Thursday, June 25, 2009

Freestyle 6/25/09 - Michael Jackson, Ed McMahon

Michael Jackson passed away today at the age of 50. As a typically poor college student, I donate plasma for extra cash. In the middle of my session, I got a call from my mom saying Michael Jackson had suddenly died. I was beyond shocked. Soon, people across the entire clinic were getting the same call. The place was abuzz. Everywhere I went after that, people made sure YOU knew what happened. Without a doubt, Michael Jackson was an icon, and even now, he's got people talking everywhere.

My evening shift on the radio station was pre-recorded; so I went in to stop the automation and break the news a few times. Facebook was awash in condolences. Like the real world, the web wanted you to know - wherever you were - that the King of Pop was no more. Frankly, I was surprised didn't have it in their forecast.

It's hard to find somebody who doesn't even claim a few of Michael's songs as guilty pleasures. I know in my personal mix CD collection, I can find "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin." And I just imported tracks off his Number Ones CD, courtesy of my brother. His string of hits over several decades is a true beacon of the talent he had. His personal life will take a deserved backseat for now, but Mark Evanier has a good post on that front from personal experience working with Michael.

Ed McMahon passed away after a long battle with cancer this week. Some of music's one-hit wonders can be caught in interviews saying, "I"m just happy to be remembered." Ed can claim that superstar status from several avenues. Aside from the obvious time spent as Johnny Carson's second banana, Ed was a longtime spokesman for Budweiser. He lent his face to the giant checks at American Family Publishers. He co-hosted "Bloopers & Practical Jokes" with the equally iconic Dick Clark. He teamed with Jerry Lewis for his Labor Day Telethon. And he helped jump start numerous careers on "Star Search." Not bad for "just a sidekick."

It was sad that his last months were mired by all the personal problems aired in the media. Donald Trump buying his house while Ed struggled with bankruptcy was one part sad, but one part a reminder of just how beloved he was. Few people in entertainment could inspire an act like that.

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