“Michael Jackson: King of Pop 1958-2009” by Emily Herbert, read by Andre Blake, c.2009, Bolinda Publishing, now available from Brilliance Audio, $19.99 U.S. & Canada, 6 CDs/6:44 in length
When you look back over your life, there’s a musical score behind it.
You cut your teeth on “A-B-C” and “Rockin’ Robin.” You hummed “I’ll Be There” in the ear of your first date. Later, you thrilled to “Thriller” and “Beat It” and you swore, with one white-gloved hand, that Billie Jean’s son was not yours.
Then, almost four years ago, the song ended.
So what don’t you know about The Greatest Entertainer of All Time? Find out in “Michael Jackson: King of Pop 1958-2009” by Emily Herbert, read by Andre Blake.
Growing up in a large family in Gary, Ind., wasn’t easy for Michael Jackson.
Though he loved to sing with his brothers, Michael’s father, Joe, could be cruel and loved to taunt Michael. Honing in on the boy’s deepest weakness, Joe mercilessly teased him about his nose and his skin tone.
Joe also pushed his sons to perform, and the group soon caught record producers’ eyes. Even then, and though he wasn’t initially supposed to be the lead singer, it was obvious that young Michael was the break-out star of the family. His gift was apparent as soon as he stepped on the stage.
It was true that Michael Jackson loved to perform. He was also a perfectionist and had set his eyes on becoming a movie star in addition to being a musical performer. His first foray, “The Wiz,” didn’t give him the film stardom he craved, but it did give him a chance to meet Quincy Jones, who became a lifelong friend and collaborator.
Shortly after his role in “The Wiz” ended, Michael had surgery to correct an injury on his nose. That, says Herbert, made him realize that he could change his face.
In the years between that attempt at movie-stardom and the release of his albums “Off the Wall” and “Thriller,” Michael Jackson cemented his reputation as The King of Pop and became a household name. His dances were copied, his signature one-gloved look became fashion, and his albums broke records.
But the King was unhappy.
Over time, Jackson became tired of the hoopla. He loved the crowds but hated the media and the rumors. In an attempt to remedy that, he made some strategic (but ill-fated) decisions, both privately and publicly, which only made the problem worse. He started to suffer from insomnia and turned to drugs for relief.
So you say you’re a major Michael Jackson fan? You’ve read everything about him and watched every interview?
Then you’ve done heard this audiobook.
Indeed, there are very few surprises in “Michael Jackson: King of Pop 1958-2009.” Author Emily Herbert pulled together interviews, books, TV programs and other information that’s already become public, and while there’s a scattering of teensy nuggets, it’s mostly same old, same old.
I think that if you’re a rabid, died-in-the-wool MJ fan, yeah, go ahead and add this audiobook to your vast collection of Jacksonania. For the average person, though, you already know what’s in “Michael Jackson; King of Pop 1958-2009,” so just moonwalk away.
Terri Schlichenmeyer has been a professional book reviewer for more than a decade. She lives in Wisconsin.