Friday, June 26, 2009

The Thriller is gone: Michael Jackson dead at 50

June 26, 2009
Posted by Noah

It’s been a rough week for greats of the 1970s, but perhaps nothing is quite a stunning as the death of Michael Jackson yesterday, June 25, at the age of 50. A stunner, a shocker, yes, but really surprising? Don’t think me callous, but the only thing surprising is the manner in which it happened. Somehow, though, we always knew it wasn’t going to end well for poor Michael considering the unbelievable amount of unhappiness and pressure heaped on the guy. It’s actually amazing he lasted this wrong, again I don’t mean to be callous, but I calls ‘em like I sees ‘em…

It’s been a difficult creepshow watching Jackson’s agonizingly slow fall from grace over the last 15 or so years; the saddest part of the tragedy has been that his amazing musical output has been overshadowed by heaps of plastic surgery, bizarre marriages, doppelganger chimps and episodes of blanket-covered baby dangling. And that’s really just the tip. Perhaps now, though, history can get on with the MJ skewering and remember him for the unbelievable talent that flowed through his veins.

Jackson’s influence on American pop culture can now begin to be measured, and it’s substantial indeed. He wrote more #1 hits than anybody before and anyone since and, really, all you have to say is the word: Thriller. There will never be another record like. Ever. It is, in my humble opinion, the greatest pop music record of all time. Whatever you’re into now or back in the early 1980s, you knew the tracks to Thriller and you probably had a copy of the LP or cassette. Come on, now, you can admit it… 61 million copies of that thing moved. Amazing by any standards.

As far as Jackson memorabilia goes, the general opinion is that whatever you had yesterday prior to his death is now probably worth double. There it is. The run is that in the long run, say a year or two, that spike in prices for Michael stuff – except the very best of the best, like a white glove – will probably recede and prices will level out. It all remains to be seen how his death will play out, how the disbursement of his estate plays out, and what his numerous creditors do. More than likely it’s going to get uglier – much uglier – before it starts to level out.

As for Heritage, we have indeed seen a fair amount of Michael Jackson memorabilia come through our auctions over the last decade or so, and none of the prices have been outrageous. Some have been fair, but nothing over the top. Suffice it to say, however, the prices you see in the archive linked to above are no longer going to reflect what the market will bear – it will be considerably higher for the time being.

Michael Jackson’s legacy is going to be the classic example of figuring out what’s more important, the art of the artist. This is a conversation my wife, Lauren, and I have frequently. She falls on the side of the artist – not too good for MJ’s legacy. For my part, I say the art, all the way. Jackson was a prolific songwriter and a great singer. He has 20 years of megahits to define his life, and that will be the monument to him.

Rest in peace Michael.

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-Noah Fleisher

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