Michael Jackson was undisputedly the greatest pop entertainer in my lifetime.
And on December 31, 2006, while covering the unexpected death of another musical icon - James Brown, better known as The Godfather of Soul - I actually got the chance to see Michael Jackson for the first time on stage.
There was a distinct difference in my short-lived sight of him, though. He wasn't inside the then Augusta Civic Center to perform. Instead, Mr. Jackson had come to pay his respects to Mr. Brown, recognized by many as the hardest working man in show business.
Last Tuesday, family, friends and his millions of fans worldwide, paid similar respect to Mr. Jackson, who died unexpectedly at his residence in Los Angeles. Michael Jackson was 50.
A number of mourners attending the funeral of Mr. Brown yelled out for Mr. Jackson to sing a song in remembrance of his longtime friend and another gifted entertainer. It didn't happen.
I thought that was to the credit of Mr. Jackson who knew exactly the reason he came to Mr. Brown's funeral - simply to pay his respect - nothing more and nothing less. If it had been flipped the other way, Mr. Brown would have attended Mr. Jackson's funeral.
I'll never forget hearing a woman shout out to Mr. Jackson while he was on stage, standing next to the Rev. Al Sharpton - one of Mr. Brown's closest friends. The woman yelled out, "I love you - Michael!"
Mr. Jackson softly replied, "I love you, too."
Attending Mr. Brown's funeral actually marked the first public appearance of Mr. Jackson in America since being vindicated of molestation charges in California three years earlier. During that time, Mr. Jackson had lived out of the country and had chosen to stay out of the limelight.
Just before his death, Mr. Jackson was embarking on a comeback - one aimed at getting him back on his feet and into the limelight he was accustomed.
Mr. Jackson's death has left an incredible void in the entertainment world - one that won't soon be forgotten.
Since prescription drugs may be at the heart of his death, I'm speculating that the hoopla now surrounding the possibility that Mr. Jackson was murdered may be just the beginning of a lot more media attention. Already, the stories are sounding like those of Elvis Presley.
The two deaths have many similarities. And the public simply can't get enough it seems, of hearing about these two fabulous entertainers.
If Mr. Jackson met his death other than by accidental overdose, then authorities have an obligation to look into the case much deeper. No one, and I mean no one, should be above the law!