Ben Bradshaw: I grew up following Jackson's every move

Share
Related Topics

There was only one choice for the first song at my civil partnership celebration. When Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean" began playing, everyone rushed to the dance floor. It got people up on their feet and I was the first among them.

From childhood onwards I have been an enormous fan of Jackson and his music. I danced to the Jackson Five as a boy and then as a young man to his great hits of the 1980s. I have always liked soul music and I love to move. Jackson brought together soul and dance.

But his real importance lay in the fact that he broke through so many cultural and social barriers in his life. He broke through the race barrier, the music barrier and the video barrier. In so doing, he earned the awe and respect of millions of people.

Jackson made black soul music accessible for the mainstream and white consumers. Before his records, soul was followed by aficionados but with the likes of "Thriller" and "Billie Jean" he brought this music to the mass market for the first time.

Yesterday morning, shortly after the news of his death had spread, I was having my hair cut on Portobello Road in west London. At the door of the barbers, they had placed a radio playing some of Michael Jackson's songs. Several people walking past heard them and burst into tears.

There were, of course, different sides to the man. As well as inspiring millions of people, he was a rather tragic figure in his private life. He was clearly a very vulnerable person.

I think people will recognise the difficulties that he had in his life. There will be enormous sympathy for the loneliness he felt and the problems that he had with his father in his childhood.

He showed the difficulties of being a superstar. It is difficult enough for people like him who are in the public eye. But when you have the background he did and you don't make close personal relationships easily, you are left vulnerable in adult life.

Above all, the vast majority of people will focus on Michael Jackson's genius as an entertainer, a man who contributed hugely to music and dance during his lifetime.

With his character and culture, he showed how people can be engaged across the race divide. He showed that whatever your background and colour, you can make it and be a star.

React Now

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

HR Advisor - HR Officer - Employment Law - East London - £25000

£25000 per annum + 25 days holiday: Ashdown Group: *** HR Advisor - HR Office...

ENGLISH TEACHER, FULL TIME SUPPLY ROLE, DOVER SCHOOL

Competitive Salary: Randstad Education Group: TEACHER OF ENGLISH NEEDED for lo...

Nursery assistants required in Cambridgeshire

£10000 - £15000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Qualified and unquali...

PE TEACHER, FULL TIME SUPPLY VACANCY, FOLKESTONE SCHOOL

Competitive Salary: Randstad Education Group: The Job We are currently recruit...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

iOS 8 is full of shiny new features - but it's terrible news for app developers

Ed Rex
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week