Michael Jackson dies

PD*29717015By now the whole world will know the news about Michael Jackson’s sudden death from a heart attack in Los Angeles. The world almost ground to a halt last night when the story broke. Certainly, certain parts of the Internet, Wikipedia, Twitter and Google included, saw the sort traffic spikes not seen since 9/11. Twitter in particular apparently “crashed”.

I think it’s pretty obvious what killed him*. The stress put upon him by the upcoming 50 concerts in London must have been immense. What he should have done was stick to the original ten, and not go on to quintuple the number of dates. Whether he did this because he wanted to, or because he was under pressure from his promoters, fans or creditors, is another question of course. He quite clearly took on too much at a time when his health, both physical and mental, was questionable at best.

It’s hard to deny Jackson his accolade of music genius, despite his eccentricities. Love him or hate him as a person, he produced some quite outstanding music, entertaining millions for decades. He used his fortune to push the boundaries of entertainment, often to his financial detriment, and it’s people like him who force real progress in what is possible, even if it doesn’t turn a profit.

Very cynical people, of course, will suggest that he’s actually not dead at all. He was a very eccentric man, capable of almost anything, as we’ve seen many times over the years, so it’s not completely inconceivable. It goes without saying that, dead or alive, he will do very well financially out of this event, in terms both music/memorabilia sales and insurance. But even I’m not that much of a cynic, if I’m honest.

So rest in peace, Michael Jackson. I wasn’t your biggest fan by a long shot, but I’m genuinely saddened by your death and I think the world will be a poorer place without you.

* Update: Media reports are suggesting that his death may be due to an overdose of prescription drugs. Jackson’s doctor is apparently “missing”. The coroner’s report won’t be out for a number of weeks.

Update 24/08/2009: Turns out he was murdered with a lethal dose of an anesthetic. The scandal fallout will make Diana look like a cake competition cheating incident.