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* TST note: All quoted paragraphs in this subsection are filtered by The Silenced Truth Team. The content of all cited interview highlights, articles, statements and tweets has been reviewed, at times, truncated, to benefit speech and reading flow. Negative, inaccurate and highly speculative interpretations about Michael Jackson in certain very few excerpts displayed below have been omitted. Alteration of original semantics, tonality, discourse intent (bar grammar error corrections in the sentence/phrase construction, as well as certain esthetic touches), have not been performed.


“Meeting him for the first time was a really big thing, because he was a legend for all of us in the band. But the first thing he did was come up to us and say, 'You know what, I think 'Beautiful Life' is one of the best songs I have ever heard and I listen to it all the time'. He looked down all shy and acted as though he was honored to meet us. I just thought, 'Erm, it's actually us who are meant to be honoured to meet him, not the other way round'. He was so humble and I will always remember that. It was a really big moment.”

[Ulf "Buddha" Ekberg, a founding member of the original Swedish pop group, Ace of Base, along with the other 3 members and siblings; source: www.digitalspy.co.uk]


"[I met him in 1982, when I was hired to be his make-up artist]. He walked in; he was very shy but was very gracious. Everything was 'please' and 'thank you’. […] [When I saw that he had with him a baby tiger for his Thriller album cover, I flashed my tiger-print underwear]. He went 'Ah!' He was just so embarrassed by that. But I think that's why he called me back the next job. He liked people who have a sense of humor. […] Just before we went on tour for "Dangerous," he had an operation [on his scalp], in order to help the scarring [caused by the pyrotechnics incident on stage in 1984]. But he didn't have enough time to heal. So, in order to keep going, he started using painkillers, because it is very painful when nerve endings are severed. […] It was devastating [when he was accused in 1993], because he had to go out every day in front of a world and the media that was [saying] he was pedophile. [So, painkillers] gave him the ability to get through [all the emotional trauma and physical pain]. […] [During the 2005 trial, Michael Bush and I would be in Neverland every morning to get him prepared for court, and] before I washed his hair, we knelt down on the ground and he put his arms around me and wept. We would pray for God to help us and for people to know the truth. […]”

[Karen Faye, make-up artist; source: http://abcnews.go.com]


“Well, like the rest of the world, I was shocked and greatly saddened [to learn about Michael’s passing]. I mean, it was a huge loss for everybody, and it's still kind of hard to believe. Michael Jackson helped me out tremendously with my career by giving me a leg up and giving me his permission when a lot of other artists weren't even returning my phone calls. To get that kind of thumbs-up from someone who was the biggest artist in the universe, that was a huge help, so I always credit Michael Jackson with tremendous support and help really, well, the whole time.”

[‘Weird Al’ Yankovic, American singer-songwriter, music producer, actor, comedian, satirist, and a parodist; source: http://blogs.houstonpress.com]


“Michael Jackson dying was, to me, a big time. I was fortunate enough to meet Michael four times. The first time we met him – we were actually going to do a record with Michael Jackson…this was in ’86 or ’87 […] And we get a call, ‘Yo, Michael wants to make a record with you’, I was like ‘Michael Jackson wants to make a record with us?’ So we go to L.A., Santa Monica, he had a studio on Santa Monica Boulevard, we were supposed to meet Michael at 6 o’clock. He didn’t show up until 8, so he was fashionably late. So we get to the studios – me, Jay, Ryan and Hurricane […]. So we’re in Michael Jackson’s studio, and we sit there and chilling, waiting for Michael Jackson, he said he wants (sic) to make a record with us. […] It was cool. So, Michael comes in, he was with his assistant and, I guess, a cook, ‘cause he was gonna cook us dinner. So, he comes in, so we stand in there and…Michael was cool! Michael was like – his work ethic was so..it was phenomenal, because he knew what he wanted to do, he was like, ‘Run DMC, I love you, guys, your guys’ show was the best show that I’ve ever seen, your delivery is ridiculous […]”. So, he knew what he wanted to do and that was crazy… And, like, we was (sic) talking to him, and he did most of the talking and we were listening. And then he goes, ‘Oh, my God…’, this is what he did, he said, ‘Oh, my God…Mary, look at their chains, they’re beautiful!...Could I see it?’, he goes to Jay, ‘Can I see?’, and Jay is like, ‘Sure, Michael’, so Jay takes the chain off, and Michael had Bubbles, so he gets Bubbles to the assistant, and Jay gives Michael the chain and Michael put his chain on him, he goes, ‘Yo, guys, how do I look?’, and we was (sic) like, ‘Yeah, Michael, yeah, you know you’re rockin’ or whatever […] So, everything went cool. But then, after that, it wasn’t tension in the room, but then, you know, we were really nervous to move, so they cooked the food, we had sword fish, broccoli, asparagus and brown rice. […] So [Jay] just looks at Michael and says, ‘Yo, Michael, the food is real (sic) good, isn’t it?’, and Michael, he’s ‘Mmm – hmm’. So, that’s what Michael did. So, people – I think I did a interview with Spin magazine and they asked me what Michael Jackson was like, and I just described it like this: Michael Jackson, I’ll start with him being a great performer, singer, you know, like, there’ll never be another Michael Jackson, first of all, let’s stop [the] ‘Oh, the next Michael Jackson…’, don’t even write that, I don’t care who it is, there’ll never be another Michael, there’s no…that will never happen again. You know? He was Peter Pan. So…he was Peter Pan. I remember a song when I was a little boy…two songs was (sic) dear to my heart. It was “Ben”, when Michael Jackson sang, “Ben, you’re always running…”, that’s sincerity and innocence, that’s Michael Jackson. But also, I had this record, I don’t know where my mother got it from, but it went like this: “I’m a little boy that never grew up, [sings] / My name is Peter Pan / I’m captain of the little boy ship / From Never Neverland. / Peter Pan, Peter Pan / Are you Peter…”, so, when Michael died, the first thing I said was…’It’s a publicity stunt, ‘cause Peter Pan doesn’t die’. So, for me, it was unbelievable, oh, my God, out of all the people that could die…And I know the world thinks like this, ‘So, Michael Jackson died?’; to me, it was…how does - how does your eternal…you know, eternal fairytale story book, your, your blanket, your security blanket icon, like Bugs Bunny doesn’t die. For me, it was unbelievable that… [because] Michael Jackson doesn’t die.”

[Darryl "D.M.C." Matthews McDaniels, American musician, one of the founding members of former hip-hop group, Run DMC; sources: www.hiphopstan.com/www.youtube.com]


“For me, Michael was [a legend, an icon, the magical one, the king, the voice, the dance, the humanitarian, the man in the mirror] and moreover, an incredible human being. I was blessed to meet him, know him and visit Neverland when Michael still considered it his home.

I worked with Heal The World for several years in the '90s and joined Michael in different humanitarian projects to help underprivileged children in war torn countries in the past years.

Other than being a loyal MJ fan for 25 years, I found ways to connect to Michael through mutual interests and respect for humanity. There was nothing more rewarding to Michael than being able to help a less fortunate or ill child, anywhere in the world.

I wrote a poem about my reflection of Neverland and gave it to Michael some years ago. Although incomplete, he expressed to me how much he loved it and how he really lived his creation through my description.

This is a short glimpse of the magical place that Michael created and loved:

‘Neverland’

Slowly driving through the welcoming oak gates of Neverland valley. You initially smile, you then open your eyes, and at that moment shed a tear of delight. Magically, blood rushes to your head through all the veins in your body, like love through your heart. This is the entrance of Neverland. The first thing you see are two beautifully lit up archangels, hung in front of the house, blustering their trumpets with eminence, greeting you home.

The sound of free flowing water, droplets of fountains and the sweet whistles of birds all encapsulate the air with joy, as classical music and verses of Michael's 'Childhood' projects through the rocks creating a melody through the trees. Instruments of nature, all reflections of the man who lives here.

In the distance set on an island are dozens of elegantly placed pink flamingos flaunting eloquence, illuminating the path to your childhood. Lakes, fountains, water and dandelions all at peace with one another.

The sun, the glowing star shines over the surrounding mountains into the valley, creating sparkles and emulating images in the water, reminiscing on the life beyond.

Flowers of purple, blue, yellow, mauve and lavender all enrich the gardens of Neverland, releasing odours of freedom and peace. The different colours and shapes define nature’s beauty.

A red steam train transports you throughout the journey of your youth. First stop the train house on Katherine Street. The potent aroma of candy and sweets dominates all senses, taking you back to your first sweet delight. A beautiful retreat for all your childhood memories, with Santa’s Christmas gift list and a spiral staircase leading to a warm and cosy game room. Holograms are designed on the walls and an honorary plaque for a beloved mother titles the house and sets the sensation of love.

Next stop, the stunning theme park. Here your jaw drops open and your soul emerges. The child exists in us all. Alice in Wonderland’s Cheshire cat awaits your arrival as all the rides are activated and alight. The songs of Disney fill your heart and lift up your spirit, commemorating visions of lost youth. Bumper cars, zipper, Ferris wheel, swings, the maiden of the sea all operate with Michael’s music energising (sic) the tranquillity.

To be continued...

I told Michael that I would only complete the poem when I revisited Neverland.

Sadly, that would never happen. Michael, you will indeed live forever in my heart.

I will miss you immensely. God Bless and protect your sweet, innocent children.

You finally can rest in peace eternally, look after us all.”

[Taymoor Marmarchi, social worker, former Neverland worker; source: www.reflectionsonthedance.com]


“[…] One year on my way to Cannes, I had to travel from LAX to Berlin and then make a connecting flight to Cannes. In first class, there were five rows with two seats on each side of the plane. I was sitting in the aisle seat in row three on the left. In front of me was a single gentleman. The front two seats were occupied, but they were already seated when I got comfortable for the 12-hour flight.

The man in front of me asked for a cocktail prior to take-off. Once airborne, he was the recipient of as steady stream of drinks. About a half-hour into our flight, the man on the aisle in the front seat stood and moved to the center of the cabin. His seatmate got up and stood behind him.

Another man who was in the front seat of the aisle on the right side of the plane got up and joined the two standing in the cabin and got behind the second man. In almost lock step, they walked to the toilet. The cabin lights for dim for those who wanted to sleep on the long flight. As they walked by me, it was clear that the center man in this abbreviated parade was Michael Jackson.

The flight progressed, but the man in front of me never stopped with requesting more booze. Eventually, the steward cut him off. I could only guess the perfect storm that was brewing. Frequently raising his voice in the quiet cabin, it was easy to hear his entitlement demands after paying so much for a first class ticket and that they had no right to stop serving him. The steward was firm.

The boozy man kept ringing the call-button, and the steward reluctantly would come to his seat, only to be greeted by insults for refusing his right to service. After a third call-button ring, the boozy man apparently was waiting in wait for the steward. The steward repeated what he had told the man about no more service. The boozy man leapt like a gazelle onto the steward and they both crashed to the floor. They wrestled. You could hear another steward frantically summoning the pilot who quickly came down to see what the commotion was all about.

With no fanfare, no lights, no audience, a concerned Michael Jackson got up and separated the two sparring men. As soon as they realized that the King of Pop was acting as peacemaker, they sheepishly stopped like school kids busted by the principal or even their own mom. The captain (or co-captain) arrived on the scene to see that peace had been restored with no bloodshed.

Michael asked his bodyguard friend to sit in the boozy’s man set and invited the inebriated man to sit with him. I couldn’t hear a word that was spoken by Michael, nor his new seatmate, but they were talking away for 20 minutes. Michael signaled to his bodyguard to help the boozy man back to his seat. Within minutes, he had passed out and slept for the duration of the flight. Michael and his boyguard were both back together to complete the remaining hours in relative silence.

It was a rare glimpse into Michael Jackson. Who knew he would be a peacemaker at 30,000 feet on what could have erupted into an ugly confrontation?”

[Dan Barret, founder and publisher of LA Radio; source: www.innermichael.com]


“[…] To be honest, it was only later that I even realized that Michael had made it a habit of visiting burned children in paediatric hospitals. […] Michael was not the sort of person to even mention this or blow his own trumpet.

In truth, when Michael came to me, I was not really a fan of his and had wavered more towards Prince in my earlier years. We get a lot of celebrities in Dublin (as big as Michael) and pass no remarks on who walks through the door. […] It was immediately apparent quickly […] that we shared a common interest in humanitarianism and Africa. Grace, his [former] nanny, was African born and this really helped gel the relationship. Over a period of listening to him alone, I realized that here was an innocent man, misunderstood by the world, who really cared he could lose his children. I felt he was isolated and afraid of certain people, whom he discussed. He would often phone me up when I was overseas in the UK and the Middle East and discuss things with me. I once had to leave a lecture I was giving to doctors in the Uk to take his call. He phoned me in Abu Dhabi in front of a great delegation of doctors just to bring home a menu from the Emirates Palace. It was funny seen stealing a menu in front of the Greek Minister of Health, but Michael was that sort of person and you wanted to help him in small things like that.

[…] There was so much goodness there [in Michael] that overcame everything else. I know feel, after what I personally know and was told, that he is being manipulated and set up again and this should not happen. Probably I have said enough for this time.”

[Dr. Patrick Treacy; source: www.mj-777.com]


“[…] Nelson Mandela stood against the injustice of apartheid, Mother Theresa […] against the injustice of poverty, John Lennon against the injustice of war, but Michael Jackson went further. His body of artistic work carried a spiritual message for these and all of the other injustices of the human race…those of racism, inequality, disease, hunger and corruption. His song, ‘Man In The Mirror’, that the path to Nirvana starts within ourselves through meditation and self-reflection.

“I’m starting with the man in the mirror, I’m asking him to change his ways; no message could have been any clearer; if you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and make a change.”

If Nirvana can be loosely described as an idealized state free of worries, pain and mental anguish, we all know that Michael never achieved this state, seemingly forever trapped in a state of ‘bodhisattva’ [an enlightened existence], with the temporal green grasses and sundials of Neverlands becoming its earthly substitute. His efforts at generating bodhicitta, however, are unfortunately rarely mentioned anymore. Few people remember that he donated all of the money from the song we just mentioned above to charity.

Following the 1984 Victory Tour, he donated his $ 5 share from the tour’s profits to charity. In 1985, he co-wrote the single ‘We Are The World’ with Lionel Richie and donated all of the proceeds to help the needy in Africa. Almost 20 million copies of ‘We Are The World’ were sold, making it one of the best selling singles of all time. The project raised millions for famine relief.

In fact, the first time I met Michael, his opening words to me were, ‘Thank you for all you are doing for the people of Africa”. He then proceeded to take out an old magazine from his pocket, which had an article I had written back in 1992, called ‘The Silence of the Savannah’. The article detailed my experiences of coming across empty villages or route through Africa to Capetown and it predicted to eventual rise of HIV in sub-Saharian Africa. It began…

“Evenings in Kenya are enchanting. It is then that the sun takes on a light of deep red before setting, and bare-footed women clothed in loose kangas stir up a light murram dust, as they meet us on their way homeward for the night. As dusk falls, the swollen rim of the sinking sun runs rivulets of scarlet colour into the skyline and silhouettes the acacia trees on the hillsides around us. This is the unchanging magic in the landscape of Africa, and it is our signal we had travelled enough for the day. We turn into the bush to find some shade and set up camp. In the distance, we can hear some voices from a nearby ‘manyatta’, and the sound of the barking dogs disturbs the stillness of the dusk……

…later, we pass many empty villages, abandoned stores and vacant huts that are a testament to the destructive power of the plague whose path we follow. There is an eeriness about these deserted hamlets, and in the restless winds that stir the blue savannah grasses I listen expectantly to hear the noise of barking dogs, or the distant sounds of children playing…..but no sound comes!”

[…] ‘You know, I cried when I read that’, he continued. ‘We must do something together for the people of Africa.’

And his humanitarianism did not stop on the African continent. In 1984, Michael donated his out-of-court $ 1.5 million settlement to the Brotman Medical Centre in Culver City, California. This facility was later renamed the ‘Michael Jackson Burn Center’ in honor of his donation. Using this money, the facility was able to get the best available technology for treating burn victims, especially children. In 1993, he gave all the profits from 67 concerts over eighteen months on the Dangerous World Tour to the Heal The World Foundation. In 1999, he organized a series of benefit concerts with Mariah Carey, Slash, Andrea Bocelli and Luciano Pavarotti in Germany and Korea. He donated the total proceeds to the “Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund”, the Red Cross and UNESCO. After 9/11, he helped organize the ‘United We Stand: What More Can I Give’ benefit concert at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. He also was given a special award from President Ronald Reagan for his support of American drug and alcohol charities.

His last album, ‘Invincible’, has a song called ‘Cry’. It is a song about the collective humanity of the earth. It carries a mission to change the world and create a better version of the human. It is a cry from another world.

“You can change the world,

(I can’t do it by myself)

You can touch the sky,

(Gonna take somebody’s help)

You’re the chosen one,

(I’m gonna need some kind of sign)

[If we] all cry at the same time tonight.”

That is how I will remember Michael Jackson on [the] anniversary [of his passing], and maybe in the evening sun, as the restless winds stir the blue savannah grasses of far-away Africa; …this is the way his ancestors might also!.”

[Dr. Patrick Treacy; source: www.mj-777.com]


“Over a period of time, I got to know Michael and I must say I found him to be an absolutely wonderful and honest person. I knew him at the level of sort of staying in his house to an extent as well, I…[…] not in Neverland, this is when he was in Ireland, […] and I suppose the first thing is that the case against him regarding the kids was…I would have to have to listen to his side of the story, I find it very very hard to believe. During that period and also, at the same time, the Murmary children were petrol-bombed and the gang land that was going on in Limerick… He wanted to come to the hospital and see the children and he wanted me to go in, which I did, and sort of gave him an update…He was very very genuinely interested in children from a loving point of view, and as on [his] kids, he’d get really well with them, they really loved him as well and, you know, sort of the way they responded to him was moreso that I’ve seen in any sort of, you know, father-daughter or son relationship. […]

Often, sort of, you know, when we chatted, we chatted about things like humanitarianism, he had a great love of Africa, for HIV there was a major contributory on the side of many many charities…And one day, […] he turned around and he says, ‘I’ve somebody to talk to you on the telephone’ and I turn around, he says, ‘It’s Mandeba!’, he says, ‘Mandeba!...Grandfather...’, you know, I turn around and it was Nelson Mandela, the three of us had a chat […]

[…] He certainly became very paranoid of the media after that period [of trial], and I know he had said things to me, like, ‘Patrick, one thing I don’t want is to be another peniless black man when I die, you know, being ripped off by white, you know, sort of managers’, […] and he always had this fear that…I mean…and he mentioned, you know, sort of, many of his friends, sort of we would know who would have died, you know, sort of, in the previous 20 to 30 years, that would have been black musical artists that sort of died penniless, so he certainly had a fear of that. Michael was very humorous, very comical [though], very intelligent and, you know, he’d been looking through a book, he’d be looking at, maybe a bird and a book and he would turn around and say, ‘Oh, that’s Labidocromis genero’ or something, you know? He had a deep interest in things medical, as well…I must say, one or more medical texts were sort of missing afterwards… [laughs]

[…] I think the press can give a very very hard time and, unfortunately, a very very…maybe hard time for the wrong reasons. When we’re looking at the incidents in Berlin [in 2002] where he had his child who was Blanket, at the time after Blanket was born, and, I mean, it wasn’t so much of an incident, so much that it was really around the world within two hours, […] but, probably, if Arnold Schwarzeneger had done it, you know, the response would be, ‘Oh, what a big, strong man with a child!’, it was only because everybody had this persona of Michael they thought that he was gonna, you know, sort of drop his kid over the balcony or something. Why would he do that? You know?...

[…] Certainly, I think he was misinterpreted by the media, I don’t think that he was guilty of any of the things [he was accused of] in California, […] when I listened to his side of the story – and he had no reason to tell me, but he often…you know, we sat […] sort of chatting at one stage…I would think, of all his actions, I would have thought that he was a loving person that, certainly, the world didn’t get to know well enough during his brief sort of period here […].”

[Dr. Patrick Treacy – speaking on Breakfast TV; source: www.youtube.com]

 

“To all of UK, to all of Europe, to all the people around the world…I’m a living witness of a great man, a man that is so great, that his powers have impact a lot of people to do some crazy things, but to do great things. And he has let me to be and settle for nothing less than great, and I want you all to do the same: settle for nothing else than great. He has a power upon everyone, but don’t let that power destroy your dreams, your goals, your love for him. We want you all to be really really careful!...Do not do anything crazy, because what he would want us to do is celebrate him. Of course we can cry and we’re gonna cry – I’ve cried…If you look at CNN, you look at all these channels that I’ve been on…I can’t stop…I can’t wake up without a tear, just thinking that my best friend, my big brother, my mentor is not here with us. But just remember: his spirit is here!...His spirit is there, and every time you hear his song, he’s right next to you. […] He is a special spirit that everyone…everyone has come to attention with. Any time something happened with Michael, […] everybody just goes ‘Wow!...’ And they stand to attention, but Michael…that was the spirit that God sent down for us to have some attention to, so we gotta celebrate him! We gotta celebrate on and we gotta move on with our lives, with him in our spirit. I wanna thank you all, I wanna say God bless you all and I wanna say stop the killing of yourselves, do not distort yourself and let it distort you, because he’s in a better place than us!...I want you all to know he’s in a better place than us, and watch, when you get there, we will meet the greatest. I love you. One love.”

[Teddy Riley – speaking with Raffles van Exel and addressing Michael Jackson’s fans, upon news at the time that 7 of them committed suicide; source: www.youtube.com]


“It is a time when all our hearts are heavy and there’s great pain, a great loss…We’ll celebrate Michael’s life and we’ll celebrate his life […] Future is not funeral!...Future is not funeral…To make Michael happy or maintain his sense of dignity, his sense of decency… to make Michael happy, sing ‘We Are The World’…Don’t self-destruct, don’t give up or surrender!...We fall down sometime (sic), [but] we get back up again…and again and again. Because it’s the right thing to do and nothing is too hard for God, so, in Michael’s name, let’s live together!...As brothers and sisters, and not the party’s fools. Through all of this, keep your hope alive.”

