Jackson Tribute: Why Vienna?

Imperial grandeur and a small bottom line

After the untimely death of Michael Jackson on Jun. 25, questions spread through the media world like wildfire: What will happen to the kids? Was he killed? When will Jermaine Jackson’s tour of self-promotion end? What will happen with the London concert tickets?

When Jermaine announced on Aug. 8 that a tribute concert would be held to honor his dead brother, another question emerged: Why the heck Vienna?

No offense to the City of Vienna intended, but it is not the obvious choice for such an event. Los Angeles, New York or probably Chicago, close to where he grew up, would seem more appropriate. Or even Tokyo: images of thousands of screaming, crying and fainting Japanese girls waiting outside his hotel in the mid 90s flash to mind.

A month after Michael Jackson passed away, Jermaine received the Save the World Award on behalf of his late brother at the Nuclear Power Plant Zwentendorf, in Austria. Inspired by the professional organization of the event and the majestic backdrop (Lower Austria, not the nuclear plant turned solar station), Jermaine decided that Schönbrunn Palace would be suitable. So “The Tribute” website states.

In retrospect it begins to make sense. In 2005, it was rumored that Michael wanted to create his own fairy-tale castle in Berlin, based on Neuschwanstein, the 19th century castle built by the mad Bavarian ruler King Ludwig II. His taste for imperial eccentricity was not limited to his domestic architecture; it also showed in his fashion sense. In the 90s, the self-styled King of Pop was known for his classical ensembles and military frills (see his History world tour).

So in this land of classical music, imperial palaces and the Alps, a grandiose setting like Schönbrunn, chosen to honor an American musician, legend and one of the most successful entertainers of all time, doesn’t seem so far-fetched. Also – according to word on the street – Vienna was less expensive than other European or American cities, offering more music bang for the buck.

Less sensible are rumors of a connection between Michael’s tainted past with charges of child molestation and recent Austrian scandals such as the Kampusch and Fritzl cases.

“The Tribute” concert is scheduled for Sept. 26, and will no doubt be a huge event, televised around the world to millions of viewers. The focus will be on the musicians (still not announced), Jermaine Jackson, his brother’s legendary music and a fantastic show, surely to be fitting for a king, or a Kaiser. Aside from a caption and some ads from the Austrian tourism board, Vienna will remain in the background.

So is it important to know why Jermaine Jackson chose Vienna? Probably not. It is just another bizarre anecdote to add to the bizarre life and death of a megastar.

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