Fort Kochi and Mattancherry are known for some quirky personalities, who dedicate their lives to appreciating legends such as Bob Marley and Michael Jackson. Known as Jackson Joseph among people, Joseph Rodriquez of Nazareth in Fort Kochi is one such person, who has been trying to keep the memory of Michael Jackson alive.
This year, with an unmatchable zest, Joseph and a few friends organised Jackson’s birthday on September 3. Enamoured by his music, dance and personality, Joseph has made Jackson a part of his daily life. He is now running a hotel at Nazareth for livelihood. He also possesses a great collection of records and CDs of Jackson’s albums released in the 80s and 90s.
While taking a sip of tea, the customers of Joseph’s hotel can enjoy the songs like Smooth Criminal, Dangerous and Thriller. You can see Joseph grooving rhythmically and doing some fluid steps amid rush hours in the hotel. When asked about his collections of Jackson, the Jackson fan says, “I have only these few CDs and recordings. All the rest is in my heart”.
During the recent birthday programme, Joseph removed his facial hair and masqueraded as Jackson and danced to the beats of Jackson on stage. “As Jackson was emerging as an icon across the world, many people like Joseph were instrumental in introducing the uniqueness of his songs in Kerala,” says Varghese Antony, the secretary of the Progressive Art Literature unit of Nazareth in Fort Kochi.
“Despite strong objections from family, Joseph adamantly celebrates Jackson’s birth anniversary every year. Sometimes he shoulders all the expenses himself, though he is not so well off,” he adds. Ask anyone at Nazareth, they all look at Joseph with fascination. “His love for Jackson is unmatchable,” says one local resident.
In his inaugural address, former counsellor K J Antony appreciated Joseph for his love of the legendary American musician. “I remember the day when Jackson died. Joseph was crazily running around informing people and installing flex boards and banners around Fort Kochi,” he recalls.
Since the death of Jackson, Joseph has been organising events in honour of the legend on August 29- Michael Jackson’s birthday. However, for the past two years, due to Covid, he had to take a break.
“We want to immortalise his distinctive talent among people,” says Joseph.
“We have been conducting large-scale events with our own money. However, we are running short of funds. So, we are searching for sponsors and investors for future events,” he adds.