Michael Jackson is one of the giant pagan gods of pop. Starting with the Jackson 5, Motown’s biggest teen-idol vehicle since Marvin Gaye (yes, Gaye was a teen idol), Michael went on to become pop music’s (pop culture’s) biggest superstar of his age. As is typical of most colossal mega-stars, he got his momentum from the buying power of girls who squealed for him until his “Bad” era, where things started to get kinda shifty. Jackson, like Elvis, is a pop tragedy on a biblical scale.

His strange and mystical story unfolded before the eyes of the world, a life that has been more or less documented in its entirety. Like the cross-cultural superstition that every photograph takes a piece of you with it, Michael Jackson, in all his press and exposure, slowly became a photographic negative of himself, his demented face today a haunting inversion of the luscious teen idol he once was.

On March 25, 1983, Michael Jackson performed at Motown’s 25th anniversary television special Motown 25: Yesterday, Today and Forever. He appeared for this first time in his trademark one-gloved glitter garb, and debuted the premier single off his not yet released album Thriller. All the trademark MJ moves originate in this moment including the moonwalk. This would be seen now and forever as the greatest moment in Michael Jackson’s career.

Witness the creation of Michael Jackson:

I tremble before the gravity of this historical pop moment! My god, teen idols forever.

(catch the last 45 seconds or so of this. heavy.)