He was only two years older than me, so I grew up with him. My childhood memories were of 'I'll Be There' and 'Ben', not 'Thriller' or 'Billie Jean' (although I loved both, and more). I first knew of him as a cute boy with a lot of talent. I crushed on him back when I was twelve, and afterwards always admired him for his musical genius. In 1991 I saw this, and I realized that 'genius' was a horrible understatement:
I could write a whole rant on Michael and how he's been seen by North America (and how he's NOT seen by places like Senegal and Ivory Coast who love him for his music), but I'm not going to. Michael Jackson was more, and less, and light-years away from all that. He didn't just make pop, he made art.