Michael Jackson died last night in his London home. He was 65. Although no official cause of death has been announced yet, he is known to have suffered from Parkinson's Disease for the past decade. Details of his death are still sketchy, but he had been in poor health for years and was doing less and less, especially traveling.
I didn't know Michael personally although our paths crossed a few times. The world knew him as "the other Michael Jackson," if it knew him at all, but he was the Michael Jackson to those of us who care way too much about beer and whiskey. Although he was more famous for his beer activities, he cut an equally wide swath through the whiskey world. His World Guide to Whisky, first published in 1987 and recently updated, was the starting point for me and, probably, many others. He seemed to be the first person to write about it who didn't just parrot what the producers told him, who took that in but found other sources too, synthesized it all, and gave something back to his readers that was more than the sum of the parts.
Michael Jackson was the first person who made me think it might be possible to make a living studying and writing about whiskey.
He was the father of us all.