Michael Jackson was one of those talents that only comes along in a generation. He pushed the envelope of music with a combination of well written, superiorly recorded songs (thanks largely to producer Quincy Jones) combined with an infectious dance presentation that has to be marveled at. In 1984 there was nowhere you could escape the sounds of his album “Thriller.” Even now, years later, the album holds up as a classic. Michael will live in our hearts musically forever…his songs we will hear over and over again for years to come. It has been reported that there are over 100 unreleased recordings by Michael in the vaults. Over the next few years there are plans being set in place to release them. Now on to the other half of the story.
The tragedy of Michael Jackson has happened before to many who have been swept up in the glaring lights of fame and excess. The eerie similarity surrounding Michael’s death and that of Elvis Presley is shocking. Elvis was an icon that pushed the envelope of music for years. Many fans split his career into two stages….before he went into the army in 1958, and after. The changing moment in Elvis’s life was, while stationed in Germany he discovered “prescription medication.” He took pills to keep him up at night when he was out on maneuvers. One problem, when Elvis returned from the army in 1960 the drug taking continued. Elvis never thought he was addicted…to him, it was all legal. He never went to the street corner to buy off the local drug dealer. He just had a series of doctors write him prescriptions. When anyone approached him that he may have a problem with the drugs, they were banished from his realm. What Elvis had left was an entourage of “yes” men. Fast forward to August 1977, and his tolerance and abuse of the medications took his life.
Michael Jackson in 1984 burned the top of his head when a mishap occurred during a Pepsi commercial. That was the beginning, experts say, with his fascination with “prescribed medication.” Here we are 25 years later, and Michael has left us with suspicions of the same problem as Elvis. Friends have been coming forward saying that they had tried to warn Michael about his growing dependency on drugs. Anytime they brought up the subject, they too were banished.
There are more glaring similarities. Shortly before Elvis’s death he had just played a game of racket ball while preparing for an upcoming concert tour. Michael had just been rehearsing two days before his death, for a series of concerts in England, which he called his “This Is It” tour. Oddly, another thing they both have in common… Lisa Marie Presley. Elvis’s daughter, and Michael Jackson’s ex-wife.
Abuse of prescribed medications is turning into an epidemic in the United States, and probably in other countries too. If I see another commercial that says “Ask your doctor if this medication is right for you,” I’m going to scream! A friend of mine recently told me that half of his son’s college class is on mood stabilizers. If anything good is to come out of the death of Michael Jackson, I hope it is the revelation of the escalating abuse of prescription drugs in this country. We only hear about the rich and famous who die from the abuse…not the many others who don’t get a headline.
Rest in Peace,
© 2009 Jennifer Avalon