By Melissa Hunter and Paige Ferrari
As news broke of Michael Jackson's passing, the Internet was instantly filled with remembrances of the King of Pop. (After all, what child of the '80s doesn't have some favorite Michael memory?) Controversies and "wacko" moments aside, here are 10 ways we want to remember Michael.
10. The comeback tour: After several reclusive years at Neverland Ranch, Michael announced his comeback tour to eager fans and the media. He called it his "final curtain call," saying, "These will be my final shows performing in London. 'This is it' really means 'this is it' … I'll be performing the songs my fans want to hear. I'll see you in July and I love you so much." The tour sold out within an hour of the announcement, and left many hoping for the comeback they'd long been waiting for. At the time of his death, his first show was a mere three weeks away.
9. Onstage kiss with Lisa Marie Presley: There are kisses … and then there's Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie's kiss at the MTV Video Music Awards circa 1994. The newly wedded and highly controversial pair walked out on stage hand-in-hand as the crowd went, for lack of a better term, bananas. MJ said, "Just think: Nobody thought this would last" and laid an epic smooch on Lisa Marie's lips. The couple ultimately split, but it was a great TV moment.
8. Oscar date with Madonna: When you're the biggest thing to hit the pop culture scene since, well, ever, and you have an extra ticket to the Oscars, what is one to do? Bring your uber-iconic female counterpart, naturally. In 1991, Michael and Madonna went to the Oscars together, sparking a media frenzy that Brangelina could never even dream of. While Madonna wore an expectedly scene-stealing Marilyn Monroe-esque sparkly white ball gown and mink stole, Michael managed to stand out with a matching sparkly white suit jacket, a massive diamond broach, gold-tipped cowboy boots and, in a stunning revelation, TWO black gloves. He's probably the only person in history who can say he out-styled Madonna.
7. The Moonwalk: Neil Armstrong's steps on the actual moon were largely overshadowed 14 years later by Michael Jackson's moonwalk (the first video recording of the move seen here, around 3:41, when everyone goes ballistic). His smooth, ever-so-cool, gravity-defying move drove fans wild and has proved to be one of the most iconic dance moves in history. The dance move even inspired a movie, called "Moonwalker," which gave us a giant robo-Jackson slaying bad guys with some seriously killer moves.
6. "Captain EO": The Jonas Brothers may have earned headlines for their "3-D Concert Experience," but Michael Jackson broke that ground more than two decades ago. In the mid-'80s MJ fans got to experience the pop star in full 3-D via "Captain EO," a Francis Ford Coppola-directed sci-fi experience that played exclusively at Disney theme parks.
The space opera starring Michael bore the tagline, "We are here to change the world!" And it did. The film — a "Stars Wars"-esque 17-minute mélange of special effects, fog, laser beams, and Michael's trademark moonwalking — was among the first of its kind.
5. Friend of Bubbles the chimp: Of course, the King of Pop wasn't without his eccentricities. In 1985 he adopted a chimp named Bubbles from a cancer research institute. For a time, the primate and the pop star were inseparable. The pair became such icons that, in 1998, Jeff Koons made three porcelain statues of Michael and Bubbles, valued at $250,000 each.
Fun fact: Bubbles was reportedly by Michael's side during the recording of the "Bad" album. And that album was amazing, so let's give Bubbles some credit where it's due.
4. "We Are the World": In 1985, Michael teamed up again with Quincy Jones and Diana Ross, along with Lionel Richie, Stevie Wonder, Bruce Springsteen and many other music icons to record "We Are The World," a song intended to promote awareness and raise money for famine and disease relief in Africa.
Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie wrote the song, which became a chart-topper in the U.S. and the U.K. (And as fans of "30 Rock" know, the "We Are the World" recording session, which featured a gaggle of headphoned A-listers crowded onto choir bleachers, represented such an unforgettable moment in pop culture that it was inspiring parodies as recently as this year.)
3. "Thriller": Michael Jackson is the only person who could ever make zombie pop cool. The 13-minute "Thriller" music video has it all: the music. The red jacket. The yellow eyes. The rhythmic zombies. The terrifying wolf creature. The Guinness World Records dubbed the video the "Most Successful Music Video" of all time. The horror-movie spoof revolved around a horde of highly coordinated zombies coming after MJ and his date, until, of course, the date realizes that Michael is a part of the zombie crew. And naturally, the most awesome choreographed dance imaginable ensued. The short film became a massive sensation and an instant classic, while everyone everywhere was doing their own "Thriller" dance. Usually in the privacy of their own home.
2. "The Wiz": In 1978, Michael joined the cast of the film version of "The Wiz," playing The Scarecrow to Diana Ross' Dorothy. According to an autobiography by musical director Quincy Jones, Michael reportedly watched videos of gazelles and cheetahs to prepare for the role of the lanky, loose-limbed Scarecrow. Maybe it influenced his future dancing style?
Though the movie received mixed reviews overall, Michael was praised for a standout (and, in our opinion, totally awesome) performance.
1. The Jackson 5 on "The Ed Sullivan Show": Michael was only 11 years old when he took the stage and performed "I Want You Back" on "The Ed Sullivan Show" with The Jackson 5. The performance drove the song to the top spot on the Billboard charts and sent young Michael hurtling towards superstardom.