Back in February this year I was at my mum’s house and my best friend of 20 years came to visit. The topic got onto Michael Jackson as it inevitably does with her since besides my sisters and me, she is the biggest fan I know. She left after dinner but the girls and I carried on the conversation and we reminisced about the days when we would rent Moonwalker on video everyday, £1 a go. I told them the first time I heard of him was when my cousin showed me a tape of the Thriller video and though it frightened the bejeebers out of me, I was hooked. Even spending a lot of my childhood out in Pakistan didn’t curb the fandom, everyone out there loved him aswell. I’ve mentioned him once or twice on this blog. My sisters shared similar stories too, especially the youngest (she’s seventeen) who the MJ hysteria could’ve easily bypassed but didn’t. Finally, I expressed how sad I was that I will never get to seem him in concert. “He’s never going to tour again, it’s so sad,” I said. We resolved to go watch Thriller Live: The Musical as recompense.
Cue 3rd March. I read in a free London paper that he’s touring. I freak out. Get in touch with sister. She freaks out. Lots of freaking out amidst a whirlwind of phone calls, emails, text messages and Tweets. 5th March: the day of his press conference at the O2 Arena arrives and I try to get out of a meeting to attend but can’t. Then the meeting gets cancelled last minute and I bolt there and miss it by seconds. The atmosphere is electric though; so many fans and press are there and the dates are revealed. Ten dates, THIS IS IT.
11th March. Now a scramble for tickets. We get plenty of pre-sale codes and are up early (6.45am to be exact) and coordinate our attack. We’re going to book the first lot of tickets that come up on Ticketmaster just so we don’t miss them by hesitating. We manage to book four (for me and the girls) but there’s my best friend to think about. I spend the next few hours trying to book more as new dates are announed. I manage to get them. HURRAH! We’re more excited about this than the upcoming trip to New York. It’s all we can talk about. Finally, we will see the King of Pop, live. There is talk of him struggling with the schedule and many people say we’re lucky we have the early dates as he might not have the energy for the later ones. Who knew?
And then yesterday. I had been offline most of yesterday evening so hadn’t heard about him being taken ill. I’d left my phone in the car so didn’t even get the messages and missed calls. I log on to Twitter close to midnight to see the latest posts and wait…Jeff Goldblum’s dead?? (This turned out to be a hoax.) Damn. First Farrah Fawcett now him…wait someone is saying something about Michael Jackson. Is this some sick joke? Then I read my sister’s tweets. She’s talking about it too. My husband came up and I tell him. He knows as his friend sent him a text message but he didn’t want to tell me. I spend the next few minutes feeling numb. I go to get my phone and realise that I’ve left it in the car. Fetch it and see all the messages and missed calls. At this point I sent my sisters a message saying I’ve only just found out. One of them calls me and is in tears. “It’s just so sad”, she cries. I spent last night hoping it wasn’t true. Stranger in Moscow (I song I previously professed to dislike) is playing on repeat in my head and I can’t sleep. Please don’t let it be true.
I awoke this morning still clinging on to that hope. But it was true. I called my mum and she tells me she’s never seen my youngest sister like this before. The girl we call “robot” because she never expressed her feelings. I then called my best friend and we talk about him, his sad life and how he once said he was a “very, very, very lonely man”. I tell her that back in the day I used to wonder how I’ll feel when Michael Jackson dies but I didn’t think it would be this soon. I’ve always been sad that I would never get to see Jeff Buckley live but this is on another level. This is a lifetime of love and to be so so close and have it snatched away at the last minute. It at time feels silly to be this sad, I’m not a friend or family. But if someone has been with you all your life, though only through their music, and then suddenly they’re gone, what else should you feel? Shows how powerful music really is.
Allow me to be a bit soppy here. No matter how much his face changed, his smile was always the same and always infectious. I think this clip on Anil’s blog sums up a lot for me. A sad childhood but somehow he could still smile. A genius but unhinged, two things that often come hand in hand it would seem.
When 26th July rolls around, instead of getting ready to go see him in concert we’ll be sitting at home, remembering the man, the legend. He will never be gone for us as his music is here and it’s alive and wonderful. The true King of Pop. Goodbye Michael.