The massive demand for tickets to Michael Jackson's memorial reminds me of when he and his brothers kicked off their "Victory" tour in Kansas City in 1984, where my family and I were living at the time.
It all began with a rumor that the tour would pass through KC. Nobody expected it to be the starting point. But when the news hit, it hit huge. Of course, Michael was the one people wanted to see. His brothers were just the back-up band.
Getting tickets to the three shows at Arrowhead stadium depended on the luck of the draw. You had to fill out an application in the Kansas City Star to buy four tickets and send it off, along with your money -- $120 by money order. A computer randomly picked who got the tickets. Sound familiar?
The purchasing process generated some grumbling, but you didn't have any choice. While the applications flowed in, workers at Arrowhead Stadium were making some quick improvements, like tearing up and lowering part of the entrance to the field to accommodate the Jacksons' equipment truck. When opening night arrived on July 6th, audience members had to pass through several metal detectors to get to their seats. Michael and his brothers made the lead of every local newscast and Nightline.
I didn't see the show. I was just a kid with no concert money, but I know my brother Michael (yes, that's his name) would've loved it. He had Thriller, he had the single glove, and he had some of the moves. I don't think he knew the moonwalk, but he sure tried.
Michael Jackson put the spotlight on Kansas City for three days in 1984, when the rest of the country thought the place was just a boring midwest city surrounded by cows and wheat fields. He and his brothers had every reason to start someplace bigger, but Kansas Citians will never forget what he brought to town, whether they saw the show or not.