Michael Jackson’s death evoked a wide range of reactions around the globe.
Westporter Terry Coen recalled the “King of Pop” with admiration and awe.
That reaction is personal. For a decade — during Jackson’s most fertile creative period — Coen was near the center of all the fervor.
He joined Epic Records as a promotions director in 1983, just after “Thriller” was released. That album — the biggest seller in history — spawned 7 Top 10 singles.
He worked with Jackson on the “Bad” album, and the later Jackson Brothers tour. Coen dealt with radio stations, MTV, contest winners, concerts — you name it, he did it.
Did such a mega-star really need promoting?
“He was a very astute businessman,” Coen says. ” He understood the importance of promoting and marketing. He knew that every album had to go to number one.”
Coen calls Jackson “very quiet and wonderful — he was a sweetheart of a guy.”
And a spectacular performer.
“Gail and I saw Hendrix, Otis Redding and James Brown in concert,” Coen says. “But there was no one like Michael Jackson. He put on the most fantastic, incredible, exciting show I’ve ever seen. Charisma is too mild a word.”
Coen, his wife Gail and their then-young sons, Trevor and Davis, went backstage at the Meadowlands. Gail invited Jackson to take a break at their beachfront home in Westport — as hordes of famous musicians have. He thanked her profusely, but could not carve out the time.
Back in Westport, Trevor did the moonwalk in elementary school.
“Michael helped inspire them to be musicians,” Coen says. “They really responded to his music, and to the adulation he got.”
Working with Jackson, Coen says, was “one of the most exciting periods of my life.”
Jackson’s troubles came later. “He’d made so much money, he didn’t have to work anymore,” Coen says. “That may have been part of his demise. It’s unfortunate his stardom has been tainted.”
But, Coen adds: “There was Sinatra, Elvis and the Beatles. Michael Jackson was bigger than everyone. It was a thrill to work with him, to see him and to know him.”
Terry Coen is proud of his memories of their association. Whenever he needs a reminder he can glance at the platinum “Bad” record, hanging on his Westport office wall.