Love the music…not the man

Published 10:29 am Thursday, July 9, 2009

Love him, like him or hate him; regardless of how you may felt about Michael Jackson as a human being, it is hard to deny that he was a musical genius.

I, like many other people across our globe was stunned at the news of Michael Jackson’s death last week. I have been a lifelong fan of Michael Jackson’s music and despite the accusations regarding his character and the overall creepy demeanor he displayed whenever he allowed himself to be seen in public, I remain a fan still.

The simple truth is that I do think he is guilty of at least some of what he has been accused. Those accusations, however inexcusable and horrific they might be, had little bearing over my affection for his music.

Let me make this clear…I am not a fan of Michael Jackson. I think what he was accused and found guilty of in the public eye is atrocious and appalling. His music however is another story.

Thriller was the first album I ever owned. (A side note for my readers 30 or younger, an album is also known as an LP or vinyl. If you still don’t know what I’m talking about then go ask your parents.) I played it over and over again and if the video happened to come on television then you might as well have given up on getting me to do anything but sit a few inches away from the television and stare as the later titled “King of Pop” dazzled us all with his undeniable voice and unmatched dance moves.

Michael Jackson recorded 13 number one singles, collected 13 Grammys and sold over 750 million albums. Certainly explains how he got that “King of Pop” title. The Guinness Book of World Records has him listed as officially the “Most Successful Entertainer of All Time” and the numbers above do nothing to dispute that title either.

If you grew up during the 80s then you understand the tremendous influence Michael Jackson had in everything. Not only was his music incredibly popular (Thriller is still the number one selling album of all time) but it seemed that everything that Michael touched turned into gold.

As odd as it may sound right now, it was not weird during that era to see a gentleman with a red and back vinyl jacket covered with zippers, sunglasses on at night and one single sequined glove. It was Michael’s look so it became THE look.

Regardless of my mood, location, circumstance or surroundings, the mere humming of Thriller, Beat It, Gotta Be Starting Something or any other of his numerous hits is enough to take me back in time to a childhood where life seemed carefree (at least in comparison to now) and innocent. How can that not make you smile? How can that not make you a fan of the music?

You don’t have to like the man, I understand if you don’t. As for me and my generation though, we say forget the man…remember the music.

David Friedman is a long-time contributor to the Roanoke-Chowan News Herald. A Bertie High School graduate, he and his wife currently reside in Wilmington. David can be reached via e-mail at