That Voice

07/31/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Michael Jackson's tragic death put me in mind of a question that first struck me some years ago: How did Jackson keep that boyish treble voice as he matured? The boy who sang on the Jackson Five's early hits became the grown-up Michael Jackson without apparently going through the vocal changes brought on in boys by puberty. Did his voice ever truly "break"?

I remember dancing wildly to "I want you back," in 1969, the year Jackson turned 11. For him, puberty loomed. One can imagine that those close to him worried about what might happen when that voice dropped.

What lengths might they go to in order to avoid any interruption to the Jackson Five's musical and financial progress? Was Michael given some medication to retard or mute the normal processes of puberty, so that his voice would remain high, and retain its appeal? If so, this might help to give a context to some of his later "weirdness."

Quincy Jones on NBC Nightly News the other night called Jackson a victim. One can understand that what Jones probably meant was that Michael Jackson was a victim of his fame. Perhaps he meant more than that. But if Jackson was given drugs to stop his voice from dropping, then he was also the victim of a unique kind of child abuse.