The first time I saw him it was on a TV news show in the home of my dad’s friend. A thin, tall, feminine looking white (not fair!) man with a long curly mane tied in a pony was dancing and singing wildly on stage with screaming crying girls all around him in the audience. The image of a man dancing wildly was not new to me at all – had seen too many heroes doing much non eye-pleasing steps lip syncing to songs in the indian movies by that time. What was surprising was that a man was with such long hair and with that painfully pale white skin. My dad, his friend and the friend’s wife were commenting on him along with the news reporter. About a man who had done too many plastic surgeries on him… ‘The craze of a black man for white skin’. The image stuck and so did the words.
And then a couple of years later, I started hearing about him more frequently, learnt his name. My friend with MTV were already part of that growing bunch of English speaking English importing generation. Some grew up on him, his videos, his songs. He was one of those idols that one of my friends idolized, loved him to bits. My friend though was butt of our jokes for many years. Or atleast it was fun invoking anger from him by making fun of his idol.And slowly school ended and I grew up.
Occasionally a video of his would come up in my random surfing, and I would love that and fall in love once again with his work, his music. The media loved his eccentricities, for me it was just noise as was him. The man was not important but his music definitely was. In some of my dark moments his music made sense. In some bright moments, they were nice. He remained an outlier all my life, but he was part of a life I treasure being a part of. It was nice seeing my friend idolize someone with all his heart. And then that love transferred to me. Not fully though. Seeing his songs Bad, Heal the World, Stranger in Moscow, Scream, Black or White, Earth song was always great entertainment, he made music videos an art form. I remember then he was THE source of break dance. Not one school annual function was complete without a customary MJ song. Not one would be dancer good unless he could dance to an MJ song. Now they are all part of my drive-list now. I was always on the sidelines, looking at his eccentricities, the multi million dollar music deals going sour, his numerous attempts at making a comeback shadowed and tampered with.
Yesterday, I regretted not having known his work when I was much younger. I knew him for his eccentricities; I shall only remember him for his music.