[Jesse Louis Jackson, American civil rights activist and Baptist minister - speaking with Raffles van Exel and addressing Michael Jackson’s fans, pertaining to suicides among them; source: www.youtube.com]


“[Working with Michael] was the most incredible experience of my life…I got to learn everything about the greatest, and the greatest entertainer of all times, the greatest person, humanitarian of all times…So, he gave me my college degree. […] One thing [that stood out for me about him]…’cause he never calls me Teddy…he calls me Theodore. So, he calls me Theodore, and, sometimes, I don’t know, it could be my name…so, he’ll say it once or three times, or sometimes he’s scream it. Another thing is…we [The Blackstreet] were actually in the studio, working on ‘Dog Me Out’ remix, and I was in the other room working on Michael Jackson tracks…And I did about maybe 60 or 70 tracks, and when I went to go play those tracks for Michael, we only got to five tracks and he stopped; and that fifth track was “Remember The Time”. And he stopped me, he said, ‘We’re not playing no more music, no more sequences, no nothing, you and I are going back to the computers until we finish writing this song.’ And I called my guy, Bernabel, down and we finished writing the song, and the rest is history, we went back in and we did “Jam and all of those great songs and we had so much fun together. He will be missed…he was my big brother, my mentor…and he’s everything to all of us, I’m sure.”

[Teddy Riley – on the red carpet at 2009 BET Awards; sources: www.maximotv.com, www.youtube.com]


“[My most memorable Michael experience was when] I actually talked to him on the phone and it and it was for…it was a song about the hurricane Katrina, and he wanted me to be a part of it, and it was many other artists, and he called me and I kind of tried to play my music kind of like loud to keep myself relaxed before he called, ‘cause I knew he was calling, and I missed the first phonecall, and then his assistant left a voicemail, I heard the voicemail and I was like, ‘Okay, I am not going to have my music loud before he calls again’. And when he got on the phone, I didn’t know what to say, I was like ‘Hey’, he was like ‘Hey, how are you?’, he was like, you know, ‘Thank you for being a part of the song’, and I was like, ‘You’re welcome’, he was like, ‘So what’s the weather like?’, I didn’t know like, sounds like it’s hot…I don’t..I couldn’t even respond properly, but that is a moment that I do have and I’m very very proud of it, because I was looking forward to meeting him and I didn’t get the chance, so that’s soething that I can hold on to. [breaks down and pauses]. You see, let me say this…what it is for me is…I didn’t grow up in music. And I realized by the time I was 13 that I can do something in music, and for me he really is the reason why, ‘cause I didn’t have any training, no nothing, so, people like him are…he was really the reason why for me and so it means a lot to me, you know, and that’s where I get my inspiration from, so I just got..I just..it’s crazy, ‘cause it’s like I don’t know him, but…he means that much!...You know, so I’m just taken by that, so, sorry…[breaks down again]. [When I was asked to sing Michael’s songs on BET], oh, my gosh…I was honored, you know, I was really excited about it…you know, ‘cause I wasn’t performing or doing anything for BET, and when I ran into Steven and he offered or asked me to be a part of it, I was like, ‘Of course, I would love to. Michael means so much to me’, so, of course I would be, I couldn’t miss it. […] Oh, and what last thing, sorry…I’m sorry…and I have to say it, this is a really really…emotional moment in time not only because Michael [passed], but I just lost my grandmother to cancer almost two weeks ago, so, she was young as well, so, moments like this really make you realize how much you have to, like, live life to your fullest and kinda let go a little bit, and I was in such a crazy space right now, so you really have to enjoy it, and I just want to encourage everybody to do that, like live life to the fullest, I’m young, so I have a whole lot more ahead of me, but I am really deciding to enjoy it, you know, no matter how rough the time is, no matter how hard it feels, I’m like…just live life, like, as you never know, so…I just wanna say that”.

[Ciara, American recording artist, dancer, actress, and fashion model - on the red carpet at 2009 BET Awards special tribute to Michael Jackson; sources: www.maximotv.com, www.youtube.com]


“Just in general, in my opinion, Michael Jackson made black culture vogue, he made it…it…he made it…he dispelled the myth that black men are dangerous to the world, which led us to our first black President; I think he planted those seeds long before he even knew what he was doing. That’s how powerful he is, ‘cause he will live on. […] I just think his music will continue to live on, I mean, I feel like he’s the biggest star we’ve ever seen in the human race, and, you know, what touched me was…you know, I have a 7-year old god-daughter, she cried when she found out Michael Jackson passed away…I mean, how many other major stars you know [that] our children’s children will be taking about him forever? You know, God forbid this ever happens, but, you know, if the human race ever ceases to exist, whatever culture, or hue, or race comes along after, we’ll dig something up and they will find something of Michael Jackson, a glove, a tape, the Thriller DVD, something! [laughs] He’ll live forever, so it’s not, you know, I’m not mourning his death, you know…Death is a celebration, he’s at peace!...He did what he was supposed to do on his journey.”

[Taraji P. Henson, American actress, singer - on the red carpet at 2009 BET Awards special tribute to Michael Jackson; sources: www.maximotv.com, www.youtube.com]


“[In order to help other people the way Michael did,] it never hurts some practice…practice…practice. It never hurts some practice. The more practice, the better you become, it becomes so repetitious, that you wake up doing it in your sleep. And that’s what Michael Jackson did. He had practiced, until it just became natural, and that’s what most artists have to do if you wanna be great. […] I really think that there’s so much of a similarity here [between the passing of my two sons and Michael’s passing], because Gerald…Gerald gave the business all of him…like Michael Jackson gave the business all of him. He gave all of him till he could give no more, and then the business turned on him, because the business no longer…they, they needed sensationalism, they needed to make up stuff, to make it credible. Michael Jackson is a victim of that, because he gave show-business all of him. Gerald Levert is a victim of that, because he gave show-business all of him. And they, in turn, suffered, because show-business is not a really nice place. Because you have a lot of bad people and bad things can happen to you if you’re not careful. And the thing that you have to do in order to be careful is keep God in your life first, and then everything in your life falls in place.”

[Eddie Levert, American singer, lead vocalist of the vocal group, The O'Jays - on the red carpet at 2009 BET Awards special tribute to Michael Jackson; sources: www.maximotv.com, www.youtube.com]


“You know, sometimes, whatever is going on on the inside [of a person] is what shows on the outside, so where there was a lot of pain, I felt the pain that hopefully, all of those things that was (sic) going on in the inside didn’t cause him to have to be stressed out and have to bear things that he wasn’t prepared to do. There is a reason why, of all of those kids, he was the lead singer, he was the most talented, and it’s just sad that some of us, you know, put so much pressure on him, that now, when we hear his songs on the radio coming over here to the venue, we realize, like, we’re not gonna hear another record by Mike, but the catalogue is just so long that even when we put it on, it’s gonna feel like Thanksgiving and Christmas, ‘cause every Michael Jackson record, no matter where you’re from in the world, no matter what color you are, no matter what age you are, it’s the one thing that brings everybody together. […] Michael Jackson is the only artist on the planet whose music goes as far over the waters as any artist in the world, and it’s sad that he’s gone. And I hope we’ll just keep tributing him for the rest of our lives, because he deserves that, and he has put on so much hard work. […]

“[…] We remember, as a matter of fact, back in 1984, we got the opportunity to visit Mike, you know, at the house in Hayvenhurst, [in Encino, California] and he just ran us around the place, you know, showed us the llama, I think Bubbles was around as a matter of fact; they took us in this one room that really had a montage of pictures all over the wall, and then it had mirror on the other side where, you know, Michael rehearsed and things like that, we got a chance to do the cross-step with him, as matter of fact, in that room, so…I mean, [he was] a legendary individual, he talked about being immortal, and I think his music is gonna allow him to do that.”

[Michael Bivins and Ronnie DeVoe, American singers of R&B group, Bell Biv DeVoe - on the red carpet at 2009 BET Awards special tribute to Michael Jackson; sources: www.maximotv.com, www.youtube.com]


“At this sad time of Michael's one year anniversary of his passing, I'd like to share this beautiful story, as it's still remains widely unknown to many.

A Taiwanese fan Mrs Ma Qi Zhen not only met Michael along with her family, but also became a close friends of Michael for many years. Mrs Ma had always kept a low profile of their 17 year family friendship, until Michael's sudden passing last June. She has spoken out for the first time in the media last Summer, paying tribute to how incredible kind, loving and approachable the King of Pop was. She has shared her memories of an extraordinary friend, deeply saddened by his passing and frustrated by how mis-understood Michael was.


The friendship began through a simple fax. Like thousand of others, Mrs Ma simply wanted to see Michael perform in a concert. It was Michael's first time in Taiwan on the Dangerous Tour, in September 1993, the first ever mega star to visit Taiwan at the time. However, Mrs Ma and her husband had trouble getting tickets for their nine month old twin daughters, as ticket were denied for safety reasons. Mrs Ma wouldn't settle for this so decided to fax to the hotel that Michael was staying in Taipei. Addressed to Michael Jackson and asking him directly to allow her twins to go to the concert, she didn't expect Michael to even see it. To their surprise, Michael had read the fax and responded! As soon as he saw twins's photo on the fax, he immediately sent down his secretary with VIP passes for the family to be able to come to the concert and meet him personally backstage before the concert began.


Never in a million years had they thought a fax would lead to the meeting of Michael Jackson. However, thing didn't go according to plan, when it was time to meet Michael, they were stuck in traffic, full of thousand of fans going to the concert. By the time they arrived, the concert had started.


Fortunately the Ma family was able to meet Michael at his hotels presidential suite after the concert. Although he was already changed into his pyjamas ready for bed. Unlike his super star image, he was very kind and approachable. Ma recalled that he was so fascinated by the twins and wanted to know everything about bringing up babies. The twins were crawling around in his room, at one point one of the twins grabbed his CD player and started to bite it. Michael immediately went to pick her up and softly said, 'don't bite, it'll hurt.' Ma recalled that although at the time he was not yet a parent himself, he was very protective of children.


When they said goodbye, Michael personally walked them to the lift and promised to invite them to come and visit him when he returned to America. Ma family never took his words seriously, but Michael meant it! During their 17 years friendship the family were invited 6 times to be guests at his Neverland home, they even travelled to places in other parts of world with him, even attending his wedding to Debbie Rowe in Australia. Every time they said goodbye, he would cuddle them with words, 'always love,' and 'promise that you will love me forever.' He simply wanted to be loved.


Michael adored the twins Prety and Morly, when he returned to Taiwan for the History tour in 1996, he invited them onstage for the 'Heal the world' song. He even invited the family to follow the History Tour with him. The twins also featured in 'Heal the world' along with Michael in Durban, South Africa, which was said to be his last ever concert.


Michael had confided things about himself, like his iconic sequin glove, was first used to hide his skin problem vitiligo that first appeared on his hand. The glove become more iconic than his hat, in truth the hat was his favourite! He even referred to himself as Chinese. As according to Michael his mother Katherine was of a quarter Chinese descent. Ma never asked Katherine about it, but Michael often expressed his strong desire to perform in China.


According to the the Taiwanese concert organiser Mr. Yu, during both his Dangerous and History tours in Taiwan in the 90's, Michael asked him to help him to perform in China. Yu did his best, but at the time China was a very different country, not yet ready to open up to Western pop culture. It did not happen in time for Michael.


Ma had often seen a very sincere and caring side to Michael. During the History Tour in Taiwan, when in a car being pursued by fans on their scooters, Michael was so concerned about their safety he asked the driver to slow down, and asked her to speak to fans in Chinese. As soon as she wound down the window the fans went crazy when they saw Michael! Another fun memory was when Michael took them and other children to visit a haunted house in Universal Studios one Halloween. As soon as all the 'ghosts' realised it was Michael Jackson, they were shocked and stopped pretending to be ghosts. This frightened the children and some started to cry, Michael stood between them, blocking all the 'ghosts' away from the children, ' Stand back!' He told the 'ghosts'!


Ma remembers Michael, as pure and innocent, like a big kid, he loved surprises, magic tricks, he was very compassionate, very trusting and very caring. With Ma's observation of being a mother over the years seeing Michael's interaction with children that he sincerely loved and cared for children with all his heart, and not what some elements of the press have portrayed.


Sadly Michael's gone, by sharing her story it lets the world know the true nature of Michael Jackson, and at the same time they just feel so fortunate for all the precious memories that Michael has left them. The world had sadly lost a greatest music icon and a beautiful soul.


The video below was sent by Michael to the Ma family after the History tour. It features the twins with Michael singing 'Heal the World' in Ma's home city Kaohsiung, Southern Taiwan. Towards the end of the song, Michael made a special effort to say, 'I love you' in Mandarin to the audience. This he had asked the twins to teach him before the performance. His interactions with the twins was just so sweet.


Rest in peace, Michael, we'll miss you.”

“For 17 years, Ma and her family had never spoken of their family friendship with the King of Pop, it wasn't because of a confidential agreement with Michael, but was to do with mutual trust between friends. Now she has chosen to share her story about their friendship to let everyone know the real Michael in a more personal way.

The first time that the Ma family visited Michael's home, the Neverland Ranch, Ma recalled that it was a much bigger place than she had imagined and very well protected by security. A confidential agreement had to be signed before entering and no cameras were allowed. The facilities in the ranch and conversations between Michael and his family had to be kept confidential.


It would be any fans dream to visit the Neverland Ranch, the Ma family were invited six times. Each time they visited they stayed for a few days and even spent Christmas with the King of Pop! The Ma family also became good friends with Michael's family and relatives.


We all know Michael loved entertaining children with magic, he was kind and trusting which was often betrayed by so called friends. As well as his fun side he had a more serious side, he was very much concerned with international affairs and often willing to offer his help. Just before his passing, two Korean American journalists were arrested in North Korea accused of espionage. When he heard about this, Michael called a senior media personnel for the phone number of the North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, he hoped to plead with him for the release of the two journalists. I don't know if he ever got the number or spoke to Kim Jong Il but his intentions were good.


Later Ma learnt that Michael thought Kim Jong Il maybe a fan, as he often wore military uniforms, which Michael also loved. This was an example of just how innocent and naive Michael was.”

“Michael loved magic he knew lots of magic tricks and used them to entertain children, even adults were amazed by his tricks. He also loved playing a disappearing game using a secret passage in Neverland Ranch to make himself disappear in an instant in front of everyone, and reappeared somewhere else.


Ma remembered once Michael was sitting among children watching the MV 'ghost'. When the movie finished the light came on, 'Where's Michael?' the children puzzled, even the adults sitting in the back had no ideas how this had happened. Michael had simply disappeared from his seat! While everyone was trying to figure out why, Michael had already collapsed with laughters by the door.


But one thing that Ma particularly remembers was his dedication to sick children. Michael's specially designed cinema enabled sick children to enjoy movies like everybody else. Beds were provided in many rooms with medical facilities and even the presence of medical staff.


One particular example of Michael's childlike quality was the 'Michael Jackson Money Bank'. Michael was planning another world tour in the year 2000, and the theme of the tour was to save the children and heal the world. Ma had an idea to use Michael's portrait to help raise money for disadvantaged children all over the world. This was to be launched in Michael's Millennium world tour, to encourage the fans to help. During the development stage meeting, Michael thought of a even better idea that the Michael Jackson money bank 'Talks!' Then right at there and then, Michael just grabbed the voice recorder and and quickly left the room, 3 minutes later he rushed back all excited, " I've done the recording!'


Ma realised that Michael had just rushed into his bathroom to record his own voice, the message said 'I love you very much! Let us all heal the world.' So the message on the MJ money bank was in fact recorded in his bathroom!


But in the end, Michael wasn't able to fulfil his wish of a Millennium world tour, so after the first batch of 700 MJ money banks was produced, the production had to be cancelled. The original mould was also since destroyed, there are over 600 MJ money banks owned by fans round the world. The History tour turned out to be his last ever world tour. To remember and honour Michael, Ma had donated 17 MJ money banks in his name for auction to raise money for disadvantaged children in Taiwan.


Below video featured Mrs Ma and her twin daughters' TV appearance in Taiwan, sharing their memories of Michael, photos and the MJ money bank. With Mandarin audio.”

[Translated & compiled by Pei Ling; source: http://mjmemoriestaiwan.blogspot.com]


“Recently at an “After Court Gathering” the first of it’s type to be held for the fans after the most recent, June 14th, Conrad Murray hearing in Los Angeles, California; Majestik, a close Jackson family friend was coaxed into sharing a very touching story as only Majestik can share it.

I will try here to recount his story as he told it:

[…]

One day in the spring, back around the Thriller days, Majestik and fledgling super star but not yet King of Pop, Michael were at the compound at Hayvenhurst, the Jackson home, just hanging out together. They were headed down the driveway to the studio at the back of the property. They were bantering back and forth in conversation while walking along. Majestik was talking to Michael when he realized Michael was no longer next to him but was leaning down looking at the ground and crying.

He said “Michael, What are you doing?” Michael responded with tears streaming down his face, “Look it’s a baby bird and its dead!” Majestik not being of the same soft heart for nature as MJ and with his mind on where he was heading said “Michael, it is just a bird. There’s nothin’ you can do about it now. Man, its dead. Come on. We got to go. Let’s go.” Michael stood up and looked at him and in his soft voice and from his huge heart pleaded, “Majestik, this was a living creature with a heart and a soul just like us. We have to do something!”

Majestik emphatically insisted, “What are you gonna do, Michael? It’s already dead. There’s nothing you can do now.” As he is trying to convince Michael to just keep walking he realizes Michael is now down on the ground on his knees, digging a hole with his bare hands to bury the bird, while saying “We have to bury it. We have to bury this bird. We can’t just leave it here and we HAVE to say a prayer for this bird.”

He then finishes digging the hole, places the bird in the hole and covers it with dirt, as he finishes burying the bird he pats the ground gently with his hand, then stands and insists that Majestik stand right there with him over the new grave of the fallen bird while together they say a prayer. Michael leads the two of them in a prayer and asks God to bless the little baby bird and take it to heaven.

They are done praying and Majestik again tries to spur Michael on saying, “Ok, come on now. Come on. We got work to do. Let’s go! We’re done. Let’s go now!” But Michael is riveted and ignoring his pleas, instead looks up realizing the baby bird had fallen to its death out of a nearby tree. Suddenly he ascends up into the tree. Climbing the tree to the spot of the bird’s nest, where he then carefully fixes the nest so no more birdie babies will fall out and die.

His mission for God that spring day complete, he then climbs down. Brushes himself off and continues on with Majestik to the studio to work.

That was our Angel Michael Jackson!”

[Betty Byrnes, fan of Michael Jackson; source: http://mjbliss.blogspot.com]


“He calls me in this very sweet voice and says, ‘I don’t really like dogs, I like monkeys. Could you paint me a monkey?’” He wasn’t demanding. He was so sweet and nice asking about it. He was absolutely wonderful. It was very exciting hearing your own name said by one of these famous voices. […] [At his Neverland Ranch] I asked him about composing music and he took me to this tree where he would write a lot of his songs. I rode around on the train and I loved all the children. The child in me could totally accept that. I have twin sons so I love to be around little kids, too. […] He looked really good [too]. […] He had his nose done, but it was a marvelous-looking nose. […] All of these bad things were going on around him. […] People are cruel now. If he had gone on and done those shows [in London], and he didn’t dance like he was 21 years old, he would’ve been torn to bits. […]”

“[…] [Let’s discuss the symbols in my portrait of him]: 1. the writing: it says, “I’m a multidimensional creature going thru the Earth experience to learn in slow-motion the consequence of thought.” I was learning to meditate at the time and was reading different spiritual books.; 2. the suit of armor: Michael was very, very sensitive and he got upset when people said bad things about him. If he wore armor, he would’ve been protected; 3. the red cape: it means royalty. He was a king. The King of Pop; 4. the monkeys: it’s not supposed to be Bubbles (Jackson’s pet chimp). I had two dogs in the original portrait, but Michael said he didn’t (really) like dogs. He liked monkeys; 5. the silver urn: it represents all the awards he has; 6. the parrot: it represents the many imitators of his voice and movement; 7. the young Chinese girl: he saw children as angels until they grew up, and he didn’t want to be around them (then) because they had egos; 8. the space shuttle: when he goes to dance and perform, he goes into outer space; 9. Jesus: Michael was a Jehovah’s Witness, but he liked to talk about Christ and how great Christ had been to him; 10. the woman in the white dress: he told me he was seeing this nurse about something and that something magic was going to happen. What was happening was she (Debbie Rowe) was carrying the babies […], so I painted a nurse that looks like an angel.”

[Ralph Wolfe Cowan, master American painter; source: www.pbpulse.com]

 

“I got the pleasure of meeting Michael Jackson and it was an amazing experience. I was in LA and we got a call from Michael's Attorney and good friend Peter Lopez (R.I.P) and he said, "Hey man Michael wants to meet you." I was just blown away. I didn't know what to do. I was like why would he want to meet me? I felt honored. So that day we went to his house in the afternoon. We walked in and we went into this room and it was like an actual casino. He had all the old slot machines and signs and blackjack tables from the Sahara casino in Vegas.  It was the most amazing thing you've ever seen. His butler came in and said, "Hey Michael wants to meet in the Gold Room." […] We talked for hours because we had a lot in common. We both even love cartoons. He also told me his favorite song was "Bartender" which was pretty funny. The crazy part was in the middle of conversating you could hear tour busses outside and people on the microphone saying "Hey everybody this is Michael Jacksons house!" Michael told me "This is crazy, this is everyday. People won't leave me alone. I can't even hang out in my yard." I can tell he was having a tough time dealing with it. It was a lot of pressure. We ended our meeting on a good note though and planned to go into the studio and make records it just never came together. I wish it could’ve. It was truly an honor to meet the biggest artist in the world and it is a day I will cherish for the rest of my life. Michael and Peter thank you for the memory.”

