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Death of a “King”

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I know that everyone is probably getting tired of talking about Michael Jackson already, but I wanted to write a quick little note about what he meant to me personally.

First, in the 80’s, I was definitely a rock music guy. In fact, I wouldn’t listen to any so-called dance, or electronic music. Well, until MJ anyway.

While living in Edmonton Canada, and managing a little rock and roll Guitar store, a client / friend of mine turned me on to Michael’s music. At first my reaction was “that is crap – I’ll never listen to dorky pop garbage like that”. The CD he was pushing on me was BAD and in my opinion, it would be nothing but exactly that, bad!

I took the CD home, and without anyone knowing (cus that’d be un-cool) I started listening, and listening, and listening. In fact, I listened to it so much that something happened. I became a fan. Not a fan of the old stuff like ABC and Rock with You… but a fan of the more complex, and guitar based stuff.

Years later, in 1996 I believe, I was the sales director of Martin, and had the opportunity to provide Peter Morse and Obies with lighting for MJ’s new world tour starting in Prague.

At the time, I was working closely with a friend of mine in Las Vegas, Tim Brennan. Tim was instrumental in mine, and Martin’s success in the Vegas market. As a “thank you”, I offered to take Tim to the PLASA show in UK, and because the timing was perfect, we would also stop in Prague for the opening show in Michael’s tour to see it kicked off. Tim and I will always have this incredible memory, even though at the time, all we could think about was that we didn’t want to fall among the crowd en-route to FOH or we’d never be found again. That’s a whole other story.

In Prague, we stayed at the Hotel Inter-Continental. A very nice hotel in the center of town – and the same hotel where Michael was staying. In fact, we were on the same side of the hotel, so each time i would crack open my curtain, the crown of probably 30,000 people outside would scream “Michael” when in fact, it was just little old me.

The show blew me away for several reasons. First, it was an over the edge, no holds barred, Peter Morse design. Nuff said. Secondly – the venue was a large field with a fence around it and 130,000 people from all over eastern Europe inside. Like nothing I’ve ever seen.

Most importantly, I was actually able to meet the king of pop, and he thanked me for coming all the way from America to see him. Even then, to me – he looked so frail and fragile.

So Thursday, when I heard the news – I immediately thought of this incredible trip, and I am truly happy I was able to witness this legend. I was never so lucky with other legends like Led Zeppelin or even Elvis. MJ I can say “I was there”.

There you have it, my version of “the King is Gone”.


Author: Marcel Fairbairn

Our expert sales team, collectively, have over 50 years experience in the sound, lighting, production and music industry.

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