Pyrotechnic malfunctions, accusations of child molestation, canceled tours, painkiller addiction and failed marriages — one to Lisa Marie Presley and the other to Debbie Rowe — were fodder for the tabloids.
Then MJ became reclusive and secretive.
That only fanned the flames for the media, who called him "Wacko Jacko."
The 2002 incident where he playfully dangled his baby off the balcony in front of the paparazzi didn't help his image, either.
In 2004 he was 15 minutes late to his child-molestation hearing in Los Angeles but instead of walking straight into the courtroom, he stopped to shake hands with his fans.
Then during the hearing, which took about 10 minutes, he actually left early to go to the restroom. When he emerged from the courthouse, he jumped on a vehicle and did an impromptu dance.
His lawyers said it was a "spontaneous display of affection." I called it a lack of respect for the courts.
At any rate, Jackson was acquitted of the child molestation charges in 2005. And he settled other cases out of court. But he was never able to shake the stigma of being an accused child molester.
Lately, things began to look up for MJ, who was preparing to embark on a world tour.
But the multi-Grammy Award-winner and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer who delighted millions throughout the '80s is dead.
And I'm sure the media await the autopsy reports with bated breath.
A friend told me that Michael Jackson's death is what Elvis' death meant to our parents. Or John Lennon's.
Goodbye, Michael, but as you sang all those years ago, you "Never Can Say Goodbye."
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