Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Jackson Lost His Youth in Supplying Music for Ours

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Jackson Lost His Youth in Supplying Music for Ours

Article excerpt


When Michael Jackson died last week at age 50, the news shattered the album that had been spinning on the turntable of my childhood.

It was an album that began playing in 1969, when the Jackson 5 had my elementary school classmates and me spending recess practicing what must have been one of the most ridiculous dances ever - the funky chicken. They even made a song about it, in fact.

Then there were hits like ABC, with Jackson singing its playful, catchy chorus of "ABC ... 1,2,3 ...Do Re Me ... Baby you and me." Such hits quickly became the stuff of impromptu playground performances and school talent shows.

The Jackson 5's songs meant happiness for many of us kids of the late 1960s and early 1970s. But now, I'm feeling sadness.

Sadness not just over Jackson's death, but sadness over the fact that while his talent enriched my childhood, it came at the cost of him not having one at all.

And it was painful to watch Jackson spend much of his life trying to buy himself one.

Jackson, who began performing at the age of 5, talked about how his father, Joseph, put him through incessant rehearsals, subjected him to whippings for less-than-perfect performances, as well as emotional abuse and name-calling. Working towards stardom left little time for kid stuff, and in his autobiography, Moonwalk, Jackson described his childhood as being mostly work.

Of course, the work ultimately paid off. Jackson's 1982 album, Thriller, became the best-selling album of all time. He became incredibly rich; rich enough to not only believe that he could buy possessions, but that he could buy back the last 20 or 30 years of his life.

He couldn't. But it's not that he didn't try.

In 1988, when he was 30, Jackson bought himself a ranch called Neverland - named after the home of Peter Pan, the boy who never grew up. …

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