Paradoxically, I was bitten by the Michael Jackson bug at a time when I was seriously getting into jazz. And while my record collection at the time was a strange assortment of eclectic jazz and progressive rock, I couldn’t stop listening to youngest member of the the Jackson 5′s first adult album, Off the Wall. Obviously, I wasn’t alone.
Aside from its pure brilliance and the instantaneous and visceral response it evoked, it took some time to realize, with the mix of Quincy Jones’ production and the presence of so many great musicians and compositions, that Jackson was redefining popular music.
As the media and Jackson’s entourage clouded recent public perceptions of the man, like Ellington and Einstein, I’m confident that future generations will come to more fully comprehend his genius and contributions to the world. He gave so much to us and yet in his final years he was seemingly always on trial, literally and figuratively.
As I write this, many are wondering what caused the heart attack that took his life. I think my wife summed it up best after first hearing the news when she turned to me and said, “Michael Jackson died of a broken heart.”