Jackson Broke Barriers

The fact that Michael Jackson died should be put in perspective. His passing is the death of Elvis, plus the assassination of John Lennon, divided by the suicide of Kurt Cobain: Monumental, shocking and crushing.

Michael Jackson's Billie Jean video broke MTV barriersMichael Jackson's death on June 25 sent shockwaves through the entertainment industry, in which death seems to arrive early to its biggest stars. Jackson, Presley, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, Buddy Holly, Stevie Ray Vaughn and Jimi Hendrix now have company in the spirit of Michael Jackson.

Jackson's death at 50 has left an enormous hole in the world's collective pop culture consciousness. Those who knew him never believed Jackson would die of old age. But, publicly, the world is shocked.

Michael Jackson jams

Sociologically, Michael Jackson broke barriers. As Reverend Al Sharpton said June 25, "There would be no Barack Obama without Michael Jackson."

Jackson was welcomed into America's households as no other African American had ever been. No one could eclipse the appearance of the Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show… until the Jackson 5 hit the Sullivan stage.

Most importantly, the godsend to the music industry -- MTV -- avoided African-American artists at all cost. Michael Jackson came out with the Thriller album, and the collective desire for the video representation of his first single, Billie Jean, became too impossible to ignore.

The public demanded to see Michael Jackson.

MTV's race wall tumbled under Jackson

Billie Jean begat Beat It, which begat Thriller -- and the door had been kicked down for a cornucopia of artists from Prince, Usher, John Legend to Chris Brown. Can you imagine MTV without the presence of African-American artists? Before Michael Jackson, it was a virtual wasteland.

Madonna, Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera also owe much of their careers to the majesty of Michael.

See more Michael Jackson death coverage hereAny given American Idol season includes a litany of singers influenced by Jackson. Let's not forget the barrage of reality TV dance shows on television and the chorus of influence extolled by their contestants – "I would not be dancing if it weren't for Michael Jackson."

It's a chorus as familiar as any of Michael Jackson's many hits.

Read on for more Michael Jackson STORIES

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Michael Jackson's 5 greatest entertainment moments
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Michael Jackson's most famous albums: A photo gallery
Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett: 1 day, 2 icons lost
BMI Music Publishing releases statement on death of Michael Jackson

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Comments on "Michael Jackson: Death perspective"

Conroy June 27, 2009 | 9:01 AM

Michaels death came as a big shock to me as i was a baig fan an as a musician myself always dreamt of taking the stage with him through all the storys and cases and humiliation an heartache he suffered i dont think he stopped loving the people an wanting to do music its a shame that the people who probably caused his death with there slamming of him now cry for him I hope you find peace now Michael The Living an now Late Legend an King of POP From Conroy in South Africa

brianna June 26, 2009 | 9:22 AM

i realy did not like mj but when i heard that he pased i was kidof sad

Ella June 26, 2009 | 9:00 AM

Ariane, you're totally off base. Micahael Jackson changed the face of music and has influenced every type of music across the board. Whether it was his musical style, dance, style or performance, he had a critical impact on all music and changed it for the better.

Tanuja June 26, 2009 | 6:12 AM

We will truly miss MJ and i will love him till i live.

Ariane Godfrey June 26, 2009 | 6:11 AM

Mr. Amos - Being a HUGE Elvis fan, A HUGE Lennon fan, AND a lover of Kurt Cobain, I am OFFENDED by your comparison. True - Micheal Jackson was an artist. True he had a gozillion fans and recorded many albums, but COME ON!!! You are comparing him to three men who changed the face of Rock!!! The ONLY thing MJ changed was HIS APPEARANCE!!!

Carolyn June 26, 2009 | 5:53 AM

much love to the family, Michael will truly be missed

Diana June 26, 2009 | 5:34 AM

Assignation of Lennon? Did you mean to say assassination?

Tara June 26, 2009 | 5:13 AM

I will so MISS YOU Micheal! I grew up with your amazing music and I will never forget the way you taught me to move;)

Susan Carskaden June 26, 2009 | 3:51 AM

I'm sure alot of people noticed this mistake but I'm also going to chime in. Michael died on JUNE 25 not July 25

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