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Michael Jackson's death shocking, say Oklahomans

GENE TRIPLETT and MATTHEW PRICE Modified: June 26, 2009 at 10:27 am •  Published: June 25, 2009

/> “I still listen to ‘Thriller' at least once a month,” Searle said. “It was an amazing pop record at a time when a lot of schlock was coming out.”

Even the deeper cuts from ‘Thriller' are appreciated by fans.

“A song that doesn't get enough appreciation is ‘Human Nature,' off ‘Thriller.' That's definitely one of those that's probably in my top 20,” Brown said.

He was perhaps the most exciting performer of his generation, known for his feverish, crotch-grabbing dance moves and his high-pitched voice punctuated with squeals and titters. His single sequined glove, tight, military-style jacket and aviator sunglasses were trademarks second only to his ever-changing, surgically altered appearance.

In 2005, he was cleared of charges he molested a 13-year-old cancer survivor at Neverland Ranch in 2003. The case took a fearsome toll on his career and image, and he fell into serious financial trouble.

“That tarnished his career,” Searle said. “Nobody aside from hardcore fans could ever view him as the same fresh King of Pop that he had been.”

Jackson was preparing for what was to be his greatest comeback: He was scheduled for an unprecedented 50 shows at a London arena, with the first set for July 13. He was in rehearsals in Los Angeles for the concert, an extravaganza that was to capture the classic Jackson magic: showstopping dance moves, elaborate staging and throbbing dance beats.

Hundreds of people gathered outside the hospital as word of his death spread.

“People already understand how important, how influential he was to music,” Searle said. “Not a particular type of music, but music. I hope people can sort of look past his lifestyle, or some of the poor decisions that he maybe made and still appreciate the music.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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