On June 25th, we lost one of the marvels of the entertainment world, a truly talented and tortured artist, Michael Jackson. With his meteoric rise to fame as the centerpiece of the Jackson 5 and then an amazing solo career, in total selling over 750 million records worldwide. However, this fame came at an amazing price.
Having been in the spotlight since the age of 5 or 6, Jackson seemed to struggle with his place in the world. Naming his home the "Neverland Ranch" lead us to believe he wanted to be a child who never grew up (which, of course, led to the infamous sleepovers on the Ranch and the molestation accusations). A documented addiction to painkillers, two failed marriages, and numerous lawsuits for pedophilia dominated Jackson's last 20 years, causing him to become a late-night joke mainstay and most of us to forget his talent.
The question remains- do we remember him for the art he produced? Has there ever been a more polarizing, successful individual? His death caused delays and nearly shut down numerous websites. He had become the centerpiece of a media storm- mostly negative in the last 20 years.
In 1993, Jackson abruptly canceled the remainder of his "Dangerous" tour after admitting on an audiotape that pain from a burn injury while filming a Pepsi commercial in 1984 as well as allegations of sexual abuse have caused him to become addicted to painkillers. As of yesterday, June 29th, various news and entertainment outlets were reporting that Jackson had received a Demerol injection the morning of his death- but we'll only find out for sure after the autopsy is published. Lisa Marie Presley, Jackson's wife for a few short years, posted a blog entry on her Myspace page talking about his drug use. She talks about how she and Jackson had conversations about how he would end up with the same fate as Elvis- and it's looking more and more like he did.
Either way, we've lost the most tortured and talented artist we've seen in a long time. There will never be another like him, good or bad. Here are some of the telling articles from a series of Vanity Fair interviews. It will be interesting to see what unfolds from the autopsy results- but it seems as though we've lost another soul to the disease of addiction. Would it have been possible for Jackson to get help? Had anyone offered treatment? Had he BEEN to treatment? Was there support for him to get well, or just to prop him up and keep him out in the public eye? We may never know, but these are questions we can answer as we move forward to help other artists in the future. He was not a commodity- he was a person. And it's hard to remember that sometimes.
Here's a tribute to Michael Jackson:
In health news, here's a great video by Lance Armstrong's organization, Livestrong:
Here's something funny.
As always, connect with me on LinkedIn and follow me on Twitter. Become a fan of the blog on Facebook. See you this week.