Letter to the Editor

Could there be truth to the saying?

Sunday, June 28, 2009

It must have started in 1959. In February of that year, three of the day's greatest musicians, Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson died in a horrific plane crash.

Feb. 3, 1959 has long been regarded as "The Day The Music Died."

Late in the year 1970, further fuel was added to the fire regarding the legend that celebrities die in threes.

On Sept. 18, 1970, legendary guitarist Jimi Hendrix died. Less than one month later, singer Janis Joplin died.

Then, on July 3, 1971, The Doors' frontman Jim Morrison died.

The "Celebrity Curse," has continued throughout the years. In one week of September 2003, Johnny Cash, Warren Zevon and John Ritter all died.

During a week-span in August 2005, King Fahd bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, Peter Jennings and Robin Cook all died.

During a two-day period in February 2006, it was Don Knotts, Dennis Weaver and Darren McGavin, while in January 2008, it was Brad Renfro, Suzanne Pleshette and Heath Ledger.

Then, just last week, two pop culture icons and arguably America's greatest sidekick all died.

Ed McMahon, who for years played second fiddle to Johnny Carson on "The Tonight Show," died June 23.

America was hit with a double whammy on Thursday, June 25, when former "Charlie's Angel," Farrah Fawcett died in the morning.

Then came the news that the "King of Pop," Michael Jackson had died later that day.

For years, I've heard people talk about how celebrities die in threes.

Thursday evening, as we worked to put the Friday newspaper to bed, a handful of Times' employees heard the news of Jackson's passing.

Disbelief seemed to be the general consensus.

Could this be true? The "King of Pop" is no more?

As it turned out, yes. It was true.

The news spread like wildfire on the Internet.

Reports were coming in as fast as bullets leave guns that Jackson had died. And yet, the Los Angeles Coroner had not even provided confirmation.

This is the world we live in.

No longer are we satisfied with waiting on confirmation. If we hear it, it has to be true.

In the case of Jackson's death, it was true. But what if it wasn't?

How can you retract something like that? 

Even anonymous sources can be wrong from time to time.

Despite all of this, America lost three icons last week.

The curse continues.

I wasn't even 10 yet when Jackson released "Thriller," the greatest selling album of all-time.

I got the album (yes, on vinyl) that Christmas and I'm pretty sure I played it on the little record player I had until the grooves started to fade.

The album is still at my parent's home, I think. It is a collectors item now, as are most "albums."

Like it or not, Jackson left a huge impression on our society, both good and bad.

I can still remember watching him perform the "Moon Walk" on television for the first time, thinking to myself, "I'll do that some day."

I perfected my "Moon Walk," as did many others during the next few years.

Jackson transcended race. He made music for all people.

How could he reach the success of "Thriller" after the album came out? It wasn't possible.

Sure, he made "Bad," "Dangerous," and other albums, but none of them sold like "Thriller." But they were good records on their on merits.

His music transformed people. He came alive as a solo artist just as MTV was coming to life. Remember that channel on cable that actually used to show music videos?

Along with other artists, Jackson helped launch MTV.

It's difficult to remember Jackson without thinking of how bizarre his life became in recent years. Still, he should be remembered as a superb entertainer.

Unlike Jackson's sudden death, people across the world knew Fawcett was ailing.

For years, she publicly battled cancer.

I remember Thursday morning when her obituary came across the wire. It was close to 1 p.m.

Little did anybody know they would be mourning another pop icon only hours later.

I spent the weekend listening to some of Jackson's music. Simply great stuff. Whether people liked him or not, he transformed our society. Whether he was dangling one of his own children or singing "Billie Jean," people will always remember the "King of Pop."