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Jacko / Glasto / Tennis

1 July 2009 4,318 views 3 Comments

Dave Lewis

I hadn’t slept too well on Thursday even though I went to bed early. I got up around 6am. Gary Foy had sent me an email at 12.04 am. I clicked on and read it – not good news at all as he was informing me that he was also being made redundant in a few weeks from his transport logistics job. He knew it was coming and here’s hoping he can sort something else soon. Tucked within Gary’s email were the following comments:

‘’Just seen news that Jacko may have died….sad…such a talent….that lost the way…..’’

I turned on the TV and there it was – big news: Michael Jackson dead at 50.

The news hit like a hammer. Like it did on August 16, 1977 with Elvis, September 25, 1980 with Bonzo, December 8, 1980 with John Lennon, August 31, 1997 with Diana, November 29, 2001 with George Harrison.

The rest of the day went by in a dream like fog, as it all hit home and the media went into frenzy.

Michael Jackson’s music has been in my musical consciousness for 40 years.

He’s not one the artists I immediately name drop when anyone asks me of my faves outside of Zep: The Rolling Stones, Who, Beatles, Dylan, Elvis, Sinatra, Nick Drake, Paul Weller, C S and N, Faces/Rod are normally the ones out first. Of course now he’s gone I’m wishing I stated my allegiance more often, not that that would have appeared that hip in some circles – certainly not in recent years when he became something of a joke figure.

It’s just for me …Michael Jackson has just always been there. From way back listening to Alan Freeman’s Pick Of The Pops radio show in my bedroom in early 1970 and the arrival on the chart of I Want You Back, one of the ten best singles ever made. The Love You Save against the backdrop of the Mexico ’70 World Cup. I’ll Be There in the autumn of that year. A trio of simply immaculate records.

Other Jacko memories: For some reason I remember Rockin’ Robin being played at our local cinema before watching the Rolling Stones Gimmie Shelter film in June ‘72, a couple of days before I started work in the big wide world. She’s Out Of My Life being played at a disco I went to in 1980 when I was mixed up in a very messy love affair. How appropriate that sentiment sounded that night.

Then the 1980’s, Oh yes the 1980’s. It was hard not to get caught up in the phenomenon that was (and still is) Michael Jackson if you were working in music retail during that era.

Fact is me and Michael had many good retail times during the years when I lived and breathed selling music.

Thriller came out around the time me and the good lady first got together. It was to be a bit of a soundtrack to our courtship. Christ we sold a lot of that album at WH Smiths. I can still reel the catalogue number off by heart – EPC 85930 How sad is that! I must have read that number over the phone countless times circa ‘83-‘85 when ordering the stock. They were indeed good days.

Billie Jean hitting number one spring of ‘83 and that incredible performance at the Motown 25 TV show –watching that again as it was re shown has had the hairs on the back of my neck standing up. Then the Thriller video premiered as an exclusive one late Friday night on The Tube show. All fourteen minutes of it. More than a mere song – a mini movie. Utterly remarkable. Overnight Jacko went from mere pop star to institution. The Making Of Video (the first ever big selling music video) came out the day before our wedding. During my wedding speech I couldn’t help but ask how many we had sold that Saturday when for once I wasn’t working (I had a good excuse)

Hearing PYT (Pretty Young Thing) playing in a shop on our honeymoon in Stratford Upon Avon.

Then in 1987 the follow up – Bad and another memorable video premiere. The album came out on a Tuesday after the August Bank Holiday, I’d had been to the Reading Festival that day to see and interview Alice Cooper for the local paper. The Bad album sold truck loads in its first few days on sale – we couldn’t get enough of it.

When he announced tour dates in the summer of 1988 we just had to go and on a balmy August evening, the Jacko magic fell over Wembley Stadium and we watched in awe.

That can be seen as a bit of a peak. We still sold a lot of Jackson product after that – notably the Dangerous album in 1991 and it’s accompanying single Black And White. Later there was the Earth Song single and the History compilations. More recently the Number Ones CD.

And then as the boy Adam was growing up, the first music he clued into was Michael Jackson- and it still is. He knows the lyrics off by heart. At one record fair a few years back, alongside the usual Zep fare I was scouring the racks for Jacko product for Adam and we struck gold with a bootleg DVD from his Dangerous tour. We watched it together enthralled as the gloved one hypnotized with the likes of Human Nature (one of my all time faves) and more. Like father like son. Michael Jackson’s music has a universal appeal to all ages.

