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Michael Jackson tribute band to moonwalk onto stage

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Taalib York as Michael Jackson in Who’s Bad: The Ultimate Michael Jackson Tribute Band. The band is set to perform at The Newport 7:30 p.m. Saturday.  Credit: Courtesy of Jeff Schad-Montauk Music

Taalib York as Michael Jackson in Who’s Bad: The Ultimate Michael Jackson Tribute Band. The band is set to perform at The Newport Jan. 18 at 7:30 p.m.
Credit: Courtesy of Jeff Schad-Montauk Music

Michael Jackson fever swept over Ohio State last October as the OSU Marching Band celebrated the 1987 release anniversary of the King of Pop’s album release “Bad” by performing some of his songs during a football game’s halftime show.

Campus is about to be hit with Jackson fever once again as Who’s Bad: The Ultimate Michael Jackson Tribute Band, is slated to appear at the Newport Music Hall 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

Jeff Schad, publicist of Who’s Bad, said the band first started when creator Vamsi Tadepalli had an idea while attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to start a tribute band for Jackson. Since there were no other tribute bands for Jackson at the time and because of his love for the musician, in 2004 Tadepalli decided to create a band from individuals that were within his musical circle, Schad said.

Frontman Taalib York remembers his feelings from the first time he auditioned for the Michael Jackson part.

“I was very apprehensive at first because Michael was my idol and I didn’t want to mess up his lyrics. Michael was still alive at the time,” York said.

Jackson died in June 2009 after suffering from cardiac arrest.

York said he also loves performing on stage for people.

“I love being out there. It’s weird. For some reason, I always feel like he comes through me while I’m on stage. It’s almost like a creative and artistic bonding session with my idol as well as a celebration for his legacy,” York said.

Schad said Who’s Bad stands apart from many other Jackson tribute bands because it is the only band touring internationally and the only one that has been performing as a tribute to Jackson since before his death.

York said it is very important to know how to emulate Jackson.

“It’s about emulating little things, details, how to walk, how he carried himself. That’s more of what my focus is. I do definitely know how to dance like Michael. It’s definitely important to have the swag, and the attitude, and the movement, the punctuation. Everything needs to be lined up, just the little things, how he would stomp his foot or how he would point at the audience,” York said.

The band works hard to bring Jackson back to life for the audience.

“I hope to bring to them Michael. I like the audience to forget about me on stage, to forget that there is a guy doing Michael Jackson and really go back to feel like they’re really watching Michael Jackson,” York said.

However, not everyone is convinced a tribute band can accurately emulate Jackson.

“They’re great at what they do, but Michael Jackson was the original. I don’t think he can really be imitated. I don’t think anyone can touch him at all,” said Loreal Bell, a second-year in criminology.

While some would choose not to go to the tribute band’s concert, they remain fans of Jackson regardless.

“I like his old stuff as a kid from The Jackson 5 and I like that he became a different kind of pop artist in the ‘80s,” said Will Heydinger, a second-year in chemical engineering.

Tickets can be purchased through Ticketmaster at $15 in advance and $20 at the door. The Newport is located at 1722 N. High St.

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