Today was supposed to be a day dedicated to printing a new portfolio, and preparing to photograph Aretha Franklin tomorrow in Los Angeles. After speaking with Ms. Franklin by phone about the plans for tomorrow I decided to turn on the TV, something I never do during working hours, and I was shocked at what I saw. Michael Jackson was in a coma and I stood there in shock with prints in my hand. Moments later the CNN reporter broke in to say Michael Jackson was dead. The biggest entertainer in my lifetime is dead at 50 from a sudden heart attack.
I'm trying to work and finish printing my new portfolio but all I can think about is how Michael Jackson's music has influenced my life. I remember being in art school and going to photograph models for a hair salon. It was the night before the Thriller album (not CD) was released and they played the entire album on the radio for the first time. As I shot we all listened to the album for the first time and I never felt so amazing while shooting. It was a magical night and I purchased the album the next day. Today, his music is always in my shoot mix of music while working and it always will be.
As I travel back and forth from L.A. to New York each month I am always amazed when I take the subways and see generation after generation dancing to Michael Jackson's music. I remember the 80's and everyone dancing to his music but to see it now in 2009 by kids who didn't really grow up with his music is evidence to his powerful musical influence. Very often when I play an old Michael Jackson song on a shoot everyone in the room responds in a positive manner. Music will always be a key factor in my photography and Michael's music will be part of that.
The person really responsible for discovering Michael Jackson is Suzanne de Passe. I photographed and interviewed her for my first book, Sepia Dreams and I remember going to her home and seeing photo's of Michael and Diana Ross. Michael's life was filled with highs and lows, and I'm sure over the next few months we will hear about both the negative and positive parts of his life, but I hope he can now rest in peace.