Michael Jackson

KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent: – Vincentians on Friday joined the rest of the world in remembering fallen “King of Pop”, Michael Jackson, 50, who died in California on Thursday.

The New York Times reported Friday that Jackson’s brother Jermaine had said that the preliminary cause of death was cardiac arrest.

However, the official cause of death might not be known for as many as six weeks, when toxicology tests are completed.

Here in Kingstown, many music outlets played Jackson’s music even as the country prepared for Vincy Mas, its premier festival.

“His music is selling,” said Shawn Gordon who has been retailing CDs for about ten years.

“I don’t know how come,” he said, noting that soca music normally dominates sales during the carnival season. “It must be because he has died,” Gordon added.

A television station asked pedestrians about their memories of Jackson while a night club advertised a Jackson-themed event, and Vincentians shared their memories of the icon on Facebook, a social networking site.

“His was among the music that influenced my love for radio broadcasting,” wrote Paul Lowman, a former announcer at the national radio station here.

“[Rest in peace (R.I.P.)], Michael. Eventually, the scandals and extortions would also die, but your music and legacy will live forever,” Lowman wrote.

Others described Jackson as a “legend to be remembered for always” and the “greatest performer of all times”

“Sitting with my family and sharing my memories of my sisters and I singing all MJ’s songs back home in [St. Vincent] under the moonlight or by the radio or tape player,” said the status message of Jeff Ross, a Vincentian living in New York.

“Mike, most people turned you away. I didn’t listen to a word they would say. They didn’t see you as I do. I wish they had tried to. I’m sure they’d think again if they had a friend like Mike. R.I.P. Michael Jackson. Your music will live on forever!” wrote Shavar Maloney

Jules Douglas said he was “in shock” about Jackson’s death.

“Thanks for giving us decades of great music, even the “Invincible” album,” Douglas wrote on Facebook.

Meanwhile, Hugh Raguette, Chairman of Pankaimas, the umbrella organization for pan, calypso and costume, the major elements of Vincy Mas, said Jackson’s contribution to music has to be placed in a 40-year context.

“… He began his contribution at a very young age and there is absolutely no doubt that Michael Jackson deserves a place with such icons as Louis Armstrong, The Beatles, Elvis Presley and Harry Belafonte,” Raguette told I Witness-News.

He said these artistes contributed greatly to the music industry in the 20th century.

Chairman of Pankaimas, Hugh Raguette looks at Jackson's music in a 40-year context.
Chairman of Pankaimas, Hugh Raguette looks at Jackson's music in a 40-year context.

“The very fact that he was given the title as ‘King of Pop’ tells you that his contribution was recognized during his lifetime.”

Raguette said he was shocked at the news of Jackson’s passing, especially since he was preparing for a world tour.

Asked if there was any relationship between Jackson’s music and music produced in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Raggette said, “The whole thing is that all music comes from the same source.”

“The music of the Caribbean — whether [it’s] calypso, soca, reggae, zouk — and the music done by Michael Jackson have a rhythmic twist to it, which comes out of Africa.

“So there is a correlation between every musical art form stretching the western hemisphere which can be traced back to Africa,” Raguette said.

Adrian Bailey, a musician and producer, said Jackson’s passing was “one of the saddest days of my life”.

“I cried actually because he has been an inspiration to my music and to music and performances worldwide,” he told I Witness-News as his band packed up after performing at a promotional event here.

“I hope we continue to remember him and continue to emulate his kind of music,” he said, adding that his band, Hottsand, was thinking of hosting a commemorative event after the carnival season.

“It is something that we need to do, to recognize somebody who has been a part of all our music worldwide. The way we performed, the things that we tried to do are always based on what we know from before. And that is Michael Jackson,” Bailey said.

A Vincentian student studying and living in New York, who identified herself as Racquel, said Jackson was “a very legendary figure”.

Adrian Bailey
Musician Adrian Bailey cried when he learnt Jackson had died.

She said Jackson was an influential artiste who did a lot to pave the way for artistes such as Justin Timberlake, Chris Brown, and Usher.

“I think he a very critical part and it is like the world on a whole, not just North America, has lost a cultural part of their day, because he is that important.

“He had a very tough struggle when it came to personal life … and he did lose a lot to be famous but by the same token he did give us, especially black people, a very good image in the music industry and he is an icon that will be talked about for many, many, many, many years,” Racquel told I Witness-News.

Journalist Jeff Trotman said that it was only Wednesday night that he was looking at promotion for Jackson’s tour of London.

“I am saddened by the sudden death,” Trotman said after reading a poem he had written in Jackson’s memory.

“When we reflect on his tormented childhood, he never had the traditional childhood like most of us … and, unfortunately, he had to work in an adult situation, sometimes unsavory, which would have affected his growing up years particularly in puberty.

“He was a genius and the one consolation that I will find for his relatively young death is that I would ask the question, ‘Can you imagine Michael Jackson at 80?’ He achieved so much in his youth that it is impossible to imagine Michael Jackson as an old man.”

Trotman is seven years older than Michael Jackson and the Jackson Five was an integral part of his later teen years.

“I enjoyed fine parties with Michael Jackson. I enjoyed the music. It was just so effervescent.”

Journalist Jeff Trotman has written a poem in Jackson's memory.
Journalist Jeff Trotman has written a poem in Jackson's memory.

He said that over the years Jackson developed into a super star and Trotman compared his performance to those of Caribbean cricket greats Gary Sobers and Brian Lara

“It is not a record breaking feat but consistently doing well and breaking new ground,” Trotman said.

The New York Times reported on Friday that the Los Angeles County Coroner’s office had conducted its autopsy of Michael Jackson even as police appeared to be focusing part of their investigation on his private physician.

According to 911 recordings, the personal doctor was at Jackson’s home as the singer lay on a bed not breathing, the 911 caller from Jackson’s home said on the tapes released by the Los Angeles Fire Department on Friday.