MICHAEL JACKSON "King of Pop" 1958-2009

Posted by Michael Mueller on June 26, 2009 at 11:47 AM

Guitarinstructor.com mourns the passing of Michael Jackson, one of the greatest pop stars in music history. Jackson was rushed to UCLA Hospital yesterday (6/25), where he was pronounced dead at 2:26 pm PST. He was 50 years old. Jackson is survived by his three children, ages 6, 11, and 12.

Why are we writing about Michael Jackson at a "guitar" site? If you're not familiar with Jackson's career, the list of guitar players he worked with is more than a little impressive. Jackson's breakthrough album, 1979's Off the Wall, featured Larry Carlton and Phil Upchurch on guitar.

For 1982's Thriller, which is the biggest-selling pop album in history, Jackson brought in perhaps his most famous guest guitarist, Eddie Van Halen, who laid down the scorching guitar solo for Jackson's #1 hit "Beat It." But did you know that studio legend and Toto guitarist Steve Lukather recorded the rhythm guitar and riff on that tune? Or that Luke also played guitar on "The Girl Is Mine" and "Human Nature" on the album as well?

At his web site today, Lukather issued the following statement:

"I am at a loss for words right now. I dont know what is in the air but I am hiding. Phone and emails are off the hook from the press. I dont know why or what to say. I pray for his kids and family. I wll process this and let the family speak first as they should."

When Jackson recorded 1987's Bad, he recruited noted L.A. session monster Paul Jackson, Jr. (who also played on Thriller), L.A. and Nashville ace Dann Huff, and Steve Stevens (Billy Idol, Top Gun theme) who can be heard on "Smooth Criminal" and was famously featured in the video to "Dirty Diana."

For 1991's Dangerous, Paul Jackson, Jr. again puts pick to strings, but the marquee guest this time is Slash, whose gritty guitar work can be heard on "Black or White" and "Give in to Me." Slash also made several appearances with Jackson on the MTV Video Music Awards and similar shows.

For Michael's final studio recording, 2001's Invincible, legendary guitarist Carlos Santana lends his smooth licks to the Latin-tinged "Whatever Happens."

"I was very honored that he called on me to work with him," Santana told MTV during the album's recording sessions, "and I love the song."

And finally, there was tapping sensation Jennifer Batten, who was part of Jackson's live band for the Bad, Dangerous, and HIStory tours, as well as for the Super Bowl XXVII half-time show, which aired to 1.5 billion viewers worldwide.

So today, as we mourn Jackson's passing, we also should celebrate his music and the enormous pop legacy he leaves.



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