A week ago today marked the fifth anniversary of the legendary King of Pop’s passing. Everyone knows the story. Michael Jackson was 50 years old when he died at his home on June 25, 2009 from an overdose of the anesthetic propofol. He gave 40 of those 50 years to the world. To us. When he died, he was in the midst of launching a series of comeback concerts titled “This Is It.”
“He was just such a fixture, I mean, you know, he’s Michael Jackson,” said Ellen DeGeneres the week of his passing. “That was never going to happen. We were never going to lose him.”
The media blew up, as they always did when Jackson did anything. Radio stations played “Man in the Mirror” on repeat for the rest of the summer. His three children cried. Around the world, millions and millions of fans cried too.
The world mourned similarly when Elvis – also proclaimed a “King” – died of an overdose. When people think of Elvis they remember him in his greased-back hair and tightly clad hip-gyrating days, not the sad, drug-ridden last years of his life. So why can’t we do the same for Jackson? Why are media tributes still punctuated with asterisks, saying “yes, Jackson was a genius” but also mentioning the trials (of which he was acquitted), the tabloid drama, most of which was faked?
Remember Jackson’s achievements. Remember “Thriller,” the first music video ever filmed. Remember the album that still holds the world record for most copies sold. Remember the incredible self-invented moonwalk. The Super Bowl performance that started with him being shot onto the stage and standing motionless for two full minutes while the crowd cheered in sheer awe of his presence. Remember that dozens of artists today — including Justin Timberlake, Beyonce, Usher, Madonna, Maria Carey and Brittany Spears — credit him with inspiration for their own careers.
The most important thing is not to recall the remarkable things he did, but the remarkable person he was. He was kind and soft-spoken, extremely shy in person. He gave millions of dollars to charity anonymously because he didn’t care for recognition. He wrote hundreds of beautiful songs, spreading his message and greatest dream: “heal the world.”
"I'm just a person who wants to be honest and do good, make people happy and give them the greatest sense of escapism through the talent God has given me,” Jackson said in a 1999 interview. “That's where my heart is, that's all I want to do. Just let me share and give, put a smile on people's faces and make their hearts feel happy."
Relive some of Jackson's funniest moments here.