Remembering Michael Jackson 1958 – 2009

Has it really been 12 years? I find it unconceivable that the legendary Michael Jackson passed away over a decade ago. I find myself becoming more sentimentally reminiscent as the years add up, especially as time seems to rapidly increase with each fleeting birthday.

Recently, I found myself mining the musical memories of my youth, when suddenly my attention span focused upon the Jackson 5. Some of my most distinct childhood recollections involve Michael Jackson. No, I’m not talking about the reclusive, oddly behaved and disfigured scandalous celebrity that many remember. Instead, I’m recalling the Motown-era’s magnificent entertainer whose records I cut off of cereal boxes and whom I watched weekly on Saturday morning cartoons. That’s my Michael Jackson.

Sure, as the years progressed, I became a fan of The Jacksons and solo Michael, but my most vivid thoughts of Michael Jackson are of the earliest years of his career. Jackson’s Motown canon – solo and with his brothers – were staples on my turntable, radio and television with the Jacksons’ various appearances on variety shows and TV specials during my adolescent formative years. That’s the Michael Jackson I remember most fondly and find myself missing the most.

Michael Jackson caught my attention again many years later with his outstanding Off the Wall album and his watershed epic, Thriller. Unfortunately, after those two mythical records, things began to get very strange and out of control for the legendary, but often misunderstood artist.   

Rest in peace upon the wings of a dove Michael. May your music last for all time.

The Golden Days of AM Radio and Cereal Box Records

Whenever summer rolls around, it annually evokes fond memories of youthful days I’d eagerly spend counting down until the school year would finally end. The anticipation of long, lazy summer days, extended car rides, and family vacations was always palpable. That was the era of AM radio hits which often turned into road trip sing-alongs which served as a much needed reprieve from being cooped up for hours on end in the car. I’m referring to a time when portable electronics were almost non-existent and the only access to music was the standard AM radio that came factory installed in the family owned American automobile.

Summertime also reminds me of how excited I’d get about routine trips to the grocery store when I was a kid. Yes, the grocery store, because back in those days, they used to print records right on the backs of cereal boxes, similar to flexi discs often found in music publications or instructional books. Nothing made me happier than picking out a brand of cereal I’d pretend to like just so I could get a new record by The Archies, The Monkees, or The Jackson 5. I can still recall being mesmerized and oddly entertained as I’d watch the phonograph stylus play over the faces of Betty, Veronica, Archie, Reggie, Jughead, and Hot Dog as I carefully memorized every word of “Everything’s Archie” and “Nursery Rhyme.” [Read Full Feature]