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Groundbreaking legacy will linger

Razia Iqbal | 12:06 UK time, Friday, 26 June 2009

jackson_ap.jpgThere aren't many entertainers whose deaths could prompt wall-to-wall coverage on media outlets all over the world.

But then Michael Jackson was unique.

In musical terms, the hyperbole is legitimate - he was quite simply an international legend.

For all those who think the coverage is excessive, there are millions of others who have danced to or listened to his music, seen him perform and loved him. And for these people, this is an epochal moment.

There will inevitably be a continuing, prurient interest in his tragic flaws as a human being; but it is as a profoundly groundbreaking talent that he should be remembered.

His voice as a child was extraordinary - he had an unusually adult feel for soul music.

Music journalists such as the late John Peel, Paul Gambaccini and Richard Williams who were present at the Talk of the Town promotional tour in the early 1970s, were dazzled by the showmanship and natural talent the youngster displayed.

After his voice broke, he continued to impress with his vibrato and phrasing.

It is rare to move from childhood fame to success as an adult. But to do it in the way Michael Jackson did underlined his genius.

Much is always made of his 1982 album Thriller and yes, it was brilliant, but to my mind his first big solo album - 1979's Off the Wall - is one of the greatest albums of all time.

It is an album which heralded Michael Jackson's arrival as a major star, but it did much more in terms of musical legacy. It was a watershed moment.

With Quincy Jones as producer, the album married R&B with pop in a way that had never been done before and it was a portent of the dominance of R&B in the charts in the 1980s and 1990s.

It was the slickness and catchiness of the tunes that marked Jackson's style and produced four US top 10 singles including number ones Don't Stop 'til You Get Enough and Rock With You.

Thriller built on that but did something utterly inspirational and smart - he fused black R&B with white rock to produce the best-selling album of all time.

It made Jackson the first truly cross-cultural international superstar.

Of course, I haven't even touched on his awe-inducing dancing, which was both fluid and instinctive. And it made him seem otherwordly.

His musical influence has been long lasting; Michael Jackson's talent has become part of the DNA of popular music and while there is much sadness in his passing, his presence and groundbreaking legacy will linger.


  • Comment number 1.

    He was great with the Five but seriously overrated thereafter. Thriller was entertaining but nothing more. He was not influential in the sense that many others would cover his music for years to come as other true greats' songs will be. I feel for him in that he was clearly a troubled soul but the incident with the balcony and the child is a boundary passed too far for me. Those who are upset - I wish you well but he is not worth all the press space that is likely to follow! James Brown, Smokey and Marvin hit the notes for me and were truly groundbreaking.

  • Comment number 2.

    Michael Jackson's most valuable legacy, and one which will probably be ignored, is the very public proof that the denial of a normal childhood and of normal childhood activities will inevitably lead to abnormal, disturbing and ultimately tragic adult behaviour.

  • Comment number 3.

    It is over for him now, he has passed on, and is hopefully now at peace. I've no criticisms or judgements to make - just simply wanted to say:

    Rest Well Michael Jackson and Thanks for the music.

  • Comment number 4.

    It was often said that Michael Jackson wanted to be like Peter Pan and live forever. In a way he achieved that, the Quincy Jones era Michael Jackson, who produced 3 of the greatest and most influential albums ever made will indeed live forever in the same way that people remember George Best as a hugely talented footballer rather than what he became. That's how I want to remember Michael Jackson, the talented singer, performer and showman who wowed millions of people rather than the tabloid caricature he turned into. We all know about his troubled upbringing and the demons which afflicted him, perhaps as with Best tremendous talent comes at a terrible price, in any case he has now found peace.

    R.I.P. Michael, you were the greatest!!!

  • Comment number 5.

    Fair enough, he was a good musician. I merely make the point that if one judges musical success by record sales [and most critics would reject that] then middle-of-the-road bands like the Eagles and Bee Gees must have sold truckloads of records and his sales numbers alone don't make him unique.

    But he did make some genuinely original and outstanding music, but as so many will point out, when one has that much success, that early in life, it is always going to be very difficult to remain 'grounded'.

    I would also question your reference to 'R&B' - this seems to me to be a very different genre to 'Rhythm and Blues' and I wouldn't drag Jackson to the level of the bland vapidity of most 'R&B' badged music which is dull, inane and almost instantly forgettable. Jackson was better than that.

  • Comment number 6.

    Truly a very sad occasion, it became clear from the various news reports over the last few days that Michael had a very traumatised and sad upbringing.
    Please RIP Michael.

  • Comment number 7.

    sad, confused man with talent. Poular music is just that. Each generation has it's own.

  • Comment number 8.

    Blog posted at midday Razia, and yet this is only blog no 8. That must be telling us something... I guess the Elgin marbles has it in terms of cultural icons....

  • Comment number 9.

    He will and should be remembered for his songs and dance routines, and his sheer enjoyment in entertaining others. But there is a strange discrepancy between what people knew of him, and the actual man. The leaked (but never-the-less apparently correct) autopsy results show a very frail person, taking painkillers and pills, with no hair, and clearly worried about his health, and yet Uri Geller has been quoted as saying 'he was in good health'... Protecting a man from himself is one thing - and friends (by definition?) should be honest with each other, but it seems that no-one, but no-one was able to be honest with Michael, nor was he to his fans, because it seems clear to me that he was in no position medically to undertake 5 concerts, let alone 50. Something is wrong there, and those who were close to Michael prob should be feeling that they let him down. Just some thoughts.

  • Comment number 10.



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