Celebrated by people both young and mature from all over the world, Michael Jackson wasn’t just an musician, he was an American icon. ESSENCE.com took the street just hours after his passing to get reaction from some of his biggest fans as they react to his death, share their favorite Michael Jackson moment and reflect on the man who will forever be known as The King of Pop.
“I was shocked when I heard the news. He was so young. I thought it was a rumor at first. Everybody has grown up listening to Michael Jackson. He’s a legend-he was a living legend. I’m sure he’ll be missed.”
“The first thing I thought was what the hell happened? It was completely unexpected. My little brother’s name is Michael. When he was born, we asked our parents if we could name him Michael Jackson. Not just Michael but Michael Jackson. They comprimised and gave us just the Michael instead. Growing up as a child of the 1980s, Michael was a prince.”
“It’s tragic. I grew up with Michael and followed a lot of his hit songs. He’ll definitely be missed. He was loved by everyone, not just African-Americans. He made good music that we all listened to and enjoyed.”
“I’m a makeup artist and I was supposed to work on Michael Jackson’s new tour. My friend sent me an email saying he had died. I was supposed to the tour contract on Monday, so my ground is really shaken right now. I was happy about the tour but at the same time, I had a feeling something bad was going to happen. He’s someone I loved very much.”
“Sadness hit me when I heard. I was like, Oh my God, the king! Michael was only a couple of years older than me so I grew up watching him. I belonged to the official Michael Jackson fan club. I had posters of Michael and Jermaine on my wall. My favorite song of all-time was “Billie Jean” because I thought maybe, just maybe, I was his Billie Jean.”
“I remember in 1978 when I was a police officer in Trinidad, Michael Jackson came there to do a show. I was on his security detail and it was a hectic detail. Everywhere he went, women would start screaming. He didn’t have time to be shy because the ladies were all over him. I will always love Michael Jackson. He went through a lot of trials and tribulations but he’s special to me.”
“When I heard a woman telling someone on the subway, ‘Michael Jackson is dead,’ I felt like crying because I think the way people treated him brought on this heart attack. This guy never had a childhood. He was a big man trying to live a child’s dream. I think he was a giant before his time.”
“He was the greatest, most influential artist of all time. You know your greatness is defined by who you inspire. The guy was an innovator. He changed the game at all levels. You can name at least 20 artists who followed him: Omarion, Justin Timberlake, Usher. Michael was the prototype and everybody else just followed.”
“I started to cry when I found out. Just the other day, someone asked me, ‘Who was your teen idol?’ And I said, Michael Jackson. I love Michael Jackson. I love “PYT” because when I was younger, my friends and I made T-shirts with PYT written all over them. James Brown’s funeral was outrageous. I just can’t imagine what Michael Jackson’s will be like.
“I was surprised but then again, Mike’s been through a whole lot. We’ve lost a lot of celebrities because of their high-pressure lifestyles. I’m saddened because he was my age and he wasn’t able to pull through something like this. As an African-American man, I’m concerned with what’s happening to other Black men. Look at Luther Vandross, Gerald Levert and now Michael. This was like a warning call for me because I’m asking myself, what do I need to do to make it another year.”
“He was so larger-than-life but it just seemed like he was in this continual downward spiral. He didn’t seem happy with who he was or what he had become. He was from a very famous family but it didn’t seem like it was enough. If I had to describe him in three words, I would say he was extraordinary, gifted and sad.”
“My husband and I were on a bus coming into the city and the bus driver announced that Michael Jackson had passed. He is the King of Pop and he has set the ultimate standard with so many phenomenal records. My son grew up thinking he was Michael Jackson. “Thriller” is my all-time favorite Michael Jackson song. There will never be another person like him.”
“Michael Jackson was huge. I know he had some issues later on in his life but I was just explaining to my daughter, he’s even bigger than the Jonas Brothers. I wore pants with zippers all over them because of Michael. I remember when the “Thriller” video came out on video. We would watch it over and over again.”
“When I was coming up, we would hear “Billie Jean” and everyone would rush to the floor. That was the time to dance and party. Michael just energized everyone. Even today, I jump up and bop to Michael Jackson’s beat. That was the age of real music.”