Michael Jackson, who became known the world over as the "King of Pop” before his life and career deteriorated in a freakish series of scandals, died Thursday in a Los Angeles hospital. He was 50.
"It’s completely shocking, isn’t it?” said Derek Brown, 27, executive assistant to the CEO at the Academy of Contemporary Music at the University of Central Oklahoma and a member of the local band Crocodile.
Brown’s wife and bandmate, Rachael Brown, 27, said she cried when she heard the news of Jackson’s death.
"Oh, man, I’m so bummed,” she said. "I just absolutely love Michael Jackson. ... He influences what I write now. ... The last time I cried about something like this, I cried when (famous New York nightclub) CBGB’s closed, and when (Thursday news broadcasts) started playing his videos, oh, man, it was rough.”
Jackson’s death brought a tragic end to a long, bizarre decline from his peak in the 1980s, when he was popular music’s premier performer, a uniter of black and white music who shattered the race barrier on MTV, dominated the charts and dazzled even more on stage.
"His influence on popular music and popular culture was, aside from Elvis and the Beatles ... the most of all-time,” said Travis Searle, 28, the owner of Guestroom Records in Norman and Oklahoma City.
Jackson began as a child performer in Gary, Ind., with the Jackson 5, which included his brothers Jackie, Tito, Jermaine and Marlon. The Jackson 5 performed at the Tulsa Assembly Center in July 1972 and at the Myriad in Oklahoma City in March 1973.
Jackson’s album "Off the Wall,” released in 1979, was produced with Quincy Jones and contained four No. 1 hits.
entertainment writer George Lang said "Off the Wall” supplied a dignified coda for the disco era.
"With Jackson’s new maturity as a vocalist, ‘Off the Wall’ generated a perfect storm of pop,” Lang wrote in March.
Brown said Jackson has been one of his biggest musical influences.
"(Crocodile is) totally guilty of having ‘Off the Wall’ in the control room, trying to make sure the snare and kick drum sound the exact same way or as close as possible to that we could get it to some of that stuff on ‘Off the Wall.