Experts: Jackson's Death Turned His Image Around

Michael Jackson's legacy is very much alive -- and thriving -- a year after his death.

That legacy was addressed by a panel made up of music industry pros and a journalist in a discussion led by co-anchor Harry Smith on "The Early Show" Friday.

The panel consisted of Kriyss Grant, a dancer in "This Is It," the conert tour Jackson was rehearsing for when he died, Sway, from MTV, and Bill Werde, editorial director of Billboard magazine.

Complete Coverage: Michael Jackson's Life, Death, Legacy

"(Jackson's image when he died) was about a court case. It was about bankruptcy," Smith remarked. "His life and his career were really in horrible shape before this ("This Is It") tour started to come about and his legacy was really reborn in his death."

Werde agreed, recalling that, even in the Billboard offices, when the tour was announced, there was some skepticism on whether Jackson could mentally and physically pull it off.

"It's certainly safe to say, when people thought of Michael in the months, years, leading up to his death, it wasn't always about the music," said Werde.

But Jackson's untimely death still came as a shock to fans worldwide, and though his tour never got to hit the road, his album sales skyrocketed.

"Well, I think often when celebrities die, people tend to put the scrutiny and scandal to the backseat and like to take in those nostalgic warm feelings that remind you why you fell in love with that celebrity in the first place," said Sway.

Grant, who was handpicked by the singer to dance on the tour, agreed, saying the pop icon was completely in control of his artistry and in command of everything that had to do with "This Is It."

"He was the main reason we were all there. I mean, he was very excited, especially when it came to the last couple of days before his death," said Grant. "He was more hands-on, like just ready to go to London and just kill it. We were all just as a family ready to perform and just give the world what they wanted to see."

As the movie "This Is It" premiered, many felt a hint of unease, that maybe they had misjudged Jackson after all these years.

"Jackson did a lot of things, was accused of doing a lot of things, or behaved certain ways that raised certain suspicions, but when you saw him if that film, it was clear the mass judgment that might have happened may have been a little off the mark. That's not a good feeling to have when someone's just passed away," said Werde.

Since his death, his estate has estimated to have brought in between $750,000 and $1 billion, with "This Is It" alone becoming the best-selling music documentary of all-time, and 31 million Jackson albums breing bought.

"I think this is a testament to how Michael Jackson just impacted global culture," said Sway.


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