In 1985, Michael Jackson was at the peak of his powers. He’d won eight Grammy awards for “Thriller,” the most successful album of all time – a ‘90s Eagles greatest hits collection be damned – and had just released “We Are The World,” a charity single with almost every major name in pop that sold in the double-digit millions.
He was also on the verge of the long, incomprehensible fall from grace that would color the next two and a half decades of his life. But that was still to come. In 1985, he was an untainted superstar, the world’s most electric performer – and a philanthropist who gave generously to medical centers in the wake of a burning incident a year earlier on the set of a Pepsi commercial.
I was born on May 8, 1985, and spent nine days shortly thereafter in the intensive care unit of a Santa Monica hospital. Jackson happened to come visit.
It was a new wing of the hospital, and he had likely made a donation toward it – so in some small way, he may have helped me through my first rough couple weeks of life outside the womb. Somewhere in my family’s attic, there are pictures of Jackson – still young, gifted and black – posing with my mom, dad, and infant me in our nondescript room.
In the wake of his death, I just wanted to share this moment without any necessary moral to the story. The Jackson many are truly mourning today died long, long before Thursday afternoon – and it’s that Jackson that I’ll remember, and celebrate, whenever I hear “Billy Jean” light up dance floors from now on.
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