Of what family? Of course, the Motown Family. You know, the label Michael Jackson was with for all of six years, as opposed to the 33 years he spent as a Sony employee. The label the Jacksons left with no small acrimony.I find it interesting to compare Berry Gordy’s extremely personal eulogy with the icky, plastic “Sony comments on the passing of Michael Jackson” statement posted on Michael Jackson’s YouTube page. Michael Jackson’s life saw the evolution of the music industry from small, up-close-and-personal music ‘shoppes’ to faceless multimedia conglomerates – the same companies that have squeezed the music industry so tight that it is currently dying an unmourned death. The fact is, though, that Michael Jackson not only witnessed the evolution: he is in no small part responsible for it.
I won’t defend Motown. The strictures Gordy put on the Jacksons were ridiculous, and they were right to decamp to greener pastures. Berry Gordy presided over an empire that made some amazing music, but it did what so many empires do: find a formula and stick to it well after that formula’s best-before date has expired and in spite of all rising tides of criticism. Motown, today a meaningless imprint of the Universal conglomerate, sowed the seeds of its own destruction. Michael Jackson was certainly not to blame.
Michael Jackson became huge, Sony became huge, Sony became anonymous (probably always was, actually). No surprise there. It is interesting, though, that when they came to mourn Michael Jackson publicly, that small label that he spent six stress-filled years with was in full effect, while the monolith he spent a third of a century with was… completely absent. Just an observation.