Michael Jackson and Mbah Surip: Taking Lessons from Their Deaths

By Irfan Nugroho
The world was shocked to hear the death of Michael Jackson. A month later, Indonesians was shocked to hear another sad news about the death of Urip Achmad Riyanto (Mbah Surip).

The two figures possessed some similarities. Both were singers and at their 50s too. However, both were totally different from each other. Things related to their death are perhaps the lessons to us.

Almost all people in the world know Michael Jackson very well. Since Michael Jackson’s solo appearance in 1971, his name rocketed high until the title King of Pop was honoured upon him.

Not only did Michael Jackson finally crown the title, but he was also one of the most commercially successful entertainers of all the time – an award making his name written in Guinness World Records.

During his career as singer, Michael Jackson had also successfully grabbed 13 Grammy Awards and hit sales of over 750 millions records world-wide. Since then, he immersed into luxurious life, and found himself surrounded by many controversies.

For about three decades Michael Jackson ran a luxurious life. He lived in an elegant house with all the things were available next to him if he wanted. But Michael’s life was never far from controversies, especially those related to changes on his physical appearances.

Unfortunately, Michael Jackson passed away when his popularity in fragile. He was not as famous as twenty years ago. Many people around the world forgot him at the time of his death.

To many entertainers in the world, having such Michael Jackson’s success is a dream. But it is not for an Indonesian singer named Urip Achmad Riyanto, or better known Mbah Surip (Grandpa Surip).

"I love you full....!" that's the words he used to say. That means "sincere."
Most of Indonesian people know this guy; even Indonesia President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono delivered his deep condolences to Mbah Surip and family when this eccentric singer passed away.
Mbah Surip was born in Mojokerto, East Java on May 6th, 1957. His surname was Urip Achmad Riyanto.

Mbah Surip’s career as singer and artist began in 1985, when he biked from Mojokerto to Jakarta. Since he arrived in Jakarta, Mbah Surip lived in the street, and met with some outstanding Indonesian artists.

Mbah Surip sang from bus to bus, at one street to another. He found a bright hope of success when he went to studio for recording his first studio album entitled “Ijo Royo-royo” in 1997. In 1998, he recorded two other studio albums “Indonesia I” and “Reformasi.” Five years later (2003), Mbah Surip went to studio again for “Tak Gendong.” A year later, he released another album entitled “Barang Baru.”

Five albums Mbah Surip has composed during his life. Unfortunately, none of his album hit high number of sales. Only in the last three months, his re-mastered single “Tak Gendong” gets booming massively in Indonesia since March 2009.

Almost all Indonesians can sing this song. Millions of Indonesians downloaded this song for mobile ringtone. And from the selling of “Tak Gendong” ringtone, Mbah Surip earned more than 10 billions rupiahs.

Mbah Surip, with such a very big earning, can be said as success and rich in Indonesia. No matter how, Mbah Surip was still as usual. He spent his life in the street, grappling with other Indonesian street artists in a simple life.

Amidst the high demand from Indonesian people to hear something more from him, Mbah Surip passed away when he was sleep. Mbah Surip left his fans too soon as he died in his peak career as a singer.

Well, Mbah Surip and Michael Jackson possessed similarities. Mbah Surip was a singer as well as Michael Jackson. Mbah Surip was an artist so was Michael Jackson. Both were also at their 50s when died.
However, Mbah Surip lived in the street, while Michael Jackson in a luxurious house. Mbah Surip ran his heyday only in three months while Michael Jackson in three decades. Mbah Surip passed away in his peak career, while Michael Jackson in his decline.

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