Page last updated at 03:02 GMT, Friday, 26 June 2009 04:02 UK

Jackson's contribution to music

Michael Jackson

Music journalist Paul Gambaccini looks at the impact Michael Jackson, who has died aged 50, had on the music world.

Michael Jackson had two musical peaks: the first with The Jackson 5. Berry Gordy, the founder of Motown, ordered his producers and writers to come up with three number ones to launch the group and they actually had four number ones with their first four singles.

They were the template for the boy bands that followed - The Osmonds, who already existed as The Osmond Brothers, copied them.
Michael reached his second peak with Quincy Jones with the trilogy of albums of Off the Wall, Thriller and Bad.

Thriller, interestingly enough - since it is the best selling album in the world - is likely to remain so because people now get their music from the internet, so its unlikely that any album will even sell 50m again.

These were great achievements artistically as well as commercially, and Michael was the first of the great American male video stars in the US.

I Want You Back was the record that bowled over the US - for an unknown kid group to go to number one was pretty amazing and people were asking who was this 11-year-old guy who could dance so well and sing so vibrantly.

When it came to putting on a live show he paid attention to every detail and executed his ideas brilliantly. He is still to me the best showman ever
We subsequently learned that their father had been drilling them for years and so they weren't as new as we'd thought, but nonetheless everyone was impressed by Michael and he instantly became a world star.

Billie Jean was very important as it was the song that was the first great American video. There had been great British videos, particularly The Boomtown Rats' I Don't Like Mondays and Bohemian Rhapsody, but Billie Jean made it de rigueur for American artists to make videos as well and that changed everything.

Thriller also spawned that famous video which so many people have bought as well as seen.

When he did the Moonwalk with Billie Jean on the Motown 25 special on TV he won an Emmy award. It was something that looked impossible - he practiced it so much. He learned from Fred Astaire and James Brown and it was something that caught the fancy of people around the world.

I had a conversation with the late John Peel and he agreed that even though Michael Jackson's style of music wasn't his favourite, he was the greatest showman in pop history.

He was not necessarily the greatest record maker and not the best writer because he didn't write many of his hits, but when it came to putting on a live show he paid attention to every detail and executed his ideas brilliantly. He is still to me the best showman ever.

As the years and decades go by, people forget or disregard personal problems. To use the example of an earlier music legend who went his way - Judy Garland - we nowadays just think of the great songs and films and we don't think of her drug problems.

And within a few generations, Michael Jackson will be a great recording artist and that's it. There won't be more than a footnote about the scandals.


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