By Stephen Scafidi
In 1982, within a month of each other, Prince released the album “1999” and Michael Jackson released “Thriller”.
Both of them died in their 50s (Jackson at 50; Prince last month at 57).
Jackson succumbed to an overdose of propofol, a drug that his physician used to help the singer with chronic insomnia and for which he was later found guilty of manslaughter.
Prince died from – well, no one knows what exactly except that investigators are looking into the emergency landing his plane made in Molina, Ill. six days before he died. After leaving a concert in Georgia where he suffered flu-like symptoms he felt worse on the plane, which then landed, where, according to reports, he was treated at a local hospital and left three hours later.
And finally, in addition to sharing untimely deaths and music, they changed society, culture and fashion.
David Kerzner, an associate professor at William Paterson University who teaches popular music, said the two musical idols each respectively changed the way people listen to and enjoy music.
“It was certainly devastating [losing Prince]’,” Kerzner said. “He and Jackson both had an influence that reached beyond the music they sang. Their music defined an era and paved a road for new artists we hear today to take.”
Both Prince and Jackson released albums in 1982 that defined the ‘80s. Jackson’s “Thriller” is the highest selling album ever to this date, while 1999 didn’t do as well; it was extremely innovative for the time and included the gem “Little Red Corvette.”
“’Thriller’ was a great pop record,” Kernzer said. “At the time, Jackson was the greatest pop star in the world.”
When Prince Rogers Nelson died he left a legacy that will live on forever. He was still prominent in both music and fashion, almost similar to his ‘80s counterpart, Jackson, who died in 2009.
To this day, it is still hard to find songs that are as good as “Beat It” and “1999.” Though it was before the time of any students currently at WPU, students still were able to relate to the songs and held them close to their heart.
“’Billy Jean’ is my favorite Michael Jackson song and “Little Red Corvette” is my favorite Prince song,” said Sarah Bennett, a music management major. “My parents listened to [Prince and Jackson] when I was growing up, so I always had a deep appreciation for ‘80s music.”