By Loren Ridinger
Loren Ridinger shares her personal memories of a whimsical evening spent with the King of Pop, while her friends in Hollywood and the music industry relate what the impact of his passing means to them.
It is hard to believe that Michael Jackson is gone.
I remember the first time I met him over dinner at Al Malnik’s house. Al and his family invited me, my husband JR, and my daughter Amber over for an intimate gathering with Michael and his three beautiful children, Prince Michael, Paris, and Blanket. Memories of how much he loved his children come flooding back to me as I recall that night. He was the proud papa, grinning from ear to ear as his children performed a little play for us, “Three little monkeys sitting on a bed.” He smiled and laughed so much that night. He was so proud of those kids and he knew how to show it.
During dinner we talked about his lack of authentic childhood experiences and how his sister Janet had always been so amazing and sensitive with him. As he talked, he spoke with his heart and I could actually feel some of the pain that he must have experienced in his short life. I really believe that the child inside of him was always begging to be released. Watching him play hide-and-go-seek with my daughter Amber and the other children, I was struck by how much he laughed, enjoying the fun as much as they did. Listening to Michael speak was almost as amazing as hearing him sing because he spoke with such love-for his children as well as his family and fans. He was kind, gentle, and remarkable in every way. He shared stories with us that night as if we had known him forever.
The evening turned quite comical when Michael complimented the pants that I was wearing because they reminded him of the ones he donned in the video for “Bad.” He loved mine so much, in fact, that he asked me to let him try them on! Feeling somewhat embarrassed and at a loss for words, I was goaded into it by both my own family and the Malniks, who kept saying, “Oh come on…just let him try them on.” I gave in and told him I would wait in the bathroom for him to pass them back to me. After 10 minutes I knew I was in trouble. I heard a little knock at the door and he said, “Loren, I love these pants! Please, please, please let me keep them. I will give you my pants to wear home!” Well, what was I supposed to say? He was, of course, the legendary Michael Jackson and he simply stole my heart. I watched him show everyone at the house how wonderful the pants looked on him and I started my own fashion show wearing his. We all laughed and carried on with the beautiful evening.
I had the opportunity to see him many times again thereafter and we always laughed just as much as we did on the first night we met. He was always so loving and so wonderful. He cared about people and he cared about the world. I am sure there will never be another Michael Jackson. He changed music, breaking every barrier and demonstrating that he could accomplish anything that he set his mind to. He paved the way for so many other artists and entertainers and he gave us the belief that if people loved each other and cared for each other enough, we would “Heal the World.” I wonder if the some of the world let him down and forgot the words that he sang to us with such love in a song that touched our hearts.
He made the world a better place for all of us. Michael opened his heart to all of us through his life and his music and because of him we will never be the same. I asked some of my friends to share their thoughts on the passing of this legend, which I share with you here.
Swizz Beatz “First and foremost, Michael Jackson changed the music industry by combining and mixing the most amazing dance with legendary music. Michael Jackson was an idol to all who knew him and to all who loved him. He has touched every generation regardless of whether they followed him for 40 years or just started to learn who he was. But most importantly, I had the pleasure of witnessing what an incredible father he was to his three beautiful children and how much he loved them. He was my friend and I will never forget him. Michael will forever be in our hearts!”
Kim Kardashian “Michael was an inspiration to the entire word in music, art, and fashion! He is a true legend and his legacy will live on forever.”
Benny Medina “Michael gave the world his heart through entertaining. It is sad that his fame created a distance for him from the things he cherished so much, which was a love for people and the world. This is one of the greatest challenges artists have. Michael operated on a genius level his whole life. And though we may perceive it to be too short of a life, he will live on forever. I am sure no one will ever take his place…the brilliance that was Michael will never happen again.”
Alicia Keys “I was just thinking about how we are losing all of our brightest lights. There will NEVER be anyone like Michael Jackson, with the impact he made on generations, with the way he broke barriers and rules and encouraged all of us to do the same in our own way. Who will ever fill such giant shoes? We are all saddened by the loss of him, but I feel grateful for being touched by such a light! May we always hold him high like the example of endless possibility we all are.”
Maxwell “His mark is indelible. His impression and imprint will forever resound in the hearts and souls of all who will ever know music and its undeniable joy.”
Tony Parker “I grew up to his music. He taught me what music should be like.”
Paulina Rubio “I feel very sad, and more conscious than ever. The fact that one day you are here on this Earth and the next day you are not is extremely poignant. He leaves us his legacy; his music will never die and he will forever live in our hearts.”
Alejandro Sanz “Death seems to cut deeper into our souls when it is someone like Michael Jackson who dies. He left us so many masterpieces, but we missed so much more he had to give because of the cruelty of some people. God bless Michael Jackson, now he can walk on the moon being free.”
Shakira “Michael Jackson was the king of artistic genius, of dance, of innovation, and fantasy. He reinvented the pop genre and found a new way to articulate music through images that will last forever. Of his voice, Frank Sinatra once said that he was ‘the only singer I’ve seen who was better than me.’ With his death, the king is transformed into a legend for all time. My profound sympathy to his family, fans, and loved ones.”
Jennifer Lopez “Michael Jackson was, for me, everything a performer and superstar should be: generous, thoughtful, passionate, a perfectionist, kindhearted, and larger than life…and like the brightest shooting stars, gone too soon.”
Kimora Lee Simmons “Michael is a legend. There will never be another. His talent, compassion, and soul are unrivaled. We have suffered a tremendous loss. I celebrate and salute his life.”
Charlie Walk “What makes me smile is that a new generation is discovering the music of Michael Jackson. In their eyes, it is fresh and new. Just the way Michael would want it.”
Tony Romo and Jessica Simpson “We will never be able to fully grasp his impact. He was and always will be someone that others aspire to be.”