He was, quite simply, a one-of-a-kind talent. I was so upset to hear the news last night, especially after listening to the music last week. All of his talent and accomplishments have been completely overshadowed in the past 15 years by the tabloid craziness. Was he a deeply flawed individual? Absolutely. Was it entirely his fault? Absolutely not.
David and I had a long talk recently about Mike Tyson, another tragic figure with one extraordinary talent. Tyson has a very limited intellect and was used by a long string of managers to make money. Of course, that doesn't excuse his behavior, but it does explain it. They raised him to do nothing but fight, but acted surprised when he fought outside the ring. His "handlers" took advantage of him and stole every chance he had for a normal life.
Michael Jackson started performing professionally at age 6. He was the family breadwinner before he started 2nd grade. He never had anything close to a childhood. His parents exploited him and his managers used him. Once he reached adulthood, he became the biggest celebrity in the world, with no access to any semblance of normality. I know I should condemn him for the child molestation, and I do - but I also feel so much pity for him.
He had a tape in the 80s that was a sort of long form music video (it involved gangsters, I think?). My brother and I watched it on repeat for years. I was an enormous fan. Still am.