Had to share: this is the extraordinary photograph taken by John Wright for the August cover of Q magazine (see previous post). Wright was given a minute and a half to do it.
In the issue Wright recalls: ‘He was very polite – he shook everybody’s hand. He’s very quietly spoken, but he had a normal speaking voice – he didn’t have a Splitting Image-style Michael Jackson voice. He was wearing a lot of make-up and he didn’t have the healhtiest skin that I’ve ever seen … My abiding memory is how polite he was – forgetting everything that’s gone on, if you were his parents, you’d be proud of how you’d brought him up.’
One of the most useful pieces about michaeljackson has now been written by Joan Acocella, dance critic of the New Yorker. People have mentioned mj’s dancing abilities but I had not read a proper critique till now. If, like me, you don’t have the words to describe and illuminate dance, Joan is your woman.
In the piece Acocella writes of a 1969 video performance that mj, ‘was already an A-list dancer at the age of eleven. Here is this fat-cheeked boy, in a pink Super Fly hat that he is obviously proud of, doing tilts and dips and fanny rocks and finger snaps, and tucking in little extras—half steps, quarter steps—between them. Most amazing is his musicality, his ability to respond to the score faithfully and yet creatively, playing with the music, moving in before and after the beat. Musicality always comes off as spontaneity, and he was loved, early on, for that quality.’
She goes on to analyse his brilliant dance career, with its odd, sad end, ‘The last known video shows him at a rehearsal for the London season he was about to embark on. He struts, he boogies; he snaps and pops. As CNN’s chief medical correspondent, Sanjay Gupta, said, “This doesn’t look like someone who’s very sick to me.” That’s not to mention that Jackson was fifty years old and, because he was in rehearsal, was probably not performing “full out.” He was still a great dancer. Two days later, he was dead.’
Here is the brief CNN clip, and yes, mj was still a whirl of precision. It ends with ten spooky seconds, when the dancers, mj front and centre, come to a stop, and a flat voice off calls out, ‘Hold for applause … hold for applause. Slow umbrella … fade out.’ Lights go down on that bony ashen face.