[T-Pain, American singer-songwriter, rapper, record producer and actor; source: http://globalgrind.com]


“Passion. Passion about his work… Passion about his view of life… I think that, you know, his contribution to the music industry and then even allowing it to pave into philanthropy, was kind of a standard set for what artists do when they reach that point in their careers.”

[Usher, American recording artist and actor; sources: www.ap.org, www.youtube.com]


“People go, ‘He was the most legendary artist’, ‘His music brought people together’, but when he was alive, all people did was slam him. So, it’s like, don’t wait till it’s too late to tell the artist how much you love, how much you respect him and care about their work.”

[Miley Cyrus, American actress and singer; sources: www.ap.org, www.youtube.com]


“Humanitarian. I just felt like he spoke to the Globe. He spoke to the entire human race. And he did it tirelessly, from the time when he was five years old till, you know, he departed. And that’s really inspiring. It almost breaks my heart that the last ten years was [sic] like he wasn’t quite [seen as] the real humanitarian that he is, you know?... As much as he cared for the environment, he cared for children, you know… I think the opposite was said about him.”

[Jason Mraz, American singer-songwriter; sources: www.ap.org, www.youtube.com]


“[…] We are still in mourning, but I sense Michael's presence in [his children’s] lives. I feel him everywhere. I know Michael's spirit is so much alive. He's guiding me… us to just keep things going and keep things the way they're supposed to be.”

[Jermaine Jackson – speaking to “People”, at the Children Uniting Nations Conference; source: www.people.com]


“I never thought when I was in junior high, listening to “ABC”, that I’d be – I’d be, you know, hanging out with them [the Jacksons] at an amusement park or that, you know, I’d be […] thrilling the world with him and his brothers, or I’d be - I’d be calling their mother ‘Mother’… You know, I just – I was extremely shocked and saddened like the rest of the world and I know that he didn’t have to go. And with God there is [sic] no surprises, but he didn’t – he clearly didn’t have to go. […] You know, I – I love him - loved him and, you know, I miss him, but I know he’s at peace […], but I spent a pretty good chunk of my life with him and […] you know, I was – I was honored to be his MD for his first solo tour, which is pretty big, you know?... And, you know, I think one of the greatest achievements was like a full circle moment, you know, when I was with him all for the 30th anniversary shows in New York [in 2001] [that] we did at the [Madison Square] Garden, you know?... And I’ll never forget, man, walking into - you know, the brothers had their dressing room, Michael had his and I’ll never forget, first of all, going to the brothers’ dressing room before the show and standing with them and we were all in a circle and I said, ‘You know, guys, honest to God, you just don’t understand the magnitude of this right now. I was in junior high fantasizing about you, guys, you know, listening to “ABC”, “The Love You Save” and all, and [now] I’m in a room with you, getting ready to go on stage together. Do you understand?...’ And I just started tearing up and they just all hugged me. You know?... And I went to Michael and told him the same thing, you know, and it’s just like… [voice trails off]. You know, it’s just so ‘Wow, literally be careful what you dream for’…[laughs], ‘cause, literally, when you get it, it’s so much to process, you know, that it’s just – you’re just overwhelmed. […]”

[Greg Phillinganes, American active session keyboardist; sources: www.toto99.com, www.youtube.com]


“I wanted to make this post, not simply to jump on the bandwagon of the media outpouring for Michael Jackson. I’m not here to judge his life or talk about his finances, or his troubled past, or the allegations, or even Bubbles. I’m writing this simply to tell a story. It’s a story that I didn’t really have the inclination to say before. Now that Michael’s “Ranch” no longer exists, and — rides dismantled — it simply stands as a bank-owned shadow of its former self, I wanted say a few things about my experience at Neverland, and the truth behind how I was able to get in.

In many ways, I feel this is sort of a confession. I never saw Neverland as an interesting place. At first, I didn’t understood its potential to tell a photographic story. As someone who finds significance in historic architecture, I neither saw Neverland as significant, nor historic. All of that changed.

In December of 2007, I was on my way down to Ventura for the Holidays. I had taken multiple trips down the 101 before. Each trip, I made it a point to stop at a roadside abandonment to photograph at night. As it invariably is every December, just prior to Christmas, the radios are filled with the repetitious yuletide jingles of yore. Usually, the six-hour drive is bearable if I switch from one station to the next – between commercials. This particular drive down, I grew weary of the music. I’m not exactly sure why Michael came to mind. Part of it probably had to do with the silence and the habit of mine to imagine music in my head in such moments. It’s also possible that I passed the off-ramp for Los Olivos and thought of the place, only to think of it more and more. Whatever it was, the idea of then-abandoned Neverland began to roll around in my mind. The radio was off, and I began mentally turning over rocks in the process. What did Neverland mean about Michael? Then the big one loomed: Why couldn’t Neverland be “historic” in myI must admit, I suffer from the myopic view, like most historians — amateur or otherwise — that history must always be equated with old. That’s why Graceland was “history” to me, but Neverland never would be — at least not until it was gone. Hours passed, and the desire to see the inside of Neverland grew stronger. I had essentially exhausted all other photographic possibilities down the 101, and I knew this opportunity wouldn’t last long. Then, a day before I began the drive back up to San Francisco, I exited a theater to find what seemed like snow falling on me. I immediately realized they were large flakes of ash from a fire nearby. The sky was dark and orange. It was an eerie, foreboding signal, or at least that’s what I made it out to be. I needed to photograph Neverland, or else — and I had a strong feeling — it would all go to ashes without proper documentation. mind?

Once it was decided, there was no convincing me otherwise. Still, I thought more than once of giving it up altogether and to continue driving North. I tried to convince myself that I had trespassed many times before at other locations — but the implications had never really bothered me until I considered walking into Michael’s private park. As I write this, I still try to justify my actions by thinking how much Michael truly wanted to share his world. It was a genuine wish of his for everyone to understand things the way he did. And the world largely didn’t understand what he was trying to communicate with Neverland, so he abandoned it.

People have asked me over the past year what it felt like to be in Neverland at night, alone. I didn’t want to say anything except that it was the most surreal and incredible experience of my life. Others asked me how I felt about Michael, after seeing Neverland, but I couldn’t completely answer that. I was withholding judgement. Maybe, like all battle-bruised humans, I had the sneaking suspicion that all of my best feelings about the man would be shattered when another allegation would arise. But it never happened, just as I suspected, because everything I saw at the Ranch indicated to me that he was an innocent man.

The night I drove up to the front gates, the security guard was there, sitting in a well-lit pillbox on the side of the road. Neverland itself is up the road about 400 yards from the front gate. It happened to be a dark night. In fact, there was a new moon, and the sky was clear of any clouds. Out in Los Olivos, the stars shone brightly, and there was little light pollution in the atmosphere. I was sure to maintain my speed as I passed the guard, and I drove up the road to small parking area east of the park. The walk to Neverland was about a half-mile through rolling hills in pitch black conditions. I carried a GPS, set to its dimmest level, and continued on a straight click, towards the North end of the park.

I came upon a back road that seemed to have been a utility road for the animal caretakers. By then, all of the animals were gone, save a few dogs in the old aviary. Bursting out from the branches of valley oak, I found myself in a miniature city. I had emerged right at the petting zoo. From there, my adventure began. Strangely enough, the moment I entered, a howling wind spread across the valley. Trees cracked their massive arms and fell; I could hear the Ferris Wheel creaking; the rope drawbridge waved wild and unpredictable. When I walked up to the deserted bumper car tent, the wind had become so strong, that it was tearing the red, canvas roof. It’s fortunate that the wind also allowed me to roam freely around the park without a single bark from the nearby dogs.

In the midst of all of this wind, the only static elements of Neverland were the frozen, bronze faces of the myriad statues that dotted the grounds. The children’s smiles almost seemed sad, in the context; and other than the occasional jolt of fear that hit me when I encountered a new frozen figure (thinking it was a real person), these statues were the subjects that I found my camera most drawn to. The rides themselves could have been found on any county fair in any state in the country. But it was the psyche of Michael Jackson that drew my curiosity. The statues were a conduit; they were my artifacts to catalog before the time of their eventual liquidation arrived.

I took two more trips to Neverland, each time with close friends. In all, I captured hundreds of photographs of the park. Many of these photographs, I will never publish. Each trip became progressively more bittersweet. I don’t really have any regrets about doing what I did, but if there is one thing I wish I had done at Neverland, it would have been to ride down the Super Slide; I think MJ would have liked that, and I’m sure the fDespite how kitschy it all seemed; despite the controversy; and the fact that I could only see Neverland from one perspective (that of night),  the times I spent at Neverland are among the most memorable moments of my life. Neverland allowed me to escape the cynical, xenophobic world of a country mired in war, terrorism, and daily reports of suicide bombers.  They may have been only a few nights of escapism, at best, but they allowed me to put myself in the shoes of Michael — moon walking my own way among the soon-to-end dreamscape of a truly magnanimous soul. May you rest in peace, Michael; your dream will live on."

[Jonathan Haeber, American art critic and art blogger; source: www.terrastories.com]


“[…] He was normal, as odd as that may sound. I felt quite bad as I'd allowed what the media had done to his name and image to have me thinking, 'Ok what's this about to be? Is this going to be weird?' But he walked in in a black suit and some sun glasses and was a genuine nice guy. And it wasn't because he wanted something from me, he just had no reason other than to be a decent guy. We talked about the state of music, what he liked and didn't like. One thing that was interesting is that he views music in shapes and colours and that's how I think. He told me he admired my music and I could have fainted right there. I was like, `You like my music? You're the reason I make music'. So I wanted to bring something good to the table. Melodic and meaningful. Those were the two words which kept coming back to me. Michael told me the melodies needed to be the ones you heard once and could sing back, and the lyrics needed to have meaning and depth. He believed what was wrong with a lot of music today is that people aren't singing about anything. If it's not about a party or sex then it's about money, and there's not really much to that. Michael told me, 'I need songs that mean something to somebody and that's what I need you for'. I was honoured. Hopefully the songs will see the light of day, it just has to be the right way.”

[Ne-Yo, American pop and R&B singer-songwriter, record producer, actor; source: http://tvnz.co.nz]

 

“I was so nervous. I walked into that hotel room and there sitting before me are a group of my peers who have just made a hit with their lives. It was my first ever interview. I was nervous and excited at the same time, and I recall that I was shaking a little bit. I worked so hard to get that interview, and once I met them, I couldn't wait to get out of that room. I probably stayed in there no more than 20 to 30 minutes. When I was leaving the room, the boys said to me, 'Are you leaving so fast?' And I said, 'Yeah, I've got to get out of here.' They seemed very at ease with the excitement. I think they were still young enough to be excited about all the screaming and the cheers. They were very respectful, very courteous, kind and welcoming. They tried to put me at ease. I thought they were just mannerable young men. Michael was thoughtful, attentive and quiet. […] I kept saying to them, 'I didn't ask enough questions,' and they said it was going to be OK. I remember telling myself, 'Davida, do you know how many girls would trade places with you? Get yourself together! […] [But] it was that day [in 1972] I said, 'You know what? I'm going to be a journalist, and I will never again be in a position where I can't ask good questions’.”

[Davida Jones Sharpe, American journalist; source: http://savannahnow.com]

 

I am a huge lover of music. Like so many people around the globe, the soundtrack to my childhood was made up in good part of Michael Jackson’s records. My brother Joe and I danced to Thriller for hours on end in our living room. I understood, at a very young age, how talented Michael was and as I grew up I watched Michael continue to inspire millions in every corner of the planet with his unparalleled music, style and message.

So when people ask me ‘what is the greatest moment of your life thus far’, I do not hesitate for one moment: it was the night I got to play the piano for Michael Jackson.

Let me back up a little. Michael and my dad became friendly when he moved to New York in 2001 to record his album, Invincible. While I am well aware of the many controversies that surrounded Michael Jackson’s life, they had no bearing on the evenings that my family and I got to spend with him. My family was lucky enough to get to know him and his beautiful, lovely children, away from the flash of cameras and the chants of fans.

So, we were finishing up a home-cooked meal at my parents’ apartment and Michael, who knew I had played the piano since I was a child, asked me to play a piece for him. Of course I said yes, and of course it all seemed so surreal. I sat down at the piano and thought “How on earth does one entertain Michael Jackson? What could I possibly play for him?” I chose a Debussy piece - Deux Arabesques. It was the longest four minutes of my life, the most famous entertainer in the world listening intently with his eyes closed. As I finished the piece, I looked up at him for his reaction.

My heart was POUNDING. My hands were visibly shaking. His eyes were still closed. He was silent. He then opened his eyes and said with enormous humility and a deep sincerity that still rings in my ear to this day, “Mona, thank you for that. Thank you, thank you, thank you.”

It was at that moment that I understood how unique this man was. He, the “King of Pop”, was sitting in the same living room where my brother and I had danced to his music videos in our childhood. And there he was, listening to me play with the same attentiveness that he would have given a concert pianist. And he listened, all the while playing wistfully with his daughter Paris’ hair, making sure she and her brother, Prince Michael, were listening, too. It was the first, strong indication of a truth that would be reinforced by other moments with Michael. With all the fame and fortune he had amassed, with all the clout he had in the industry, at the end of the day what mattered to him were the very fundamentals of life. He was kind, loving and incredibly modest. He absolutely adored his children and was zealous about raising them as good souls. He had tremendous respect and love for all kinds of music – pop, rock, classical, jazz – regardless of who was playing and where. And he was genuinely interested in the lives of others, and would gladly take a step back to let them shine, even if it was for only four minutes.

It is really difficult to imagine what the music industry would be like had he never existed. And it’s equally as difficult to imagine what lies ahead now that he’s no longer with us. But what I can say is that the world will never be the same without the great gift of his voice, his musicality and his unmistakable presence. So on behalf of all those who knew you either personally or through your incredible music: Michael, thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Thank you to my brother Joe for your help in conveying these memories. We can still dance to MJ in the living room.

[Mona Lisa Mouallem, Associate Producer, Fareed Zakaria GPS; source: http://ac360.blogs.cnn.com]

“Well, obviously hearing about the sad passing of Michael Jackson, for anyone – for all of us – it’s very, very tragic. Some children lost a father; some parents lost a child; some brothers and sisters lost a sibling; so that’s obviously very sad. I had great respect for what he’s done, his work over the years. He’s a real genius.”

[Johnny Depp, American actor and musician; source: http://news.fan-sites.org]

 

“When I got the position as publicist for the HIStory Tour, I was told not to speak to Mr. Jackson until he first spoke to me. I had been on the tour for two weeks before I met him. I thought it was a bit strange considering I had to accompany him whenever he made personal appearances. Finally, I decided to step up and introduce myself to MJ. I figured the only thing they could do is send me home. So, one day, while we were in a record store, I walked up to Michael and introduced myself. I said, 'Hi, I'm Darlene. I'm your publicist." He said, "Hi. Are you going to do the whole tour?" I said, 'Yes, unless you know something I don't know.' We both chuckled. He became comfortable with me rather quickly. He soon started telling his fans he would sign their autographs only if it was OK with me. I found that amusing. I found out later that before I introduced myself he knew exactly who I was. He had asked several people, "Who is the black girl?" […] [I was very surprised] that he was pretty normal. He also has an incredible memory. […] It's totally surreal. I still find it very hard to believe he's gone. It just doesn't feel right. There is an emptiness. It's hard to believe because he was such a big, vibrant talent and personality. Sometimes when I hear his music on the radio, I get sad. But, then I remember that he left us all an incredible amount of music that we can listen to for the rest of our lives. The world has lost someone very special. […] It may sound like a cliché, but his death is a reminder that we're all here but for a moment. Live life to the fullest. Dance like no one is watching. It's a reminder for us to do what we love and to live each day like it's our last. […] [My funniest memory of him was when] Michael was making an appearance outside of the Opera House in Sydney, Australia. We were standing backstage waiting for him to go on when I noticed his pants were unzipped. I looked at him and pretended to zip my own pants. He looked down, turned around, zipped up his pants and then turned back and looked at me. He then looked at my pants as if to say my zipper was also down. I looked down. My pants weren't unzipped. I looked at him. We both laughed. He liked to joke. He loved to laugh. […] [I think he’d like to be remembered] as the King of Pop. No one did it better. […] My favorite memory: standing in the wings night after night watching Michael Jackson perform. He was something to watch. He was magical. He was brilliant!”

[Darlene Donloe, Michael Jackson’s HIStory Tour publicist; source: http://myjet247.com]

 

Meeting M.J. for the first time was funny. I had been working all day, (not singing) and was told on the phone he wanted to meet the band, like, right now. No time to clean up. No time to dress up. I was across town, all the way on one end of L.A. He was on the other. So, I was pretty raggedy. I didn’t have no kind of vibe. Total goober. Not at all prepared to meet the King of Pop for the first time. Most of the band didn’t have good paying jobs, so we looked like regular nerds. So, we meet him. Michael looks us up and down and you could see this look of worry. He had that "I don’t know" look in his eyes. In retrospect, it was hilarious. Presentation is everything. First impressions and all that. But back then, I didn’t have a clue. […] He was all the way in charge. As sweet as he was, as gentle and kind as he was, Michael Jackson knew what he wanted. And, he knew how to get it. […] It is still beyond belief. Some days I have to remind myself that he is gone. Not only do I not believe it. I don’t want to believe it. It's very difficult to accept. And some days it still hits hard. […] [I was with him the night before he passed.] I was thinking we only had a few days left in Los Angeles before moving to London for three months. […] Just as this tour would have been a tour like no other, I believe Michael would have figured out another way to bring people to him rather than the other way around. When you boil it down, we're entertainers. We've got to entertain folks. Ten years from now, M.J. wouldn’t be able to perform in the same way he has in the past. So, he would have figured something else out. He would have created something entirely new for his audience. […] [His passing] is as if an earthquake hit me in the heart. I am devastated and it still hurts. People walk up to me and say they saw me in the film 'This is It,' and they are excited and happy for me. But, it makes me feel sad. It just reminds me that M.J. is really gone. So, it kind of cuts. It's rough. […] [My funniest memory of him…], during the show, some nights, after a song ended, I would walk by Michael, headed towards my spot on stage. I'd lean over and whisper to him his zipper was down - just a stupid, childish prank. He'd gasp and look down at his pants. He fell for it every time. […] No two ways about it. Michael Jackson will be remembered as one of the greatest entertainers in the history of music. […] [I will commemorate his passing] in concert in Paris at the Zenith. It is an homage to MJ and his musical legacy. My friend, Jennifer Batten, guitarist from the Bad tour, will join me and we'll perform together for the first time in 20 years. My wife, Shawn Chapman Holley and youngest daughter Olivia will come along, and we'll remember Michael and all he left us. We'll celebrate his music.”

[Dorian Holley, vocal director and back-up singer; source: http://myjet247.com]

 

“[…] Meeting Michael for the first time was so exciting. I was overwhelmed that the King of Pop was standing in front of me. I’ve seen him as an icon growing up, so to see him in person was like meeting a superhero. […] Michael had a very strong, sweet scent. I don’t know what type of cologne he used, but you could smell it from far away. […] I can’t believe it’s been a year [since his passing]. It still feels like yesterday. And I feel like the event has colored my life differently. Nothing has been the same since. It was the most inspiring experience in my career and yet the most tragic. The emotional intensity has never let up. […] This may have been his last tour, but not his last time on stage. […] He was so passionate and excited during rehearsals. I think Michael would always have an itch to perform. He was born for it. […] After his death, I remembered his sweet heart the most. He inspired me to be a kinder, loving person. That’s how he treated his team, and that’s what he sang about. […] My funniest memory of Michael was when he laughed at me when I stuffed my crazy afro in the hood of my grim reaper costume for Thriller. […] I think Michael wants us to remember him for the message he stood for. He really believed in bringing people together and healing the planet. I think we should all work towards doing that. That is probably the best way to pay respects to him. […] This anniversary, I will be in Tokyo honoring Michael for the premiere of a documentary that was put together about his life. At the premiere, I will be performing a duet song I wrote with the very talented AI, soul singer/reporter for the Michael Jackson documentary. The song we wrote, ‘For My Sister’, talks about being there for your sister when she needs a helping hand. This song carries the same sentiment as ‘You Are Not Alone’. For me, these types of songs remind me of Michael the most.”

[Judith Hill, back-up singer for ‘This Is It’; source: http://myjet247.com]

 

“You probably can't read the words in the note next to the accompanying photo of Michael Jackson, but they were handwritten by the singer himself […] when he was constantly on tour and just as constantly a subject of much public ridicule and condemnation. This note was composed on hotel stationery and, complete with original spellings, grammar, and format, reads as follows:

"Like the old Indian proverb says do not judge a man until you've walked 2 moons in his moccasins.

Most people don't know me, that is why they write such things in wich most is not true

I cry very very often because it hurts and I worry about the children all my children all over the world, I live for them.

If a man could say nothing against a character but what he can prove, history could not be written.

Animals strike, not from malice, but because they want to live, it is the same with those who criticize, they desire our blood, not our pain. But still I must achieve I must seek truth in all things. I must endure for the power I was sent forth, for the world for the children.

But have mercy, for I've been bleeding a long time now.”

[…]

It's hard to think of Michael Joseph Jackson as having been a baby boomer, because nothing defined him quite so much as his music, and his music possesses the eternal quality of genius that makes all superior art timeless, ageless, and endlessly compelling. But a baby boomer he was, born August 29, 1958, and now gone so soon to his rest June 25, 2009.

