Thursday, June 25, 2009

More popular than Neil Armstrong

Of all the unforgettable music moments captured on television, a handful truly stand out: Elvis' and the Beatles' Ed Sullivan appearances, Madonna not-so-virginally writhing on the ground at the MTV Music Awards, and Michael Jackson breaking into the moonwalk at the Motown 25th Anniversary Special.

The latter performance is the first thing that comes to mind when contemplating Jackson's legacy, a day after his death. The Thriller premiere was a huge, huge event that epitomized the effect of the music video, but Jackson's first TV moonwalk — people went out of their minds when that occurred. Unbelievably influential.  The next morning, people all over the world were trying to imitate his moves, and that backwards glide.

Jackson had dazzled us with Off The Wall, but this was something entirely different. He had a new look, new choreography and a new sound that was instantly omnipresent. The Thriller album was on fire for more than two years — seven singles!  And "Billie Jean," with that moonwalk... that was the groove of the decade.

And, like witnessing Elvis' "Don't Be Cruel" and the girls screaming for McCartney, you had to be there on May 16, 1983 to grasp the enormity of Michael Jackson's impact, this unbelievable display of talent.

I'm not the only one today choosing to ignore the past 20 years and remember a man at his most glorious.

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