So far today I have received six text messages about Michael Jackson's death - five of them wicked jokes that I shant repeat. The first just said "condolences" - sent from a friend who has long teased me for defending Jackson in pub arguments. Here's why. For all his wackiness he was, he was by any standards an incredible composer, singer and performer whose accomplishments towered above those of his far more normal competitors. It does him an injustice to remember him (as so many radio stations have done so far today) by the Jackson Five numbers. They were pretty much all written by the Motown Corporation and Jackson's role was a kiddie vocalist. His signature work was the world's bestselling album, Thriller, where he wrote most songs and produced the greatest pop video ever made. Then his stage shows became famous for dance moves: the moonwalk, the anti-gravity lean etc. This was a guy who worked his guts out to produce the greatest stage shows in the pop world. And it went on: no one is talking about Bad, his 1987 album, today - in spite of its being the only album ever to have produced five number ones. Sure, his self-regard went too far, his Jesus complex was profoundly irritating me and he richly deserved to have Jarvis Cocker run on stage and spoil his egotastic Earth Song video in 1996 (video here ). But Jackson was still a pioneer. This is why no matter how low he sunk in his personal life, no matter how many monkeys he befriended or oxygen masks he wore or babies he dangled over balconies, his reputation survived enough for him to fill any stadium, anywhere in the world. His achievements - his art, if you like - always eclipsed his weirdness. And deservedly so. RIP.
PS here is Billy Jean, for my money one of the best pop records ever recorded.