, controversies or similar trouble. No celebrity was spared from this in history. I think God must have been intelligent enough of not letting Michael have more pressure and hurt in life in the form of newly found success through the concerts. I also feel fortunate that he didn't go through a prolonged death process like cancer patients do, but infact died a death with a momentary pain. Maybe this also isn't true. The man was suffering all his life due to various reasons. Sometimes the people he loved and believed him hurt him. The media played their role quite often but that was a result of his negative PR stunts as well. He was often hurt by the pain he saw in the world around and understanding that he was limited in his ways to solve that. Whatever it was it was a person, a phenomena never to happen at this scale again. Michael Jackson has left behind a huge legacy for his fans, the artists he influenced, his friends and family. I think the fans and artists like me who are influenced by him have a bigger responsibility now to continue enriching the legacy he left behind.
Now that he is gone from this mortal world, fans don't need to spend their time fighting the rumours and controversies he was always surrounded with, now they can spend more time talking about his records and helping new generation know what is the kind of music that lasts for ever and what is the kind of music that they hear, something that doesn't have life beyond a few months. How to give back the world as a humanitarian. How to present yourself on the stage giving a complete performance using every conceivable technology and creative skills. What we have lost is the mortal being of Michael which his soul used for converting his visions into a reality. We have lost a great source of those visions, those ideas, something we have never seen someone else come up with. He will rest in peace now away from the world he gave and got from also resting all the negative controversies and rumours that haunted him all his life.
I have left mentioning a lot of things here. It would take a book. Even my own The Michael Jackson Anthem had 1 million downloads not because it was a great song but because it had a name Michael Jackson attached to it.
Photo credits: Nikhil Gangavane.