- 03 Jul 09
Not since the death of Elvis has the passing of a music legend so gripped the world. As fans and detractors alike struggle to come to grips with the sad, strange end of Michael Jackson we assess his legacy – as musician, celebrity and enduring icon and talk to some of the people who knew and understood him best.
To the vast majority of the bazillion or so people who bought Thriller or danced to ‘Billie Jean’, Michael Jackson wasn’t quite real. He was more a combination of sine waves, a hologram, an avatar, and in his later days, an object of ridicule and a caution. For those of us too long in the tooth and with better things to do than affect residual or abstract grief for a distant star, it was tempting to react to reports of the 50-year-old’s death from a heart attack last Thursday – on the eve of a mammoth sell-out comeback tour – with the detachment of the professional obit writer whose first response is to calculate word count and column inches. We’re affected sure, but through a gauze, like witnessing the tragic end of the flawed hero in a film. We might shake our heads or tut-tut or even shed a tear, but we get to walk away pretty much unscathed.