Local musicians remember Jackson

Sunday, June 28, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Michael Jackson’s death on Thursday marked the passing of an American music legend, and his influence hasn't gone unnoticed by Columbia musicians and DJs.

Scott Walus, a singer and guitarist in the local band Pat Boone’s Farm, said Jackson's "King of Pop" title was well deserved.

“That man was so influential. If you grew up in the ‘80s or ‘90s, you knew how to moonwalk,” Walus said. “In general, it’s hard to find a musician today that hasn’t at least grown up with a Michael Jackson tape."

He said much of Jackson’s success came from how he made his music.

“'Thriller,' 'Bad' and 'Dangerous' are all fantastic appropriations of pop culture," Walus said. "If you listen to these albums, you can see how versatile he actually was as a songwriter and producer.”

“It was thoughtful pop, well reflective of the musical soundscape of the time,” he added.

Rapper and 2007 MU graduate Ray "Steddy P." Price said he's listened to Michael Jackson's music his entire life. 

“I would always stare at my mother’s copy of 'Bad' on tape. It was probably the first record I embraced and understood,” said Price, who now lives in Kansas City and still performs in Columbia.

He remembers dancing with his parents to the "Thriller" and "Do You Remember the Time?" music videos when he was 7 or 8 years old.

Tracy Lane, a former DJ at The Blue Note during the 1980s and '90s, is also a long-time Jackson fan. The first concert she saw was The Jackson 5 at the 1974 Missouri State Fair.

"He was this amazing musician who did these things that had never been done before," she said.

All three fans talked about the singer’s eccentric behavior, but preferred to remember his musical career.

“I hope when people think about Michael Jackson they think about him in his prime, not the last 15 years,” Price said.

“We’ll look back historically and see the kid out the window and the blanket,” Walus said, “but I’ll draw the parallel to Elvis Presley. There was the 'hunka-hunka' young Elvis, then the fat old Elvis. The punchline is that everyone remembers how great Elvis was.”

Walus said he thinks that Jackson will remain a popular musician in the future.

Lane also brought up comparisons between Presley and Jackson, saying her generation will remember Jackson like her mother’s generation remembers Elvis.

After hearing of the singer’s death, Lane got together with friends Brent Gardner, who was also a DJ at The Blue Note, Deb Rust and Robin Ayers to plan a tribute to the singer. Rust and Ayers, who own Tellers in downtown Columbia, hosted the tribute  at the restaurant this past Friday.

Lane and Gardner are also involved with "Don't Stop 'til You Get Enough: A Celebration of the Life and Music of Michael Jackson," a dance party at 9 p.m. Wednesday at The Blue Note. There is no cover charge for the event.

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Ray Scherer June 28, 2009 | 9:17 p.m.

The Jackson 5 performed at the Missouri State Fair on Aug. 22, 1972. I and several members of my family were at that concert, which also featured the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and a cameo appearance by Bob Hope.

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