Thursday, June 25

I'll Be There

I'm not one to mourn celebrity deaths; I've written here before about my utter confusion at the cult of celebrity. I feel no differently today. I was never a screaming fan, and I am not one who would hold vigil outside a hospital or a home.

And yet, the sudden death of Michael Jackson has left me surprisingly saddened. I thought it must be wrong. I thought surely that he staged it (like Elvis? Unlike Elvis?). I pondered the possibility that this was not his body that they removed from the house. I'm still pondering. But only a little.

I grew up with Michael Jackson. We were born the same year. I watched and admired his voice, his dancing, his showmanship from the earliest age. There was not a moment in which I did not feel awestruck by the idea that he and I were the same age. When I was 16, I went to see the Jackson Five in concert at the now defunct Circle Star Theater in San Carlos, California, where I grew up. Imagine. The Jackson Five in my town! I remember the show like it was yesterday. I swooned as he sang "I'll Be There".

I did not really remain a fan as he grew older. The songs were still good, the dancing was still amazing, but it just wasn't my thing. I know that most people know him for Thriller, and admire that era of his music. I'll always be a Jackson Five fan. It takes me back.

I did not remain a fan as he clearly became stranger and stranger, as the concrete manifestation of phenomenal childhood pressures (and abuse?) took hold--he wouldn't be the first. I did not attend any more concerts--only that first one. I did not buy any more records (yes, records), even Thriller. As speculation regarding his abuse of children swirled, I never felt "hooked in"--the Michael Jackson I knew was 12, 16, 20. Not this one. And the one that I knew remained--in recordings, in videos, in my memory. Now he was clearly a deeply troubled entertainer that bore no resemblance (in any way) to the child whose poster was on my bedroom wall. In those days, I often remarked to friends that I would not be surprised if he killed himself rather than grow old. Who could possibly imagine an aged Michael Jackson, tell me that. Not me.

To me, he was always a child with the voice of an angel.

So tonight, when I heard the news, after double and triple and quadruple checking, I did what I often do to instantly cheer me up when I feel glum--today was, ironically, no different in that way. I turned on Jackson Five music at high volume. I Want You Back. ABC. I'll Be There. I opened the windows and the front door to throw the music out into the world. And I danced.

Here you go. With a little pre-Huxtable Bill Cosby and Tommy Smothers as a bonus...but the real genius is there in yellow and green. Dance with me, k?


Anonymous said...

I saw the Jackson Five at the Circle Star Theater when I was 7 years old. That would have been around 1976. I vaguely remember it.

Robin said...

Are you sure you were that old? According to the Jackson Five concert records, they only played at the Circle Star Theater once (for several nights) in August of 1974. Are you from the peninsula?

Bettina said...

I cannot remember the year of the concert. They were advertised as the Jacksons. They had just changed record labels. They left Motown and went to Epic I believe.

david said...

I was there too. Front row seats. Great show. They were 'The Jacksons' on that tour and had Janet and LaToya, as I recall.

Here's the local dates of that tour...

08/07/1974 San Carlos, California Circle Star Theatre
09/07/1974 San Carlos, California Circle Star Theatre
10/07/1974 San Carlos, California Circle Star Theatre
11/07/1974 San Carlos, California Circle Star Theatre
12/07/1974 San Carlos, California Circle Star Theatre
13/07/1974 San Carlos, California Circle Star Theatre
14/07/1974 San Carlos, California Circle Star Theatre


Robin said...

Wow, front row seats!

Are you from the Peninsula?

Anonymous said...

Wow this is great, I was trying to figure out when I saw them there too. I would have been 7 years old. We had second row seats on the right side of aisle (my dad was friends with the ticket manager :-) ).

I just remember it was great, we loved seeing them. Robin did you grow up around here? San Carlos is my home town.

martika said...

Hey Robin-
I am from the peninsula and I was at one of those concerts. In fact I have a picture of Michael close up coming down the aisle. I was thinking of selling it because it is really vintage looking.
Any suggestions?