Reporting on Jackson's death just hours after it was confirmed, NBC News anchorman Lester Holt noted, "We were the same age. I remember being a ten-year-old watching this ten-year-old kid on television." A familiar feeling. I arrived on the planet one year before either of them but, like Holt, I also watched the young Michael Jackson on stage on television. My attention was fully captured with no desire to be released because there he was: a cultural mirror image of myself who was not the watermelon-eyed "Buckwheat" (all due respect to the actor who played that role) or a stereotypical barefoot "pickaninny" movie extra in some Gone With the Wind spin-off, but a little black boy musical genius so charged with the lightning of his talent and confidence that he could take the lead singer position with his four brothers behind him and an audience of thousands in front of him - and perform with all the grace, skill, and maturity of someone three times his age. How did that kid do that? Living as I did in a southern region where black skin and a male anatomy often reduced one's life expectancy by decades, the answer of how that kid did what he did was important to this future author.

Years later, I considered the greater scope of what he had achieved. While the vast majority of those in our peer group at age eleven or twelve were at home evenings studying for a quiz in school the next day or building up nerve to steal a first kiss, Michael Jackson was working - working in clubs, working in theaters, working on television, working in concert halls, working, working, working, his a** off. On how many continents, and in how many countries, was that child a stranger in a strange land? Yet one who repeatedly channeled gifts of song and dance and love to bring respites of celebrated joy to the lives of others? His labors as a child played no small role in laying a foundation of lasting wealth for what has been called America's "preeminent family of pop music." Later on, those labors would pull a lagging recording industry out of its deathbed slump, and jump-start a new industry art form known as video while trashing racial barriers on TV and radio in the process. Did that make him a saint? No. Does it make his memory one worthy of respect? Most definitely.

Not all "child prodigies" who exhibit the level of talent that Jackson did as a child tend to fulfill the promise of those gifts in their adulthood. He was one of those who did. Once his ambition led him to pursue and establish with phenomenal results a solo career, each year thereafter when birthdays came around, (his in August, mine in July) I started studying what he had accomplished to date and would challenge myself to do better in my own career. That's not to say I ever did, or even that I thought I could or should match him; only that his accomplishments motivated me to reach for some of my own.

The judgments of different critics aside, he outdid himself repeatedly: with the flawless album Off the Wall in 1979; the all-time bestselling Thriller in 1982; Bad in 1987; and Dangerous in 1991. By the time Jackson's HIStory - Past, Present and Future, Book I was released in 1995, I was managing a multi-media book, video, software and music store, which allowed me to indulge the pleasure of dancing along to the album's combination of anthology and new music while shelving and selling books. True, I was dancing to his life's soundtrack rather than my own and another three years would pass before my first book would get published. But: I celebrated this last album (not the last of his career) in particular, because it was the first one released after the singer had descended into the tar-thick shadow-side of celebrity-hood: constant hounding by the paparazzi, reportedly "bizarre" behavior bordering on insanity, and [false] allegations of pedophilia. The fact that his fame had become his cross made me less envious that he had achieved it so early.

[…] The new songs on HIStory presented his defense of himself even while going beyond that to champion the environment and level substantial social criticism of his own. […] When I saw them published in People Magazine, I cut the page out and placed it in a photo album, then said a prayer for this man whose voice had helped awaken my voice.

We, human beings, tend to demand that our heroes fulfill many fantasies, but one fantasy no hero can fulfill is perfection while in this world. They can make the effort to give as much of themselves to the global community as they can, and then beg forgiveness when the gifting isn't enough and the less appealing aromas of their humanity dim the air with the funky truth of their flesh and blood limitations. It was good that "the King of Pop" had been tested and learned something about his limitations in one major battle, because he would need whatever strength he gained from it for other confrontations down the road. In the end, it was strength he was reaching for once again to begin his journey anew and do the one thing he did better than anybody else.

A lot of tabloids, magazines, websites, radio stations, entertainment personalities, and retail chains made tons of good hard cash peddling before the world what they presented as Michael Jackson's eccentricities and possible moral failings. Perhaps now that he has left the stage for the last time, they can pay a bit of that forward by leaning in the opposite direction and honoring the brilliance of his dynamic artistry, the beauty of his dazzling creative passion, and the simple sincerity -- however wounded it may have been -- of his love for his fellow human beings.”

[Aberjhani, co-author of the Harlem Renaissance and Elemental – The Power of Illuminated Love; source: http://www.redroom.com]

 

“[…] Michael Jackson’s the one who implored us to heal the world and showed us how. Universal love, giving, and making positive changes are recurring themes in his songs: “Man In The Mirror,” “Heal The World,” “We Are The World,” and “The Lost Children,” just to name a few. He began contributing to charity in 1979, when he provided Public Library’s Young Adult Section with new books to encourage reading. For the next three decades, his generosity grew to incredible proportions as Michael donated to hospitals, orphanages, educational, and employment institutions in countries all over the world. He contributed to large scale causes - AIDS research, Nelson Mandela’s Children’s Fund, The International Federation of Red Cross, and UNESCO - as well as smaller: his MJJ Productions office once provided 200 turkey dinners to needy families in Los Angeles at Christmas.

Michael donated the profits from several of his hit singles and tours to charity, including his entire share of profits from the Jacksons’ Victory Tour to the T.J. Martell Foundation for Cancer Research, The United Negro College Fund, and the Ronald McDonald Camp for Good Times and $100 million from the “Heal the World” single and tour to ‘USA for Africa’. He set up the Heal The World Foundation in 1992, which brought underprivileged kids to the theme park at Neverland and also raised millions of dollars for children threatened by war and disease all over the world. In 2001, he founded ‘Heal the Kids’, an international program that helps parents rededicate their lives to raising their children with love and attention.

Perhaps most importantly, Michael Jackson visited victims of famine, illness, war, and natural disasters throughout his lifetime, traveling as far as South America, Africa, and India to personally connect with the suffering and bring them happiness and hope. He would often coordinate these trips with his tours in foreign countries so he could meet with people in hospitals and impoverished villages anonymously in between show dates.

He holds the world record for the “Most Charities Supported By a Pop Star” in the 2000 Guinness Book Of World Records. Charity isn’t a competition, so I won’t list how much money Bono has raised compared to M.J., but feel free to look into it. The U2 front man has somehow become the high profile archetype of humanity, while Michael has been the living definition of good will for decades. He just does it without needing credit or praise. […] Michael Jackson raised hundreds of millions of dollars and donated $50 million of his own personal fortune to try to make the world a better place… why didn’t more people take notice? […]

[…] Clips of Michael Jackson holding up baby Prince Michael II (Blanket) from a Berlin hotel terrace in 2002 for a crowd to see are still being replayed on countless television shows. Let’s watch it one more time and examine just what a terrible, crazy father this man must have been to commit such an act. What about the famous scene in The Lion King where Rafiki holds Simba up over Pride Rock to proudly show the king’s newborn son to his kingdom… now, was that so wrong? A bizarre act of questionable parenting, or one of the most genuine, emotional expressions of love ever executed? Watch the Disney movie again and reevaluate your answer.

[…] All typical celebrity addiction clichés aside, it’s been pretty clear that Michael Jackson was dealing with serious ailments for years. For those of you shocked by the disclosure of his dependence on painkillers, listen to “Morphine” […]. It’s clearly about the sinister addictiveness of Morphine and Demerol. Yes, he wrote the song and put it on an album for all to hear in 1997, and yes, it’s a f******* good song. Why weren’t more people listening then?

Remember when the media - and anyone who believed the reports - was convinced that Michael’s claim of having a skin condition was a fabrication to cover up the fact that he was obsessed with bleaching his skin? He wrote “Black or White” and promoted the universal love of all races; he disclosed to the prying world his personal health condition of Vitiligo, a disease involving the loss of skin pigmentation; and made multiple public statements declaring his pride of being African American. Still, he was assailed as a liar. And to this day people still doubt the validity of him really having the disease.

Michael Jackson’s personal doctors, including longtime friend and well-respected physician, Deepak Chopra, have now come forward to report on the singer’s struggle with Vitiligo. Yes, he really had the disease. He was always incredibly self-conscious about his appearance, so he wore pounds of makeup to cover up the uncontrollable splotches on his skin. The condition made him literally allergic to sunlight, which would explain him always carrying around an umbrella. What a crazy person, right?! Dr. Chopra has also revealed that Michael suffered from Lupus, a chronic autoimmune disease that caused the Vitiligo, and that it is believed to have developed from the trauma of severe emotional abuse and stress he endured as a child. M.J. never publicly spoke of the Lupus, probably because he never owed anyone more of an explanation for his skin abnormalities than he had already given.

Despite the “evidence,” there will always be some who remain convinced that Michael Jackson bleached his skin for the hell of it. These skeptics are like Thomas the Apostle. You know, the guy that missed out on Jesus’ resurrection from the dead and told the other disciples, “Unless I put my finger into the nail marks of his hands and my hand in his side, I will not believe.” Yes, I just quoted The Bible in reference to Michael Jackson. For all the Thomases out there who doubt him, read this article or search for invasive pictures like this.

[…] Now, everyone in the world knows exactly what Prince, Paris, and Prince II look like, so they can be followed everywhere and photographed in every different outfit and environment imaginable, all the time. Move over Lindsay Lohan, TMZ’s got some new favorites! Paparazzi have hounded Michael Jackson his entire life, snapping photos of him at every opportunity since he was ten years old; it’s not like that turned out badly. I’m just confused as to why he wouldn’t allow us to get a really good, long look at his kids before. He should have sold the infancy pictures to Us Weekly when he had the chance. We could have started this whole crazed speculation over their true biological parents waaaay earlier instead of in the wake of them losing the only parent they’ve ever had. That way, they could have started doubting where they came from at much earlier ages while the man who worked so hard to raise them in a normal, loving environment was still alive. The media was right all along in its depiction of Michael Jackson as a frightening eccentric; he attached way too much importance to the concept of privacy - and costume accessories.

[…] Aside from the ridiculous media madhouse surrounding anything and everything related to Michael Jackson, and the regrettable fact that he is no longer living, this whole resurgence of interest in and love for his life and music is pretty f****** amazing. It’s strange to think that he has made such a permanent stamp on international pop culture, yet has been kind of forgotten about in the past decade… at least in America. Up until recently, it had become a semi-rare treat to hear his songs played on the radio or catch one of his performances replayed on TV. But now, since June 25, 2009, cars have been blasting Michael Jackson tunes at full volume as they drive down the street, and it’s no surprise to step into a store and hear the familiar, catchy strains of one of his songs. You can bet clubs around the world are now spinning Off The Wall multiple times a night, and its beats are guaranteeing full dance floors. Amidst all the negative reports, the media has started to bring to light Michael Jackson’s achievements and charitable contributions that they neglected to focus on for so long. We’ve gotten a refresher course on how he broke the color barrier on MTV, not to mention Grammy award and album sales records left and right.

So, to a true M.J. fan like myself, the present environment is a bit confusing. His music should be playing everywhere, all the time, at any given opportunity. His impact on pop culture as we know it and his countless good endeavors to bring good to the world should be appreciated and revered every day, always, not just now because he is gone.

Michael Jackson’s memorial service was a tribute long overdue. It would have been especially valuable for him to have known just how many people still admire and support him in 2009. Now, people all over the planet are aware of his greatness as an artist and a person. The world should have established an international holiday celebrating this guy decades ago. (Who do I speak to about this? The UN?) […] Michael Jackson is more like the modern day Schubert or Mahler, known as a musician in life, but truly acknowledged and revered as genius only after his death. Good job everyone; western culture has come a long way since the 1800’s.

[…] He committed his entire life to creating and practicing, practicing, practicing so he could give his fans nothing less than the greatest show possible. Always the perfectionist, he cried backstage after his legendary Motown 25 premiere of the moonwalk, because he felt he had not done his best. Only after a young boy stopped him in the parking lot as he was leaving and told Michael it was amazing, did he feel proud of the performance at all. The ridiculously high standards he set for himself mean that his audience will never see anything less than precision and magic. […] To me, he always seemed inhuman: full of humanity, yes, but when it came to how he spoke, thought, created, and shared, he appeared to be not of this world. He was - and still is - magic.

The ultimate question surrounding his life is not how strangely he lived, or how he died, but how did Michael Jackson exist in this material world to begin with?

We were lucky to have experienced him at all."

[Brenna Chase, journalist; source: http://popshifter.com]

 

“[…] The sudden death of larger-than-life world celebrity, Michael Jackson, shocked me to the core, but it was only as I surfed my pre-set radio stations in my car and found all the stations were playing Michael Jackson songs that I started having flashbacks of where I was in Guyana when certain songs came out, that I actually found myself tearing up as I drove for an appointment in New York on Thursday.

To say I grew up ‘with Michael Jackson’ would not be disingenuous, because even though he was born in Gary, Indianna and I was born and grew up in McKenzie, Guyana – he was born three days before I was – I literally grew up from around the late ’60s or very early ’70s listening to him and his singing siblings – The Jackson Five. Then, when he went solo, ‘Ben’ was one of my favourite songs while I was in high school, and back then when I had lots of hair, I grew my hair afro-style to mimic him. By my late teens, I partied a bit but distinctly recall loving to ‘party hearty’ to his high-energy Off The Wall album. Then there were Thriller and Bad which continued his legacy.

On my arrival in America in 1988, I was living in Georgia when Michael Jackson performed at what he dubbed his retirement concert in Atlanta in the summer of that year, and I recall reading a glowing feature story in the Atlanta Constitution and Journal on his performance in which a white elderly man attended the concert at the goading of his teenage son, and said he was pleasantly surprised at Jackson’s onstage performance. The man said that for a guy who was going into retirement at the age of 30, Jackson exhibited more energy than most guys he knew who were getting ready to retire.

Music critics and celebrity commentators could slice and dice his life to show the bright and dark sides of a man described by some as a musical genius and others as something of a manic ghoul; maybe they can add eccentric and eclectic, but I just want to remember him for the joy he brought to me and hundreds of millions around the world, including Guyana, with his music and energetic performances.

He may have had financial difficulties, but I am convinced his life was never supposed to be about money as much as it was supposed to be about entertaining. At the time of this writing, some are speaking of him as a man who was often in pain and often sad, but even if true, he certainly knew how to turn his pain to our gain and his sadness to our gladness.

Michael Jackson was not merely gifted; he was God’s musical gift to the world. Unfortunately for the world, the Giver decided to retrieve His gift on June 25 before it could be shared and enjoyed again after a long lay-off in what was supposed to be the start of a 50-concert performance starting July 12.

The world has indeed lost a human treasure in Michael Jackson. He will be remembered all over the world even as his songs continue to be played over and over and over again, both on the airwaves and in our hearts.”

[…]

[Emile Mervin, journalist; source: www.stabroeknews.com]

What can be said about a child prodigy? What can be said about a child so gifted and talented that moguls in the music industry stood in awe?  Society has not known what to do with someone like that. From Mozart to Elvis to Michael - the gifted child has been a question mark.

Michael Jackson had gifts that had global reach and proportion. Only a few have risen as high. Dancer, choreographer, songwriter, videographer – he was multi-gifted, a brilliant mind and put on a pedestal by so many people his life expressed the epitome of the saying, “It’s lonely at the top.” That is hard for an adult to live with and navigate through, let alone a child - that with every part of their being cries out to be a child, but because of demands and expectations - cannot.

The gifted child first and foremost is a child. The inside of that child is exactly like the inside of another. They need to wonder, dream, imagine and play. They need to know they are loved unconditionally. They need to feel protected and safe. They need to know they are “wonderfully and fearfully made” and of priceless value. They need someone to discover the unique way they are "bent" and help them along that path. Seems so simple, but it really isn’t.

The fame and accolade that can surround a little “Michael” carry false qualities with them. This is hard to understand unless one has been there. Fame, money and accolade create a force field that makes everything about that life unreal. If that is not intentionally addressed by parents, siblings, friends or pastors the “famous one” is lost, because all relationship and interaction with people happens because and through the gifting, not through desire for relationship and intimacy with the person.

God created us to have intimate relationships. He built within us a thirst after closeness with someone so that foremost, we would hunger to have that with Him, then with others. In Genesis, God created a paradise with all kinds of wonderful plants and animals and set Adam in the midst of it. Still, The LORD God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.’ Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So, the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field. But for Adam no suitable helper was found.”

So God made Eve and brought her to Adam and the Bible says, “The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.” That phrase is key and important! When you are naked you can’t hide much. Everything you have is right out there for whomever to see. They can see all the things we can hide from the rest of the world. Creative clothing can cover up that extra tire around our middle and the right cut pants can camouflage heavy thighs. Everyone needs someone they can metaphorically be naked with. A relationship is an intimate one where the people involved can show each other the real person they are, naked, without anything to cover up. They can show them the good, bad and ugly and still be loved and accepted. Nothing is hidden. Everything is known.

That kind of relationship is always available with Father God. That’s what the secret place is. It is the intimate place where you are completely known and completely accepted. To find earthly intimacy with a friend or mate is possible, but doesn’t always happen. Many married couples never experience it, but when it happens between mates or friends - it is nothing short of a miracle.

When no one knows the real you, when there is no one you can be that safe with, there is a painful void on the inside that defies description. There is no animal on earth that can fill that place (not a dog or a cat!) and no paradise that can fill it (not even Hawaii!), neither can all the money you could imagine (though many of us think we would like to try that!). Only intimate relationship with God and people – in that order - can satisfy it.

Michael Jackson said in a one-on-one interview with Charles Gibson that was aired on a television special after he died, that no one looked at him like they look at other people. They didn’t see him like they would see a neighbor. The sadness in his eyes as he said it told the tale. We were created for intimacy.

As a society we have to take responsibility for what we create in the lives of those that have influence with their call and gifting. We create high pedestals in ivory towers for them to sit and if they would rather sit among the regular people, we make it impossible. We choose to only relate to them through their celebrity, so if they want interaction with other people, they must relate that way back. Then we wonder why they see the world differently than we do. Sometimes they even change their appearance to reflect how they feel on the inside. We laugh at them and label them strange, but how often do we pray for them or recognize there is a reason they are doing those strange things. The church has to be wiser than that.

God created us in His image. The person we are supposed to be is spelled out in His Word – it is no mystery. For every person there is a key that unlocks the prisons that hold them captive, that keep them from being what God created them to be. Jeremiah 33:3 says, “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” If we seek Him for it, God will give us the keys. Is there a price to hear from God on this level? You bet there is! Is the price worth paying? Most definitely!

The gifted and talented people in our churches do not have to be victims to their own gifts, callings and destiny. It doesn’t have to be lonely at the top. Worshipers, whether they are musicians, artists, dancers, architects or chefs can be well rounded, happy individuals with godly families, giving optimally of their gifts to bring God’s truth to the world.

Teach worship relationship with God above all else. It brings the gifted one back to the creator and giver of the gift. Who knows better than the Gift Giver how to show someone to live with the gift? Then set the standard high and watch them rise to it. Who are the "Michaels" in your world?

Michael Jackson gave much to and through the world of music. He is gone, but his legacy lives on. "Michael, we hardly knew you".”

[Donna Brown, journalist; source: www.examiner.com]

 

I was the Lighting Designer on the ‘Dangerous’, ‘HIStory’ and the ‘Michael & Friends’ tours. I had worked with Michael’s manager for a number of years so when they called me of course I said ‘Yes.’  I was excited, because, technically speaking, Michael is a lighting designer’s dream. There were no holds barred with him and even if some of his ideas seemed to ‘come from left field’, we found ways to do it.  He was the kind of artist that you could reach as far as you wanted for effects, but nothing would upstage him and it would only serve to support what he was doing.  He would have these outlandish and wonderful ideas that he didn’t know how to accomplish technically, but he knew conceptually what it should look like. He would ask for things in a very simplistic way, although it would eventually lead to a lot of technological challenges. […] Michael may not have known technically what he was asking for, but he knew in his head artistically what he wanted. Sometimes he would say ‘Can I have lots of white light here?’ or ‘Can I have a white light over my head?,’ and of course we would do what we could to make it happen. It got to a point where I could guess what he wanted, because I knew how he was thinking as far as lighting goes. The beauty of our working relationship was that I could reach deep into my imagination and know that I wasn’t going too far. Nothing was too outlandish for him. […] Michael was always very focused on the actual presentation of the show. He was involved technically, musically, and with every other aspect of the performance. But there was always a specific part of the show that was dedicated to his wanting to heal the world in whatever way that he or his music could accomplish. The Dangerous tour was really his first statement tour focusing on ‘Heal the World’ and ‘Feed the Children.’  It was always in the background and certainly it was a portion of the show. I found that the reaction worldwide was always the same wherever he went. In many locations, the concert-goers may not speak a word of English, but they knew all the words to all the songs. You could always hear them singing in unison. It was phenomenal. In the televised concert footage from the ‘Dangerous’ tour in Bucharest, Romania, the absolute immensity of his audience is obvious. I’ve done tours with such artists as Madonna where we’ve had 100,000-200,000 people in stadiums. But this was the largest crowd I had even seen. Driving to the stadium in Bucharest, we saw a soldier or an armed policeman basically every ten feet for the entire route. They were all around encircling the stadium and someone told us that this was the largest crowd they’d seen since the revolution. We were a bit nervous with the army’s presence. But this was soon dispelled as the immense crowd began singing in unison. I don’t know how they personally viewed him, but Michael was definitely a kind of pied-piper or messiah in some of their eyes.  He espoused love for everyone and I guess they really picked up on that. […] I was actually on an airplane and I got about six text messages about his death as the doors were closing and we were told to turn off our phones. I knew he had been sick that morning, but those of us from the older tours were surmising, via text messaging, that he was perhaps getting sick from the stress. He sometimes reacted physically to the stress, but obviously this had gone way beyond that. When, as the airplane doors were closing, I got word of his passing, I had to face two or three hours in the air, where I could not communicate with anyone.  It was really frustrating.  It was terrible. […] One memory I will always have of Michael Jackson is the very first meeting I had with him which was kind of an early production meeting to discuss ideas for the ‘Dangerous’ tour. In Michael I found a guy who was one of the warmest and most funny people I had ever met, which was not quite the image others saw publically. He was full of jokes while relating some great stories from his past and he was extremely down to earth. My first connection with him told me that he was approachable and definitely had big eyes for big things; not only for his career, but for his shows. He was such a creative person which is a dream come true for a lighting designer. […] When I look back at the life and career of Michael Jackson, one of the things that sticks out to me is that, for all the sensitivity he possessed for flair and for pushing the technological ‘envelope’, he never got to enjoy a tour which was totally lit with automated fixtures. I am told of how great his recently planned tour would have been, but unfortunately it didn’t happen. Michael was more than just a singer/songwriter; he was a performer, the ideal performer. If you have never sat in a stadium of 400,000 screaming fans all waiting to see what he does next, you can’t grasp the magnitude and depth of his life and the millions of people he inspired to be great.

