I know that I am, like millions of others, feel like the death of Michael Jackson is like losing a family member or longtime friend. During my 35 year career, I have been blessed to have studied and performed music in and around many notable recording artists and industry executives. I was humbled to have been able to witness Michael Jackson and his family’s growth, and of course, have shed tears and offered my sympathies to the Jackson family in this most difficult period.

And to millions of fans and admirers across the world, Michael Jackson was possibly the most recognized name and face in the world.

As a youth music student in elementary school, I and others studied music and were influenced by the artists of Motown. We were exposed to Michael Jackson and The Jackson 5’s first independent records, “Big Boy” and “You’ve Changed” on a local Gary Ind. Record Company called Steeltown. Chicago radio station WVON helped launch the record and make them hits in Chicago. Today, “Big Boy” is one of the most popular songs of the Dusty/Steppers sets.

I remember Michael Jackson and The Jackson 5 winning local talent shows in Chicago at The Regal Theater on 47th & King Drive. We were all packed into the International Amphitheater by the thousands on 43rd and Halsted for Rev. Jesse Jackson’s Chicago Black Expo to see Michael and The Jackson Five perform. Many local Chicago singers and groups celebrated the success of our Gary Ind. neighbors. We promoted them at the local level as an example of how Chicago entertainers could also find success through their example.

Michael Jackson became a larger than life figure. As a young intern at WVON Radio, we often sponsored annual Christmas concerts. I recall that one year we were at The Chicago Stadium where The Jacksons performed. I and others had a chance to see the Jackson’s backstage and then had front row seats. I remember when a few of the Jacksons came by the Operation PUSH headquarters and made a surprise visit to Rev. Jesse Jackson. They offered their thanks at the time for Jackson’s early support of their career.

Michael Jackson and his family used their fame as a means to motivate interest in the Civil Rights Movement and raise awareness to other human causes. I remember meeting Marlon Jackson at a Rainbow/PUSH Convention. He was seeking support in launching his new Cable News outlet. I am sure that the Jackson family will continue their civic and business efforts in helping new generations of those wanting to break into music. But the life, legacy, music, and influence of Michael Jackson will be passed on for generations yet to come.

Despite the negatives that plagued his personal life, nothing can stop the celebration of his impact. His is a legacy that that lives through the generations, ever since he was an artist that appealed to many over Michael’s 40-year career. And the achievement from his “Thriller” album will probably never be duplicated.

So he will indeed remain “The King of Pop.”