[Editor's Note: today's blog post is by guest author William Seebeck. During the 1980's, Bill and I worked together at Lexis-Nexis in Dayton, Ohio. Bill has a wealth of experience in online systems, banking, publishing, and public relations. Bill also blogs at Seebeck's View.]
By Bill Seebeck
I can still remember watching 40 years ago as Michael Jackson and his brothers went on the stage of the Ed Sullivan show, with Diana Ross, who discovered them, sitting in the audience.
What startled me that night was how Michael took the microphone, as if he had been doing it for a thousand years and with a voice that from the moment you heard it, knew it was special, began singing and dancing about the stage. He stopped you. You had to watch. You instantly fell in love with him and for quite some time afterward, he became known as "Little Michael Jackson".
Well, Michael Jackson and his brothers became famous overnight and they never looked back, everything was before them and we, the audiences throughout the world, were the beneficiaries of his amazing creativity.
I was in college when Michael first hit the scene and only saw him once in person, it was during the 1993 Super Bowl in Pasadena, California where he was the half-time show. Watching the video again today of that performance reminded me of his extraordinary gifts as one of the most exciting entertainers of all time.
We will always listen to Michael's music. We will also remember the songs he wrote for the world, including Black or White, Heal the World and We Are The World, the last, a song written for African relief and performed as a group by just about every major talent in the music business at the time.
Unless you have traveled the world, it is hard to appreciate the enormous impact American music has had on so many cultures. I remember sitting in a Fuddrucker's restaurant in Jeddah Saudi Arabia 10 years ago and watched as a group of Saudi high school boys entered the restaurant dressed not in their traditional garb but in cargo pants, Abercrombie & Fitch t-shirts, LA Laker hats worn backward and listening to the most popular radio station in the Kingdom back then -- U.S. Armed Forces radio. What were they listening to? Yes, American music and they all knew Michael Jackson.
However, the type of overnight success that fell upon Michael was both a great joy and a great burden. In our times, when you gain "your 15 minutes in the sun" as Andy Warhol used to say, your life is taken from you by the public. You're watched and followed twenty-four hours a day and someone always wants something from you for themselves. Now sometimes what they want is legitimate, yet more times than not, it is not. It feels at times that they are sucking the very marrow out of you and one of the things that you lose is the ability to trust others. It is a difficult life. You try very hard to create a life that you can trust, withdrawing into a type of cocoon. That space becomes your safety zone, the place you can always run to and survive the latest hurt or betrayal. That space became where Michael, despite all of his world fame, lived. It is no surprise then that this is where he was tempted by his demons, the same ones that tempt each of us in our lives of non-perfection.
So today, I remember Michael Jackson, the boy I first saw and heard, the man we all came to experience, the incredible entertainer that graced our lives and with whom he shared his truly extraordinary God given gifts. We are forever grateful.
May God's peace be upon you Michael.
Copyright 2009 WBSeebeck. Reprinted with permission.