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Understanding the most popular person in music history
The mystery that was Michael Jackson was finally laid to rest this past weekend. But we got cheated. We did not see all that he could have shown us. For instance, he said classical music was his favorite hence he was on the verge of making forays into that genre of music. Who knows, he may have eventually tapped music as diverse as Reggae, country western, even opera! And why can he be dubbed the most popular person in music history? Well, while he may not have known all the top names in all the various genres of music it's a safe bet to say that most if not all the top names in these same music categories knew of him. And though Michael took some mysteries to the grave with him we can still crack some secret Michael Jackson codes.
Jackson the Jew?: Madonna has publicly embraced Jewish mysticism (known as Kabala), while Michael at one time sought spiritual advice from a Rabbi. This is because when he was one of Jehovah's Witnesses he was taught to have a keen appreciation for the Hebrew Scriptures. After his separation from the Witnesses Judaism was the first in a parade of religions that he explored while retaining his love for the entire Bible in connection with Witness beliefs. But, he never converted to any form of Judaism.
Michael Still not a Muslim: To the embarrassment of truth-loving Muslims (and truth-lovers everywhere!) there's a persistent effort on the part of some-presumably from the Islamic community-to make Michael Muslim. For example, after initially stating that Michael "secretly" converted to Islam in the final years of his life, one source now claims that he converted in November 2008, the same month as the historic election of President Barack Obama. A billion Muslims and Arab-speakers rejoiced over the prospect that a man with such a name, and whose father was a Muslim, could become President of the United States.
Contrariwise, Michael the "Muslim" had this to say when asked, "What do you think about the next presidential race? Hillary, Barack?" during his December 2007 Ebony magazine interview: "To tell you the truth, I don't follow that stuff. We were raised to not [vote as Jehovah's Witnesses]. We don't look to man to fix the problems of the world....They can't do it. That how I see it. It's beyond us." Instead of embracing Islamic teachings he still affixed himself to his Witness doctrine.
More recently, when on Friday, August 7, 2009, on Larry King Live Larry King asked Michael's brother Jermaine, a devout Muslim, on national television whether Michael was Muslim or not, Jermaine said he gave Michael some books since Michael read everything. Translation? No, Michael didn't convert to Islam. (Incidentally, before Jermaine and I traveled with an Arabic translator to a Muslim country in the Persian Gulf in 2004 he reportedly told a family member that I was going to return a Muslim. It didn't happen. And neither did Michael convert.)
Moreover, all able-bodied Muslim men are required to visit Mecca, in Saudi Arabia, on Hajj. Michael never went, and neither is there any evidence that he planned to go. Furthermore, during a Holy War, Muslim teaching allows for killing people of any denomination-even fellow Muslims if deemed necessary. This provision of Islam is completely incompatible with the very essence of who Michael Jackson was.
And what about others close to Michael? As noted, Jermaine already refused to state unequivocally that Michael converted. Grace Rwarmba, the one-time nanny of Michael's children and a woman who used to come to my home for Bible lessons before she met Michael, is a Muslim. She at no time ever indicated that Michael had converted to Islam. No Muslim representatives-and Michael knew plenty-ever stepped up to claim his body; or at least to exert their influence to do so. One family friend said if Michael was indeed Muslim "it would seem his alleged Muslim brothers let him down." He further states: "There was no fuss because Michael wasn't a Muslim."
When Michael lived temporarily in a Bahrain, a Muslim country, there was no indication he converted to Islam. When police searched his home after his death, reportedly, no Quran or prayer rug was found, nor was there any other Islamic material or documentation found anywhere in the home. Those closest to him never reported seeing Michael pray toward Mecca five times during the day, something devout Muslims around the world do religiously. And, according to his personal chef Kai Chase, who was with him up till the day he died, he allowed his daughter Paris to regularly pray over meals; not likely something a Muslim would do. "It's a baseless fabrication," said the family friend mentioned earlier. "If he was a 'secret' Muslim it was so secret that he didn't know himself." A host of Michael's family, friends, and relatives share this sentiment.
Michael no Molester: Something easily overlooked is the fact that top-notch investigators from several different law enforcement agencies found no child pornography of any kind anywhere (including computer files)-items that a genuine molester would most assuredly have in his possession-or any other shred of evidence suggesting that Michael Joseph Jackson was a pedophile. This is a consistent pattern. None was found when he was accused in 1994 or charged in 2004.
A Royal Rumble?: Finally, on a lighter note, not long ago Rolling Stone magazine declared Justin Timberlake the new "King of Pop." When compared to Michael, I think they meant to say Justin was the new "King of Flop." (Nothing against Justin. In fact, I like some of his music.) In any event, more recently it was rumored that Kanye West declared himself the new King of Pop. However, he roundly denied it, and I believe him. But as Michael Jackson moonwalked his way into history, did he see a contender for his crown approaching?
Again, when discussing Michael's breaking the MTV color barrier with Billie Jean in the Ebony interview, the Gloved One said, "Then Prince came." He then continued, "It opened the door for Prince and all the other Black artists." He spoke of Prince, the Purple Potentate of Pop in his own right, in near reverential terms. And, rightly so.
The Purple One has mastered numerous musical instruments; is a mesmerizing singer; an incredible dancer; a hyper-genius songwriter and musical composer; and an incomparable overall performer whose own enormous record sales has not been accurately reflected in the official stats. And given the fact that Frank Dileo, a man who I've worked with and who was Michael's manager from the mid- to late-1980s, asserts that Michael wanted to do 50 concert nights in London to beat Prince's record, it would appear that Michael had Purple on his mind, and that in some ways the King aspired to be a Prince. Still, the mystery that was Michael will be missed. Amen. Stay tuned for "The Rise of Rebbie."
Dr. Firpo CarrÂ can be reached at 800.501.2713 orÂ