I have been having a pretty good week. I was off for Martin Luther King. Jr. day and was fortunate enough to be able to stay home, relax, and watch the inauguration on television. Watching the First Family always means so much to me - super inspiring!
I am back with another review today with one of my favorite Michael Jackson photo books. With the Michael Jackson Opus leading the way, fans saw an influx of photo books published after Michael's death. (Ahh, typing "Michael's death just sent shivers through my spine-- I don't think I can ever get used to saying that.)
"Before He Was King" by Todd Gray, is something I've had on my Must Haves list for a really long time. It was published in November 2009 and retailed for about $25.00. Many of the pages contain little stories or anecdotes from Todd Gray's experience working as Michael's personal photographer from 1974-1984. I recently found a like new copy of this on amazon and knew that I had to grab it right away. If I had a coffee table, it would be right there on it.
For now it is on my kitchen table... :-)
Let's start with the title: I'd suppose that if you believe Thriller is when Michael Jackson officially became a "KING" in the world of popular music, the title would be accurate. I'd like to think that Mike was always a king in some sense of the word but I do love the title because it draws the average reader in.
Here is an excerpt from Gray where he reflects on these years spent photographing Michael:
"My photographs of Michael, from 1974 to 1984, show him as the engaging, charming, youthful person he was before the insatiable demands of his extraordinary celebrity bore so heavily on him. As I reflect, I realize now that this was the time before he was King."
This book contains 100 never before seen and high quality photos of Michael Jackson through the late 1970's and early '80's. I especially enjoyed the behind the scenes captures from the Triumph tour, like the one below.
In terms of packaging, this 144 page book is pretty sturdy and I haven't had any issues with it thus far (although I did see some reviews about the binding being a problem for some). I take care of my Michael Jackson collection pretty well and usually don't have problems with pages falling out.
What I like about "Before He Was King" is the fact that its so offbeat and it covers a topic and time in Michael's career that is so rarely spoken about. The Off The Wall era was special in so many ways and I'm grateful that this was made to document some of those special moments. Flipping through the photos in this was so nostalgic and I found myself daydreaming that I was in my car, driving down the highway into the sunset with "Girlfriend" on blast.
Oh, how I love that album.
Anyway... GET YOUR COPY: Michael Jackson: Before He Was King ... it's on Amazon both new and used!