Today the news is full of Michael Jackson's death. While I was not his biggest fan, this terrible news takes me back. 1987 was my first year in "the industry". That's the year that music became a business, not just a passion.
"Bad" was far from my favorite record that year. 1987 brought us U2's "The Joshua Tree", Sting's "...Nothing Like The Sun", Lyle Lovette's "Pontiac", REM's "Document" and the guilty pleasure of "Dirty Dancing", all which still reside in the basement CD stacks. It was the year I turned onto Suzanne Vega, Los Lobos, Michael Hedges, Sonic Youth, Steve Earle, The Replacements and The Flaming Lips.
I had a hard time keeping Gun 'n' Roses, Phantom of the Opera, Bon Jovi, Beastie Boys, Def Leppard, INXS, George Michael, and Eric B & Rakim in stock. But "Bad", we had enough of. We were already talking about his so-called decline. The record was just not performing to expectation, at least not to that of our buyer's in New York. I had "Bad" coming out my ears and even after Christmas, CBS/Sony wouldn't take them back. They were hard lessons to learn. 1) Even if you are responsible, you are not in charge. 2) In most big companies, they don't want to hear anything from the front line, even if they say they do. 3) If your company's "in bed" with a vendor, ain't nothing you can do about it; there's something bigger going on.
So 1987 did have some great music. There was also Prince, Mellencamp, Robbie Robertson, The Smiths, The Cure, Geroge Harrison, Public Enemy, Sinade, Hiatt, Sisters of Mercy, Sonic Youth, Zevon, The Meat Puppets, kd Lang, the BoDeans and Bougois Tagg (anybody remember them?). And I learned many a lesson about corporate politics. So I guess 1987 was not all that "Bad."