RIP Michael Jackson: 1958-2009

Pete’s Thoughts

My first memory of seeing Michael Jackson was May of 1983. I was 12 years old, and a 7th grader at Jerstad Junior High in Racine, Wisconsin. My drama teacher, Mrs. Mottl, wheeled in a TV and VCR one day, excited to show the class a video of Michael Jackson dancing and singing on the ‘Motown 25’ television special. It had aired just a night or two before (May 16, 1983).

The whole class sat awestruck as we watched Michael kick, dip, glide and stride across the stage – and of course – watching him moonwalk across a stage for the very first time. It was a defining moment in his already storied career, and certainly the same for those watching him. Michael was truly one of a kind, the ultimate performer, and I am very much saddened tonight as I write this.

It’s not that I’ve been a huge fan of Michael Jackson (as a lot of you know, I’ve spent most of my life obsessed with the music of Prince). But I always enjoyed his music, and admired his showmanship, and the undeniable force and presence he was in popular music.

MIchael Jackson, to people my age, is our Elvis. He’s our John Lennon. His impact on the world of entertainment and popular culture is certainly on a par with Elvis and John. We grew up with him.

Yes, Michael had his problems. The last 10-15 years of Michael’s life were filled with tragedy, bizarre behavior, and deplorable accusations.  But tonight, I think back to Michael Jackson the entertainer – the amazing young talent moonwalking across that Motown 25 stage.

I’m still numb, like a lot of you. It doesn’t seem real, does it? It’s hard to even fathom right now that Michael Jackson is no longer with us in this life.

Truly a dark day. May you rest in peace, Michael.

Michael’s Thoughts:

It’s hours later and I’m still a bit stunned. Rather than write the words that will be written over and over in the coming weeks and months, I will say that the Michael I will choose to remember is the man that brought us all joy through his music, his dance, his passion and his desire to leave the world a little bit better than he came into it. I will celebrate his work and his legacy. Pray for his children and his family as they weather the days ahead. Celebrate his life and legacy… dance and sing, not out of sadness, but in honor of all the good he brought this world.

I’m Gonna Make A Change,
For Once In My Life
It’s Gonna Feel Real Good,
Gonna Make A Difference
Gonna Make It Right . . .


  • jazzmaster

    My sentiments, exactly.

    I think Michael was a confused, messed-up, desperate person due to the type of upbringing he had. The accusations from the latter part of his life are simply deplorable. However…

    That’s not who I want to remember. I can vividly recall the night back in ’83 when I just happened to flip the channel at the right time… They were announcing Michael Jackson on the Motown 25 celebration. I sat there with my jaw on the floor as he moonwalked across the stage. I didn’t even know what that was called… It looked like he was gliding. Absolutely amazing.

    My friends and I were die-hard Van Halen, Def Leppard, Led Zeppelin fans. Guitar-driven rock and roll is what we were all about, but that next day, all we talked about was Michael. He was THE MAN.

    And, just like Pete, I was never a huge fan of his. I appreciated his music and still enjoy listening (probably more so today and going forward) and I thoroughly understand his importance in modern music (and entertainment, for that matter!).

    RIP, Michael. The world will miss you.

  • KidsWizzerd

    I always wanted to visit the neverland ranch. So sad that I’ll never have the chance. Do you think the things they say about him are true?

  • linda castro (philippines)

    i love you so much michael, for your music that you selflessly shared with us, but more so for a big loving heart that touched many lives, someone only wanted what was good for mankind, to heal this ailing world. and yet, what did some demonic people do to you? until now, i still grieve over your loss because all of us all over the world, who loved and saw the goodness, gentleness and purity of your heart were so far from you we couldn’t provide you comfort in your times of misery and depression. i love you michael. you just don’t know what your music and you as a person have brought us and done to our lives and continue to do in our lives. i will love you and your music forever. you will forever be the greatest entertainer of all times.

  • linda castro (philippines)

    i will continue to do my share in keeping your legacy. i will keep on buying your records, DVDs, etc. i will always play your music in my car, in my computer, in my cellphone, in my MP3 and all other media where i get the opportunity to share your music. i love you michael. i really do. i hope to see you one day. can’t you visit me once even just in my dreams?

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