[Peter Morse, lighting designer; sources: www.vari-lite.com, www.mj-777.com]


“Michael was different than anyone else I had ever worked with. He was thoroughly involved, but not necessarily at the very beginning of something. He waited until we had something established and he would edit, comment, and ask for additions. And he’d ask for them very quickly. In the first days of rehearsals, I was asked to program as many chase effects that I could, and I got up to about 140 chases before Michael showed up ready to see what we had. After all the chase sequences and a brief conversation, the lighting designer informed me Michael wanted to use all 140 chases in a single song. So, at that point we learned maybe we should only show him a little bit at a time. Everybody wants to know what he’s really like. I did meet him a couple of times and each time he was very professional and came across as very intelligent. At the end of the ‘HIStory’ tour he posed for pictures with the crew, but not just a group shot, he posed for pictures individually. Gregg and I are both in a picture on my wall with Michael and everyone always asks the same question, ‘Is that real?’, and that’s exactly what Michael was, he was real. […] On our tour, Michael was definitely an international ambassador of peace. We had some moments in the show that were just incredible. We had a scene where there was this huge bombed out city, with smoke drifting between the destroyed buildings. We had a lot of local people mixed in with our dancers and then they’d sing Earth Song. The chorus was, ‘What about us. What about us.’ and at the end of the song this blinding light and a tank would come through from upstage. This tank was truly one of a kind and Michael would stand in front of the tank as if he were in Tiananmen Square stopping it in its tracks. The tank driver then jumped out of the tank, the gun turret would turn, the hatch popped open and the driver would point a gun at Michael. Michael would reach out and lower the gun causing the tank driver to become overwhelmed with emotion and then a little girl, a local, would come up to the driver and give him a flower as everyone began to sing ‘Heal the World.’ That was followed up by flags of every nation waving around as they played the classic tune, ‘Pictures at an Exhibition’ with big, bombastic horns as the dancers and the performers would wave these enormous banners with all the flags of all the nations that we were going to tour. It was extraordinary. You can not underestimate what Michael’s popularity was and still is overseas no matter where we went, and we went to some places in Eastern Europe that not too many years before there actually were tanks in the streets. There were people becoming quite emotional all over the world, and that is one memory that will stay with me forever. […] When someone you’ve actually met and you feel you know is gone it puts you in a state of shock. It was unreal. I am proud to have worked for a guy that you could tell every day he was a consummate professional.  Michael Jackson worked harder than anyone else on tour. People see the oversimplification of his life in the media, but I do know that he was a really good boss and I do know that he was an incredible performer. Just from my personal experience in which I saw a couple hundred of his shows, I can prove it. […] Running the lights for a Michael show every night with the crowds that we had and the places we were, it was pretty overwhelming. A tour often becomes routine, no matter what. Over time, anything can become normal, but it was extraordinary to be in crowds of that size. I believe in Warsaw there were something like 400,000 people at the show. On paper that’s simply a big number, but until you see 400,000 people in one place, you really don’t get a grasp of the enormity of it. […] It’s hard to say where Michael will fall in the hierarchy of musical artists. People thought there would never be anybody who could surpass Elvis, and then there were The Beatles. People thought no one would surpass The Beatles, but then there was Michael.”

[Benny Kirkham, lighting director, designer and programmer extraordinaire; sources: www.vari-lite.com, www.mj-777.com]


“In 1988, the year prior to the wall coming down in Germany, we played the Reichstag, the old Parliament. Concerts were performed on the front grounds and you could hit the Berlin Wall with a rock from the back door of the venue. We raised extra lighting and sound gear so something could be heard and seen on the other side. We were told that the size of the audience listening in the street on the other side of the wall was 10 times the size of what was out front, which was a complete sell-out. That was one of the most memorable moments that I have ever been a part of and to be a part of it with a Michael Jackson tour makes it even more so. […] I truly felt strange. I had been talking to a friend of mine on his newest tour and he was telling me about the rehearsals and how Michael had recently gathered the entire crew onstage in a circle. Michael then stood in the center sincerely thanked them for about 20 minutes because it was going to be his comeback tour. The production manager reported that at the end of it, he could have taken the crew and gone up against the Dallas Cowboys and it really got everyone pumped about the upcoming shows. Five minutes after my friend and I finished our conversation, someone came to my door and said they’re reporting Michael Jackson dead. I was in a state of shock and awe. We were just talking about him, things were going really well, and now he’s gone. […] That’s a tough one. Whenever I think back on the life and history of Michael Jackson the greatest thing I get is a picture of the people I worked with. And as much as anything, Michael really stood for that. My last tour with Michael was my last tour and a good one to end on because I knew that after working with Michael and the great crew assembled I wasn’t going to do any better. It was a good time to end that part of my career.”

[Jim Waits, MediaTech Institute's career service coordinator; sources: www.vari-lite.com, www.mj-777.com]

 

“Michael Jackson was the major inspiration and motivator for my involvement in the issue of safe blood for Africa. I’m proud of the fact that since I began advocating for the safe blood initiative, we have gone from zero to 35 Safe Blood Centers across Africa, with American funding.”

[Chaka Fattah, Democratic member of the United States House of Representatives, representing Pennsylvania's 2nd congressional district; sources: http://fattah.house.gov, www.mj-777.com/]

 

“Note: How quickly we forget that our sojourn on earth is short. How marvelous it is when we do something remarkable in that space between hello and goodbye. Here at the Soul Sword Zen Community, we would like to pause and reflect on a soul who transfused us with his loving energy...Michael Jackson.

[…] My current book is called Soul to Soul. Zen, by simple definition, is a direct pointing at the soul of man. While Religion purports to reveal the Lord of Heaven, Zen strips us bare to reveal that reflective essence focused as a single being. When we cut through distortions of the mind the pure motive power of our being shines through unimpeded. Asians call it by many names. African Americans just call it soul. Michael Jackson delivered it full force decade after decade. The Bible poses a question, “What is man that thou art mindful of him or the son of man that thou visiteth him? When I watch Michael Jackson perform I feel the spiritual current flowing back through me to the source of all things. The answer is so simple. God loves us because we can send the current of Him back with our own spin on it. We can touch Him when we act from soul (spirit). When we drop the trappings that bind us to a solid world we are like our Eternal Father....free. We are taught that only one who comes like a child can enter the “kingdom of heaven.” No adult in the modern world blazed a more obvious path to that sacred place than our Michael.

Zen activity, soul force, is electric. Once it starts it goes on until spent. Michael Jackson held nothing back when center-stage. Each performance was his only performance, the last one. Perhaps to some people he was just an entertainer but that which comes from the soul directed to the source of creation affects the fabric of the world. It travels, if you will, soul to soul. How clever to disguise a cosmic agent as a child-like singer. While man adores flesh or his carnal nature, God abhors that attachment. “There is no good thing in the flesh,” the scripture says. If a mirror could reflect God there would be only spirit. It is that part of ourselves that we must learn to cultivate.

Michael went deep into the well of his being. When he reflected on his first trip to Africa, he spoke in marvelously poetic terms of the rhythm of the people and the land. In doing so he revealed his sensitivity to his environment. That was amplified more when he orchestrated the “We are the World” campaign. Suddenly a better world was in the making.

Michael was humble. Despite his tremendous accomplishments, fame and money, he spoke gently, and with respect to others. That is a significant sign to those who understand. The current of The Spirit flows through us not from us. Man is like a wire through which electricity flows. While he plays a part in the function, he is not the power but the conduit. Many will take the credit for their achievements outright developing a hardened ego. They do not understand. The effect they have will be different...limited.

All human beings are multi-dimensional whether they realize it or not. That is the reason why all cultures have a spiritual tradition. There is a difference between belief and being and between knowing about and experiencing. Many experts know a tremendous amount about things but the Zen of anything is simply living and doing it from Source, a "place" beyond prior thought. The act explodes or flows from the spirit of being. There is no dualism in such action, no hesitation. So Michael danced and we moved. He sang and our vocal chords vibrated. He was one soul expressing for many bodies. Don't just take my word for it. The following depicts the response of people in Sweden to the soul that was Michael Jackson.

Using a single human being to effect many is God's way, after all. One light bulb can illumine a room. What is important to remember is the light and the lamp are different. The lamp can be imperfect… It does not have to be perfect to hold up the bulb. Its job is to stand. Sometimes, ...those in the dark curse the lamp which holds the light. They don't realize that if no lamps stood they would stay in the darkness. There are no more perfect lamps to be found in this world, only those willing to stand in the flawed vessel of flesh and blood. They can only give the best they can, that and no more. There is a light at the end of the tunnel because someone is holding it.

There have always been beings on the planet who are “born of The Spirit.” For them the body is like a heavy overcoat. Thus the message of gurus and Zen masters have been directed at stripping away the facade to reveal the truth of our being...what is man? Do you really want to know the answer or do you want to become the answer. When a person comes along who can make you feel your spirit, it is a powerful reminder that there is more to us than we can see. Michael reminded us that we are not alone. He, the spiritual man, was right there with us...and so it is. We, too, can be there for each other in our true identity. It is unfortunate that in his darkest hour Michael felt alone I know that Michael is not alone now. It is those of us who remain here who may be more alone. Many of you grieve for the lost. You can no longer see him. I remind you, however, that when you stand before the mirror you do not see yourself either.

For a few moments in time we find ourselves in bodies, children of the universe learning our ABC's. Unfortunately, we often think we know everything when in fact we know next to nothing but how to play in the sandbox. The Creator is always speaking to us through us but we are not always listening. We criticize the lamp and fail to appreciate the light. Those who have magnificent gifts and give them freely are often victims of great suffering and unknown sorrow. There is a price to pay for serving humanity. Money cannot pay the cost and human beings are so fickle so as to turn on their heroes at the first hint of a supposed crack in their armor. If you love people and you desire to give them of your soul those people can wound you more viciously than the enemy. When Michael faced accusers in court I wrote then that we had a choice to make. I choose to believe in the innocence of his childlike nature because the currents flow back to Source. I believed, and did not waiver.

The artist has fallen and now his greatness is apparent, highlighted. The music lives on. The rhythm is unbroken. The curtain has not closed on Michael Jackson. A curtain has two sides. He 's just backstage until the rest of the show plays out. You must perform also. Will you pour out the best you have to give without looking back, without seeking approval from those around you? Will you give from the essence of your soul?. Will your activity have the power of Zen because it is real?

Michael Jackson demonstrated a great Zen lesson. He lived Michael Jackson. There is a Zen saying, “When you are really you that is enlightenment.” Who's bad!? Give of yourself completely and your light will burn brightly also. By that, I do not suggest that the world will honor and adore you but God, your eternal Father, will embrace you directly. The lotus will open. You will have an insider's view of the “show.”

Thank you Michael, you were sensational. We will see you at the family reunion.”

[Vernon Kitabu Turner, American Zen master, writer; source: www.soulsword.com]


“There are some subjects it is unwise to disagree with popular opinion about. Politics, religion, and Michael Jackson are on that list of taboo subjects. However; I have something of a reputation for rushing in where some folks fear to tread. And, I feel a certain obligation to defend my friend, Michael.

In private conversations with music industry friends, I have expressed my opinions concerning Michael's legal problems. Some people have said I am defending "unacceptable behavior." I disagree and point out he was never convicted. I maintain and defend my opinion.

My relationship with Michael began as business-based. I promoted two of his albums. "Thriller" has been the largest selling album of all time for many years. I predict it will continue selling almost unbelievable numbers of copies for many years to come. I promoted both, "Thriller" and "Bad."

I began our relationship with large amounts of respect and admiration for his talent, showmanship, dedication to his fans, and his innate knowledge of the entertainment industry. His business savvy greatly exceeded his age. As time went on, I developed both a strong fondness for him and a lot of concern for his total inability to recognize envy, greed, and uncontrolled ambition in other people.

Michael grew up in a surreal fairy-tale world. When he was only five years old, he was touring with The Jackson Five. He quickly became a child star. Everything he could dream of except a normal childhood was there for him. He was loved and pampered by everyone around him. He saw hundreds of millions of adoring fans populating his entire universe. He could do no wrong. No harm could befall him. Goodness and mercy surrounded him.

As he grew older, he applied his business skills and became one of the world's super wealthy. Older more experienced people advised him against paying $600 million for the publishing rights to the early Beetles music catalog. Nobody had ever paid nearly as much for publishing rights. He followed his gut and went against their advice. It has proven to be a very astute business move. His many decisions concerning the composition, production, presentation, and promotion of "Thriller" were equally astute.

His downfall and early death sprang from that same fairy-tale life. He had more than enough money to buy anything he could imagine. There was nobody for him to envy. He had it all. He was by nature a truly considerate and compassionate person. He had achieved his amazing success without harming anyone. He had lived in a world that was sheltered and isolated from mean and angry people.

The negative emotions of fear, envy, greed, and uncontrolled ambitions were alien concepts to him. He had never been the carrier or victim of such thoughts and feelings. He understood the meaning of those concepts the same way most people understand war. They were bad things that happened far away to people he did not know. They existed in a world he had never been exposed to.

I tried to explain bad people to him. I told him there are two ways to have the tallest tree in town. Loving people do so, by planting, nurturing, and caring for their trees. Maladjusted, angry, envious, blindly ambitious, and bitter people do so by cutting down everyone else's tall trees. He just shot me that famous smile, rolled his eyes, and said, "You should have more faith in our fellow man."

Michael loved people. He especially loved children. He enjoyed being around children. It provided a vicarious way of experiencing the "normal" childhood he never experienced. Children shared an innocence his fairy tale life had left intact within him. Other adults had lost that innocence. The advice I offered proved my own fall from grace. I and those who offered similar warnings were cynical and unable to see all the love and beauty surrounding him and each of us.

Michael's first exposure to the evil side of people was the original accusation of child molestation. In his mind, it was a very rare aberration. It was not indicative of people in general. He adopted the Christly response of, "Forgive them, Father. They know not what they do." He responded to the parents' greed with loving kindness. He gave them a few million dollars. Perhaps; it would allow them to grow, be happy, and lay down their ways of sin. If nothing else; it would teach them how insignificant a few million dollars were.

I tried to warn him the out of court settlement marked him as an easy target for similar people. I said other greedy parents would be willing to use their children to extort greater amounts. He had not lost his faith in love and goodness. The fact two poor misguided parents had given in to greed did not mean others would behave in a similar fashion.

I pointed out the long established career paths of many politicians. The successful prosecution of celebrities has taken many unscrupulous blindly ambitious politicians into higher more powerful offices. Power hunger has driven bad people to do anything imaginable to acquire and abuse power over ever increasing numbers of regular people. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Prosecuting attorneys have near absolute power.

Of course; it did happen again. Another set of parents was willing to rob their child of innocence. Another power hungry prosecutor viciously used Michael in a bid for higher office. The international broadcast news media used his misfortune to raise audience ratings. They joined in the effort to smear what was left of his reputation. They became foul-smelling vultures feasting on the bleeding flesh of a magnificent and graceful antelope.

Michael won the battle, but lost his faith in the fundamental goodness of humanity. He left the country of his birth. He changed his entire life. He ran to avoid the next accusation and trial. He knew it would come, if he remained here. This country he loved so much was no longer safe. He knew would be tormented by a long string of prosecuting attorneys. Each seeking to be the one who put that "menace to society" behind bars.

I fully expected the international media report his death was linked to drug abuse. It was linked. However; I know the true cause of his death. My friend died from a broken heart. He could not live in the vicious greedy world he was immersed in. The exposure to greed, envy, and run-away ambition came too late in life. He never had a chance to develop the immunity most of us develop at a much younger age.

His death has deprived our world of a great talent, a truly kind and generous person, and the most innocent adult I have ever known. […]

As a closing comment I am compelled to say, "Ask not for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for thee."

[Charlie Ray, Ambassador; source: http://ezinearticles.com]

 

“M.J. sure knows how to keep 'em coming, doesn't he? Long after he passed away, Michael Jackson is still making headlines and popping out tracks.

Jackson sang about love, peace and protecting the planet. He was as much a humanitarian as he was an artist, donating millions of dollars to various organizations.

Just as his contribution to society lives on, so does his music. His artistry has already transcended time, but now it's transcending him, as well! The announcement that he had recorded an entire album of new material in 2007, was recently released.

The songs were recorded with long-time family friend Eddie Cascio, while at a stay with the Cascio family in New Jersey a few years back.

[…]

The Jackson estate has already settled a deal with Sony to re-release the King of Pop's work, but anything created after his time with the record company is up for grabs. This means Cascio will stand to do very well in the deal record companies will surely be tripping over themselves for.

Though his dear friend Cascio wasn't written into his will, Jackson greatly valued the friendship of the entire family. So in a way, maybe it's his way of saying thank you.

Showbiz411 says the Cascio's offered their condolence to Jackson during his memorial service with a written inscription inside the bulletin, reading:

“Doo Doo, It is only once in a lifetime where you meet a true Angel sent from the Heavens above. I count my blessings each day for I have experienced Heaven on Earth. The wisdom, guidance, and knowledge will always be remembered and put into action. I thank you for the memories, for they will remain in my heart forever and ever. Our friendship will always be treasured. I write on behalf of my family.
We promise to always remain ‘The First Family of Love.’ From the Bottom of our Hearts WE THANK YOU and will love you FOREVER and ALWAYS. ANGEL ‘Dr.Heat’ Cascio and the Cascio Family.'"

A new release of Jackson's music would be sentimental and, perhaps, thought-provoking. When it does happen, though, hopefully the music will be allowed to speak for itself. Jackson felt compelled to tell stories of Mother Earth, love and compassion with his music and it stands likely that this latest contribution will be equally profound, and entertaining, as always.”

[Katie Leavitt; writer; source: www.tonic.com]

 

“I think I remember his eyes because he was so happy and he was almost bouncing around the room...and I remember Michael was the center of a lot of attention. [...] Michael had this stammer [in his speech], but when he sang he would not miss a note and his pitch was perfect. He must have had an excellent ear, because his little voice was just right on tune and everything you know and he was happy. […] My heart ached for him, because I remember the joy that he had mixing with his little friends, but it was so short-lived. He didn't have time to be a child. He just had to leave all of that behind and go to the serious part of life. And, that bothered me because I felt you know that's the way you learn so much about your relationships; is how you play. […] [When he passed] I thought what an awful, awful waste… because here was a man who could have accomplished even more than he had..”

[Felecia Childress, Michael Jackson’s kindergarden teacher (92); source: http://abclocal.go.com]

 

“[…] The capacity to become physically addicted to propofol has not been firmly established by any literature. Propofol is not structurally or pharmacologically related in any way to other common anesthetics such as opioids (narcotic painkillers), barbiturates (such as phenobarbital) or benzodiazepines. Propofol has no attraction to receptors that the above drugs commonly interact within the brain–meaning that potential for abuse and/or addiction should be limited. It is actually chemically similar to vitamin E and aspirin.

A case report titled “Lethal Self-Administration of Propofol (Diprivan): A Case Report and Review of the Literaturestates, regarding dependency “there is no evidence of tolerance“, which refers to the need to increase the amount of drug to maintain a given response. An article authored by Zacny, et al. discusses the possibility that propofol might be psychologically addictive at sub-therapeutic levels in healthy volunteers. However, Dr. J. Robert Sneyd blasted this study for its use of volunteers with a history of alcohol, soft and hard drug use. Sneyd also discussed the biased reporting of the statistics.

Furthermore, Jackson was well into therapeutic range and was not using sub-therapeutic doses for recreational use. Jackson was also not self-administering propofol.

Valium (diazepam) is a long-acting benzodiazepine. Ativan (lorazepam) is an intermediate-acting benzodiazepine. Versed (midazolam) is a short-acting benzodiazepine. All the benzodiazepines administered to Jackson are acceptable for the treatment of insomnia. However, other kinds benzodiazepines are typically used for insomnia, such as Restoril (temazepam) which was found among Jackson’s medications though this particular medication was not taken June 25th. Concerning insomnia, even though benzodiazepines may be used, IV benzodiazepines should not have been used to treat Jackson since he could take oral medications. There was no need for IV benzodiazepines for Jackson.

There have been rumors that Jackson had an addiction to various benzodiazepines. Rumors are simply that–rumors–and there is no current proof of such an addiction thus far. Jackson had one oral benzodiazepine prescribed to him by Dr. Metzger for insomnia. Jackson had three oral benzodiazepines prescribed to him by Murray, two for insomnia and one, written days before his death, was prescribed to take throughout the day. Information from Table 3A in the autopsy report shows that Jackson did not appear to be a compliant patient - he rarely finished or took his medications as prescribed, including antibiotics which should be finished in most situations. He underutilized almost every medication he had in his possession. For those medication bottles found empty, based on the date, the medications were filled at the pharmacy, it is appropriate to have found them completely used. The amount of benzodiazepines remaining and the length of time since being filled/written do not correlate with an addiction. However, Murray’s benzodiazepine-prescribing was more encouraging of establishing a tolerance in his patient (with no apparent tolerance) rather than trying to prevent one from occurring.

