Monday, 29 June 2009

Michael Jackson – Dangerous Days

I wasn't going to add to all the furore surrounding the death of Michael Jackson, but I feel somehow compelled to contribute a personal memory of the man.

Back in 1992 I was still fairly new to the role of music journalist and was really just learning the ropes. I had interviewed Michael Jackson's guitarist Jennifer Batten for Guitarist magazine and was surprised when she sought me out at a music show in London when the Jackson 'Dangerous' tour hit town. When I asked her how the tour was going she asked me if I would like to see the show and I said, 'Yes, please...' I wasn't a Jackson fan, but I was aware that the show had been dubbed a spectacular second to none and thought, well, why not?

So I set off to Wembley Stadium a few days later – and I remember that day particularly because someone chose to smash into the back of my car at a roundabout on the way into London!

When I arrived, I picked up my press tickets and passes and went off backstage. Now, before you ask, no I didn't meet Jackson – I didn't even manage to get to say 'hi' to Jennifer. Backstage security was so tight I think it would have been easier to slip inside Buckingham Palace. In fact, as my backstage credentials hadn't been countersigned by one of the security overlords, I was restricted to the bar and VIP areas only. If that happened today, I'd know where to go in order to make a fuss, but I was still pretty green back then.

In any case, when showtime arrived I found my seat and told myself that it would be great to see Jennifer strut her stuff with Jackson, even if I was unlikely to get too excited about the music itself.

I guess you know what's coming; I was pretty much blown away. The show was incredibly impressive and Jackson himself had this indefinable aura about him – and it was so obvious just how good a showman Michael was. I would put witnessing a Michael Jackson performance up there with seeing Elvis – the realisation that you're seeing a legend and not just another pampered pop star.

Sadly the intervening years have not gone well for MJ; it would be wonderful if a performer of that magnitude could actually have a reasonable expectation of leading a 'normal' life. If this were possible then maybe the thousands of people who bought tickets for the now abandoned O2 shows would get to see something truly historical.

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