The sudden departure of one of the greatest performers of all time Michael Jackson, 50, on Thursday following a cardiac arrest shocked and saddened millions of people around the world who grew up listening to his songs and watching his performances. The news was particularly devastating for Jackson’s fans, which includes thousands of Nepalis within and outside the country, who had been eagerly waiting for his series of 50 comeback concerts beginning July 13 in London.
Jackson’s life was a heady mix of triumph and tragedy. He made his debut in the professional music scene as a member of the Jackson 5 band in 1969 when he was just 11 and with the release of his solo album Off the Wall in 1979, he not only began to be rightfully known as the King of Pop but became one of the world’s most famous persons. His 1982 solo album Thriller – which went on to become the best-selling album of all time only to be eclipsed by Eagles’ Greatest Hits, 1971-1975 in the late 1990’s – catapulted his fame to another level. Some of his other albums such as Bad and Dangerous also became the world’s best-selling records. One of the other major highlights of Jackson’s career was the charity single We are the world, which he co-wrote with Lionel Richie, that raised almost $50 million to aid the poor in Africa.
However, Jackson’s life was not all beer and skittles. As a child, Jackson was emotionally and physically abused by his father and he carried the trauma with him into his adulthood. Jackson was charged with child sexual abuse in 1993 and 2005. Though he was acquitted on both instances, the allegations had a debilitating effect on his career and personal life from which he never completely recovered. Jackson’s facial surgeries (according to rumors, he underwent approximately ten procedures) also received a lot of public condemnation over the years.
Death, however, proved that his follies and foibles over the years had failed to undermine his popularity. As the news of his death began to circulate, the volume of Jackson-related searches spiked to such an extent that Google News first interpreted it as an attack on its service. Twitter, a free social networking and micro-blogging service, crashed following a surge in condolence messages.
Like the world over, a whole generation of young Nepalis in the 1980s were deeply influenced by the magic of Jackson. Then, Nepali artists and common people alike imitated everything Jackson had to offer, from his curly and long hairdo to his style of dance and music. There is no doubt that Nepali fans today are as grieved as others all over the world on his sad demise.
Jackson may no longer be with us but his musical legacy will keep him alive forever. A fan’s comment neatly sums up the complexities of the legend: “I loved Michael Jackson. I hated Michael Jackson. I admired Michael Jackson. I was ashamed of Michael Jackson. I was sorry for Michael Jackson. I was proud of Michael Jackson.”