Saturday, June 27, 2009



June 26 2009


In the wee hours of Friday morning at exactly 1.25am local time, Michael Jackson, commonly known as the King of Pop, was pronounced dead by doctors at the UCLA Medical Centre Los Angeles after succumbing to a fatal heart attack.

The pop star was rushed to hospital from his home in the Bel Air district while paramedics tried to restart his heart after a suspected cardiac arrest. Mr Jackson was described as “unresponsive” when paramedics arrived at his home and he was transported by ambulance to the UCLA Medical Center where he passed away.

In Kampala, the news of Mr Jackson’s death was received with great shock. News started filtering through, with Ugandans sending text messages on Friday, as early as 1.30am announcing the sudden death of the king of pop.

Mr Moses Serugo, a local music critic, described Mr Jackson’s passing thus: “This is a very big loss to the music world. This is a man who revolutionarised the way music is done for the likes of Madonna who later became stars. Personally, it wasn’t a shock that he died. He deserves to rest not with the bashing the media was giving him. The same media that made him brought him down.”

Ms Angella Kalule, a local musician, said “It came as a shock to me. He was very influential and we are going to miss him.”

RIP: Michael Jackson performs “We are the World” during the World Music Awards at Earl’s Court in London November 15, 2006. REUTERS PHOTO

The headlines of international news stations the likes of CNN, Sky News, Al Jazeera and the BBC, all of a sudden had shifted from the Iranian election crisis, to the breaking news of the pop star’s demise, with many of the stations interviewing his friends, his former music producers like Quincy Jones, who all appeared shell-shocked by his death.

Stations like KFM, Sanyu, and Radio One, all had Michael Jackson classics like One More Chance, Liberian Girl, Human Nature, Billy Jean, Dirty Diana, BAD, Rock Wit You, dominating their playlists, with radio presenters like Fat Boy, Roger Mugisha, indulging their listeners with the illustrious music history of the pop star.
The office talk too was dominated by the death of the star.

The seventh child of the Jackson Family, Michael Jackson kicked off his music career with his siblings who went by the stage moniker Jackson 5. With the young Michael employed on the lead vocals, Jackson 5, went on to churn out memorable hits like ABC, I Want You Back, and I’ll Be There and by the 60’s way through to the 70’s Jackson 5 had acquired stardom with the young Michael Jackson emerging as the main draw of the group.

In 1979, Michael Jackson paired up with the legendary producer Quincy Jones, whom he met while Jackson starred in a film musical The Wiz, whose musical scores were arranged by the legendary producer. That partnership was to give birth to the album Off The Wall, which spanned classics like Rock Wit You, a favourite with many Ugandans, Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough among others.

Thrill of Thriller

However, it was in 1982, that Michael Jackson reached the apex of his musical career when he dropped the Thriller album. Again, with Quincy Jones behind the production decks, Thriller went on to sell over 50 million copies worldwide making it the best-selling album of all time.

A record that to some in the industry are predicting will never be broken since nowadays buying of music albums is on the decline due to the emergence of the internet where people can freely download music.

Thriller not only churned out memorable classics like Billy Jean, Thriller, and Human Nature but revolutionised, forever, the concept that is video making and song-presentation. With videos like Thriller, which were movie-like, Michael Jackson, had given a new approach to video making and in the process “forced” the music network MTV which originally featured videos of white artistes who mainly specified in Rock music, to play R&B videos and in the process making Michael Jackson, the first African-American to have his videos on heavy rotation on MTV.

This opened doors for the likes of Lionel Richie who were starting, out to have their videos played on the network.

However, the revolution was just starting; Michael Jackson introduced dance moves like the legendary “Moon Walking” which was a famous dance “stroke” for Ugandans, he even made men wear white socks, Tabliq-like trousers, complete with a single white glove on their palm, hold their crouches and let off a mild scream…Ohh! Jackson-mania gripped the whole world that his world concerts not only had tickets selling out in minutes, but scenes of fainting women were normal occurrences.

Cost of stardom

But his stardom was to come with a fatal price. As his star shone brighter, especially in the 80’s where he kept releasing hit albums like Bad (which featured the rock hit Dirty Diana) way through the early 90’s, Jackson was slowly turning into one freak show. His continuous usage of plastic surgery made his face look awkward. His eccentricities like attending press conferences with his pet chimpanzee named Bubbles, appearing in court to answer child molestation charges wearing his pygamas! or his over-friendliness with young children; whom according to his admission occasionally slept in the same bed with him at his Neverland Ranch left some questioning his mental state.

The hits too dried up, with his last album Invincible released in 2001 not doing as well as expected. Court cases too were to dominate his later years on this earth, with many involving his questionable relationship with young children.

Some accused him for being a pedophile, but he was always cleared of any charges and always had a waiting crowd outside the courthouses screaming his name in admiration…Michael, Michael…! He was due to have another chance at a comeback with a massive concert tour in Britain-some were saying this was his make or break chance for a comeback- but sadly it was not to be.

The Pop star aged 50 left behind three children and millions of fans worldwide, who forever will remember the King of Pop.