How I missed my chance to see Michael Jackson live

Regrets: I've had a few. And one of them is not going to see Michael Jackson in concert when I had free tickets to do so.

The year was 1984, and to make money while attending UCLA, I worked at the famous (and now long gone) Tower Records branch on L.A.'s Sunset Strip. It was the kind of store where celebrity sightings were common -- soon into the job, my wife stopped asking "How was your day?" in favor of "Who did you see?" -- and perks were plentiful. Example: When a Dodger Stadium date on the Jacksons' Victory Tour fell well short of a sell-out, some industry type showed up at Tower and began doling out tickets to folks who worked there -- and I snagged two.

So why didn't I go? For a series of reasons that seem mondo-stupid in retrospect. Much as rock fans of the '60s would identify themselves with either the Beatles or the Stones, R&B lovers of the '80s tended to side with either MJ or Prince, and I was most assuredly a Prince guy; I still think he's one of the most remarkable musical talents of my lifetime. As for Michael, I loved his early Jackson 5 stuff and quite a few of his solo singles -- "Billie Jean" foremost among them. But he was a little old-school show-bizzy for my tastes back then, and thanks to the success of Thriller, he was unbelievably overexposed -- which automatically made liking him suspect at Tower, where we were all about the cool and the new and the underground. Most important, though, the weather was miserable. My wife remembers that it was pouring buckets, and the prospect of standing for three or four hours in the rain to see a show I wasn't all that excited about in the first place proved less than enticing. So we wound up passing.

In the years afterward, I never again had the chance to see Jackson live -- and now, of course, all future opportunities are gone. If only I had a time machine and a couple of garbage bags....

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