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Michael Jackson: His Tampa ties, and tweets from local fans




So we were racking our brains trying to think of some local connection to Michael Jackson, and one of the first images that popped into our minds was the cover of the 2008 album Thrilla by the inimitable Stick Martin Show. Awesome. We just had to share it with you.

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Anyway. With Jackson gone, we wondered: Did the King of Pop ever play Tampa Bay? We searched the dates on all his major stadium tours as a solo artist, and we couldn't find anything. Somehow, Michael only played in Florida a couple of times post-Thriller.

Oh, but we definitely wanted him. In 1984, the Tampa Sports Authority voted to raise the attendance cap at Tampa Stadium from 55,000 to 65,000, entirely to pave the way for a date on the Jacksons' Victory Tour. A fan in Clearwater even started a petition to get Jackson to come to Tampa or Orlando. But ultimately, the Victory Tour came no closer than Jacksonville.

In 1987, a New York promoter booked two spring dates at Tampa Stadium for Jackson's Bad Tour. But again, no luck.

The last good look Central Florida got at Jackson was in 1981, on the Jacksons' Triumph Tour, which stopped at the Lakeland Civic Center on July 28. At that show, according to reviewer Jeannie Ralston of the Evening Independent, Michael clearly stole the show:

During the high-energy, glittering show, all eyes were on Michael as he wooed the audience with almost nonstop gyrations to some of the group's (and his) most popular songs, both old and new.

The rest of the Jacksons -- with the exception of the drum- and piano-playing Randy -- were no more than the Pips, complete with the shoo-be-doos to Michael's jazzed-up Gladys. ...

Throughout the show, Michael seemed like the best of other superstars rolled into one: feet surpassing Fred Astaire's, spins like Peggy Fleming's, the dramatics of Sarah Bernhardt, a magic act like Merlin the Magician's and a clothes change like Superman.

The voice, though, was all Michael's.

If you really want to go old school, though, the Jackson 5 (who later became the Jacksons) did make a few stops in Tampa and St. Pete. Among them:

May 3, 1979, Bayfront Center: "Little Michael Jackson isn't quite so little any more, and the Five is gone from the gruop's name, but the Jacksons still sing and dance with so much talent and enthusiasm that the crowd, like Michael, is soon singing, 'I just can't, I just can't, I just can't control my feet.' Ten years later, Michael's voice is as high-pitched as ever. And he and his four brothers are as harmonious and nimble-footed as they were when they commanded instant hysteria with the teeny-boppers."

(The review notes that the crowd of 5,600 was "all ages, mostly black, mostly well-dressed and entirely enthusiastic." Read the full review here.)

Aug. 10, 1971, Curtis Hixon Hall: "Five dreams came to Tampa last night. The Jackson 5 sang to a full house at Curtis Hixon, but the star of the show was Michael Joe Jackson, 11, who was a motion of spins, whirls and dances as he sang the top hits that have made the Jackson 5 famous."

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How are members of the local music community taking the news of Michael's death? As we have for all matters great and small in 2009, we turned, of course, to Twitter.

After the jump, get a sampling of reactions from the local music Twitterverse, from thoughts on his successor as the new King of Pop (Justin Timberlake?) to fans wondering if his "death" is all a hoax...

-- Compiled by Jay Cridlin and Shirl Kennedy, tbt*.

[Last modified: Friday, June 26, 2009 4:36pm]


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