Even though benzodiazepines do pose a physical risk of tolerance and dependence, it is not common. An excellent article to read is “Benzodiazepine Use, Abuse and Dependence” by Charles P. O’Brien M.D. Ph.D. A link to this article can be found here: http://www.psychiatrist.com/supplene...2/v66s0205.pdf

This article highlights the differences between tolerance, dependence and abuse. This article states that benzodiazepines are rarely a primary drug of abuse and that the actual percentage of people who abuse these drugs is very low. There is a major difference between someone who intentionally chooses to abuse a drug and someone who accidentally becomes tolerant or dependent from regular use. Jackson did not appear to suffer from tolerance or dependence when he died though Murray was writing prescriptions which could have easily led to a tolerance or dependence to benzodiazepines. Physicians should be at the forefront of preventing tolerance and/or dependence from occurring. Physicians should be monitoring their patients regularly for signs or symptoms of tolerance or overuse and limiting the amount of medications they prescribe to their patients. Also, Murray never mentioned a fear of Jackson becoming addicted to benzodiazepines - Murray said he feared an addiction to propofol only. Jackson reportedly slept the entire night with the use of midazolam and lorazepam and without propofol on June 23rd. This notion could also indicate Jackson had no tolerance or addiction to benzodiazepines (nor a dependence on propofol as previously discussed).

Jackson did not have any organ damage that would indicate long-term drug abuse. For example, hearing loss from chronic narcotic analgesic (ex. Oxycontin) abuse is common. Liver damage is also a common find among drug abusers since the liver is responsible for metabolizing almost all medications. It appears that chronic propofol abusers (abuse over years) may develop hepatic steatosis or a “fatty liver”, possibly from the triglyceride content of propofol. Valvular heart damage from bacterial infections and/or certain kinds of skin damage/demarcations may be seen if someone injects medications regularly with needles. Jackson had none of these theoretical or common signs of abuse. It is known that Jackson used narcotic pain relievers at times. Narcotic analgesics are known to cause accidental dependence and tolerance in many patients. Even if Jackson had a tolerance issue in the past, it is important to remember that no narcotic pain relievers were found in the residence or in Jackson’s body. Every medication found in Jackson’s system were administered to him by Murray, under his own admittance. Even if some dependency issues arose from the treatment of pain, as Jackson admitted to a pain medication dependency in 1993, this dependency seems to have been treated appropriately as all of his organ systems were in excellent condition other than some lung issues that were minimal and not due to any form of drug abuse. Jackson was determined to have had bronchiolitis and chronic interstitial pneumonitis along with scarring in his lungs. These were likely from autoimmunity issues.

Please realize that all of the information above concludes that Jackson was not the “drug addict” the media has painted him out to be–he ended up being a victim of someone else’s actions, not from personal misuse of medications. Everyone in their lifetime has at some point misused a medication, perhaps shared a medication they should not, taken a medication that may not have been necessary for an ailment, etc. That does not mean someone is an addict. In fact, Jackson was at intermittent times on very high doses of prednisone, presumably to treat his discoid lupus. This steroid critical in the treatment of immune diseases could have caused him to have appeared unusually euphoric or “high” at times. Individuals without a substantial medical background may not be aware of such effects with a medication like prednisone.

Many people do not understand the basis behind drug addiction, what may lead to it, how the physical components of a drug may actually induce addiction/tolerance/dependence or how many find themselves relying on a medication just to have some sort of livelihood. By far, many who take medications in excess usually do so either from accidental tolerance/dependence formation or from inappropriate self-medication of an ailment. Perhaps they are depressed or suffering from an ailment such as fibromyalgia which then is treated with inappropriate medications or substances. Many people who find themselves using drugs and/or alcohol do so from something a physician cannot see–emotional pain. People in general should be more sympathetic to others who may or may not have a drug problem instead of seeing them as below one’s self.

Jackson may or may not have had some issues in the past, but it is important to remember he, too, was human. He does not appear to have any long-term damage from any sort of abuse of medications and certainly did not have any issues when he died - other than Murray being in his life.”

[Nikki Evans-Taylor and Meghan Keeler, two researching Michael Jackson fans; source: www.mj-777.com]

 

“Farewell, and goodbye Michael, thank you America, what a superb send off you have organised for a man who gave all he had to give, physically, emotionally and as I have learnt today, his contribution to so many, many charities, financially. Here in my home today in Sydney, Australia, there were no dry eyes and without a doubt the whole world is breaking their hearts which are filled with sadness.

The farewell tribute concert commenced in Sydney at 2.50 a.m. and as I watched with bitter sweetness, I realized that indeed this was a wonderful tribute to a man who had nothing to give the world but his whole soul.

What can you write about a man who gave so much and contributed completely and wholeheartedly to the happiness of millions of people throughout the world, through his music, not to mention the many sick and infirmed children which he visited in hospitals throughout the many countries of the world where he so generously gave from his heart, gifts and tickets to his shows, and lifted their spirits which would I have no doubt would have aided in their recovery.

I am the mother of one such child, where my son and I had the opportunity of meeting Michael at the Sydney Children’s Hospital in Randwick when he visited Sydney on the 18 November, 1987. I will never forget that day as long as I live, when Michael came to the hospital with an abundance of stuffed animal toys, so generously given, to all the children in the children’s ward. He went around the ward and visited each child personally and quietly spoke words of comfort to them and I will never forget the delight of these children, the medical staff and the parents who visited on that day.

My son now is a grown man and I wish to share this photograph with the whole world because it shows Michael’s selfless and generous nature. My son, unfortunately, lost his eye in a school accident that week and, as you can imagine, it was a real tragedy for the whole family, but that day he gave us all some joy, great pleasure and and an abundance of happiness.

Michael, I know that you are with the angels and may God Bless your soul and, rest assured, you will live in our hearts forever. Thank you for the music.”

[Natasha Lang, Michael Jackson fan; source: http://authspot.com]

 

“If all things are energy and thus vibrate, all things produce sound. Just imagine the symphonies that are taking place in nature and in the world around us that we are not tuned into. The following quotation sums this up beautifully, and takes it to a whole new level:

‘Deep inside I feel that this world we live in is really a big, huge, monumental symphonic orchestra. I believe that in its primordial form all of creation is sound and that it’s not just random sound, that it’s music. You’ve heard the expression, music of the spheres? Well, that’s a very literal phrase… I say: “Life songs of ages, throbbing in my blood, have danced the rhythm of the tide and flood.” This is a very literal statement, because the same new miracle intervals and biological rhythms that sound out the architecture of my DNA also govern the movement of the stars. The same music governs the rhythm of the seasons, the pulse of our heartbeats, the migration of birds, the ebb and flow of ocean tides, the cycles of growth, evolution and dissolution. It’s music, it’s rhythm.’

These words from none other than the maestro Michael Jackson (interview with Ebony magazine, 1992) show an exquisite understanding of the universe and the forces that create and sustain all that exists. Energy and thus the music that pours forth from it is a binding force, from the tiniest subatomic particle to entire galaxies.

Michael knew this, because he felt it. Anyone who has watched even the shortest clip of Michael performing can see how that energy permeates his body and engulfs his spirit. It is an overwhelming force that empowers and inspires. All creativity and inspiration is a channelling of this energy, this life force. Michael instinctively knew how to tap into that force and let it have its way with him. He practised and worked and strived to become the best, he dedicated every fibre of his being to improving and even exploding the gifts he had been given. Those gifts were immense, but would have come to nothing had Michael not practised like he did. As Maya Angelou wrote of him, “he gave us all he had been given”. Michael held nothing back, kept nothing for himself. From his talents to his energy, his time, his money, even his home, but most of all, his LOVE. Watch one interview with Michael and you can feel that love pouring from the depths of his soul. In This Is It, he says numerous times: “It’s all for love, L.O.V.E.” Michael loved the world and all people. He saw no distinctions and he embraced everyone. Despite the immeasurable pain that the world cause him, he always saw the good, hoped for the best, strived to make a change. Michael was in touch with a higher force, he saw the universe in ways far beyond what many of us can comprehend. He felt the music of creation, the symphony of nature. If we too learn to tune in to this frequency of life, perhaps we too can always see the good, hope for the best, and strive to make that change.”

“[…] Pop music is a type of escapism: it makes us feel good (if we enjoy it, that is!). So naturally, we want it to go on for longer; we want to live in it for just a moment more. So every time it gets higher, it’s like our energy is revitalised. A great example of a song that uses this technique to perfection is Michael’s Will You Be There. In this song, Michael doesn’t just have a key change at the end, but there are actually three different key changes throughout the song, each a tone higher than the previous one. Each time this occurs, you just want to join in; it’s uplifting and empowering. Songs like this help to raise your vibration (more on this idea in the next post).

So like any sound, music has very real physiological and emotional effects. When you are touched by a piece of music, you often want to grab on and never let go, you want to immerse yourself in it while simultaneously sharing it with the whole world. This is what Michael spoke of when he said “the ecstasy of divine union through music and dance”. Don’t underestimate its power.”

[ource: http://everythingbyitsrightname.wordpress.com]

 

“Michael's movement was this amazing amalgamation of all his influences, filtered through this beast of a dancer. His lines were so dynamic. He understood the strength of simple movement delivered with incredible precision and energy. An invert of the legs and an extension of the arm were so much more powerful than 15 pirouettes. His energy shot up from the earth. God danced through him. I remember the first time he taught me the moonwalk at the dance studio at Neverland. I was 7, I think. I remember standing at the ballet barre and him teaching me to push back one foot at a time, teaching me the weight distribution on the balls of the feet. "Now just go, push off, and fly!" he said. That night I couldn't sleep. I had to get up every 15 minutes and do it again. I learned altruism from him. In the entertainment industry, it's easy to get jaded. Despite all of the madness he went through, he had such an innocence. He trusted people, and in his heart, believed in them.”

[Wade Robson, Australian-born dancer, choreographer, director, producer and songwriter; source: http://findarticles.com]


“Even in his most subtle moves, he forced you to watch him. No one hit as hard as he did. He's one of the only people who could stand still for 30 seconds, a minute, and not let you look away.

Thriller, Smooth Criminal, Ghost, and Captain EO molded me as a creator. Without projects like these, I would be afraid to take the risks I do. If Michael had just described the plot of Thriller, who would've ever believed him? But he made it anyway and it is the most iconic video ever.

He was the first person to have technical dancers from contemporary and ballet backgrounds dancing with Pop N' Taco. It was incredible to see him bringing the worlds together. He gave every audience member something to connect with.

At 14, I booked a job with him. At the end of the live show, I happened to be standing next to him. He put his head close to mine, pointed to the signs in the audience, and said, "I don't understand why all these people love me." Especially to a kid, it was so honest. He was saying "I'm normal." It put me in a position to always stay grounded.”

[Brian Friedman, American dancer and choreographer; source: http://findarticles.com]


“The first day of rehearsals for Michael's 30th-anniversary celebration everyone was terrified. When he came in to watch the choreography I had made for him, I said, "OK, you can sit over here." I looked over, and my son had put some candy and a picture he drew of Michael on his chair. I apologized, "My son must have done that." Michael fell on the floor laughing - he was literally rolling. He said, "Show me some dance moves" to my son. It broke the ice, so the dancers weren't so afraid. He could've been a diva, but he was nice to everyone. That's what I remember most - his childlike spirit.”

[Brian Thomas, American teacher/choreographer; source: http://findarticles.com]


“How many stars can brand a step like he did? He affected generations of dancers. He pulled guys into the studio and made it OK for us to move. A lot of Michael's movement was dance, but he always tried to go for the pedestrian feel. As dancers, we were very careful to not look like dancers. We had to be more accessible. Michael was very generous, a very good soul. There were definitely the two sides: the ultimate showman and the regular guy - however regular you could be as a superstar. But he controlled it all. He collaborated with many choreographers, but it was always M.J.'s vision and direction.”

[Randy Allaire, co-founder of the Edge Performing Arts Center, back-up dancer for Michael Jackson; source: http://findarticles.com]


“Michael Jackson was a human phenomenon. To me, he is up there with the seven wonders of the world - a god of dance. I remember when he popped out of the floor and stood still for five minutes at the Bucharest concert - I had never seen an aura that strong before.”

[Jared Grimes, tap dancer; source: http://findarticles.com]


“When Michael Jackson came along with Thriller, my world changed. I thought, There's hope. He's closer to my color. I was in love with the fact that he had the power to draw people in, not only white people but people in general.”

[Akram Khan, British-based dancer and choreographer; source: http://findarticles.com]

 

“When a celebrity dies, it can hit us as intensely as when a friend or a beloved family member passes on. We asked David Kessler, an AOL Health advisor, co-author of "On Grief and Grieving" and a death and grieving specialist in Los Angeles, to give us some perspective on celebrity grief and the meaning of our public mourning. […] [We grieve for celebrities] because we do know them. Many times, we're grieving for someone we've spent hours with. It may have been through TV or at the movies, but in a very real way, we come to know their public persona, their personal work and sometimes their personal lives. Our grief is a loss of their continued body of work. We also connect celebrities to our own lives, such as "They played that song at my wedding" or "I saw that celebrity on Broadway" or "That celebrity has a son who is the same age as my son." We tend to find personal connections with celebrities that endear them to us. […]In general, our depth of grief depends on the amount of expectation we have. When a celebrity or someone else we know dies young or suddenly, it disrupts our personal sense of safety. It hits us as "that shouldn't have happened." On the other hand, you expect someone such as Ed McMahon, who was getting up in age, to pass away, especially if he's sick. That anticipation can soften the blow when the person actually dies because you know it's coming and you've had time to adjust to the reality.

A celebrity death can also be shocking because it's a reminder of our own mortality. There's an assumption that with fame and money come the best doctors and the best care. There's a sense that if Farrah Fawcett, for example, can't survive [anal] cancer when she's traveled the world for the best treatments and doctors, what's our hope? When a celebrity dies, it reminds us that death is the great equalizer. No one gets an exemption. […] Celebrity grief is more judged by others. For example, if your 50-year-old brother had a heart attack or your 60-year-old sister got cancer, everyone would appreciate your loss. But if your favorite TV star dies and you're upset and grieving over it, there will be people in your life who will say, "You didn't even know the person. How can you be grieving?" The people in your life may not understand your connection to the celebrity. But Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett, for example, are celebrities many of us may have known intimately all of our life and their life, too. Many of us grew up with Michael Jackson. Farrah Fawcett might have been on a poster in your locker when you were 15. […] The stages of death are universal to everyone. I could go though any celebrity and do the stages. With Michael Jackson, for example, there was denial -- the sense that he's in the hospital. They say it's serious, but Michael Jackson can't die. Then anger: I'm angry that he died. How could this have happened? Then bargaining: Well, wait a minute. If the doctor wouldn't have been there or if it had been a different doctor, could it have happened differently? Then there's the depression that Michael Jackson is gone forever. There will be no more of that music that will be new and no more performances of him. Then the acceptance that Michael Jackson is now in the realm of Elvis Presley and so many others. […] The media continues the relationship that we've had with the celebrity. Because of the media, we now know the moment a celebrity goes into the hospital and what's going on with them. The moment of their death we hear about it. And it's only fair. If you've seen this person in the media all of your life, to have covered their life but not covered their death would be unthinkable. But everyone's grief is as unique as a fingerprint. There will always be people who will look at the media coverage of a celebrity death and say, "Enough already." And there will be people who can't get enough of it. All told, public grief is not a new phenomenon. We used to gather in town's squares and villages to talk about the well-known people of the community who were ill or dying. But TV has brought it to a new level. […]

Seeing funerals and coffins or a tragic event that's being replayed on TV can be helpful to process the death if you're prepared for it and it's done appropriately. It doesn't speed up the grieving process, though. Grief is a natural, healthy reaction. Compared to mourning, which is what we do externally, grief is what we do internally. We may discontinue to outwardly mourn someone, but we may still grieve for them for years. Grief goes away then comes back. In grief, things don't hurt less; they just hurt less often. Media coverage of the anniversary of a celebrity's death, though, can help us continue to grieve if we need to process the death a little more. For instance, if you lost a loved one or are connected somehow to 9/11, or just feel moved by that day, you can tune in on September [11] and see some kind of memorial. That's just as true with a celebrity's passing. Many times, they'll do something on the anniversary of the death. If you feel like you need to reconnect and remember and grieve a little more, the media often provides that opportunity. […] We all need to monitor our own grief reactions and mourning process. If you're drawn to the media coverage and you think it's helpful, you can tune in. We know when we're compulsively drawn to it and can't get away and when it's not conducive. If you feel it's not right for you, keep in mind that you can change channels. There is an off switch. […]

Externalizing your feelings can help them from becoming overwhelming. Here are five ways to do it that I recommend:

1. If your feelings are very strong and there's a public memorial service for the celebrity, attend it if you can or watch it on TV.

2. Send cards or a short note to the celebrity's loved ones. You can usually find an e-mail link to them on the Internet. I also try to provide links on my website.

3. Talk with others who feel connected to the celebrity like you do.

4. Volunteer or give money to a charity in the celebrity's name.

5. Remember what that celebrity did and stood for in your heart and cherish it.

[…] Crying and sadness when a celebrity dies are absolutely normal unless it's every day, every hour or not progressing. For example, if you listen to Michael Jackson's songs every once in a while and remember him, the intensity and duration is probably okay. But if you told me you were listening to his songs every waking moment and not able to go to work, the intensity is way too much. You've gone into the unhealthy side. If you truly loved that celebrity, you will truly grieve for them. So don't deny your feelings. You have a right to them. But seek counseling or bereavement support if the intensity or duration of your grief is too long or too strong.”

[David Kessler, AOL Health advisor, co-author of "On Grief and Grieving” and a death and grieving specialist in Los Angeles, Ca.; source: www.aolhealth.com]

 

“When I think of him, I think of him as a young boy, this teenager that I first met. This adorable boy that I met who loved to look at my beaded socks, and said to me once, “Cher, do you think we could just go to the movies?” and we looked at each other and said, “Nah, don’t think so.” We talked about, ‘Let’s just rent the movie out and we’ll bring all of our friends’. A young man that I remember dancing with all night, and going to see ‘Dreamgirls’ with... I thought: “My God, I’m going to dance with this boy who’s like the best dancer in the world, and I remember one night, we were at a party - I think it was on the Queen Mary - and we danced all night long. And I never even thought about how I wasn’t his equal as a dancer. We were just having a blast. He was a great teenager. He was a great, optimistic, adorable - not very confident, though - he was so beautiful and adorable, but he didn’t have any confidence in that.”


[Cher, American singer-songwriter, actress, director and record producer; source: www.thedailybeast.com]

 

“My husband and Michael came to Las Vegas to see my show, and I was more than honored to have him. He came backstage, and we spent about an hour together. He had a lot of questions for me. He was very, to me, he seemed to me like, “I want to know so much, I want to know how it is to sing every night here. Is it difficult to sing here every night? Is it demanding?” I felt he wanted to know so much. And I wanted to know so much for him. I was amazed to have him in my dressing room. When I said, “Ladies and Gentlemen, Michael Jackson is with us tonight, I thought people were going to jump off the balcony. People went crazy.”


[Celine Dion, Canadian singer-songwriter, actress and entrepreneur; source: www.thedailybeast.com]

 

“For someone who was so avant-garde in his music, Michael was a traditionalist when it came to painting. He always asked me to find him a William-Adolphe Bouguereau painting of angels and saints. When I did find one, he wanted to know if I could find one with even more angels and more saints.
I went to hear him sing in Romania in [the] 1990(‘s). When he heard that there was an orphanage filled with children with HIV, Michael began to weep. Whether it was a beautiful painting that made him emotional, or the horror of children's lives which made him cry, Michael felt very deeply about things and wasn't afraid to let that show.”

[Barbara Guggenheim, art consultant; source: www.thedailybeast.com]

“Every Tuesday night we had dinner. He was passionate about learning and about everything. My father adored him. He knew every word of every song in every film my father ever made. He burst into “Triplets” and three little unexpected children, that thing when he was around my dad. He was so curious. When I took him to Martha Graham's for rehearsal, he was absolutely riveted and we went home, and he wanted to learn all of those steps. So I taught him. He was such a student of everything. The spacewalk was really done in vaudeville, but he took it and changed it and made it his own. If you notice in his early videos, his feet are kind of flat. You know, when he has the diamond outfit on. His feet are kind of flat. As you go on, he took Gene Kelly's socks, threw some glitter on them, and wore those.”

[Liza Minnelli, American singer and actress; source: www.thedailybeast.com]

“He was such a sensitive guy, that when we would go out to dinner - he was a vegetarian - he would apologize to each vegetable before he ate it. He ordered steamed vegetables and he literally would say, "I'm sorry, Mr. Carrot" and "I'm sorry, Mr. Broccoli." He was so empathetic to other people and all living things - that's really what I remember most about Michael, even more than his dancing and singing. When you talked to Michael, you really felt he was feeling what you were feeling.”

[Rob Cohen, producer of ‘The Wiz’; source: www.thedailybeast.com]

 

Michael opened the door in a white t-shirt and jeans, all alone, and immediately ran up to greet [very tactile] Luciano. He sat on the couch right between us and started to speak with the enthusiasm of a little boy. After a few minutes, Luciano looked at me from under his glasses, and in dialect, said [in effect]: "What a load of crap you told me [that he can’t stand being touched]!"

[Nicoletta Mantovani, widow of tenor Luciano Pavarotti; source: ‘Vanity Fair Italia’ remembrance issue / http://operachic.typepad.com]

“We had a friendship that was sweet and spontaneous, just like him...I was always struck by they way he lived and looked at life like a child'.”

