MJ – Five years on

26 Jun
Tree carving of Michael Jackson at the o2 in 2009

Tree carving of Michael Jackson at the o2 in 2009. Image © 2014 Robert JE Simpson. All Rights Reserved.

Good grief, how did that happen already. Five years since the fabled ‘King of Pop’ (not to be confused with the ‘Peter Pan of Pop’) Michael Jackson shuffled off this mortal coil, aided by some naughty chemicals.

I wasn’t much of a Jackson fan, though I’d sung along with the rest of them to Bad when I was a kid, and I loved Moonraker Moonwalker with its robot Michael  – just the sort of film a kid could fall for. Erm.

But as the 90s wore on I lost much of my interest – the songs were a little less catchy, a little more self-indulgent, and MJ was at the centre of a series of abuse law suits.

I was in Edinburgh visiting my brother the night MJ died. I recall checking the news online as the story broke and being transfixed on TMZ’s feed, which seemed to be the only reliable source.

A few weeks later and I was in London and found myself over at the O2 in Greenwich to visit the Body Worlds exhibition. Of course, the O2 was also the venue where MJ was meant to perform his This Is It residency, and following his death on 25 June 2009, it had become a shrine, with fans making the trip to scrawl messages on the walls and fences around the complex. It was eerie – I’d arrived too late to witness the most excessive outpourings but there was still a very real atmosphere around and one felt compelled to read the wall scrawls.

Other tributes sprung up in other cities, and I recall seeing another huge tribute outside an HMV store. I didn’t get why people would make these temporary writings. Any more than when I visited Jim Morrison’s grave in Paris.

I didn’t stay too long, but I did snap a dozen frames to record the memorial. It was something significant, and very much of the moment, and too specific to overlook.

I haven’t looked at those photos in quite some time, but five years seems like a significant juncture to change that. And so I’ve posted them over on my Flickr here:

It seems like only yesterday. But of course it isn’t. It’s been five years.


One Response to “MJ – Five years on”

  1. tenderlytina July 1, 2014 at 1:05 pm #

    I don’t really understand the extensive drama that we place around death. For me grieving is a private process. I have had the Psychology of public grief explained to me from an expert and I have a mental grasp of it in the abstract. Even though I see it play out over and over I still don’t get it.

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