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Michael Jackson Remembered: Inside Rolling Stone's Special Issue

July 10, 2009 2:06 PM ET

When Michael Jackson suffered a sudden cardiac arrest and died on June 25th, the stunned and saddened Rolling Stone team sprang into action, assembling a special commemorative issue dedicated to the King of Pop that is on newsstands now (click here to order it). The issue includes a look back at Jackson's life and music album by album, our 1971 and 1983 cover stories, an essay by Touré about Jackson's complicated relationship to his race, an exploration of his downward spiral, dozens of iconic photos and tributes from Quincy Jones, Slash, Brooke Shields and more.

There are a few Jackson features you can dive into right now, starting with Rob Sheffield's breakdown of the 25 essential song, videos and performances that defined Jackson's career. Watch the Jackson 5's "I Want You Back," plus "Billie Jean," Jackson's Motown 25 performance, his 1988 Grammy performance and and more with Sheffield's commentary: Michael Jackson — The Essential Moments.

Plus, a dozen stars including Adam Lambert, "Weird Al" Yankovic, Stevie Nicks, Chris Cornell and the famous directors of Jackson's "Scream" and "Remember the Time" videos share their personal memories of the fallen pop icon: Michael Jackson Remembered.

Rolling Stone also takes a look at Jackson's enduring musical legacy — his unmistakable imprint on pop stars from Justin Timberlake to Chris Brown and beyond, as well as his unlikely influence on a generation of rockers who were inspired by his studio perfectionism and genre blending: Michael Jackson's Indelible Pop Legacy and Michael Jackson: The Unlikely King of Rock.

And click above to go behind the issue as RS editors discuss what made Jackson such a pop icon. "He had this old-time Hollywood sense of razzle-dazzle showbiz, but also this proto-hip-hop street dancing thing, but Michael Jackson did it in a way that both Fred Astaire and a hip-hopper could get into," Rob Sheffield says. "He came out at a time when 'disco sucks' was a popular sentiment, there was a lot of controversy over dancing, music that you danced to was for girls, not for boys, and at the time of Off the Wall, he was an artist who made music for boys and girls."

"He was above genre — he was all music," says Andy Greene. "I think 'I Want You Back' is my favorite pop song of all time," notes Christian Hoard, while Alan Light calls "Billie Jean" "a flawless record," and recalls how large it loomed in his life. "Off the Wall is a phenomenal sounding album," says Brian Hiatt, "almost a perfect album."

For the latest news on Jackson's death, plus photos of his career and from his Staples Center memorial ceremony — as well as all of Rolling Stone's Jackson coverage from our archives — visit our Michael Jackson Remembered hub.

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

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Song Stories

“Nightshift”

The Commodores | 1984

The year after soul legends Marvin Gaye and Jackie Wilson died, songwriter Dennis Lambert asked members of the Commodores to give him a tape of ideas. "And the one from Walter Orange has this wonderful bass line," said co-writer Franne Golde. "Plus the lyric, 'Marvin, he was a friend of mine' ... Within 10 minutes, we had decided it should be something like a modern R&B version of 'Rock 'n' Roll Heaven,' and I just said, 'Nightshift.'" This tribute to the recently deceased musicians was the band's only hit without Lionel Richie, who had left for a solo career.

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