David Lister: A surreal ending to pop's most extraordinary life story

This was not a typical, domestic life of a rock star because nothing about Jackson was typical

Share
Related Topics

So, is this to be the last and overriding memory of Michael Jackson – a pathetic figure, gasping for life after one dose too far of medication? It will be one of the defining memories, of course, but it should not be the only one. For whatever one's musical tastes, it is impossible to deny the cultural significance of Jackson, a significance that makes the tawdry details of this trial (and arguably one earlier trial) all the more poignant.

Jackson, known as the King of Pop, merited that title in the 1980s, not just through album sales, but through the way he altered live performance for ever. His emphasis on dance with high-energy choreography, can be seen in most pop gigs today. Performances on The X Factor would be far more staid had there been no Michael Jackson.

It was his uniqueness as a live act that made promoters so keen to have him, even in his fifties, and even for a 50-date stint at the 02, an absurdly ambitious endeavour he was preparing for at the time of his death. How ethical was it to contract a man, whose health we learn from the trial (if we needed to be told) was poor, to such an ordeal? That is one of the questions that the trial has caused fans to ponder.

The trial of Michael Jackson takes its place in pop history, of course, for it offered a unique insight into the domestic life of a modern pop colossus. It is not a typical, domestic life of a rock star because nothing about Jackson was typical. But it will be a major part of his story for future generations, just as the last tawdry days of a fat, sleazy Elvis Presley have risked overshadowing the images of the lithe, young rock'n'roller.

The trial was the last, and for many predictable, chapter in a surreal and even creepy private life that included Neverland, allegations of child abuse, changing skin colour and the baby on the balcony. But the cultural legacy is that Jackson made the template for modern pop. The mixture of dance, high-octane pop melodies and androgynous sex appeal were the key ingredients of that template. And that is why back in the 1980s there was a saying in the music business: "There's showbiz, there's rock'n'roll, and there's Michael Jackson."

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Tony Abbott: A man most Australian women would like to pat on the back...iron in hand

Caroline Garnar
Australian rapper Iggy Azalea performs in California  

Hip hop is both racial and political, and for Iggy Azalea to suggest otherwise is insulting

Yomi Adegoke
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there