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‘King of Pop’ is dead

BY ERIC SUNDERMANN | JUNE 26, 2009 7:21 AM

Thursday began with the passing of Charlie’s Angel Farrah Fawcett and ended with the sudden death of an icon. Michael Jackson died at UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles after suffering a heart attack in his Bel-Air home around 12:30 p.m. He was 50.

Jackson emerged as the baby face from the classic Motown group Jackson 5. Beginning in the late-70s, he was known for innovating pop music. The self-proclaimed King of Pop had 13 No. 1 hits, including such classics as “Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough,” “Bad,” and “Beat It.” His raspy, falsetto voice combined with revolutionary dance moves such as the moonwalk shot him to fame.

“I am deeply hurt and saddened by the news,” said Patty McBride, an Iowa City resident and community activist. “He was an irreplaceable model for African Americans.”

Jackson was known for his interesting persona, often toting sequine-covered jackets with a single white glove on his usually right — sometimes left — hand. Rolling into the later-90s, Jackson became a victim of the tabloids. His appearance changed drastically, though he never admitted to the plastic-surgery accusations. It was at this time that he also found himself deep in legal trouble dealing with child molestation, charges for which he was later acquitted.

“It’s sad. It’s prosaic to say that,” said Andrew Schep, a visitor at Iowa’ Summer Writing Festival about the artist’s death. “But a life like that was ended before you could see any redemption.”

Regardless of his recent year troubles, Jackson was a pioneer. His music controlled Generation X’s and Y’s radio and TV waves. Not only were his beats defining pop music of the ’80s, he crafted how the music video is shot with “Thriller.” Beyond that, Jackson used his music to push social issues with songs like “Black and White,” which was full of words about equality.

Without Michael Jackson, some of those in the industry maintain, music wouldn’t be where it is today. He affected not only recording but also how to entertain, especially with his innovative music videos. Though he had issues in his private life, Jackson not only contributed to, but also helped shape the pop music that’s now heard on the radio.

“I’m surprised at his death,” said Shane Morlan, an Iowa City resident. “He influenced a lot of people.”

DI reporter Zhanran Zhao contributed to this report.


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