Michael Jackson died today after a heart attack.

This isn't exactly news from the Americana music scene, but it's impossible to claim Michael Jackson's influence on American music has been anything less than extraordinary, far-reaching, and echoic.

For my generation, Jackson was one of our first major cultural influences. We all remember our childhoods in terms of parachute pants and sparkly gloves. We remember Thriller, of course, mainly. It dropped in 1982 when I was five years old. Too young to have really understood the mystic draw of Motown, but I was old enough to know that there was something about Michael Jackson. Something that personified artistic expression. He wasn't weird yet. He was an artist.

As I got older and delved deeper into my musical influences, Michael led me to Diana Ross and the greater Motown scene. I learned about legends like Berry Gordy and Lamont Dozier and, by extension, the innumerable influence of the Holland-Dozier-Holland collaborative empire. Discovering Jackson's influences opened this small town southern girl to the heavy groove of Detroit R&B.

Meanwhile, beyond the influence of those who inspired him, Jackson spent his entire life, pretty much, influencing other musicians.

There are artists who acquire fame and who influence others. Then there are those whose mark on our worldwide culture is so indelible, it's hard to imagine modern music without their influence. Weird and reclusive and inexplicable as Jackson's public image had become in recent years, it didn't manage to erase the imagination and creative vision that drove music as groundbreaking as Thriller and Off the Wall. Like this:

Like @ronfwnc noted in our Twitter feed, it's not a great week to be famous. RIP Michael, Sky, Tim, Farrah, Ed McMahon...let's hope that's where the news stops this week.

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Tags: american, attack, barry, blog, community, depression, died, dozier, gordy, heart, More…jackson, lamont, magazine, michael, music, no

Comment by Elvis Fontenot on June 25, 2009 at 4:13pm
Robbie Fulks has a long-time recorded and now semi-legendary tribute album of MJ tunes - "Dear Michael, Love Robbie" which he shelved because of the child-molesting allegations and didn't want to be seen to be exploiting that. Now that had all died down, he was considering releasing them as a download. Looks like there'll be another delay.
Comment by Ron Frankl on June 25, 2009 at 4:13pm
For better or worse, Jackson was the man who had it all, and threw it all away.

There was a time when no one could deny or overlook his talent, even if you didn't particularly like his music. But that time proved much shorter than anyone could have imagined, and it's been a long time since he really mattered except, perhaps, to die hard fans.


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Created by No Depression Feb 17, 2009 at 9:06pm. Last updated by No Depression Sep 24, 2012.