[Roberto Cavalli, Italian fashion designer; source: www.italymag.co.uk]

 

“[…] We had a very long and hilarious day at Neverland with him. It was Anton, our executive Amy Pascal who is now one of the heads at Sony, Larry and myself. There was this bathroom, which was full of paper wrappers and candy wrappers […]. It was really small, surrounded by a concrete wall, and Michael looked at it and said to us, “Isn’t it beautiful? It’s my favourite place where I go to be by myself.” We had nachos for lunch, with cheese melted on top, served to us by these white Midwestern overweight women in brown coffee-shop uniforms with little white aprons and little hats. […] And we went to see the zoo. He had these giraffes in this enclosure, and there was this platform Michael walked up to where the giraffes came over to be petted, and the platform was level to their heads, so they’d come over and their eyes were the size of the tables, it was astonishing. But the funniest one was where we went to see his young lion, who was asleep. Michael told us to be very quiet. You know how in zoos there’s the cage the lion’s in, then two or three feet out there’s a little fence that keeps you at distance? Well he urged us over the fence, so we were all gathered round staring at the lion asleep, and Michael hollered out and clapped his hands and the lion woke up and sprang at Amy, and she squealed and back-pedaled and fell over the fence and landed flat on her ass, and Michael laughed his head off. I mean, gales of laughter. And he said, “He always goes after the smallest person in the group.” He laughed and laughed and laughed. […]. We went to the movie theatre on his ranch, where on either side of the seats towards the back there were glass rooms that had hospital beds in them. […] And then, when we finished the script, I got a phone call from Michael. At the time, I thought it was my then-boyfriend Danny Elfman playing a joke on me, so when I heard the voice go: “Hi Caroline, it’s Michael Jackson,” I answered, “Hi Michael!” in this Michael Jackson voice. Then I thought, Oh fuck, and I quickly worked out that it fucking was him, and he realised that I automatically made fun of him, and I don’t have any memory of what he said; I was just blushing and sweating the entire conversation. […] I was fascinated by him. I was an admirer of him as a child, and as he aged and went on his weirdy journey, I just thought, ‘How can this be a human being?’ It’s hard for any of us to imagine what it must be like to be someone who can’t go out of their house without being mobbed. He described to us how he would get in disguises and go out into the world, that was one of his greatest joys. I can’t say he made me feel sad, but it was close to that. […] Oh, he was a huge Edward Scissorhands’ fan; that’s why I was hired for the job. I’m sure he would have loved to have been Edward Scissorhands. […]”

[Caroline Thompson, American novelist, screenwriter, film director, and producer; source: www.viceland.com]

 

“He was an amazing, amazing man. Most people what to know what I thought of Michael Jackson. ‘Was he a nice guy or was he weird?’ […] He never said a mean thing to anybody. He is very much alive in my mind and always in my heart. I lived with Michael through all of those years with the press. I would sit in the trailer and he would cry. He would say ‘I don’t understand why they want to tear me apart.’ […] He always told me [in his soft voice] to let the music talk to you. Don’t ever impose your thoughts on the music. The music will tell you what it wants to do.”

[Vincent Patterson, director and choreographer; source: www.pennlive.com]



“[…] As early as 1988, when he performed “Man in the Mirror” at the Grammy Awards, there was pain and urgency in his performance deeper than the song’s profound message. The music flowed through and consumed his body, every beat finding expression, while his reedy voice soared over the instruments and singers on stage with him. After imploring the listener to “make that change,” he slumped to his knees, apparently unable to stand. But Michael was not defeated. Rather, the music lifted him, physically and spiritually, to a stunning crescendo. He seemed simultaneously possessed by and in command of his craft. As the crowd rose to their feet, his sweet gentle voice whispered, “Thank you,” and invited us, again, to “make that change.” His head deeply bowed, the lights faded to black. This passion was characteristic of all his performances.

"I am committed to my art,” Jackson explained to Oprah Winfrey in 1993. “I believe that all art has as its ultimate goal the union between the material and the spiritual, the human and the divine. I believe that to be the reason for the very existence of art." Through his music and dance, the person of Michael Jackson became this point of intersection. […] Michael had a sound deeply his own, too. His music touched millions around the world, giving voice to their experiences of life, love, loss, fear, and redemption. His work created images and moves which set the standard for future artists. If he wasn’t singing of our experiences, his music was, at least, the soundtrack to them. […]”

[Maria Rodgers O’Rourke, author, facilitator and speaker; source: www.globe-democrat.com]


”I've never had a boss die on me before. […] This is very sad, because these sets we designed can only live with Michael performing. Michael Jackson was an original like Elvis. No one can take his place on these sets. We all were working very hard [for the “This Is It” shows]. There was no margin for error. The week before Michael Jackson died we were done with everything, [except for] the re-shoot with the sets, and that never happened. It really hurts me to think that all this work we did will never be shown. The whole idea to make this concert such a theatrical event was really nice and I don't think there will be a way for any of us to see it now. It hurts that it won't ever be seen the way it was supposed to be. […] This was supposedly the biggest LED (light emitting diode) screen assembled. It was 33 feet tall and 100 feet wide, and so, ...it was to cover the whole stage with a background of videos shot in 3D running the whole time (the audience was supposed to get 3D glasses with their tickets).... and because of the 3D effect, those phantom dancers and sets would blend seamlessly with the real dancers live on stage, much like a hologram would, to give the audience an ultimate image. […] I know all the rumors about Michael Jackson, but what I can say is that he was the nicest guy to work with - there was no facemask, he always was elegantly dressed, he definitely looked like Michael Jackson - he'd wear a black military style jacket with elaborate golden braiding to rehearsal, a red leather jacket with elaborate embroidery, but Michael was businesslike, very accessible, super polite and incredibly considerate. […] I was hoping to see the sets used.

I was in tears when I saw Paris Jackson speak of her father [at the memorial service]. Michael introduced his children to us when he took them on a tour of the sets. The children were normal children, very happy children and they just wanted to play on the cemetery set and he played with them. He seemed like a natural dad and I am sure that he loved his children and he obviously doted on them. […] His life was obviously a little surreal. When he arrived to work, he'd have to come with heavy security, of course. There was an entourage of dark suits, at least four body guards. We even had a code name for the production stages in Culver City - "DOME”. We were the Dome Project. […] He would arrive in one of the two or three brand new shiny dark Cadillac SUV’s that would accompany him to rehearsal. One vehicle for him and the children, one that contained the four bodyguards and sometimes there was a third car just to throw off the paparazzi a little. None of the cars had license plates. Michael Jackson was very well read and he loved art, and he knew his photography, and he liked this photographer, Lewis Hine, who had been a social worker in the depression era and shot photographs of victims of child labor - four, five, six year olds working in mills and mines. He was also very well known for a collection of photos of the construction of the Empire State Building, which are very valuable now. Michael loves this guy and he based "The Way You Make Me Feel" choreography and set design on the photos of the men constructing steel beams as if they were on the top of a skyscraper having a lunch break. […] Usually when Michael came to the sets, he was there to work; he just wanted to show us what he was doing and choreograph the dancers on the sets with the show's choreographer, Travis Payne and with the director, Kenny Ortega, who is also a long-time choreographer. The rehearsals were amazing to watch. I think Michael invented all the moves. Michael defied the laws of nature. From where I stood, which was about 30 feet away from the stage, he looked like he was dancing like he did thirty years ago, he was beautiful to watch. He was so lithe, and his dancing so fluid - there is no one that could dance like this; for me there was no better dancer, not Nureyev, not Fred Astaire. One thing you realize when you meet Michael is that he has this natural charisma - I don't know what to call it really - I don't know if it's a chemical reaction, because I've worked with Leonardo Di Caprio and Robert De Niro, but working with Michael felt so different from anything I've ever experienced. We only had five weeks to go from conception to production, which is so little time for a project like this - but whenever he saw me, he was very considerate of me and the sets and very nice. There was no time to do things over, everything had to be approved and there was no going back. I only saw him for the first time when we were halfway through the construction stages that they had rented for him to rehearse at the Forum. […] Nothing Michael Jackson does is small. Really, everything he does is big budget, so we were never turned down for anything we asked for, but we were told we had to make it happen fast and so everything was always done by the best people with a big budget. I worked with the conceptual artist Nicole Loebart and her husband, the art director William Budge. I sat down with her and from photos and ideas she makes these elaborate conceptual drawings on her computer and everything was pretty much approved so we could begin to build the sets. […] I am so sorry. Because I wanted to see this production too. And now nobody will..”

[Bernt Capra, art director: source: www.topangamessenger.com]


“There are two things to say about him. He was a musical genius; and he was an abused child. By abuse, I do not mean sexual abuse; I mean he was used brutally and callously for money, and clearly imprisoned […]. The damage done to him […] by all those motivated more by money and power than by faith and love was irreparable in the end. He died […] I loved his music. His young voice was almost a miracle, his poise in retrospect eery, his joy, tempered by pain, often unbearably uplifting. He made the greatest music video of all time; and he made some of the greatest records of all time. He was everything our culture worships. […] I grieve for him; but I also grieve for the culture that created and destroyed him. That culture is ours' and it is a lethal and brutal one: with fame and celebrity as its core values, with money as its sole motive, it chewed this child up and spat him out. I hope he has the peace now he never had in his life. And I pray that such genius will not be so abused again.”

[Andrew Sullivan, English autor, editor, and political conservative commentaror; source: http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com]


“[…] It’s pretty well known that I have a sizable collection of early twentieth century illustrated children’s books. I particularly love the illustrations of Arthur Rackham, Edmund Dulac, the Detmold brothers and Kay Nielsen. Many of the volumes I have in my collection were acquired from Gene Blum, the owner of Cherokee Books. Cherokee Books used to be on Hollywood Boulevard near Whitley, down the street from the location of Ozcot, L. Frank Baum’s home and gardens. I began going to Cherokee Books in the late 1960s — not for the illustrated books, which were downstairs, but for the rare comic books being sold upstairs by Gene’s brother Burt. It was hard for me not to slowly become familiar with Gene, as I passed by him at least once a week on my way upstairs to see Burt. Eventually as my collecting habits changed I saw lots more of Gene. He’d call me when anything special came in. Gene had a great, very dry, sense of humor (he’s a professional poker player now). At one point in our client/provider relationship I began to notice that Gene’s calls were becoming fewer. When asked about it, Gene revealed that I had some competition for the books I was collecting: Michael Jackson. Gene was helping Michael to put together a fantastic collection of classic illustrated children’s books. Money was no object. I thanked Gene for the info and spread my collecting net farther. I still stopped in to see Gene once a week to see if there was anything that Michael might have passed on. On one such afternoon Gene told me, “I just had the strangest customer. He walked in here wearing a long trenchcoat and a slouch hat. He had on big, dark horn-rimmed glasses and Jerry Lewis’ huge protruding teeth from ‘The Nutty Professor.’” Gene continued. “I began to usher this bizarre character out of my shop when he stopped me.” In that unmistakable sweet, high voice of his, he said, “Gene — It’s Michael.”

[…] Michael Jackson was nuts about theme parks — particularly DisneyLand. This is why he had turned his own place of residence, NeverLand (named after fantasy island from “Peter Pan”) into his very own mini-theme park. Thinking he wanted to expand in that area, Michael teamed up with a Middle Eastern sheik to purchase controlling interest in Landmark. Landmark’s chiefs welcomed this huge infusion of cash. Michael had his fingers in a lot of business pies. There was a flurry of activity on Michael’s behalf after the initial acquisition of the company. Then, Michael’s attention drifted to other areas of his business world. At Landmark, life fell back into Business As Usual. Every once in awhile, Michael would remember he owned this theme park design company. Landmark would get a “What have you done for me lately?” call from Michael. The company would immediately switch gears and create something to satisfy Michael. Michael would be thrilled and his attention would drift away once more and Landmark would return to their regular jobs. That was the reason I was told to drop everything and design some new wrought iron gates for NeverLand. Michael had called. I had a blast doing that job. I am a HUGE Peter Pan freak. I also knew that Michael’s and my collecting tastes were identical. I knew I could create something that Michael would love. I was secretly hoping that through this gig I’d finally get to meet Michael (I really wanted to see his book collection) but that did not come to pass. The gate design was fun. I created wrought iron silhouettes of all the main elements from “Peter Pan”. They included Peter, Captain Hook, Tinker Bell, the Darling children, mermaids, pirates, Indians and Hook’s pirate ship, the Jolly Roger. I don’t know if it was ever made but I heard that Michael was thrilled by my design.”


[William Stout, American fantasy artist and illustrator; source: http://bookclubs.barnesandnoble.com]

 

“Thank you, Michael, for your hard work, dedication, philanthropy, and the sacrifice of your young spirit. Your vision and imagination live thru (sic) us. I don’t know what to say.”

[Erykah Badu, American recording artist, record producer and actress; source: http://glossymagazine.ro]

“It’s a great loss and you can’t help being sad when a man like him passes away. When I met him in 1992, he seemed to be an adult with a child’s soul. I continue to keep the autograph he signed for me.”

[Ion Iliescu, former Romanian President; sources: www.cancan.ro, http://glossymagazine.ro]

 

It was just by coincidence that I became acquainted with Michael Jackson. It was 1983 and my wife, Flora, was pregnant with our first child. Frequently, we ate at a vegetarian restaurant called ‘The Golden Temple’. Generally, we went during the hours between lunch and dinner. There were few other customers during that time period, but there was one other regular: Michael Jackson. He had recently become a vegetarian, and he was fascinated to follow the progress of a vegetarian pregnancy. When our son, Elijah, was born in June, Michael was excited to see him. Once, he asked me what it was like to be a father, and he told me that that was what he wanted most of all in life: to have a child of his own to take care of. Even then, there was something poignant about this man who had not been allowed to be a normal child himself wanting to be a father.

On February 18, 1984, when Elijah was eight months old, we took him to ‘The Golden Temple’. There were no others customers except Michael and his 13-year-old friend, Emmanuel Lewis, who was known to the world as "Webster." Michael said that he wished he had a camera because he wanted his picture taken with Elijah. My wife had a camera in her bag, but no film. Michael suggested that she could get some film at a nearby drugstore and asked if he and Emmanuel could take care of Elijah while we waited. When Flora returned, Michael suggested various poses and she snapped a number of photos of Elijah with Michael and Emmanuel. Michael asked for copies of the prints when they were developed.

Each of the photos turned out to be of interest, but there was one, of Michael holding Elijah in his arms, that stood out. Looking at it today, 25 years later, and seeing Michael's bright look and clear smile, I can't help but feel sad. He looked healthy, happy and untroubled. His album Thriller had caused a sensation. "Beat It" had been released only four days earlier. And ten days after that afternoon at ‘The Golden Temple’, he won eight Grammy Awards. When we next saw him at the restaurant just after his night of triumph, he was beaming, but he also seemed a bit embarrassed by his success.

I got a lot of mileage out of that photo of Michael Jackson and Elijah. Whenever I traveled, I brought with a packet of family photos. The Michael and Elijah photo was the last in the set, and when people got to it, they were usually stunned. Wherever I went, China, Russia, Burma, Tahiti, everyone recognized Michael Jackson. I have to admit that, as a journalist, I used it to put people at ease when I wanted to interview them.

[…] Now that he is gone, I want to share that photo of Michael Jackson, from a time when he appeared to be at peace with himself and with the world. This is the way I want to remember him.”

[David Wallechinsky, Editor-in-Chief, AllGov.com; sources: www.huffingtonpost.com, www.mj-777.com]

 

“Michael Jackson made the best cinema of 1991 with the music video “Black or White,” which was easily superior to any short or feature-length film released to the public that year. To find a comparable example of visual montage, you have to go back to one of Alain Resnais’ time-shifting études, the marriage scherzo in Citizen Kane or the chase-trial fugue in D.W. Griffith’s Intolerance. I combine musical and filmic values because “Black or White”’s visionary approach to egalitarianism—ending with a still-miraculous sequence of genetic morphing and counter-balanced by a solo dance of frustration and rage—was a singular feat: Its constant rhythm was accompanied by a stacking-up of thrilling, provocative ideas.

The night “Black or White” premiered on FOX was one of those memorable moments when Michael Jackson brought the world together through his art. That unification is, of course, MJ’s legacy. But not merely in a lovey-dovey sense. MJ’s command of popular attention was always unexpected and challenging. Each cultural/historical marker demonstrated his unique sensibility, mostly superb taste (pardon his penchant for horror-film tropes), his simple yet probing, agitating intellect and his seemingly boundless talents: a great singer, songwriter, dancer and, in movie terms, performer-as-auteur.

This career of milestones hasn’t ended with Jackson’s death last week at age 50. Despite media vultures striking new lows in their ongoing scavenger hunt, Jackson’s loss started unprecedented Internet traffic that experts say diminished the cyberspace and twittering exchanges about Iran’s recent election. His personal incarnation of modern cultural and political change began with 11-year-old Michael’s first national television appearance on ABC’s The Hollywood Palace, performing the still-astonishing “I Want You Back” with his brothers in The Jackson Five. Child prodigies and splashy debuts are commonplace in show business, so who could imagine what Jackson’s brash, playful introduction augured?

The extraordinary achievements that followed dwarfed the careers of stars who attained greater esteem in single pursuits; MJ epitomized for all the greater social benefits of liberated black American expression. As MJ pushed R&B forward, adding to the emotional definition of cultural consumers’ lives, it first seemed like showbiz as usual. The records “ABC,” “The Love You Save” and “I’ll Be There” exemplified youth culture’s new energy and power. Then MJ confounded convention with the startlingly poignant “Ben.” It was a strategic movie tie-in theme (for the 1972 horror flick of the same name, a sequel to Willard) the same year Diana Ross sought to infiltrate Hollywood with the biopic Lady Sings the Blues. But MJ took his B-movie opportunity so seriously that it quietly permeated the zeitgeist. People who don’t appreciate “Ben” don’t really appreciate pop culture and remain clueless about MJ. His tender, profound emotionality taught teenagers everywhere that they could feel more deeply than they realized.

Here’s the beauty part: “Ben” wasn’t just for black fans (such as those who identified with the Jackson Five’s “Mama’s Pearl”) but white listeners also responded (and I know many of them), recognizing and assenting to MJ’s heartfelt pledge. This is why, 25 years after “Ben,” […] the tagline stuck. It had been denied him by the Elvis-worshipping racist media, but M.J. snatched it from the selfish claws of industry bias. Some scoffed but listeners and sharp observers knew it was true.

Going beyond hubris, M.J. made the self-assertion that black artists were usually too modest (or underfinanced) to dare. Since childhood, M.J. gained an understanding of how the record industry and the mainstream media work. He aimed for cultural domination, achieved it then moonwalked across our consciousness—strutting and gliding as if the crown was no heavier than a bon vivant’s fedora. Little Michael started out singing about desire with a profound sense of urgency. Both “Ben” and “I Want You Back” offer the sense of immediacy special to great pop, holding witnesses in an intense private moment. It is not ironic that these records incarnate youth’s illusion of immortality. It’s a gift.

Most people have a favorite MJ song or performance that exemplifies the ways we come to understand and share joy and sadness, celebration and isolation. MJ mediated these things - as certified when the recent movies ‘13 Going On 30’ and ‘The Wackness’ paid tribute to MJ. Awareness of his art is a natural part of the modern experience. MJ was such a fact of life for the past 40 years that the newsmedia’s disrespect - as in journos’ demeaning “J****” - deprives the world of appreciating the wonder and depth of Jackson’s art. Critics readily grant hero status to particular artists, but if Bob Dylan, Kurt Cobain, P.J. Harvey and Eminem are pop’s “geniuses”, what word can adequately describe the world-changing creativity, astounding craft and miraculous precision of Jackson’s output? His personal issues don’t justify denying it. Mainstream tastemakers find it difficult to accept the intellectual, spiritual and aesthetic progress of MJ absorbing Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, Billy Eckstein, Sam Cooke, James Brown and Bob Fosse, continuing their work and matching it in his own style.

There’s much originality to reflect on: whether the race-defying polemic “Black or White” or many innovative music-videos like “Scream,” “Bad” (Scorsese’s best post-’70s film) and the redoubtable “Thriller,” which many people admire and first showed MJ’s unique flair for combining popular extravaganza with personal anxiety. Go back to 1971’s “I’ll Be There” (its essence appears even in MJ’s late work). This early classic was more than a love song: The youngster’s earnestness conveyed a cherubic purity in the uncanny lyric, “You and I must make a pact/ We must bring salvation back.” The religious evocation isn’t cloying; it recognizes spiritual need in romantic ardor. The innocence of Jackson’s voice confirms it as natural, basic. Jackson inherited the pop song tradition like catechism; as a devout, he grew into his own sincere articulation - as when echoing Billie Holiday in the “Ain’t Nobody’s Business” refrain of 1988’s “The Way You Make Me Feel,” yet updating and owning it.

On the 1980 “Lovely One,” sung with his brothers, the paean to mother Katherine Jackson becomes an ode to womanhood - the romantic ideal. MJ doesn’t fatuously evade distinctions, but in pop’s great emotional imperative, social boundaries dissolve in the funk and ecstasy of singing, jamming. “Check out this feeling!” he exhorts to all who will listen. The fact of feeling in his music, singing and brotherly harmonies, proves the goodness of loving. Through the vivified funk of “Lovely One,” Jackson demonstrates that You-Must-Dance, rhythmic mastery that goes beyond intellectualizing. Maybe it will never make sense to tight-asses. Pity is, they often have tight souls.

Rev. Al Sharpton was right to remind people that, before Tiger Woods, Oprah Winfrey and Barack Obama benefited from mass self-congratulation, Michael Jackson was a crucial figure contributing to -encouraging—the liberal world’s enlightenment. As a product of the Civil Rights Era, he was an invaluable inspirator of pop open-mindedness. Part of MJ’s social uplift comes from his determination to exceed the social and professional limits of the black social pioneers who preceded him. His funky, elegant stage and studio precision derives from the Northern industrial aspiration passed forward to the Great Migration’s later generations. This remains mysterious to many pop music scholars still stuck in the patronizing, sentimental perception that uneducated, earthy Negroes are “authentic” blacks. President Obama’s grudging condolence suggests that this snobbery still exists in high places. As a Motown artist, MJ defied that stereotype as a way of guaranteeing his own cultural achievement, but it also laid a spiritual and material foundation for success - acceptance and satisfaction - that lasts.

