Leading article: The music will be his legacy

Share
Related Topics

Few of the tributes that cascaded in yesterday for Michael Jackson made reference to the performer's highly publicised troubles in recent years. The sad truth, though, is that it was these troubles, much more than Jackson's extraordinary talent, that had come to define his public persona over the past two decades.

There was the extreme plastic surgery, the erratic behaviour, the failed relationships, the health issues, the financial problems and, most damaging of all, the accusations of child abuse. Many of those who had once admired Jackson were repelled by the tawdry freak show that his life had become.

All but his most hardcore fans recognised that the creative muse had deserted Jackson some time ago. It was clear that the series of 50 shows in London that he was due to play this summer was inspired not by a genuine urge by the performer to return to the stage but from an urgent need to repay his creditors.

Some are even suggesting that the physical stress of preparing for these shows might have brought on the heart attack that killed him. None of this tragedy of wasted talent and physical decline was reflected in the warm words from fellow performers and other celebrities yesterday.

And yet it would be unfair to identify something dishonest or hypocritical in these tributes. What they reflect – and what the outpourings of sadness from huge numbers of people around the world show – is an appreciation for the extraordinary contribution Jackson made during his long career as a performer and artist.

Jackson's legacy will not be the freak show, but the music he made at the height of his powers. And what will remain in people's minds, long after memories of his sad fall have vanished, is how thrilling he was as a performer in his effervescent pomp.

Jackson touched the lives of hundreds of millions of people across the planet with his talent. His music reached across national borders and between generations. And, as the singer's album shot up the charts of the online retailer Amazon yesterday, it was, ultimately, to the music to which people returned upon the sad news of his premature death.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Key Sales Account Manager - OTE £35,000

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Have you got a proven track rec...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £40,000

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Designer / Design Director

£38000 - £48000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This B2B content marketing agen...

Austen Lloyd: Law Costs HOD - Southampton

£50000 - £60000 per annum + Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: An outstanding new...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

The only choice in schools is between the one you want and the ones you don’t

Jane Merrick
 

Start a family – you’ll never have to go out again

John Mullin
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn