June 26, 2009 in News

Interest in Jacko memorabilia spikes following death

By The Spokesman-Review
Associated Press photo

A customer at a record store in London picks up a copy of a Michael Jackson album on June 26, 2009. Michael Jackson, the ‘King of Pop’ who once moonwalked above the music world, died as he prepared for a comeback bid to vanquish nightmare years of sexual scandal and financial calamity. He was 50. Jackson died Thursday at UCLA Medical Center after being stricken at his rented home in Holmby Hills.
(Full-size photo)

By 3 p.m. Friday, Michael Jackson had claimed nine of the 10 top spots on the iTunes album chart. “The Essential Michael Jackson” was No. 1, followed by “Thriller,” “Number Ones,” “Off the Wall,” “Thriller (25th Anniversary Edition),” “Bad,” “Michael Jackson: The Ultimate Collection,” “Dangerous,” and “Michael Jackson Greatest Hits: HIStoryVol. I.” The only non-Jackson album on the chart, at No. 10, was the Black-Eyed Peas’ “The E.N.D.”

Brian Gilden was a teen in the 1980s, during Michael Jackson’s heyday.

So on Friday, he went looking for a piece of his past and found it – nabbing the sole vinyl copy of Jackson’s 1982 classic “Thriller” at Recorded Memories, a used record store on North Hamilton Street.

“It’s precisely what I was looking for,” Gilden said, holding a copy of the album while looking over a wide range of other Jackson memorabilia at the store. “I graduated in ’85. You couldn’t help but be a fan.”

Fans around the region and the country went all out in search of Jackson’s records, posters and other collectible items after the announcement of his death Thursday. Amazon.com sold out of Jackson’s CDs, as did most Barnes and Noble stores, company officials said. By Friday afternoon, Jackson’s albums accounted for nine of 10 of the bestselling downloads on iTunes, with “Thriller” in the No. 2 spot.

In Spokane, Richard Terzieff, owner of Recorded Memories, said he sold about 20 Jackson items Thursday afternoon, ranging from records to cassette tapes to posters.

“It was nuts,” Terzieff said. “It was absolutely crazy.”

At The Long Ear in Coeur d’Alene, the first customers in the door Friday morning were looking for the same thing as Thursday’s last customers – something from the King of Pop. But the store had almost sold out of Michael Jackson CDs the day before, said Nic Fritze, store manager.

“‘Thriller’ and ‘Off The Wall’ are the ones everyone’s seeking,” Fritze said, referring to two of Jackson’s solo albums, “because they’re bad-ass albums.”

Terzieff said he figures that some of the recent customers were fans and some had a more opportunistic motivation.

“I think they’re thinking, ‘Oh, I’m going to put that on eBay,’” he said. “There’s always the greed factor.”

Jackson items were being posted online, as well. One Spokane resident posted an ad on craigslist.com just hours after the news of Jackson’s death emerged, offering a satin tour jacket from 1984. Price? $300 – OBO.

Gilden’s copy of “Thriller” cost him $11.95 – the same price as before Jackson died. He said he’d heard of another store in town jacking up the price to $100 once Jackson died. Terzieff said he wouldn’t do that.

“I’d rather have the $11.95 and sleep at night and look at myself in the mirror,” he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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