Poor Michael Jackson. Have they decided what happened to him yet? Was it the evil Dr Death? Was it the stress of preparing for the UK shows? Is he hiding in Cuba with 2Pac and Elvis? I got lost in the deluge of MJ based ‘news’ over the summer and have no point of reference any more. All I know is, I had tickets to see him, then he died.
I’ve been a fan for most of my life. My parents have fond stories of me trying to the various dance moves when I was growing up, and I still have the cassette version of Bad that I got for like, my 6th birthday or something. Even this blog is named after a Jackson lyric. There’s no need for me to go into the whole obituary thing; we all know how amazing his music could be. Timeless. Which is why I forced myself to get up early back in March, to join the millions trying to get tickets for his ‘This Is It’ tour at the O2. It was actually quite easy getting tickets as it turned out, and we got a couple for July 26th 2009, just a few days after we were due to return to England from getting married in California. (They were potentially great seats too). Would’ve been a great way to end the summer. As a warm up, we went to the Bournemouth leg of the ‘Thriller’ musical and the excitement grew! :)
So on the 25th of June, just after we’d finished packing all our stuff and were about to hit the sack ready for our flight the following morning, when I switched on the TV just to see what was on, it was quite a surprise to see the footage from L.A. of Michael Jackson reportedly dying in hospital. In fact, I didn’t really believe it. I was really tired anyway, and it was very surreal. We waited up for a bit, flipping through the various news channels, until Sky News claimed that he was officially dead, then went to bed. (That seems heartless writing it like that but what else were we going to do? :)).
Anyway, the day after, we flew to California, did the whole marriage thing, and saw the hysteria grow via snippets of the news in various hotel rooms. It was literally the only thing on TV for those couple of weeks (and I’m sure, beyond that). Interviews with friends of people who knew cleaners at the same company that did cleaning at one of his houses in the 80’s etc etc.. utter madness. Just a constant barrage of non stories vaguely to do with his death; it began to get irritating. It wasn’t until we got to L.A. that I really paid it any attention, but visiting the Hollywood Star bearing his name was a weird experience. So many people just flocking around this tiny plaque in the ground, leaving hundreds of mementos behind.
We did of course, leave our own note, crudely scrawled on the back of a scrap of paper, but it got swallowed up by the mass of A2 sized collages and drawings. Seriously, some people must have put hours into their tributes.
While we were in the city, as well as driving around blasting out the classics :) we applied for tickets to the ‘official’ memorial service to be held at the Staples Center but didn’t get them, so we went to Six Flags instead. But that’s by-the-by. We also went to the house in Beverly Hills that he was living at in those last days, and it made the star on the walk of fame look bland in comparison. I felt out of place for not wearing any MJ themed clothing.
When we left L.A., we left most of the madness behind. But Michael Jackson still cropped up now and then over the next few weeks. Mostly, it was an easy thing to fall back on during conversation with random americans who we met throughout the trip. Everyone has an opinion on MJ! And people loved the fact that we had tickets to go and see him – even though they would never get used.
Arriving back in England, we had the choice of getting a refund for the tickets, or getting a ‘souvenir’ ticket stub type of thing instead. We opted for the money. A piece of paper costing £70-odd quid wouldn’t quite have been the same as actually seeing him, so it was a non choice really. At least we still have the confirmation email from Ticketmaster. Show that one to the grandkids.
There was still a part of me that thought ‘oh well, the show probably wouldn’t’ve lived up to the expectations anyway’ – so I kinda got over the fact that we weren’t going to see him. On the night we were due to be at the O2, we went out in London anyway, seeing as we’d already booked the train and hotel months previously. Walking past the venue for the ‘Thriller’ musical was poignant, but I still had that ‘oh well, it would’ve been blah’ feeling. That persisted until I saw the trailer for the ‘This Is It’ movie. Comments about AEG cashing in on his death aside, the film looks amazing and makes me sad that I never got to see it live, in person. He’s doing the dances, has the outfits, and there are zombies on the stage!! What more could you ask for!?
So this Sunday, I’ll be rejoining the online queues, trying to get a ticket to see ‘This Is It’. Only, it wont be the real show. It’ll be the film of the rehearsal footage. That’s as close as I’ll get to seeing Michael Jackson perform live, but it’ll do, and it’ll be the only way I can get closure after my MJ summer. RIP. Blame it on the boogie.