It all went pear later of course with the court cases and scandals, the bizarre Martin Bashir documentary (now there’s a man who surely carries some guilt this week). I tried to keep loyal hoping he’d somehow survive. I remember waking the good lady up to tell her he’d been acquitted in the 2005 trial when the news came through late one night. When he announced the O2 comeback shows earlier this year, right at the back of my mind I thought he might… just might pull it off. Return as the Jacko we all knew and loved back in the peak years. That was when it was ten shows. When it stretched to 50 well…who knows, it was a tall order. Mind you the photo that adorns the Sun today taken in rehearsals a couple of days before he died, paints a more positive picture than has been described.

So it’s been a long and winding road with Jacko round these parts. I can’t say he was part of my playlist often -didn’t need to be really because his music was always close at hand somewhere. In Adam’s bedroom, cover versions on the X Factor, parties when that intro to Billie Jean always sparked mass dad dancing. It was Jacko doing what he did and the world was good

And now he’s gone and this is a story of course that will run and run. Q magazine’s current issue (which struck pay dirt in having him on the cover this month pre empting the tragedy), describes the weird goings on that surrounded him in the last four years better than most I’ve read.

But that won’t be my remembrance of Michael Jackson. That will rest with the many inspiring associations I’ve had with his music these past forty years. ‘’He made the world dance’’ somebody commented over the weekend Now that’s not a bad legacy is it?

And as future generations feel the need to respond to rhythm, his music will of course live on.

Another light from my past has gone out.

On a brighter note – caught a lot the excellent TV coverage of Glastonbury last weekend – a glorious summer British tradition. Good for me were Crosby Stills and Nash (Stephen’s still fantastic on guitar), Bruce – still the boss, Tom Jones – still the Welsh wonder and looking a bit Plant like with grey goatee, Madness more 1980’s throwback, and Blur – very effective on Song 2 and the anthem like Universal.

The good lady was not so impressed with Neil Young and even threatened to sing Rockin’ in the Free World at Marian’s 50th birthday karaoke on Saturday night as it only seemed to have one line. As it was, it was left to me to carry the Lewis flag with a spirited (nay drunken) rendering of Starman with Mr Boud and co. Ramble On it wasn’t.

Now busy on the final sign off of the Knebworth book – feeling well edgy now it’s nearing completion and a lot to do in the next few days before it goes to the printers. Pre orders on the TBL site from next week. You need it!

The epic Murray/Wawrinka tennis match last night delayed a call with Martyn to discuss the book latest. We were both gripped by the five set marathon along with millions of others. It was tennis at its best. Murray displayed the sort of stamina I was sorely lacking last Saturday in the challenge match I had with Adam. The boy whipped me 6-4, 8-6 and had my 52 and a three quarter years body aching for days. I’ll be back out for revenge this weekend.

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  • depressionboy said:

    | Michael Jackson is truly the King of Pop. i am a die hard fan of him and we are going to miss him now that he is gone!

  • Andy said:

    great story about MJ. Before my love for Zeppelin fully developed there was a brief NWOBHM and U2 phase, but my only real other musical fanatism was MJ when i was 10-12 or so. I collected everything you could find in Austria and luckily saw him in his prime – a gig i will never forget.

    Yes he had his demons but after an upbringing like that no wonder. Really pisses me off seeing his tyrannic father grasping every camera opportunity to tell the world of his sadness, when it could have all been easily avoided had he granted those kids (MJ got by far the worst of the stick but LaToya and Janet and some of the other brothers are not exactly normal either) just a tiny bit of childhood and freedom rather than beating the crap out of them when a 6-year old Michael didn’t want to practice 8 hours a day to become a superstar….sorry about the rant, but that’s something very close to my heart…

    I was at Glastonbury when the news filtered through and at first it seemed just like another glasto rumour but when it got confirmed it was a very strange place to be. there was lots of good/bad banter and every stall holder immediately changed their playlists…

    I fully agree about CSN, Springsteen and Blur, but my highlight was definitely Neil Young. It’s been my 4th time seeing him and he is definitely my second favorite after Zep. Had to miss out on Tom Jones to witness Terry Reid for the first time, and even though he seemed quite pissed you could certainly see why Jimmy might have wanted him all those years back….spend the whole gig wondering how he might have dealt with Babe I am gonna leave you or WLL:)

    Looking forward to the book and see you in Knebworth.


  • Chris Wright said:

    The best tribute to MJ I have yet to read. In these days of Spotify and iTunes, will it ever again be possible for any artist to sell as much product as Thriller? The key thing to remember is that the sales of that album were over a very long, sustained period. There’s parallels with Zeppelin here in terms of the way an artist/group changed the way music was sold and watched. How ironic too, that Jackson’s career was scheduled to get a restart at the same venue that in 2007 sparked what looks increasingly like being a false new dawn for Zep.

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