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Back in the Shoo-Be-Doo-Be-Doo-Da-Days…

June 25, 2010

Counting myself amongst millions, I learnt the meaning of ‘fan’ on discovering Michael Jackson. I can’t really remember how old I was, maybe 6 or 7, when I first persuaded my sister to trade her Bad album with me in exchange for some – in comparison – meaningless possession of mine. After that, his albums became the pride and joy of my cassette collection and my bedroom morphed into a MJ memorabilia store, or shrine, depending on how you look at it. At the head of my bed was a massive poster of Michael posing with a black panther, and I distinctly remember being given a MJ calendar, whose proper purpose I swarted, prefering to pull it apart and plaster all over the rest of my wall space instead.

At primary school, my classmates were always very aware of my Michaelmania, mainly because I subjected them to regular ‘show and tell’ performances where I’d improvise ‘choreography’ to his music. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that watching Michael made me a great dancer – apart from that side-to-side zombie move from ‘Thriller’ (don’t lie, we’ve all done it!), I never really learnt any of his moves – but he did make me love doing it. A girl can dream…

Being a Michael Jackson fan in the early early 90s didn’t make me cool, most of my peers already had him branded as a ‘wierdo’ so I spent a lot time defending his cause. And as the decade progressed, well it goes without saying that his ’cause’ didn’t get easier to defend. By the time I was 13, my pre-teen MJ fandom seemed oddly (in retrospect) far away, but when his HIStory tour brought his concert to a neighbouring city, there was no way I wouldn’t go. And I think it’s pretty poignant that my parent’s granted me a day off school just so I could.

Needless to say, that in a list of the top 10 days of my life, taking a train out of town with my best friend to go see Michael Jackson live, rates pretty highly. Through various devious methods, that only 13 years olds could dream up, we managed to wrangle our way to the front row of a 60,000-plus crowd and, like many a scene from front row footage of MJ gigs, I bawled my eyes out when he made his first entrance. He stood frozen like a statue for the first agonising five minutes, and every sudden turn of head or stomping of foot made everyone in the audience scream with anticipation. It’s an experience that, especially in light of his death, I feel very lucky to have had.

A couple of years ago I made the error of showing my niece, who was four at the time, the Moonwalker film. Being far too young for scenes of an oversized Michael-bot blast scary enemies away with his in-built mission guns, as well as an anachrophobic, it gave her nightmares and me a thorough telling off by her mum. But upon recovery of the initial shock, we suddenly had a little Michael fan on her hands. I was delighted, but then unlike her mother, I haven’t had to hear ‘Smooth Criminal’ on repeat for an hours on end. But when I babysit, I’ll happily watch (and participate in) performances of her own, posing with an MJ-esque trilby and hopefully finally teaching me how to moonwalk.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 25, 2010 4:33 pm

    This made me smile. I was always a bit of a closet MJ fan but his death really made me take stock of all he had achieved and the amazing music he made. I’ll continue to remember him and his music fondly.

  2. June 27, 2010 5:51 pm

    Lovely article and I can definitely relate to a few of the author’s anecdotes especially defending MJ in the early 90s. I admit my loyalty strayed as the rumours and behaviour got more disturbing and post-Bad the music rarely managed to match the artistic heights of the 70s and 80s.

    I was saying to my mum today it’s hard to still process his death. Like Jo-Ann it made me re-evaluate what the music meant to me as a child.

    Shalom, T x

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