“I remember growing up in India — my grandpa would always speak of Michael Jackson as an embodiment of Western culture. When I started living in the States and he would visit us, he would joke about wanting to go to an MJ concert.
“MJ was truly an international icon that permeated every culture, including India. I remember him for the infamous moonwalk, and the song ‘Black or White’ when he changed his skin color. … Even in death, he has linked together everyone affected by his music, and that just goes to prove how pervasive he is.”
— Piya Banerjee
“He was one of the premier artists of our time. The album Thriller sold over a 100 million. The next closest-selling albums are in the 40 million-range, so you can see that he was hands-down the greatest entertainer of all time.
“I remember when I was a kid, my dad would wake me up to the old Thriller album. … He will be missed by so many people in the Black community obviously. He was one of the first artists to ever transcend racial boundaries.
“I’m originally from Nigeria, and they absolutely love MJ out there, too. I’m willing to bet anything short of my life that no one will ever, ever sell over a 100 million records for one album. MJ will be remembered for centuries down the line. … I think all the controversy, although people are focusing on it now, will eventually dissipate and his legacy will live on in a positive light for a long, long time.”
— Rob Saka
“I think he definitely doesn’t get enough credit for the fact that he has influenced pretty much all the music that we listen to today. I think that people forget that, and because of all the cover stories and the media surrounding the bad aspects of his life, people don’t remember the good things. I think that sometimes normal people are allowed to screw up, but when it’s a celebrity, they are put in a negative spotlight. We need to remember the good things.
“I really started listening to him in recent years, and seeing the links between his music and our culture.”
— Denise Choo
“I have a lot of memories of him as a kid. I grew up with him in a sense, as we were around the same age. I’m definitely a fan of his music. I think back all the way to when he was with the Jackson 5, and him being just so incredibly talented.
“As a kid, his music was so prevalent everywhere and even now, I still download some of his tunes. I think a lot contributed to the controversial events in his life from an early age. He was pretty much robbed of his childhood. While most kids were growing up with a normal childhood, he was constantly in the spotlight. I don’t think I would ever wish that on anybody.
“However, I think his longevity was probably the greatest mark of his career. … He is just so talented, a genius, really. His career lasted around 45 years, and will probably continue even more so now that he is no longer with us.”
— Mike Strathy
“I was about 7 years old when ‘Thriller’ first came out. I remember when my cousin was teaching me how to master the MJ dances, and we performed on stage at school to ‘Beat It.’
“He was a big part of my life, and I was just really shocked at his death. I will remember most his creativity. I don’t know any other artist that was as creative. His music really can fit into anyone’s life. It’s so exciting to listen to and watch him. All I can say is that he is one-of-a-kind.”
— Bilal Jamil
“He was one of those artists that was well-known and respected for so long, even with the changing trends in music. He crossed all those barriers. He brought something different to the table, and definitely changed the face of music.
“I was watching a special on him which talked about how he changed the music video industry. His videos were movie-like, and told a story. It wasn’t just the music, but he brought dance, performance, and a whole artistic vision to his videos. I think what amazes me the most was how one person was able to affect so many people, and change the world as we know it.”
— Jennifer Kwang
These quotes were compiled by Leslie Yeh for Northwest Asian Weekly.