Michael Jackson had been rushed to an L.A. hospital in cardiac arrest, I’ll admit I didn’t feel too concerned at first. People survive heart attacks all the time, I told myself; someone as famous as Jackson would surely receive the best medical care, right? Maybe I just wasn’t ready to acknowledge what was happening.One year ago, I was sitting right here inside EW’s offices at my desk. It was nearly 5 p.m. on June 25, 2009. The afternoon was winding down. When I saw an online breaking-news alert that
Michael Jackson died that day at age 50. I immediately began numbly drafting a list of 18 key moments in his life for EW.com, tracing his journey from the Jackson 5’s first hit to the announcement of his This Is It farewell concerts. Later that evening, I found myself listening to all the Michael Jackson music I could get my hands on to help process the loss.
I loved his hits before then, of course. But it wasn’t until Jackson’s death that I realized just how many of his songs I knew by heart, and how much they really meant to me. I thought back to the worn-out cassette copies of Thriller and Bad that my family had owned when I was growing up. The next few weeks I listened to little but MJ. My girlfriend (now wife) and I filled two CD mixes with our favorites of his, and we still had to leave out plenty. We kept going back over his discography all through the summer of 2009. Was it solely the tragedy of his death that gave his work such resonance in retrospect? I don’t think so. But I’m sure I’m not the only one whose relationship to Michael Jackson’s music was deeply changed by the events of last June 25.
Now, a year later, I think back on that afternoon when the news first broke. I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing. Do you? Take a look at some of EW’s special Michael Jackson content, then share your memories of the day he passed away in the comments section.
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