I grew up in an impressionable small Northland town.
I can remember two music events during primary school that pretty much defined our childhood:
One was the movie Breakdance screening at the local picture theatre. The next school day, everyone had formed a “gang” and started breakdancing.
I couldn’t really breakdance. The best I could manage was spinning around on one knee. Which made me pretty dizzy.
That movie also featured an artistic form of graffiti known as bombing. The skateboard bowl was bombed the first night the movie opened. Such a shock. Such a scandal. So cool.
The other defining moment was Michael Jackson.
He had some amazing dance moves. I couldn’t replicate any of them. Except, well, grabbing my own crotch, but I’d get told off for that.
I remember a special occasion where the principal let us have music played through the PA system during this one lunchtime. Beat It came on, which worked us kids up so much that we were roaming around the playground pretending we were in a Michael Jackson gang and getting into “fights”. I remember getting into a fight with this one kid. I later discovered that he was the son of the leader of the local Black Power chapter. Shiiiiiit.
We weren’t allowed music at lunchtime ever again. Not even when Footloose came out.
But the biggest Michael Jackson influence on us was his fashion sense. After the Thriller album, pretty much everyone was getting their mum or their nana to make them one of those red Beat It/Thriller jackets. Lucky for me and my brothers, my mum was an Orsum seamstress.
We drew the line at wearing a single glitter glove though. That was just plain wacko.
I guess even back then at that young age we sadly realized that there was a separation of the artist and the man.
But yeah. For better, or for worse, Michael Jackson touched me as a child.
And OK, this is weird, and I expect you to think I’m joking, but it’s totally true.
On Friday I had to walk to a printer a couple of departments away. When I got there, I accidentally walked right past the print room. When I realized, instead of turning around and walking back, I simply moonwalked* my way back to the print room.
And turns out, THAT’S the exact moment he was declared officially dead.
I didn’t even know something was up with him until about half an hour later.
* Yeah, nah, OK, of course I can’t actually moonwalk. But I can shuffle backwards pretending to moonwalk. That’s the same thing to me.