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Ten years after Michael Jackson’s death, the King of Pop’s legacy has withered

How did the world’s most famous entertainer get from here…

to here?

The sweet face of young Michael Jackson soared to worldwide fame first with his brothers in the Jackson 5.

Then Michael’s star bolted into unprecedented superstardom with his solo work, especially Thriller.

Some family dysfunction became public knowledge once Michael split from the group. The patriarch Joseph Jackson was a fierce disciplinarian and thought to be exploitative of his sons. A rift developed between Jermaine and Michael as both tried to widen their solo identities.

Jermaine has a few small hits on the radio.

Michael Jackson made billionaire status, spent most of it with reckless abandon, accused Sony Music’s chairman of stealing his money, and then dragged his ragged self back into rehearsals for another world tour to replenish his bank accounts.

But Michael would never dance on that opening night stage, dying in his bed after a few days of rehearsals. Jackson overdosed on propofol, a surgery anesthesia medication.

Ever since that shocking announcement in June 2009, the world has been raking through his ashes.

A recent HBO documentary called Leaving Neverland has polarized fans into (1) fierce defenders of Jackson or (2) repulsed former fans of him. Surely there’s a third camp of observers who wish to continue enjoying the music and ignore the talk of scandal.

We are all aware of Michael’s incredible talent and stage presence. His music is ubiquitous worldwide. The King of Pop rivaled Muhammad Ali in global recognition and respect.

Cassius Clay, 1954 in Louisville

Cassius Clay’s worldwide fame generated from the hard work of boxing PLUS his magnetic personality. Clay later joined Black Muslim leaders and changed his name to Muhammad Ali, and multi-tasked as a boxer and vocal promoter of Nation of Islam.

Ali was stripped of his titles and ability to make a living in the U.S. for refusing to serve in the military. He enlightened millions to the concepts of conscientious objector status, the plight of world hunger, and the ongoing ravages of America’s 18th and 19th century slavery.

Three years after Muhammad’s death, another documentary has been released, using only The Champ’s voice throughout.

“The Greatest of All Time” Muhammad Ali’s legacy is locked in as a positive force for change. Never mind that raw Nation of Islam period when Ali preached against race mixing and biracial babies.

Ali’s total body of work saw him as a force for black empowerment and global tolerance for all people. The name Muhammad Ali is golden forever.

Muhammad Ali funeral (2016)

Michael Jackson’s legacy is severely damaged by a reexamination of his relationships with young boys. The HBO documentary, admittedly based on the testimony of two men many think are just out for money, shines a light on the oddity of a grown man who slept in the same bed with lots of young boys.

Michael Jackson with young James Safechuck, who would later accuse Jackson of pedophilia.

That’s the conundrum for Michael Jackson apologists. There is no rational parent who would ever allow their child to sleep in a secluded, secured room with a grown man who is not the child’s father.

That freakish behavior happened regularly with a long list of boys who eventually “aged out” of Michael’s preferred demographic.

Former WHAS Radio host John Ziegler has been intensely focused on dismantling the entire Leaving Neverland documentary, discrediting the two featured accusers.

None of that explains how a grown man, global icon, billionaire did not have the sense to understand that traveling and sleeping with young boys would somehow go unnoticed or be forgiven because he performs catchy pop songs.

Michael Jackson lived in his own drug-addled hell right up until his final dose of propofol that killed him. In his heart, Jackson knew his depraved private life was an unsustainable nightmare that would eventually collapse on him.

Dr. Conrad Murray claims Michael Jackson gave himself the final dose of propofol that killed him. Dr. Murray also claimed that Michael was not a pedophile and that sometimes wore disguises to walk along the Vegas strip to meet girls.

So Michael’s legacy shall remain a blur. Was he this? Was he that? Was he all of those things?

Muhammad Ali brought people together right up until the end of his life.

The Man in the Mirror who sang of global togetherness never led people. He entertained them. Michael then retreated with a few select young people into dark, secure dens where unspeakable images will never be fully given the light of day.

I’m starting with the man in the mirror
I’m asking him to change his ways
And no message could have been any clearer
If you want to make the world a better place
(If you want to make the world a better place)
Take a look at yourself, and then make a change
(Take a look at yourself, and then make a change)
(Na na na, na na na, na na, na nah)

Here are six of the Jackson brothers with Johnny Carson in 1974, talking about their careers and the burgeoning career of sister Janet.

The Tonight Show wasn’t especially adept at delivering a good mix of the Jackson 5 so the audio spotlights Michael’s true vocal talent without any technical help.

dad. husband. observer. media personality. pathological flyer.