LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Just as people choose to forget that Elvis Presley was a bloated drug addict when he died, so Michael Jackson is now the subject of posthumous veneration that overlooks the dark side of his life.
Jackson's career was all but comatose four years ago when he stood trial for child molestation in California. Despite lurid testimony from a 13-year-old boy who said that Jackson conducted sexual acts with him, a jury decided he was not guilty. But damage had been done.
"It was all over after the trial," said veteran rock critic Dave Marsh, author of the 1985 book "Trapped: Michael Jackson and the Crossover Dream." "For me, I think he was dead as a celebrity before he was dead as a person. It was pretty pathetic, the last few years. He managed to whittle himself down to size. It's a shame, really."
In the days following the self-proclaimed king of pop's death on June 25 aged 50, reports of prescription-drug abuse have served as eerie reminders of the pharmaceutical cocktails that Presley was taking before he died in 1977.