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There was noThing black and whiTe abouT Michael Jackson’s life… Anu GulmohAr pays hoMage To The laTe king of pop…

l i f e

michael jackson - a tribute

From left to right: The Jackson 5, MJ performing at the Dangerous World Tour, MJ with ex-wife Lisa Marie Presley, MJ with younger sister Janet, a young Michael poses for the camera

n 26th June, a day after the King of Pop’s life came to an abrupt end, Lisa Marie Presley, daughter of Elvis and Michael’s ex-wife, wrote on her blog – “Years ago Michael and I were having a deep conversation about life in general. I can't recall the exact subject matter but he may have been questioning me about the circumstances of my father’s death. At some point he paused, he stared at me very intensely and stated with an almost calm certainty, "I am afraid that I am going to end up like him, the way he did." I promptly tried to deter him from the idea, at which point he just shrugged his shoulders and nodded almost matter of fact as if to let me know, he knew what he knew and that was kind of that.” The end wasn’t all that different. If an overdose of the drug Demerol is being blamed for taking Michael Jackson away at the young age of 50, Elvis too


was addicted to Demerol in particular, and after his death a concoction of 14 drugs were found in his system. People were shocked, crushed and devastated at the death of the King of Rock 'n' Roll, much like people of the world are now, some in tears, others in silent prayer. Best-Selling Pop Male Artist of the Millennium, a double-inductee of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Guinness World Record holder for Most Successful Entertainer of all time and winner of 13 Grammy Awards, Michael Jackson is not someone the world will forget in a hurry. “Michael was an incredible singer and a brilliant dancer. He had the dance flair of Fred Astaire and the voice of an angel/devil. He was absolutely mesmerising when on stage,” says Alyque Padamsee. Michael’s incredible journey began when he was sixyears-old. He joined his brothers in their band Jackson Brothers, and by the time he turned eight, he turned lead singer along with

bro Jaermaine, and the group from then on came to be known as The Jackson 5. “Michael Jackson was a child prodigy. A child who becomes famous may focus on his field of interest exclusively and exclude interactions with his peers, as a result of which he may find himself alone and this may lead to depression and anxiety,” says Dr Sonali Bali, Consultant Psychiatrist, VIMHANS, Delhi. Michael’s cherubic charm and angelic voice wooed the people and the group delivered hits like “ABC” and “I Want You Back”. But behind this picture perfect band was a controlling father who would mentally and physically torture the boys. Michael, in an interview years later, was in tears as he described the abuse.

In 1978, Michael acted in the musical, “The Wiz”, and this is where he met Quincy Jones, who went on to produce his solo album – “Off The Wall” – which went on to sell 20 million copies. Both of them worked together for Michael’s next album too. This time the result – “Thriller” – sold more than a 100 million copies. While Michael was declared a “blindingly gifted vocalist” by some, others compared his style with the “breathless, dreamy stutter” of Stevie Wonder. Michael also put in a lot of effort, and money too, in his videos. And so he triumphed in creating videos like that of “Billie Jean”, which incidentally paved the way for black artists to be aired on MTV, and also brought the channel into mainstream attention. He

As his dAnce evolved, MichAel wAs even Able to MAke MoveMents like touching one’s crotch iconic!

focussed equally on his dance, and it was at a live performance of the same song that he premiered his signature step – the Moonwalk. With every song, his dance evolved and strangely enough, Michael was even able to make movements like touching one’s crotch iconic! Prabhu Deva, often referred to as India’s MJ says, “Dance suddenly became a rage in India because of MJ. India was shocked to see a man who could dance like him and I too was shocked and inspired by him. He had a unique dance style, it wasn’t break dance … it was just typical Jackson Style!” Growing up in the 90s, I didn’t believe people when they told me that MJ was really a black guy. Soon enough I found out that the guy I was in love with was the product of several cosmetic surgeries. In 1979, Michael had his first rhinoplasty after breaking his nose during a dance routine. This was followed by many more surgeries. In the mid 80s, Michael was diagnosed with vitiligo and

lupus that considerably lightened the colour of his skin. Michael literally reinvented himself via several cosmetic surgeries, a transition that drew much flak from the public and the media. Most of his adult years were lonely; his relationships with women fleeting and his two marriages were short lived. One, is now speculated to have been all a sham. For while Lisa left him when she realised that she could not save him, Debbie Rowe has revealed post his demise that she had agreed to bear him children to help him and to keep him from being lonely, and that while she was artificially inseminated, Michael was not the biological father of the children! Michael went on to have a third child via a surrogate mother. Michael never experienced a normal childhood or adulthood, for he was the man who lived in 'Neverland' – a place where people don’t grow old. “Michael Jackson has been labelled as the Peter Pan of Pop music. Whether

he suffered from the Peter Pan Syndrome is best answered by someone who has known him closely, but many of the characteristics of Peter Pan were seen in him as well,” says Dr Sonali Bali. He preferred the friendship of children to adults, for he felt that he could trust them. Alas, this eccentric habit was misinterpreted and exploited by conniving people. He was first accused of sexually abusing a child in 1993, by 13-year-old Jordan Chandler and his father, and while the child’s mother severely refuted their accusations, investigations were carried out where many children in Michael’s family were interrogated and he was even subjected to a strip search. The public and media lambasted him, Michael couldn’t cope with the stress and it was then that he began to take painkillers. Sufficient evidence was not found and Michael eventually coughed up $22 million to put an end to the episode. Similar charges returned to haunt him in 2003. In-

vestigations followed, TV channels and newspapers wouldn’t stop deriding ‘wacko Jacko’, and Michael’s dependency on drugs increased and his health deteriorated. Though he was acquitted on all counts, the world still labelled him a paedophile. People across generations and across the continents have appreciated and enjoyed Michael Jackson’s music. More than his death, perhaps the reason why the mourning for the King of Pop doesn’t seem to pause is because we all realise that we loved him for his rare talent and we were witness to the last act of his life and did nothing as we saw him consumed by misery and loneliness. The drugs might have put him to sleep for good, but then legends never die. Like Jackson said in 2007, “Music has been my outlet, my gift to all of the lovers in this world. Through it, my music, I know I will live forever.” RIP Michael. With inputs from Aakriti Bhardwaj and Ravi Inder Singh

the sunday indian 48 12 july 2009

the sunday indian 49 12 july 2009

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