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RIP Michael Jackson

The King of Pop

The death of Michael Jackson has shocked me to my core, but that was nothing compared to the shock I had picking up the phone last night. “We’ve just heard that Jacko’s popped it,” the voice said. “Who’s this?” I asked. “Oh yeah, it’s The Taxman,” they replied.

Why was this shocking? Well, last time I had a call from this puplication I was told in no uncertain terms that my puerile, fatuous backside was no longer welcome around The Taxman‘s dark, cold and disease-ridden newsroom. Something about music critics, arses, elbows and rappers, I think they also said.

But in any case, I’ve now been commissioned to write a tribute to the King of Pop.

My first memory of Michael was in the 1960s. I was sat in my room at college, listening to my brand new wireless radio set.

Suddenly, across the airwaves was a sound I thought I’d never hear. A ten-year-old pipsqueak from America telling me – in song form – how to recite the alphabet and count to three.

Needless to say, that wireless set never played such filth ever again.

My second memory of Jackson dates all the way back to 2001. I had just finished transferring my 12-inch record collection to cassette when, appearing on my television screen, there was a music video by a band called Alien Ant Farm.

“Annie are you okay,” they cried. The drums hit like lightning strikes, the guitar was slicker than the table at an East End greasy-spoon. “Annie are you okay, are you okay, are you okay Annie?” the lead vocalist added, repeatedly.

At the conclusion of that most exhilarating of three-and-half-minutes, I shuddered, sat down and heard the VJ proclaim: “Great Michael Jackson cover!”

So who was this Jackson fella, I asked myself. Turns out, possibly the greatest singer-songwriter, dancer, performer and alphanumeratician of all time.

Yes, I am writing these words. I would never have admitted it during his lifetime, but this man was greater than a thousand Radioheads.

Jackson may have grown up listening to the infinitely complex guitar melodies of Hail to the Thief, but my word, did he surpass that great work with his own masterpiece, Thriller, just two years later.

I’ve never heard anything like it. Pablo Honey, Kid A, In Rainbows – all were made to look like childish parodies when Jackson released his greatest work, Number Ones.

Truly, Michael was a musical craftsman, a genius of the highest order. Radiohead, you’re yesterday’s news. Today, there’s a new kid in town.

And now he’s dead, he’s even better than ever.


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