I am reminded of the day back in August 1977 when Elvis Presley died. It was said that an unnamed industry insider, upon hearing of the untimely death of the 42-year-old hip-shaker, was quoted as saying, “good career move.”
As history shows, truer words were never spoken. In the years since his death, Elvis has become wealthy beyond his wildest dreams. Too bad he’s not around to enjoy it. And in a world that is obsessed with lists, which follows closely behind the other obsessions of money, youth and thinness, it should be noted that Elvis regularly topped the list of room temperature money earners up until 2006 when Kurt Cobain became the top annual earner of cold, hard cash, while cold and hard himself.
Well, Cobain now has to look over his shoulder, not at the still top earning King of Rock & Roll who is at number two, but at the newly deceased King of Pop. Michael Jackson, who himself was quoted as saying many years ago that he didn’t think he would make it to 40, surpassed his own prognostication by a decade to make it just two months shy of his 51st birthday.
Jackson’s place in history is now secure. He already had the largest selling album of all time in Thriller, with very little chance of anyone coming close to catching it and now with his death you can surely tack on the several million more copies that will be flying off the shelves in the next little while.
Jackson was working hard for his upcoming farewell concerts in London – concerts that were a necessary comeback due to his alleged precarious financial situation. He had some major debts, creditors hunting after him like wild villagers with pitchforks and torches and an armada of lawyers who were always squelching the revolving door of lawsuits that seem to highlight his career. Plus his extravagant lifestyle did come with a cost.
Well now, it’s just simple Economics 101: Millions upon millions of dollars will now be coming in, and Michael won’t be around to spend them. No more wild shopping sprees, no more clothes for chimps, no more hyperbaric chambers, no more plastic surgery. Jackson’s death might just turn the economy around, and without a bailout! Everyone and their sister will probably try to cash in on Michael’s death (hey, I might make about a whole eight cents myself from blog traffic!)
And let’s not forget how prolific and talented Michael Jackson was. For everything he released, that turned to gold, there has got to be a plethora of material, in various stages of completion, that is locked away somewhere. If Tupac Shakur can somehow manage to crank out albums long after his last breath, just think about what the “Gloved One” could churn out.
Since his death Elvis Presley has spawned an entire industry of Elvis impersonators . . . oh, sorry . . . tribute artists, who have done quite well for themselves over the last 30 years. Well Jackson has had many impersonators while he was still breathing! Imagine how that’s going to mushroom now posthumously!
Something else that is secure will be our memories of Michael. As freakish as he may have become in the last few years, I would have to believe that it would have only gotten worse in the years to come. Michael Jackson would not have aged gracefully and youth is a virtue that is put on a pedestal in our society. Those who have died relatively young, Elvis Presley, John Lennon, Bob Marley, James Dean, Bruce Lee and even John F. Kennedy, have had their images enhanced because of an early demise. Their pictures never age. They are forever young.
Although we still think of Mohammad Ali as “The Greatest” and film footage and posters take us back to an earlier time of his power, you’d have to admit that there is a slight tarnish of his image only because of his more recent Parkinson’s-riddled appearances. How could this be the same man who was standing over Sonny Liston taunting him to get up?
Jackson no longer has the opportunity to continue to turn himself into a living version of a Salvador Dali painting (just what would the stats listed on a Michael Jackson driver’s license be anyway?) He kept altering himself like a tailor with ADHD. After years of being “under construction” we sadly now have the final product.
So let’s not say goodbye to Michael. He’s really not going anywhere, except onto the Forbes list of money making dead people. Let’s just hope that this tortured man with the Peter Pan complex will finally achieve the peace that clearly eluded him in life. Let’s enjoy his catalogue of existing music and listen with a jaded ear to what’s sure to be a vault-load of previously unreleased “Jackson classics” because as far as careers go, Michael Jackson has just hit the mother lode.
And finally, if you believe that there is a heaven, then just imagine what this week’s Tonight Show is like on the other side of the Pearly Gates. Ed is back with Johnny, Farrah’s on the couch and Michael is performing. What a show!
That’s the Stuph – the way I see it.