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The Kiss Heard Round the World : The Jackson-Presley marriage was the biggest deal, but it sure had a lot of competition

<i> Steve Hochman writes about pop music for Calendar</i>

A kiss is just a kiss?

Not when it’s between the King of Pop and the Princess of Rock ‘n’ Roll.

When Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley locked lips on the MTV Video Music Awards telecast, it was a clinch for the ages.

Right.

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Well, once upon a time this would have been a fairy-tale moment--a royal wedding to lighten our hearts and gladden our spirits. But does anyone really believe that the Jackson-Presleys are going to live happily ever after, be it in Graceland or Neverland?

No, the story-book is long gone, replaced by tabloid headlines--which Jackson seems more than willing to keep flowing, with one bizarre move after another.

Here are other prize-worthy moments in Pop Eye’s annual look at events surprising and absurd in the pop world:

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SEATTLE SLOUGH: Few pop star demises inspired such a wealth of profiteers, parasites and weird rumors in its wake as the April suicide of Kurt Cobain:

* Within days of his burial, some entrepreneurial Seattle-ites were selling T-shirts bearing a purported copy of Cobain’s handwritten suicide note.

* Officials in Cobain’s native Aberdeen, Wash., proposed erecting a statue to the grunge hero. Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic, noting that it was just that kind of canonization that contributed to Cobain’s fatal depression, promised to knock it down himself if it ever was actually done. The plan was subsequently tabled.

* Cobain’s widow, Courtney Love, aired her anguished grief and angry grievances via computer online services, lashing out at various associates, peers and rivals in extremely colorful syntax. When the press reported on this, Love lashed out again as if she thought the Internet was her own private playground where she could say whatever she wanted with no control.

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* By year’s end, a private investigator, who had been hired by Love to track down the missing Cobain before his body was found, was popping up on talk shows with “proof” that the rock star was really murdered, hinting at a conspiracy revolving around an alleged breakup of Nirvana.

* Meanwhile, the inevitable rumors that Cobain was really alive increased, with wishful speculation that he had--shades of Elvis--faked his death in order to escape the pressures of fame.

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MEATY MATTERS: To her credit, Love turned down a request by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals organization to authorize a poster campaign featuring a picture of Cobain and the words, “You need fur like you need a hole in the head.” (A campaign using late actor River Phoenix and the phrase “I wouldn’t be caught dead in fur” was also rejected by his family.)

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PETA activist Chrissie Hynde, though, said that in the event of her death, the organization could produce ads using her picture with the slogan “Dead meat should be buried not eaten.”

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OLD TIME ROCK ‘N’ ROLL: 1994 saw the return of some ancient, revered music. No, we’re not talking about the Rolling Stones and the Eagles. Gregorian chants, of all things, became the latest unlikely short-cut to tranquillity for harried inhabitants of the modern world--and quick cash for record executives who combed European monasteries as if they were Seattle rock clubs.

But speaking of the Stones and Eagles, their return to the road inspired frequent use among rock writers of the words Jurassic and geriatric . Meanwhile, despite tours being canceled or postponed due to David Crosby’s liver transplant, Glenn Frey’s intestinal blockage and John Mellencamp’s minor heart attack, there’s no truth to the rumor that concert trade magazine Pollstar will initiate a medical chart.

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GENERATION GAP I: The biggest insult to the older generation may have come in April when Seventeen magazine refused to print a photo of Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler and Joe Perry because Perry was shirtless. It wasn’t prudishness--the same issue featured Anthony Kiedis of the Red Hot Chili Peppers sans shirt.

“Their skin had gone purple and blue,” said Seventeen art director Shem Law. “They looked like a couple of very unattractive old men, which is basically what they are.”

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GENERATION GAP II: Several L.A. TV stations sent out news crews to record stores in order to cover the release of the Beatles “Live at the BBC” album on Dec. 6. The reporters were greatly impressed with the number of young people standing in line. Maybe someone shoulda mentioned that the new Pearl Jam album was going on sale at the same time.

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AM I BLUE?: After reaching an agreement for a big-bucks deal with Epic Records, the members of the Bay Area punk band Rancid headed to Epic A&R; wiz Michael Goldstone’s New York apartment to celebrate by dying the exec’s hair blue. But the band soon got cold feet about the move and refused to sign the deal, electing to stay with L.A. indie Epitaph for now.

Goldstone’s hair is still a charming shade of teal.

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CITIZEN CANE: Following its punishment of accused vandal Michael Fay, the Singapore government gave out an artistic caning to R. Kelly for his randy R&B; songs. Jive Records was forced to trim down Kelly’s album “12 Play” to “5 Play” after Singapore censors deemed several songs too explicit. Hey--one more and it could have been a more fitting “4 Play.”

In another numbers game, debate got hot and heavy about the real age of Kelly’s hit protegee/new bride Aaliyah, who in interviews had been saying she was 15, but after the quick wedding was magically-- poof! --18.

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DOG DAYS: According to a deposition relating to a suit filed against Axl Rose by his ex-wife Erin Everly, a friend of the rocker once broke into Everly’s house after they were separated to steal photos of her late dogs “because Rose claimed he needed the pictures to ‘transfer’ the dead dogs’ souls to living dogs.”

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ROCK ‘N’ ROLL SUICIDE: Veteran Detroit rocker Mitch Ryder recorded a new song, “Mercy,” in support of Dr. Jack Kevorkian’s campaign to legalize assisted suicides for the terminally ill.

Said Kevorkian, whose lawyer, by the way, is the brother of the Knack’s Doug Fieger, “Even though I’m not up on popular music, I like his (song). It’s got a lot of rhythm.”

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SYMPATHY FOR O.J.: Besides Cobain’s death and the Jackson-Presley buss, the other defining image of pop in 1994 has to be the live jumbo-screen projection at the Rolling Stones’ Rose Bowl concert showing the bobbing head of the new hardest-working man in show biz: O.J. attorney Robert Shapiro.


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