I saw Michael Jackson’s first appearance on national television. I was sitting on my parents’ bed with my sisters, watching a variety show called “The Hollywood Palace.” The Jackson 5ive came on stage and I was mesmerized. The lead singer was a kid who was younger than I was and he was sensational. I loved those early songs, “ABC” and “One Bad Apple” and “Never Can Say Goodbye.” I even watched the animated series. Many years later, I was in the front row of the crowd on the lawn of the White House when he visited Ronald Reagan for some event that had to do with auto safety. I could see how shy he was. The gloved hand was shaking. He was at the time the biggest performing artist in the world, which is what he wanted.
Over the past twenty years, Jackson was better known for headlines than for music. He was known as “Wacko Jacko” and there were rumors about his weird, childlike, possibly predatory behavior. He spoke about abuse in his own childhood. He had extensive cosmetic surgery and he and his children appeared in public with their faces concealed. He was accused of molesting young boys. He had two brief marriages. He had financial difficulties. He once said he was Peter Pan. Now he will never grow old.
Let’s remember Michael Jackson when he was young and full of talent and possibility.