“A.B.C.’s of a legend remembered”
by R.A. Moore
The green and gray Sheriff’s Department helicopter, labeled Rescue 5 just sat down at the Los Angeles county Coroner’s building.
As the personnel climbed out of the unit, removing their flight helmets, the fading evening glow of a California sunset cast its auburn rays on the remains of pop idol, Michael Jackson.
He seemed to still possess his aura of legendary stature as he glowed from beneath a radiant white body-bag. A glow I had first seen in the face of a little boy, dancing and singing on a small color television set in a two bedroom apartment in Opa-Locka Florida when I was 5 years-old. The explosive shuffling and gyrations of the little front-man, with butterfly-collars being towered over by his brother’s, amazed me. It caused a little white boy with shoulder-length, blonde surfer hair to be infused with the energy of music.
We lived in a small apartment and the only furniture we had was a set of bunk-beds and dresser in my room and a double bed and corner stand with a television in my mothers’ room. While playing in the floor of my bedroom I would hear the Jackson 5 singing “ABC…EASY AS ONE, TWO, THREE” and I would have to come running into my mothers’ room, trying to mimic “little Michael”. Saturday morning cartoons would bring the animated show of the Jackson 5 and I would have to be tube-side as well. My mother would come to tell stories, which she still recites on occasion, of how they would have some of their wild hippie parties and I would end up getting up on top of the coffee table and dancing while friends gave me money. I believe she says I made enough the first time to buy a pair of shoes for myself.
By 1979, we had moved to Georgia, but we came home to my Grandparents house for the Christmas Holidays. While we were there for that week I had the chance to go out with my mother and aunt to see the movie Star Trek- The Motion Picture and while we were waiting for the show to start, we went into a record shop and I had the opportunity to purchase a couple of records for the first time with my own hard-earned cash. I bought Michael Jacksons’ OFF THE WALL and Electric Light Orchestras’ Discovery albums. I think I wore permanent grooves in the section of the record where the track, Don’t stop ‘til you get enough was. I have to admit that while I loved borrowing rock records from friends of Kiss Alive!, Kiss Alive2,Destroyer and AC/DCs’ Let there be rock and Highway to hell, I was a damn closet- dancing fool. The man had energy and didn’t give a damn to show it and it was contagious.
Later, as I hit High School I remember seeing the first boy to own a patent-leather, bright red zipper jacket. By this time I was hard-core rock and metal and I remember everyone either giving the boy total hell or on the other end of the spectrum lining up to ask him “where did you get that jacket?”. I remember watching M.T.V. premier the Thriller video and everyone conversing for weeks after about the choreography and make-up of the video. I still see groups trying to perfect their versions of the iconic video for Halloween shows and haunted houses every year; 27 years later.
Weird Al Yankovic would come to parody Michael Jackson in his rendition of Beat it, which was hilarious. Saturday Night Live would parody his odd choice of fashion choices like the single white glove thing and high-water slacks combined with the now infamous crotch grab. Whatever the parody, negative as it may have been interpreted it was publicity just the same. He never stopped selling his music.
As the 90’s faded into the millennium I have to admit I lost touch with Michael Jacksons’ work, although I do remember hearing a song he did with his sister Janet, Scream that I thought was pretty cool. He seemed to be losing his stature as a pop icon. Plagued with constant controversy and tabloid snipers, some instances brought on by his own peculiar personality, I think the legend became man again in some twisted, tattered and lost form. His success became his demon; his absence of childhood became the imp that whispered in his ear of paranoia and the need for seclusion. Anything placed too high suffers the possibility of becoming top-heavy and crashing to the ground. The aura of the endeavor can withstand eternity though.
I have been lucky or cursed enough, whichever way you choose to look at it, to have lived in a moment of history that encapsulated world changing personalities. I was old enough to remember watching Elvis Presleys’ enormous funeral procession. I watched the coverage on the news of John Lennon taking a bullet. My eyes shed tears once again the day we lost the phenomenal guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughn. The man in black Johnny Cash cast a tall, dark shadow on the music world the day he left. There have been many, and I’m sure you have someone in mind that hits home for you too.
Tonight as I finish this article with the news coverage rolling tape over and over again of the bright orange ambulance trying to back out of the gates of Michael Jacksons’ home, I feel grateful to have witnessed another human being come full circle.
I think I’ll go make a fool of myself one more time and slide around on the kitchen floor in my socks dancing while I listen to “Little Michael” sing, “A.B.C…EASY AS ONE, TWO, THREE…”.