Michael Jackson, the consummate artist and creative genius I
have known since he was a child.
He was deceptively smart and strong. He also had a heart of
love. "We Are the World" is almost his autobiography.
He made room for everybody.
Michael amasses sales of more than a billion records. He won
13 Grammys, had numerous #1 singles and twice inducted into
the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He impacted our culture more
profoundly than any other recording artist in history.
Michael was an African-American man in the musical stratosphere.
His parents were Black, from the Black side of Gary.
Michael was with Motown under Berry Gordy and the Temptations
and Diana Ross. He made Thriller with Quincy Jones and wrote
"We Are the World" with Lionel Richie.
So much for the foolishness about his Blackness. He took the
soul and the sounds of Blackness to the world stage.
I have known the family since 1967 and watched Michael make
the journey from obscurity in Gary to the pinnacle of the world.
I remember his performance, along
With the Jackson 5, at the first Black Expo. I was in the office
preparing for it when Junius Griffin of Motown Records stopped
in and said he had a group of kids who wanted to perform. We
already had our program set and advertised. The lineup included,
Quincy Jones, the Supremes, Nancy Wilson, Sammy Davis Jr., the
Temptations, Roberta Flack-a whole list of first-class artist.
I said there was no room for them. He said "Well, at least
come down stairs. They want to see your Afro" They had
a station wagon with a U-Haul attached to it with their guitars
and drums packed inside. They rocked the house, stole our hearts
and Michael ascent began.
Michael was an avid reader of serious classics and a self-taught
musician. He had a vision-a brilliant business sense. No artist
has ever owned the musical catalogs that Michael did, which
included the Beatles, Elvis and so much more.
I was with him at Neverland through his darkest hours but,
through it all, Michael was a survivor. Indeed, his story is
one of the unparalleled triumphs: rarely have we seen the promise
of youth fulfilled so brilliantly, so fully.
He will be remembered as a musical genius, dance innovator
and global icon. I can only image the ovation he experienced
in heaven. I can see James Brown, Sammy Davis, Jackie Wilson,
Marvin Gaye, Otis Redding, same Cooke, Elvis Presley, Frank
Sinatra, Tchaikovsky, Mozart, Da Vinci and so many giants from
whom he drew inspiration welcoming him home.