It was surreal, anchoring the memorial service for Michael Jackson. His death was such a shock; the global outpouring of grief was extraordinary.
I was living in Los Angeles then, and the rented house where he died became a necessary stop for the ubiquitous bus tours of “homes of the stars.” Immediately, the airwaves were filled with tributes to the musical genius of Jackson. Friends and experts talked about his formidable influence on dance and on fashion. (Along with millions of others, I coveted that red leather jacket from Thriller).
And yes, there were discussions about the lingering questions, in spite of Jackson’s acquittal on child molestation charges. His death reminded us why Jackson was once the biggest star in the world.
I’ve kept my copy of the program from the memorial and it’s filled with photos. Michael and George H.W. Bush. Michael and the Clintons. Michael with Ronald Reagan and Nelson Mandela and Diana Ross and Elizabeth Taylor.
But what remains with me from that day is then-11-year-old Paris Jackson. Trembling, her voice cracking, Paris came onto the stage and moved us all with the simple words, “Ever since I was born, Daddy has been the best father you could ever imagine. And I just wanted to say I love him so much.”
It was a heartbreaking glimpse into the private side of a man who lived nearly all his life very much in public…and who, in producing the soundtrack to millions of lives, sacrificed so much of his own.
Watch Chris Jansing’s report from 2009 below:
“Flashback Friday” is a meander down memory lane of stories I’ve covered over the years that may just spark some memories of your own. My team has worked hard scouring our archives and we hope you like them. Tweet me at @jansingco and let us know what you think!