Michael Jackson

Highly Appreciated

Michael Jackson  (August 29, 1958 – June 25, 2009) was an American singer, songwriter, record producer, dancer, and actor.  Called the King of Pop, his contributions to music and dance, along with his publicized personal life, made him a global figure in popular culture for over four decades.  He debuted on the professional music scene as a member of the Jackson 5 in 1964, and began his solo career in 1971.  The music videos for his songs, including those of “Beat It”, “Billie Jean”, and “Thriller”, were credited with breaking down racial barriers and with transforming the medium into an art form and promotional tool.  The popularity of these videos helped to bring the then-relatively-new television channel MTV to fame.  Through stage and video performances, Jackson popularized a number of complicated dance techniques, such as the robot and the moonwalk, to which he gave the name.  His distinctive sound and style has influenced numerous artists of various music genres.  Jackson’s 1982 album Thriller is the best-selling album of all time.  (More from Wikipedia)
Without question, Patrick Leonard is the most prominent ex-bandmember of Trillion and is primarily known as a keyboard player, producer and songwriter in the early part of Madonna’s career.  Other rock artists that Leonard has worked with over the years literally reads like a Who’s Who:  Rod Stewart, Michael Jackson, Ted NugentBryan AdamsKenny LogginsPeter CeteraJody WatleyNatalie Imbruglia, and Natasha Bedingfield.  Showing his flexibility, he also co-wrote and produced two of the songs (including the title song, and both in Greek) for an album for Cypriot Greek pop musician Anna Vissi, Apagorevmeno (2008); and co-wrote a song for new age musician David Darling, “96 Years”. 
(October 2012)
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Over the ensuing years, the Beatles financial entanglements only worsened.  This occurred, in part, because of the somewhat bitter and highly public break-up of the band; but for the most part, it was simply ill-advised business practices as I understand it.  Continued standoffs by the band and the other representatives in charge of their recordings – whose owners by then included Michael Jackson – kept thBeatles canon from being available via online sales until 2010.  With the acquisition of EMI by Universal Music Group in 2012 and the subsequent creation of a new Capitol Records subsidiary to oversee the Beatles catalogue, perhaps the matter is finally settled. 
(January 2013)
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One fine day around 30 years ago, I came upon a copy of the 1980 comeback album by the Ugly DucklingsOff the Wall.  By the way, the Michael Jackson album by the same name, Off the Wall – whose excellence, I fear, has been overwhelmed by the tsunami of Jackson’s next album, Thriller – came out the previous August, but I wonder whether the Ugly Ducklings knew about that record.  


(April 2013)


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In 1998, an organization called Native American Music Association & Awards was started in order to bring awareness of the contributions of Native Americans to music in all its forms; the Awards have been presented annually since that time.  The surprise at taking even a quick glance at their “Did You Know” roster at www.nativeamericanmusicawards.com/halloffame.cfm is the incredible number of stars of popular music who have Native American blood – the tribe or confederation name(s) are given in parentheses here and elsewhere in this post:  Elvis Presley (Cherokee), Jimi Hendrix (Cherokee), Hank Williams (Choctaw), Willie Nelson (Cherokee), Ritchie Valens (Yakui), Aaron Neville and the Neville Brothers (Choctaw/Cherokee), Loretta Lynn and her sister Crystal Gayle (Cherokee), Kitty Wells (Cherokee), Wayne Newton (Powhatan), Michael Jackson and the Jacksons (Choctaw/Cherokee), Link Wray (Shawnee), Richie Havens (Blackfoot), Robbie Robertson of the Band (Mohawk), Tina Turner (Navaho), Cher (Cherokee), Rita Coolidge (Cherokee), Eddie Van Halen of Van Halen (Native Hawaiian – Native Americans who are not among those often called Indians), Tori Amos (Cherokee), Toni Tennille of the Captain and Tennille (Cherokee), Billy Ray Cyrus and his daughter Miley Cyrus (Cherokee), Anthony Kiedis of Red Hot Chili Peppers (Mohican), LL Cool J (Cherokee), Beyoncé (Creole), etc.  


Tommy Allsup (Cherokee) was a member of Buddy Holly’s new band in 1959; he “lost” a coin flip with Ritchie Valens and was thus not on board the airplane that crashed on the day the music died  


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Romeo Void released three albums in all; Never Say Never comes from the second album, Benefactor.  On their last album, Instincts, the band reached the Top 40 with the single “A Girl in Trouble (Is a Temporary Thing)”; according to Debora Iyall, this song is intended as an answer to Michael Jackson’s mega-hit “Billie Jean”. 


(August 2013)


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Lesley Gore’s first two albums, I’ll Cry If I Want To and Lesley Gore Sings of Mixed-Up Hearts were produced by Quincy Jones, one of the best in the business – Michael Jackson’s Thriller is only the best-known of his production efforts – and a talented jazz artist and bandleader in his own right with a Renaissance-man career that dates back to the early 1950’s.  


(January 2014)


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Andraé Crouch and the Los Angeles Church of God choir that he directed were prominently featured in the title song, Like a Prayer on Madonna’s Christian-themed album, Like a Prayer (1989).  He also performed in the Michael Jackson song, “Man in the Mirror” (1987).  


(July 2014)


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But before I get into all of that, let me share this appreciation for Prince that was posted by Nick Gillespie on reason.com as part of the best commentary on the PMRC that I have been able to find online. It is quite a bit more barbed than the mainstream accolades that you and I have been reading of late. 
“More than Michael Jackson and arguably even more than Madonna — to name two other ’80s icons who challenged all forms of social convention in a pop-music setting — Prince took us all to a strange new place that was better than the one we came from. (In this, his legacy recalls that of David Bowie.)” 
(June 2016)
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For some reason, over the years the 1970’s have gotten a reputation as a poor decade for music. (So do the 1950’s, for that matter, even though that is where rock and roll came from). It certainly cannot be because everything sounded the same. Most of the British Invasion bands were still active. The top American acts were still going strong as well – Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, Carole King, Simon and Garfunkel, Linda Ronstadt, the Beach Boysthe Band, Johnny Cash, Frank Sinatraetc. – and major stars who arrived in the 1970’s include Elton John, Michael Jackson, Queen, ABBA, Billy Joel, Aerosmith, Bruce Springsteen, AC/DC, PrinceJames Taylor, and Tom Petty. Anyone who says they are a music fan has to be able to find someone, and probably several someones on that list that they like a lot.
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People bought more albums in the 1970’s than at any time before or since. For what it’s worth, 6 of the 10 biggest selling albums of all time were released during the 1970’s – in order, they are The Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd; Bat out of Hell by Meat Loaf; Their Greatest Hits (1971–1975) by the Eagles; the Saturday Night Fever Soundtrack (featuring the Bee Gees and others); Rumours by Fleetwood Mac; and Led Zeppelin IV by Led Zeppelin. However you might feel about these chestnuts, it is hard to imagine a more varied group of albums. Thriller by Michael Jackson (1983) remains Number One, but I was certainly surprised to see Back in Black (1980) by AC/DC in second place.
(December 2016)

Last edited: April 3, 2021