News Column

Michael Jackson's birthday incentive for Legends in Concert to celebrate in Myrtle Beach

August 28, 2014

By Steve Palisin, The Sun News (Myrtle Beach, S.C.)



Aug. 28--Michael Jackson would have turned 56 years old on Friday, but his music remains alive in a new, posthumous single, "Love Never Felt So Good," and on Legends in Concert's stage in Myrtle Beach for a last hurrah this weekend.

Jimmy Lucas, an Aiken native, has performed as the Gloved One for two summers locally at Legends, at U.S. 17 Bypass and 29th Avenue North, catty corner from Broadway at the Beach. This year, he has been joined by tribute artitsts to The Blues Brothers (Jake and Elwood Blues, portrayed by Dan Meisner and Russ Peterson, respectively), Madonna (Kimberly Goltry), Elvis Presley (Leo Days), and Aerosmith's Steven Tyler (Chris Van Dahl). Their shows continue at 8 p.m. daily through Sunday.

The fall lineup, reflecting some of the most requested acts in Myrtle Beach, kicks in Tuesday, going through Oct. 30, with The Blues Brothers (Meisner and Peterson) carrying on, along with Adele (J.C. Brando), Johnny Cash (Paul Eve), Elvis Presley (Dean Z, the overall 2013 Ultimate Elvis Competition winner, sanctioned by Elvis Presley Enterprises Inc.), and Barry White (Jourdan Carroll). Brando's Adele set also might endear James Bond fans, for it includes the tingling theme to the latest 007 film, "Skyfall," from 2012.

Speaking two weeks before the current Legends roster bids farewell to summer, ushers in a new lineup of artists for fall, Lucas said he always likes to celebrate the anniversary of Jackson's birthday. Portraying the late King of Pop, whom he admired as a childhood fan, Lucas sees his professional role as adding "more light to his legacy."

"I always wanted to do something to keep his legacy alive," said Lucas about Jackson, who died in June 2009.

He remembered studying footage closely of Jackson on and off stage, "his whole style in how he carried himself, and his mannerisms."

Lucas figured that he watched videos "every single day for four to six hours a day for five to six months," and the studies continue. Joining Legends in 2009, starting with its Las Vegas site, and later spending two summers in Myrtle Beach, Lucas called his employer and musical colleagues "like a family to me."

Jason Aiesi, Legends' general manager in Myrtle Beach, having the same Jackson tribute artist the last two summers set a new precedent locally, because usually any one person -- outside of the people who take turns as The Blues Brothers and Elvis, respectively -- does not play "the same season two years in a row."

"I think Michael Jackson has worked his way into that echelon," Aiesi said.

When Legends reopened in March 2011 at its new Myrtle Beach site at Broadway at the Beach, after relocating from Surfside Beach, William Hall portrayed Jackson in that grand opening lineup for two months. Hall has since gone on to other endeavors, but he still pays tribute to Jackson, Aiesi said.

'A part of me'

Lucas said performing as Jackson -- and triggering memories for fans -- "has become a part of me, but I'm not Michael Jackson, and I'm not trying to be Michael Jackson."

"I am Michael Jackson on stage," he said, "and that's as far as it goes."

Lucas said with Jackson's extensive musical catalog, going back to his roots with the Jackson 5 on Motown Records, then through his work with the Jacksons, and ultimately, all the record-breaking solo albums, he has had so much material to enjoy and appreciate.

From the "Off the Wall" album in 1979, Lucas said he would love to do "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" in a show and conquer that "vocal range." He called the song that closes the first side of the vinyl LP, "Get on the Floor," an "amazing" piece as well.

With Legends, two singles from Jackson's album three years later, "Billie Jean" and "Thriller," the title track, remain mainstays "without question" in his set, Lucas said, because they're among Jackson's most recognizable recordings and music video hits from MTV's heyday in the 1980s.

Lucas sees "Thriller" as "by far, the most iconic and most unbelievable album," and he never can forget the "Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever" concert and TV special in 1983 where Jackson performed "Billie Jean" with his trademark "moonwalk," sliding his feet backward in one fluid dance motion.

Noting he had read that hundreds of songs were considered for the "Thriller" CD, Lucas said three of its hits -- "Beat It," "Human Nature" and "P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)" -- were not part of original plans for the album.

Jackson's next CD, "Bad," from 1987, with singles such as "The Way You Make Me Feel," "Dirty Diana" and "Smooth Criminal," captivated Lucas for the style and outfits, as he has exhibited here with Legends with a four-piece band and four dancers.

Dressing the part a few years ago -- including fitting the wig, lipstick, arched eyebrows, and makeup and lipstick just right -- Lucas said at first, the process took about one hour and 20 minutes, but he has streamlined the routine to about "35 to 40 minutes."

"Everything about the 'Bad' era was it for me," said Lucas, a golfer who would love to return to Legends for a third straight summer in Myrtle Beach.

"I'm always on the course, playing," he said.

Contact STEVE PALISIN at 444-1764.

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(c)2014 The Sun News (Myrtle Beach, S.C.)

Visit The Sun News (Myrtle Beach, S.C.) at www.thesunnews.com

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Source: Sun News (Myrtle Beach, SC)


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