Nearly one year ago, Michael Jackson’s death created an indelible void in the music industry and silenced a voice that transcended soul, pop, R&B and international music. While he hadn’t dominated radio waves in several years, Jackson became the progenitor of today’s modern pop stars, whose personal lives have become inextricably linked to major headlines and controversy.
Even in death, Jackson has been unable to avoid scandal. His parents are now embroiled in a public feud; media outlets have questioned whether his three children – Prince, Paris and Blanket – are Jackson’s genetic heirs; Dr. Conrad Murray, the man who allegedly killed Jackson with a lethal dose of propofol, is fighting to keep his medical license.
However, the bitter headlines have not stopped stalwart Jackson fans from memorializing the King of Pop with Web sites, T-shirts, documentaries, parties and unprecedented record sales. In the weeks following his death at age 50, Jackson sold more then 9 million albums, according to MTV.com. In addition, the music legend posthumously scored what may be the most lucrative recording deal in history thanks to a venture between his estate and Sony valued at $250 million, The Wall Street Journal confirmed.
Jackson’s fans are also planning memorials to mark the one-year anniversary of Jackson’s death on June 25. One of the largest may take place in the crooner’s hometown Gary, Ind., where city workers are preparing the Midwest town for an influx of Jackson supporters from around the globe.
As part of the AFRO’s tribute to the leading entertainer, the editorial staff shared their thoughts about music without Michael.
“I really miss Michael. I play his music all the time as I’m a staunch fan. The first time I saw him in concert was at the Richmond Coliseum as a member of the Jackson 5. He was only about 10 or 11 at the time and even then – as this diminutive but soulful lead singer – he rocked the house. RIP, Michael. There will never be another like you.”
– Dorothy Rowley, staff writer
“Mike was the ultimate people’s person. He lived for the people, fought for the people and died for the people, and that’s what I will always remember him for.”
– Perry Green, sports editor
“My first memory of Michael Jackson was when I was 4 years old, sitting Indian-style on the carpet in my basement as I watched the ‘Thriller’ video. I was very scared, but couldn’t help watching. As I got older, I could have sworn I was going to marry him, but then Lisa Presley came along. I got over my crush on him, but remained a huge fan.”
– Melanie Holmes, staff writer
“As a kid, it was always entertaining to watch the ‘King of Pop. I remember imitating many of his videos including ‘Black or White’ and ‘Remember the Time.’ Since his passing, it definitely feels as if something big is missing in the music industry and no artist will ever fill that void.”
– Gregory Dale, editorial assistant
“I won’t lie: Up to a year ago, my MJ CDs had become dusty; forgotten but for the four or five favorite tunes that made the rotation in my digital playlist. Since his death, I’ve rediscovered his art—the compelling rhythm of his beats, the pure lyricism of his melodies, the ‘everyman’ transcendence of his lyrics. Now, even more than a year ago, I feel the weight of my loss, the world’s loss. Music will never be the same again.
– Zenitha Prince, Washington Bureau Chief
I think it’s still a case of you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone. He was such a brilliant artist, but we focused too much on his eccentricities rather than his music. It’s sad that it took his death to make us realize how great of an artist he was.
– George Barnette, staff writer
“Although Michael Jackson was not a product of my generation, his life and death has greatly shaped the music arena of my generation. Singer/dancers like Usher, Chris Brown, and Ciara mimic the styles of dancing and even the fashion that was first introduced by Michael. He set a strong and solid pace for African-American artists in the industry. He will definitely be a hard act to follow, but his legacy is forever embedded in our culture.”
– Krishana Davis, intern
“Though I was never a huge follower, there was no denying his impact on the music industry, pop music in particular. The ‘Thriller’ music video is still one of my favorites to watch on YouTube. He’ll be greatly missed.”
– David Rushing, intern