Always the 'King of Pop' ... and Haunted By His Own Success
This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," June 25, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Joining us life is Anthony DeCurtis, contributing editor with "Rolling Stone."
Anthony, thank you for joining us. Is there a way to describe Michael Jackson's contribution to music?
ANTHONY DECURTIS, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, ROLLING STONE: Well, it is hard to overestimate it. This is a figure who was an important artist when he was barely teenager. His significance and influence and impact only increased as he got older. Certainly, through "Thriller" in the mid 1980's, there was no art history in the world as big as Michael Jackson.
VAN SUSTEREN: Did he write his own lyrics?
DECURTIS: He did. He did. He wrote many of his own songs. One of the reasons "Thriller" and the proceeding it, "Off the Wall," became such important records is that he choice a collaborator. There was a kind of meeting of geniuses. There was Michael Jackson collaborating with Quincy Jones, a great brilliant producer, who worked with artists like Frank Sinatra before that. It brought popular music to another plane when those guys started working together.
VAN SUSTEREN: Why did they stop working together? Quincy Jones is a musical genius. Why did they stop working together so closely?
DECURTIS: Those relationships are difficult to sustain for most people. One of the things, now buried under a million other stories in the Michael Jackson tale, is one of the initial tragedies in Michael Jackson's life was this desperate desire that he had to recreate "Thriller." He made record after record attempting to enjoy that level of success and fame and sales again, and you really only get that once. I might imagine, it is somewhat speculative, that someone like Quincy Jones would tire of that. After a while, it is just make the record that you want to make. You can't worry about whether or not it is going to sell 50 million copies like your last one.
VAN SUSTEREN: Why did he leave Jackson 5 and go solo? Was there something that provoked it or was it just time?
DECURTIS: It was very clear that Michael Jackson was an artist of a particular order. The Jackson 5 were a terrific family act, but it became clear very soon that Michael was the sort of artist who really could go on to redefine what popular music was. The Jackson 5 had fantastic pop hits. They really extended the Motown legacy into the 1970's. Michael was an extremely charming young performer. And in a lot of ways, he seemed so mature, like such an adult. We recall James Brown and Jackie Wilson when he was performing with the Jackson 5. In a way, when he got older, he seemed almost child like. But it became very clear with the Jackson 5 that he was the one that could go on to a very important career, as he did. He outgrew it.
VAN SUSTEREN: We only have 30 seconds left. Do you think, had he not died obviously today, he would have come back with these concerts he had planned? This was to be a big comeback or would it have been a flop?
DECURTIS: That's a tough question. The shows were going to sell out. Everybody was waiting to see if Michael had turned the corner in his career. I'm afraid it's just going to be an unanswered question. It is hard to know if it really would have happened.
VAN SUSTEREN: And a tragic event today will deny us that answer.
Anthony, thank you.
DECURTIS: Thank you, very much.
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