Michael Jackson died from cardiac arrest on June 25, 2009 at the age of 50. His untimely death was later ruled a homicide caused from an overdose of the powerful sedative propofol that was administered by his doctor, cardiologist Conrad Murray. Murray was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter and sentenced to four years in prison in November 2011.
Ten years after Jackson’s death, celebrities and music stars are reflecting on the music legend’s impact on pop culture.
“There’s no one like Michael Jackson. I don’t think that ever will be, honestly,” Pop superstar Ciara tells ABC Radio. “You know, what he did for music. He definitely was one of the pioneers of music that kind of helped with shaping the culture of music and why we all love it as fans.”
As for his passing, Ciara says it doesn’t feel like it’s already been 10 years, because to her, MJ’s impact is still standing strong.
“He made songs that will live on forever,” she says. “And that’s what it’s about…the cool thing is that his legacy is so powerful that it still lives on. And it will continue to live on and continue to inspire people.”
As far as his impact, Ciara says MJ openly shared his journey with others through music, which in turn, “help[ed] someone else’s life.”
Not surprisingly, Jackson’s ability to authentically share his journey and capture his audiences’ attention was something that Kim Sledge, of legendary vocal group Sister Sledge, says was unmatched.
“He was one of the best entertainers I’ve ever seen perform, I have to say he really was,” Sledge says.
“All of them, we loved all of their performances,” Sledge says, referring to the Jackson 5, with whom she and her sisters toured during the 1970s. “When I saw him when he was singly performing, there was something about the energy that was just enchanting. If was fascinating. I’ve never seen energy like that. I can say the only other person I could think of that I saw that type of energy is when I was really, really little watching maybe Sammy Davis Jr.”
Even as celebs recall their fondest memories of Jackson as a performer, it’s difficult to ignore some of the recent controversies surrounding the pop legend.
After years of being plagued by sexual abuse allegations and a 2005 child molestation trial, which ended with Jackson’s acquittal, the HBO documentary Leaving Neverland, released in January, once again brought up Jackson’s past sexual abuse allegations.
The doc followed the accusations of Wade Robson and James Safechuck, who both accused Jackson of sexually abusing them as children, although they denied Jackson abused them while the singer was still alive. Both have said having their own children forced them to come clean.
The Jackson family and estate continues to vigorously deny all charges in the documentary and subsequently filed a $100 million lawsuit against HBO, claiming the documentary breached a “non-disparagement” clause in a contract HBO signed in 1992, when it agreed to air a Jackson concert film.
Despite the documentary and resulting, Jackson’s music and legacy appeared to have weathered the storm, at least so far. In fact, one of his producers, Dallas Austin, says MJ “will always have cultural impact.”
“It’s all about the music. It’s all about the songs, it’s not about the drama,” Austin says. “It’s just about songs and music. And he’s given us so many great songs and music for all of his life, for all of our lives. I think that is still just as important.”
Hip-hop superstar Method Man agrees, and says Jackson will never lose his influence on American culture.
“He will forever be an icon,” Method Man says. “He’s the reason why a lot of these kids nowadays have the shot that they have in music. Michael Jackson paved the way.”
Meth adds that it’s important that people also “speak up” for their legends when they pass.
“And to watch him grow up over the years and for his legacy to continue on we have to be caretakers of it,” he says. “This is why when certain things come out against these OGs after they’re gone, they need people there to speak up for them, because they can’t speak up for themselves.”