Michael Jackson would have turned 55 last week. Wherever he is, he must be pleased to see a statement he made to Ebony in his final interview come to fruition: “You want what you create to live,” he said. “Be it sculpting, painting, music, composition. That is why to escape death I attempt to bind my soul to my work.”

Four years after his unexpected death, Jackson’s words could hardly be more prescient. His artistic legacy is flourishing. The salacious details of a lengthy, ongoing wrongful-death trial have hardly made a scratch on public opinion (indeed, those who have followed it closely seem to find him more sympathetic and human than he ever was during the final decades of his life). Meanwhile, a new generation of Jackson fans — added to the considerable global fanbase that grew up with the pop star — have made him the most influential deceased artist of the 21st century.