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: Recruitment Assistant

£19000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a friendly, confident i...

Tradewind Recruitment: Primary Teaching Assistant

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: At Tradewind Recruitment we are currently l...

Tradewind Recruitment: Physics Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: Tradewind Recruitment is currently working ...

Recruitment Genius: Case Manager - Occupational Therapist / Physiotherapist

£28000 - £34000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

If I were Prime Minister: I would tackle our looming dementia crisis

Susan Greenfield
 

Letters: NHS data-sharing is good for patients

Independent Voices
Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee