A day after his death, Michael Jackson is getting the outpouring of attention he craved so much as his career sputtered in the later part of his life. He died just weeks before he was to start a comeback tour to help resurrect his career and pay his bills. Today, however, in terms of music sales and popularity, "The Gloved One" is "The Only One," according to Amazon.com. History is in the making, as Jackson accounts for the top 15 CD's and the top 7 DVD's, and his music is the most requested, most downloaded and most shared on any Internet site anywhere. According to Amazon.com, his sales are now running 721 times what they were running just before his death. Just yesterday he was alive, an eccentric oddity trying to make a comeback. Now he's dead, and to many, he's a legend. The House of Representatives paused for a moment of silence in his honor.
Elvis Presley died on August 16, 1977. "The King" had become a bloated caricature of the superstar he once was. Presley was also working on a comeback at the time of his death. Sadly, his death prompted his comeback. Death has a way of bringing out the best in people. Presley's popularity continued to grow after his death, and his estate continues to rake in millions of dollars a year. This time, it's the "King of Pop," Michael Jackson, dead at the young age of 50. It seems like only yesterday that Jackson moon-walked into the public consciousness, but he started out over 40 years ago, at the age of 9. Presley and Jackson were both struggling with personal and professional problems when their untimely deaths caught everyone by surprise. Although their deaths ended similarly - rumors are surfacing that drugs may have played a part in Jackson's death - there is a huge difference between the two stories.
If we're old enough, most of us remember where we were when we heard of Presley's death. We remember where we were when we heard of John Lennon's death. The same goes for JFK, Martin Luther King, and other iconic figures, depending on our age. We found out after someone told us hours after the fact, or after we saw it on the evening news, usually hours after the deaths were confirmed by the news media, which relied on sources such as the Associated Press and UPI, for news that came off a wire machine and filtered through the newsrooms across America until someone read it on the air.
I found out about Jackson's death pretty much as it happened. It popped up on Twitter. In fact, news about his death spread instantly. We're in a new era where the news travels at the speed of the Internet. People can share their reactions instantly and from anywhere. The news media can confirm reports as they happen. The reaction to Jackson's death was so quick, in fact, that news of it was on every major television station within minutes. Unlike other recent deaths, like Farrah Fawcett or Ed McMahon, this one was not expected. And Jackson obviously was a much larger and iconic figure. News of his death took on a surreal quality; it hit us like an aluminum bat. Jackson seemed to be in good health, other than a bad back. The news didn't have time to filter through the news media as in the past, when people heard about major news stories as they trickled in. This was sudden, unexpected and shocking. Not just America, but the world was stunned.
The news media will be fixated on the death of Michael Jackson for the time being. Toxicological reports won't come in for over a week. Since the instant it hit the airwaves, the story has been somewhat static.
There is new information about a possible drug connection. Jackson was taking as many as seven different drugs, including Zoloft, Xanax and Demerol. Reports have come out that he may have OD'd on a shot of Demerol given to him just hours earlier. There was the mysterious appearance of a doctor who for some reason was with Jackson when he died. Dr. Conrad Robert Murray is being sought for an interview by the police. Liza Minelli, a family friend, hinted that Jackson's death was comparable to Anna Nicole Smith's, in that drugs were used while people looked the other way. Minelli said on CBS's "The Early Show" this morning: "When the autopsy comes, all hell's going to break loose, so thank God we're celebrating now."
The cause of death won't be known until the autopsy has been completed and the toxicological reports come back. As of now, cardiac arrest is being blamed for Jackson's death. That's it. There's nothing new to report, but the media is sticking with the story.
For now, Michael Jackson's fans aren't ready to say goodbye.