By the time 2001 rolled around, [url id=”http://www.mtv.com/music/artist/jackson_michael/artist.jhtml”]Michael Jackson[/url] had been out of the media spotlight for some time. His last tour had wrapped in 1997 and his last album of new material was released in 1995. Jackson had retreated from the limelight slightly in an effort to focus on parenting and charitable work. But he made a grand return to MTV at the 2001 Video Music Awards, where he joined ’NSYNC onstage during their performance.
’NSYNC were just about finished performing their hit song “Pop” when their giant Etch a Sketch backdrop rose up to reveal Jackson. Dressed in his trademark white T-shirt and penny loafers, he did not join the group to sing but instead busted into a handful of some of his signature dance moves while ’NSYNC member Justin Timberlake beatboxed to accompany him. It was a poetic moment, especially considering how much Timberlake was clearly inspired by Jackson. Michael’s return to the MTV stage made a big splash, and got the ball rolling on the buildup to his new album Invincible.
Along with fellow former-’NSYNC members JC Chasez and Lance Bass, Timberlake spoke about the moment after learning of Jackson’s death on Thursday. “I can’t find the words right now to express how deeply saddened I am by Michael’s passing,” Timberlake said. “We have lost a genius and a true ambassador of not only pop music, but of all music. He has been an inspiration to multiple generations, and I will always cherish the moments I shared with him onstage.”
MTV will be paying tribute to MJ throughout the weekend with music videos, exclusive performances and calls and tweets from celebrity admirers and friends.
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