Every story has a beginning. Every adventure has a starting point. Mine begins way back in 1986. 31st March 1986 to be precise. The location is Lane End, High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire. Little did I know at the time, how this one moment would make such a significant impact on the rest of my life. It is a good thing, therefore that my Dad arranged for the whole event to be filmed. Secondly it is also a good thing that the elders (my Aunty I believe) allowed for a change in the music which enabled this moment of sheer musical magic to happen.
I have not seen this video for a while, several years in fact. Although it used to be play regularly during my younger years going through primary school. My Mum and Dad would need little excuse to put on the VHS, which by now was showing it’s age. The last time I watched it was when my Dad had had the VHS converted to DVD and we watched it together as a family and remembered how much a wonderful party it had been all those years ago.
Fast forward some twenty years and my MJ moments occurred on a regular basis. There was actually a long journey from February 2003 to June 2005 and finally November 2006. The fans out there among you will already recognise the significance of the month and year but for the rest of you, I am going to explain and point you in the direction of the archives for you to read more if you so wish.
There had been a big build up to the documentary but most of it had passed me by until perhaps a week or so before, when I started to see preview clips. The fact that I was working in Bedford and commuting from High Wycombe every day, meant I had very little time in the evenings to watch much television. The one which was shown was of Michael in his studio with Martin, showing him how to moonwalk and explaining how he came up with the melody or back beat for Billie Jean. I remember watching the documentary with my whole family that evening. I was disappointed with Martin Bashir, I expected better from him. Michael even said to the award winning journalist, “Your better than this”. This being some of the gutter press questioning and speculation that Bashir had decided to sensationalise the story for his own agenda.
In my final year at University, I was sharing a house with Nav and Paul, both big MJ fans. It was in late October 2003, that I heard One More Chance for the first time and Paul, actually let me know he had been released to radio and sent me the mp3 of the song played on German radio (there was still the DJ speaking in German over the intro). It was released in November, and throughout that time I mention the release of Number Ones and the arrest and subsequent trial. My dreams of the greatest comeback in entertainment history, were shattered but I was willing to stay the course.
In my first job after university, I was changing over the laptop for a lawyer (as I had been doing for most of the summer and early autumn 2004). I was intrigued by a little paper and signature that this Japanese lawyer had placed to the side of her computer screen on the wall. It took a while to register, if you had been there you would have noticed the penny drop. I first noticed Sony Corporation and then realised, it was the signature of one Michael Joseph Jackson. A moment from some time ago, but a keep safe if there was ever such a word. Although I had been tempted to grab a photo with my camera photo (a 6210, if I recall at the time). It would never had done the moment justice, so I decided to keep the whole affair as a memory and not even mention it on my blog.
I had two interviews in December 2004. I came home from Reading to get some food before heading out for interview number two. VH1 were playing Michael Jackson, read the full story of the final day of Immortals Week from Friday 3rd December 2004.
For Christmas 2004, my lovely sisters got me Michael Jackson – The Ultimate Collection. I recall, coming home one Friday night and putting on the concert DVD and listening to the finale featuring Man In The Mirror. Anika text me to comment on how the spins are just mesmerizing. I had actually been prompted into finding out about the greatest hits collection by my old house mate, Paul early December. It was the single, We’ve Had Enough, a protest at the Iraq war, which would lead me to discover unreleased material was about to surface.
In January 2005, the documentary Wacko About Jacko aired on Channel 4. I got home from work on Tuesday 5th January in time to catch the show and watched it in great anticipation, even if I hated the title. The programme would be like a skeleton key for me, opening the door to many of UK fans and various forums. Most of these friends remain to this day and have only become stronger over the course of recent weeks.
My involvement with the other fans became regular and I wrote, perhaps my best ever blog post on Monday 13th June 2005. A rather bland Monday, turned out to being a moment of justice and HIStory. At the time, I wrote the blog, literally moments after the event had unfolded on rolling television news networks and it was heart warming to know that I knew people out there, standing and cheering outside the court house. I was with them in spirit.
On Sunday 2nd October 2005, I went to see Arsenal play Birmingham in the League (we won, one nil, thanks to a late goal from Robin Van Persie) at Highbury. Afterwards, instead of heading directly home, as you would have expected, I headed to Picadilly Circus to my first MJ event. Anika had arranged with other fans to raise money for the Katrina victims via the Red Cross. The plan was to have MJ fans come down to show their support, while impersonators performed under the bright neon lights of London’s West End. On a side note, I had discovered a Gooner blog via Technorati weeks prior to this event and actually e-mailed the blogger. Little did I know that Terry was both an Arsenal fan but also a very big fan of the King Of Pop, I would meet him for the second time at the event and then subsequently at future events and Arsenal games. I never uploaded the photographs from the event at the time for some unknown reason. Having dug them off the archives (i.e. my 320gig portable hard drive, well not very portable when you consider old IDE caddy drives). So here, they finally are!
On Saturday 22nd October 2005 the item was returned. The Moonwalker had returned home, after spending over six years out in the wilderness. I lent Pav my VHS original copy of MJ’s one and only movie blockbuster and did not see it again from 1999 until that fateful day in late autumn. I personally thought it had disappeared into the garage forever.
In late August 2006, I was one of the lucky people to see the first ever performance of Thriller Live. Yes, although it is now a common stable of the West End, it all started way back in 2006! I went to the show with my friend Victoria, herself a very big Jackson fan. Although we have lost touch in recent years, we went to several MJ related events together. My favourite moment from the show, organised and arranged by Adrian Grant (whom I met at Anika’s birthday party the previous September) was when they had children and full gospel choir, perform Speechless from the album Invincible.
A dream came true in November 2006, when I finally saw the man for himself at The World Music Awards in Earls Court. As with all MJ related events, it was a roller coaster ride, from start from finish. Would he be appearing, as there had been rumours for the the show the previous year but MJ had not turned up. At one point I had a free ticket to the event, which was revoked hours later. I then lost out on the official online ballot of free tickets but arranged to go with Victoria. She let me down, litterally at the door, so I had to scramble a ticket from Holly while in the queue outside the arena around 3pm. It would be way after 8pm by the time we were allowed inside. Was it worth the wait? You bet, I would have waited twice as long.
I met Mutaza at my first MJ event and we kept in touch via forums, MySpace and Hotmail (now MSN Live Mail). He explained that he was staring in a music video for The Mitchell Brothers in late September 2007. He had previously also starred in the Sugababes video, About You Now as a chef (on screen for less than ten seconds) in the preceeding few weeks.
On Valentine’s Day, last year I finally owned the biggest selling album of all time. It had taken me a while but I had finally bought, arguably, Michael Jackson’s greatest master piece. As I listend to the album on the drive home, I began to appreciate perhaps for the first time, the achievement of this man as a solo artist. A colleague stated that the ‘masses are asses’, to explain away the popular appeal of the album. I tend to disagree, it was a special defining moment in the history of all music. I strongly believe that for that moment, we were all Michael Jackson fans, just some prefer not to admit that now.
Fast forward to March this year and the frenzy returned and this time, there was some substance to all the rumours. The minute it flashed up on BBC News, I had to call Kish and speak to him. I recall the image of Michael appearing at The O2 Arena to make his comeback announcement on Sky News and even spotting Kish in the crowd! This Was It!
I finish with not my own words but the words from a Guardian journalist, who perhaps puts together how I felt between March and late June this year. The return of one of the largest pop stars in the world, at the most popular arena in the world; Come on, how can it not be the biggest event of the year?