I first met Michael in 1981 when I was in Shalamar. I used to write him fan letters in 5th grade, and had his photo taped on my wall and school locker. I have so many thoughts right now of his impact on my life and my dreams as a child – seeing another child be so famous. I was in awe of Michael Jackson and The Jackson Five.
When I won the Grammy Award for Best New Artist, Michael Jackson was the first person to greet me, he ran to me out of the darkness of the stage. He’d performed ‘Man in The Mirror’ and ‘The Way You Make Me Feel’ – he grabbed me and kissed me on the cheek saying softly ‘I’m so happy for you” – already emotional from my own triumph – it was momentarily eclipsed by that moment with him – I couldn’t believe it. Michael Jackson had kissed me! I’ll never forget him. His incredible legacy in music will never be diminished and will remain forever influential.
Beautiful words written by Jody
I remember seeing you and hearing you for the first time.
I remember cutting out photo’s and posters taping them to my wall.
I remember moving to Los Angeles, and talking about you so much that my parents tired of hearing me speak of you – so much so that I had to give you another name for a while.
I remember scraping up pennies to buy SOUL Magazine, and later Right On! because you were always in them.
I remember living in a cheap motel during this time, as our family had fallen on hard times, but vividly remember the inspiration I got from reading about you and looking at those pictures.
I remember looking at photo’s of your family and wondering what it was like to be a Jackson.
I remember feeling proud as I looked at your family, somehow seeing myself in you and knowing my friends felt the same.
I remember how we talked about you at school, and danced to your songs in the school gym.
I remember taping your photo to my locker and in the hollow of my desk just to keep you near.
I remember every time I would lift that desk top, I’d see your face smiling back at me.
I remember dancing, singing and dreaming to your music.
I remember crying to songs like ‘Maybe Tomorrow’, and ‘I Don’t Know Why I Love You’ in my room.
I remember the cartoon, the TV specials, singing with Diana Ross and Cher..and so much more.
I remember writing the first piece of fan mail I wrote: ‘Dear Michael’.
I remember writing to you often – as if you could hear me.
I remember thinking I was going to grow up and be Mrs. Michael Jackson.
I remember not having enough money for a concert ticket for a Jackson Five concert at The Forum in Inglewood CA.
I remember what it felt like for my family to be going through such a tough time, and how your music and that of other’s got me through.
I remember walking the perimeter of the Forum with my Mom in tears, as I could hear the music and screams of the lucky girls inside – as I was panic stricken and pacing from the outside.
I remember begging to get in to no avail to each door attendant,
I remember being desperate enough to lie and say I’d lost my ticket.
I remember my heart that night, I loved Michael Jackson.
I remember how hard my Mom tried to get me close.
I remember sobbing even more and the joy I felt when one of the door attendants finally let my Mom and I go in, as the intro of the last song of the night -’The Love You Save’ reverberated nearly drowned out by the volumes of screams from all the kids who felt just like me.
I remember as soon as we got in – the fans rushing the stage and all I had was a brief glimpse, as it seemed the entire arena shifted to the stage.
I remember how soon it was all over. Lights on. Empty stage.
I remember how I continued to love all of the other albums that weren’t as popular like ‘Skywriter’, and ‘Moving Violation’ as you and your brothers continued to grow up – as I was growing up too.
I remember how I could get completely lost staring at every album cover that had your face on it as a child.
I remember meeting you for the first time, and being in awe of the fate that would make such a thing happen.
I remember you and your younger sister Janet coming to watch Shalamar shows from the side of the stage with Groucho Marx glasses with the fake nose and moustache at Disneyland – peering from the side curtain.
I remember your brothers trying to hook us up, because I put ‘”Jody Watley Loves Michael Jackson” on the back of Shalamar’s ‘Three For Love’ album, underneath my photo with the caption: “Loves..”
I remember the first time I heard ‘Off The Wall’, and how much I loved it and still do.
I remember being in the audience with my friend Jermaine Stewart at the Motown 25th..
I remember feeling the electricity that night, and your words “I like the old songs..but I like the new ones better” before you went into Billie Jean.
I remember how you changed the game of music.
I remember how you changed music video.
I remember where I was when I first saw the mini movie ‘Thriller’.
I remember how everyone anticipated your world premiere videos on MTV.
I remember all of your iconic performances on The Grammy’s and American Music Awards, and so much more.
I remember being nominated in categories with you and knowing I didn’t stand a chance.
I remember that you are the first person who greeted me after I won my own Grammy Award for Best New Artist in 1988 and smile to this day because as joyous and in shock as I was…
I remember that you emerged from the darkness of back stage at Radio City Music Hall ran to me, gave me a big hug, kissed my right cheek and said in your Michael Jackson voice “I’m so happy for you”
I remember thinking how I would have never imagined that moment with someone who had such a huge impact on my life.
I remember thinking you were magical and..
I remember thinking ‘I was just kissed by MICHAEL JACKSON and how it nearly eclipsed even winning the award.
I remember how obsessed my daughter and her friends were when they were old enough to discover your music, and how many times we tried to do the choreography to Thriller, and Beat It.
I remember our family trip to Disneyland so we could see your Captain EO attraction.
I remember the joy.
I remember that the never to be seen again international success of Thriller seemed to give you so much – but the aftermath of such fame seemed to take even more.
I remember feeling angst at your trials, and saddened by the bubble your unparalled success seemed to create.
I remember thinking how lonely your life must be, and how you tried to fill the voids in ways we can’t understand.
I remember that despite your struggles thinking you are one bad ass dude. The greatest of a generation and for all time.
I remember how you have touched the world.
I remember how much I love your music, watching you dance, and listening to your distinctive voice.
I remember the influence of Jackie Wilson, Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly and James Brown in your work.
I remember the influence of Michael Jackson in others.
I remember these things and so much more..
I remember the shock I felt at hearing the tragic news, and the tears that followed.
I remember thinking a piece of my own childhood went with you.
I will always remember the time I had with you.