Leader Blues

Friday, June 26, 2009

EDITORIAL >> ‘King of Pop’ 1958-2009, RIP

Michael Jackson was a star for almost half a century, singing smooth soul music that had universal appeal. It was the music of the black urban masses, but watered down so that prepubescent-suburban youngsters and teenagers from Burbank to Beijing could dance to it.

Jackson, who died Thursday at the age of 50, probably from abusing prescription drugs, was vaguely aware that the music that had made him a millionaire was transplanted here on slave ships. It evolved into jazz and blues, created by poor blacks in the
Arkansas-Mississippi Delta who had moved up North, like his parents, transplants in Gary, Ind.

But the pop star may best be remembered as a dancer as innovative and entertaining as Fred Astaire. Jackson was inspired by the moves of the late, great James Brown, but expanded them in a way that became as memorable and unique as Michael Jordan slam-dunking.

Jackson’s fans will always remember his moonwalk, along with his bizarre plastic surgeries and courtroom spectacles.

Jackson was tainted by child sex-abuse charges and had tried to change his complexion to appear white. Despite his millions, he was not known for supporting hospitals or schools in urban ghettoes — but his success made his fans proud, especially those back home. Jackson, like Elvis, could become a more valuable commodity because of his sudden death.