By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
Each aspect of Michael Jackson's career—the production, his voice, his dancing, the videos—was revolutionary. Below, area musicians offer up their take on Jackson's influence on their own careers.
Juan "Play" Salinas (Play-N-Skillz)
He was definitely an influence. I mean, I've got kid pictures of me with Michael Jackson jackets on. Songs like "P.Y.T.," "Rock With You" and "Billie Jean"—it doesn't matter how old you are, or what culture you come from. Those are songs that when they come on, everybody loves. I don't think that anybody in the history of music can impact it like Michael Jackson. It's a sad day. And it also goes to show what the media, the paparazzi, the negative things can do to people. The same people that scrutinized Mike and called him 'Wacko Jacko' are the same people that are praising him. Thriller—that's the greatest album ever. We DJ on the side, and every time I play a gig, I don't care where I'm at—the hoodest club, or the bougiest—"P.Y.T." is my favorite song to play.
John Freeman (The Dutch Treats, former Sloppyworld venue owner)
One of the first records that I remember buying and listening to every song over and over was Thriller. Then I saw him on the MTV Awards or whatever where he did the Moonwalk, and everybody freaked out. For about a month after that I tight-rolled my jeans and wore loafers like him and tried to do the Moonwalk—and everyone made fun of me, but I didn't care. That and seeing Prince is what made me realize I wanted to be a performer. That stage presence... Me and a friend were talking about how it's going to be an Anna Nicole Smith-kinda thing, because his doctor [was] missing, and it's strange for someone at 50 to just drop dead of a heart attack. But at this point, he's so strange and alien-like that you tend not to think of him as a regular person."
Richard "Kinfolk Jack" Jackson (Dem Southernfolkz)
I remember reading a magazine article with Quincy Jones, talking about how when they were creating Thriller, they wanted every song to be the best song ever. That if they weren't giving you that special feeling, they weren't putting it on the album. Then, a year later when I met Ben (Thomas "Big BEN" Benjamin), we talked about that. Any project we do, if the songs don't give you that special feeling, they aren't going on the album...But who would've known he had that many problems? If I get that famous but have to die like Mike did, living alone and it takes three days to catch you on the phone, it's not even worth it. That man was hurtin' when he died.
DJ Fishr Pryce
Anytime I was DJing and the party wasn't going right, a Michael Jackson song was always there to bring the party back. Without Michael Jackson, DJs would have a rough time. "Billie Jean," every time. "Don't Stop 'til You Get Enough," "Bad" and "Beat It."
Theodore Beard (Damaged Good$)
My favorites would have to be "Dirty Diana" and "Rock With You." Every genre, every type of music, performance-wise, how to entertain—he was just, all around, one of the best, if not the best. He just influenced so many people on so many levels, even subconsciously...We were in Austin doing a show [the day of Jackson's death] with 2 Live Crew and told the promoter to give Fishr Pryce a 15-minute set, and it was dedicated to Michael Jackson. It was more of a celebration than mourning. They went crazy. Everybody loves Mike. I remember dancing in the living room trying to do that dance, "Remember the Time," and broke my mother's lamp. Got my ass whupped. So thanks, Mike, for getting my ass whupped. For the next few shows, I'm gonna wear a Michael Jackson glove.