Inherent in all the MJ trailblazing is belief - proof—that the Civil Rights Era-promises of equality are realized in the open and creative expression of group and individual feelings. Artists confide a special faith in their public expression: that what they have to say will be heard and understood. (“Beat It” changed more hearts than the Iowa Caucus.) Through the audacity afforded by exceptional talent, this becomes more than a hope and you can grasp it personally - whether or not anyone else concurs - in “Ben,” “Billie Jean,” “You Are Not Alone” or, as in the challenge posed by “Black or White”: “Don’t tell me you agree with me/ When I saw you kicking dirt in my eye.”

MJ had the audacity to believe that he could also create that communication on a larger scale in sincere anthems like “We Are the World,” “Earth Song” and “Man in the Mirror.” It’s a wonder of pop art when you can’t really separate the gravitas of an anthem from a love lyric. That flash of emotional truth in MJ’s art makes it possible to set aside scandal. What genuine artist has avoided it?

[…] As the soulless media returns to its routine of hateful recrimination, this cultural fact remains: We all live, dance and cry in Michael Jackson’s shadow.”

[Armond White, American film and music critic; sources: http://nypress.com, www.heeheeshamone.com]

 

“While Michael Jackson did not identify himself as a Buddhist or a Taoist, many of his ideas and creative efforts have a distinctly Eastern flavor.

The unexpected 2009 death of pre-eminent pop music icon Michael Jackson sent shock waves around the world, affecting fans, admirers, and critics alike. Jackson's music inspired millions in virtually every nation on Earth, and despite a troubled personal life, his positive message of hope and triumph against adversity will live on in his musical and cultural legacy.

Michael Jackson's songs and interviews often contained what many perceive to be spiritual themes. Although Jackson was raised as a Jehovah's Witness, he often seemed to reach beyond that tradition and embrace a more "universal" flavor of spirituality. In many ways, the ideas Jackson expressed are similar to those found in the traditions of Buddhism and Taoism.

One With Everything - Michael Jackson's Creative Consciousness
In a piece called "The Dance," from the inlay sleeve of his 1991 album Dangerous, Jackson writes:

"Consciousness expresses itself through creation. This world we live in is the dance of the Creator. Dancers come and go in the twinkling of an eye but the dance lives on. On many an occasion when I am dancing, I have felt touched by something sacred. In those moments, I felt my spirit soar and become one with everything that exists. I become the stars and the moon. I become the lover and the beloved. I become the victor and the vanquished. I become the master and the slave. I become the singer and the song. I become the knower and the known. I keep on dancing and then, it is the eternal dance of creation. The Creator and the creation merge into one wholeness of joy. I keep on dancing — until there is only ... the dance."

The flavor of Jackson's writing here is unmistakably Eastern. Buddhism, Taoism, and Hinduism all point to this fundamental "oneness" experience in very similar terms. In these traditions, one is taught to identify with the creative essence of life to the point that one's own identity merges with this universal creativity. Although it is unclear whether Jackson had any significant background in Eastern spiritual philosophy, the passage above is almost indistinguishable from similar writings by authors such as Alan Watts, who helped popularize these concepts in the West.

Michael Jackson's View on the Creative Process

In a similar vein, Jackson expressed his thoughts on the source of his prodigious creativity in a 1983 Rolling Stone interview:

"I wake up from dreams and go, 'Wow, put this down on paper.' The whole thing is strange. You hear the words, everything is right there in front of your face. And you say to yourself, 'I'm sorry, I just didn't write this. It's there already.' That's why I hate to take credit for the songs I've written. I feel that somewhere, someplace, it's been done and I'm just a courier bringing it into the world. I really believe that."

In many Eastern spiritual traditions, individual creativity is seen as a process of accessing the universal creative principle which exists within all places and times. Jackson's approach to the creative process is consistent with these traditions, and reflects a belief that the source of individual creativity is not oneself, but the greater reality beyond, of which one is merely an aspect.

Healing the World - Michael Jackson as Bodhisattva

In Buddhism, the concept of the Bodhisattva is an important element of the spiritual tradition. The Bodhisattva is an enlightened being who has chosen to remain among the people of the world in order to cultivate wisdom and compassion.

While it would be difficult to argue that Jackson, a complicated man who seems to have had little experience with such Buddhist concepts, could be called a "enlightened being" in the traditional sense, it is nonetheless true that much of his music did express values many Buddhists would readily embrace.

For example, these lyrics from Can You Feel It, a song on 1980's Triumph album, are a call for compassion and mutual understanding:

“All the colors of the world should be / Loving each other wholeheartedly / Yes, it's alright. / Take my message to your brother and tell him twice, / Spread the word and try to teach the man / Who's hating his brother when hate won't do, / When we're all the same, / 'Cause the blood inside me is inside of you.

Similarly, the following lyrics from Heal The World (Dangerous, 1991) convey a similar message:

“Heal the world, make it a better place, / For you and for me and the entire human race, / There are people dying, but if you care enough for the living, / Make a better place for you and for me.”

Finally, who can forget We Are The World, which united famous recording artists of all genres and backgrounds in an effort to relieve human misery in the world's poorest regions?

Michael Jackson's Legacy

Although his personal life and career were repeatedly marred by complex and sometimes disturbing elements, Jackson's music often embodied a message of hope and compassion - a message which reached many millions of people around the world.

While Jackson is unlikely to be considered a Bodhisattva in the traditional Buddhist sense, his life and his irrepressible creativity suggest a connection with the sort of universal spiritual values celebrated not only in Eastern traditions, but in the hearts and minds of people everywhere.

[James Quirk, American journalist; source: http://buddhismtaoism.suite101.com]


"After Michael passed, I started receiving countless emails on my personal facebook page from Michael Jackson fans who wanted to learn about my untold experiences working so closely with the "King of Pop." Ultimately I think fans really just wanted to connect with anyone who was directly linked to Michael Jackson. From this, I was inspired to launch and design my fan page as a place or refuge for fans to continue to talk and fellowship with each other keeping the spirit of Michael Jackson alive".

In regards to composing a tribute song honoring the birthday of Michael Jackson, I wanted to write something special to commemorate Michael's memory since his passing and recently created the most perfect song titled "One Last Goodbye." It is a genuine expression that best represents how I feel about my friend and colleague. The song pulls at your heart strings and immediately makes you feel loss and love at the same time. I believe it upholds the strong characteristics of MJ but also has elements that represent some of the daunting times he had to experience. Those particular times are a reminder of how we need to treat and embrace one another now and in the future and I believe that was one of Michael's greatest missions.”

"One Last Goodbye"

I don’t know where to begin
I lost my heart, my friend
In my darkness you were there
You helped me through my fears
I remember the good times
You loved to laugh, you’re one of a kind
I just I wish I had the chance for One Last Goodbye

You were filled with so much love
An angel from above
And you gave so selflessly to all humanity
You hoped the world would love each other
You were my hero, my brother
And I wish I had the chance for One Last Goodbye

Life is so unsure
Everday so unpredictable
I still feel you here
You’ll live forever, never replaced
I just I wish I had the chance for One Last Goodbye

Here’s to you, you’ll always be the best
I just I wish I had the chance for One Last Goodbye

[Michael Bearden, keyboards, musical director; source: www.hiphoppress.com, www.mjjcommunity.com]


“A tiny bud–sturdy, strong, engaging! We watched it open, peek out, and slowly unfold into a glowing leaf. The first glance told us it was special! We stared, held our breath, clapped our hands, and were introduced to the electrifying energy of Michael Jackson!

Yesterday, he entered the grand theater of life, walked onto the largest stage, and captivated an audience with the ultimate composition. As I watched networks rush to put together “The Michael Jackson Story,” I detected a common thread that ran through each one–show the good, the bad and the ugly. I wondered why that had to be. The voice of reason would say, “Well, you can’t tell a story unless you tell the WHOLE story. I say, “I am not the voice of human logic, I am the voice of divine intelligence, and I can tell the whole story WITHOUT the bad and ugly.” It all depends on one’s perception of what the whole story is. I say one’s life is defined by the divine qualities that he expresses. Let’s take a look at Michael Jackson.

His harmonies opened the closed doors of racism, his melodies softened the hearts of mankind; he played the high and low notes of life, and moon-walked across the measures of childlike trust. Sometimes there was dissonance in the demonstration of his music, but show me a song in everyone’s life that does not have discordant notes. As we go forth with our storytelling, let us remember, “everyone has a story, even you!”

To the family of Michael Jackson, I say, I feel your grief, hear your pain, and see your tears. Our thoughts and prayers are with you to support, sustain and love.

[Mamiesmith, Michael Jackson fan and writer; source: http://bookclubs.barnesandnoble.com]


“To bear the comparison to someone as great as Michael Jackson is the ultimate compliment. Of course, I’m definitely honoured, and I only hope to have career as long as his. It’s was very unfortunate not just for me, but for all of us when we lost MJ because he’s made such a meaningful contribution to music, entertainment, philanthropy and life. And to take that throne is nothing that I was ever aiming for. […] I’ve shared some very intimate moments with him just to get a little bit of his insight about entertainment. The one thing that he always said to me was “Be mindful of history. Always think about, be conscious of history. Don’t get caught up in just the moment. Understand that each moment is a piece of history, and you should approach it that way.” Of course, it’s not so happy or pleasant for the person who’s paying the bill. But definitely, you know, be mindful of the history that you’re making. I miss Michael.”

[Usher; sources: http://timesofindia.indiatimes, www.cnnedition.com]


“He that is diligent in his work, shall stand before Kings, Queens, Princes, Princesses, and not mere men,” says the Holy Book. Michael Jackson was obviously diligent in his work all his young life, and fittingly, when he died, he was buried like a ‘King’ that he was, and still is. In the words of Berry Gordy, his early mentor, he was not just king of pop, he was “the greatest entertainer that ever lived.” When news broke that Michael had passed on, one song, incidentally not Michael’s, came to mind. The song titled The first time ever I saw your face was the work of ballad singer Roberta Flack. I immediately remembered the day I met Michael, back in 1971, when he was only 13. Much has been said, written, and broadcast about the undisputed king of pop, during his action-packed life, and after the sudden demise of a true “wonder boy”, a “boy-man” who hailed from the little town of Gary, Indiana, a town which shares a border with the State of Illinois, the “land of Lincoln,” a town which is only about 30 miles away from Chicago a.k.a the “Windy City,” which I had made my home in the 1970s. Having earlier lived in Miami, Florida, precisely in Opa Locka in the Miami Dade county, and visited cities like Boston, Phoenix, New York, the “Big Apple”, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, San Jose, Malibu, and Indian Wells, my first comment on a weekend visit to a friend in Gary was something like: can anything good come out of this quiet and sleepy town? Hearing me think aloud, my host on whose invitation I was there answered. “This is the city, mind you, which gave the Jackson Five to the world,” my friend enlightened me. Then he asked: “Do you know that Jackson Five’s latest track single ABC has been on top of the Billboard chart in the last six weeks?” “Big deal”, I replied. “The Beatles used to churn out chart-bursting albums and singles, almost one after another, until they (Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harisson and drummer Ringo Starr) went their separate ways very recently… Even the highly successful Supremes (an all-female cast) led by Diana Ross, sang Someday we’ll be together while breaking up, and as in the case of the Beatles, never came back as one, to the disappointment of their fans around the world. So what is so special about this new group?” My friend fell just short of predicting that Gary’s Jackson Five was going to be the world’s biggest-ever. In trying to convince me, he simply concluded, “This group is something special. Sooner than later, the entire world would start singing their songs.” Unfortunately, my American friend, whom I met on the Tennis courts of Rainbow Beach in southside Chicago, died soon after, in an automobile accident.

I actually loved Jackson Five’s hit song ABC, but I was not too sure about my friend’s exaggerated optimism, especially in a music world that boasted of experienced groups like the Temptations, Four Tops, Gladys Knight and the Pips, the Undisputed Truth, the O Jays, ‘Blood, Sweat and Tears,’ Stylistics etc. I was convinced that, even though the Jackson Five were fabulous and had exceptional natural talent, and that their lead singer (not even of teenage yet) was really “something special,” I felt there was no room in such fiercely competitive industry for such children act to survive. I was sure they would be so choked that they would have no other choice than return to their school work and do what others their age would naturally pursue –– their studies, potentially leading to College (University) scholarships in Basketball, Baseball, NFL (Gridiron) Football, or Track. At that time, Tennis, Golf, and Ice Hockey were exclusive rights of whites. While still mourning my tennis friend’s loss, other Jackson Five hits followed –– tracks like Got To Be There, “The love you save” (…), I’ll Be There etc which were competing favourably with Al Green’s Love and Happiness, Elton John’s My Song; What’s Going On by Marvin Gaye, Bridge Over Troubled Waters by Simon and Garfonkle (sic), Stylistics’ You Made (sic) Me Feel Brand New, ‘We’ve Only Just Begun’ by the Carpenters, Billy Withers Ain’t No Sunshine, Fifth Dimension’s Aquarius, James Brown’s Sex Machine, Staple Singers’ I’ll Take You There, and Psychedelic, Shark by the Temptations. But it was not until the Jackson Five came out with ânother latest hit in the spring of 1971 titled ‘Never Can Say Goodbye’, that I really began to miss my friend, Wes Michaelson, who had been trying to sell me the idea that at last, the Jackson Five was it. How I wished I had the opportunity to tell him that he had a convert in me. Michaelson was a whiteman and my doubles partner in the University of Illinois (Chicago Circle Campus) first team in Tennis.

It was during the summer of 1971, that I finally met 13-year-old Michael, the child lead-singer of a group, which had taken, not only the length and breadth of the United States, but the rest of the world, by storm. It was at the PUSH EXPO, organised by Civil Rights leader, Rev. Jesse L. Jackson at the Chicago Auditorium, in the southside of the “Windy City”, long before Basketball legend Michael Jordan a.k.a “Air” Jordan, came to Chicago, saw and conquered the world of Basketball with the Chicago Bulls, coached by Phil Jackson, the same man presently taking the Los Angeles Lakers to record breaking heights today. Operation PUSH, the creation of Revd Jackson, a former aid and understudy of the assassinated civil rights leader, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr, are initials of the charity cause with a mission stated challenge –– PEOPLE United To Save Humanity The inaugural PUSH Expo, a week-long exhibition sought to highlight the outstanding achievements of African-Americans in all walks of life, ranging from politics, education, business entrepreneurship, music, acting, sports, publishing etc. On this summer day, the last day of the EXPO, it was the turn of artistes –– musicians and entertainers, who had made the blackman proud with their talent. All the who’s who, all those who have dominated music and entertainment were there, to offer their services through concerts rendered free of charge towards the Black Awareness cause championed by Rev. Jesse Jackson and his team.

Having identified with the cause and often attended the Operation PUSH programmes as a member on Saturday mornings, I received a free ticket as a volunteer to the EXPO, including the Concert Day. It was there, at the Chicago Auditorium, venue of the event, that I first met music legends like Quincy Jones, Al Green, the Temptations, Smokey Robinson, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Bill Withers, Isaac Hayes a.k.a the “Black Moses”, the Fifth Dimension, Nancy Wilson, Minnie Ripperton, Staple Singers, Sly and the family stone, James Brown, Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, the O Jays, comic Bill Cosby, Roberta Flack, Donny Hathaway, Aretha Franklin, Millie Jackson (no relation of the Jackson Five), and actor Richard Roundtree. Fittingly, the best was saved for the last, with not a soul eager to leave the packed auditorium. Suddenly, Bill Cosby ushered in the “raves of the moment”, when he announced, “Na – a-a-a-o! Please welcome the Jackson Five!!! When they opened with their latest hit tune–– The love you save may be your own –– there was bedlam in the place, as the appreciative fans, old and young, men and women, sang along. Some became joyfully hysterical, and some tried fruitlessly (too much security) to touch Michael, in particular. As an unpaid volunteer, I had the privilege of meeting and shaking hands with Jackie, Jermaine, Tito, Marlon, and then Michael, with his boyish innocence. All of them were supremely handsome, but shy and soft spoken. But when Rev. Jesse Jackson told them I hailed from Africa, Michael’s eyes lit up immediately, and asked, “You came all the way from Africa? Do they play our songs over there?” When I answered that ABC was number one in the music charts in Nigeria, Michael shouted, “That’s great! Welcome to the United States.” It was the first and only time I ever saw Michael, nor indeed other members of the group, except on TV. But from that moment, they practically became a part of me all the way, till Michael felt called upon to answer a higher calling, in music, that is. Their songs were my songs. I sang them in the bathroom, on the street, in the subway, while eating McDonald hamburgers, in-between lectures, and everywhere else. I was already back in Nigeria when Michael, as a solo artist, combined with another of my favourite legends –– music all rounder, Quincy Jones, (especially when he did big band jazz) to produce the Off The Wall album in 1979. Michael’s rise to the very top of the music world did not surprise me one bit. His dancing –– from an emulation of James Brown, the Godfather of soul –– to his own innovations which blew everybody’s mind all over the world, it was sheer magic. MICHAEL did not stop there. He did not know how to stop. All he knew was making people all over the world happy with his talent, and also to constantly re-invent himself to suit his latest musical product. He sought to, and succeeded in uniting the world, breaking all barriers to make, in the words of one of his songs, “the world a better place.” As in one of his solo songs, he could “not stop until you’ve got enough.” And the world certainly could not get enough of Michael Jackson.” After that massively successful and trend-changing album came Thriller, which broke all previous world records in sales. He practically introduced the video as a marketing strategy, unmatched till this day. Michael became the biggest money making “machine” in the history of showbiz. He was an entertainer-businessman-philanthropist all rolled into one. No one invested more in charities all over the world. Never tired of success on all fronts, next came the album Bad, and when he did the moonwalk in dance to the tune Billie Jean, the world stood dazed in astonishment and admiration. Michael had lifted the music world yet again to another level. Then he sang We Are The World which became the world’s anthem. In January 1993, when he sang Heal The World and Black or White during the half-time of Super Bowl XXVII, it was the closest thing to being in heavenly bliss for the screaming and adoring fans.

And heavenly bliss is what Michael is enjoying right now, in the bossom of his Creator. As a Muslim friend said to me when Michael’s death was broken to us in Badagry on that fateful June 25 day, “Unknown to us, this man (Michael) is an anobi (Yoruba for God’s messenger). He has creditably answered God’s errand while he was with us. Anywhere he is now, he is at peace, and smiling at those of us (the human race, black or white, rich or poor) he left behind.

Michael sacrificed so much for humanity that it was not until his daughter, Paris Jackson paid her dad a tearful tribute on Tuesday that we realised that he is a father to some beautiful children. Many, especially skeptics or the murderous “PHD” (Pull Him Down) holders who abound in all walks of life all over the world, even in local politics, hardly realised that Michael indeed was a dutiful and affectionate father, who as a human being, could be hurt and could bleed in the heart like the rest of us.

It took 11 year-old Paris Jackson to educate us all when she paid a tearful tribute to her father, who was lying cold and helpless in a golden casket appropriately draped with roses, a memorial beamed live to around the globe. “Ever since I was born, daddy has been the best father you could ever imagine”, she sobbed “And I just want to say that I love him, so much,” Paris managed to add as she broke down in tears and collapsed in the waiting hands of her aunt, Janet.

Perhaps we all can now heed Michael’s plea –– “Leave me alone.” As Queen Latifah said, “we had him.” And as Rev Al Sharpton told Michael’s children, “there weren’t nothing strange about your daddy… It was strange what your daddy had to deal with, but he dealt with it.”

MY own family and I, will never forget you, Michael. Yours was like a soundtrack of our own lives. We sang with you, danced with you, and cried with you, in troubled times. We also will never forget the words of Rev. Sharpton, who also said, “Michael rose to the top. He outsang, outdanced and outperformed the pessimists. Every time he got knocked down, he got back up. Every time you counted him out, he came back in. Michael never stopped! Michael never stopped!! Michael never stopped!!!

The world will never stop loving you. If anyone asked for my favourite Michael song and video, it is the “Earth song.”

Only a genius could have come up with such concept. Unto the earth we were born, on to earth shall we return.

Michael’s dad, Joseph, said his son would even be bigger in death than in life. How profound. How accurate.

Michael, you will live for ever, in the minds of your fans world-wide, whom you loved so much.

[Ayo Ositelu, writer; source: http://theguardianlifemagazine.blogs]

 

“It was mid-September 1993. I had moved to Moscow a couple of months earlier, during the warm if somewhat gritty doldrums of summer. Now, as autumn set in, it was raining endlessly from low clouds, greasy blackish mud made sidewalks slippery, and streets at night, with few lit-up advertisements, were mostly dark. Moscow, in short, had a shabby, sooty, worn-out, still-Soviet look. I hadn’t yet gotten my Russian “sea legs.” Moscow was new and strange and even threatening to me. (It was strange and threatening for many Russians, too, of course, given the heightening political tension that would flare into armed revolt against President Yeltsin by the month’s end.) But when I found out Michael Jackson was scheduled to perform live at Luzhniki Stadium as part of his “Dangerous” world tour, I did what I’d never done before: I bought a ticket to his concert. It lifted my mood, and made bearable my days locked away writing my first book, Siberian Dawn, in my roach-riddled, noisy, one-room apartment in a crumbling cement-block Khrushchovka building.

[…] His popularity then was far higher than it has been in recent years; he was the most famous American on the planet, one whose name aroused well-nigh universal admiration. He had been this famous for years, however. While I served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Marrakech a couple of years before, Moroccans often asked me if, being American, I knew him. Russians weren’t so naïve, but it seemed everyone in Moscow back then had an opinion about Michael: Usually, they loved him. That such an American superstar was about to arrive in their capital meant something to them. Foreigners were still a novelty in Russia, times were hard and dark, and his promised appearance was shedding copious glittering light well in advance.

The centralized heating still hadn’t come on in my building. On the evening of the concert, I recall feeling damp and cold as I put on my raincoat, grabbed my umbrella, and readied myself to leave. I wasn’t yet quite in the mood. In my journal for that day I later wrote: “Seraya zhizn’ [the gray life]. I walked out into the drizzle and looked at the soupy gray sky and shabby gray concrete buildings and huge mucky puddles ... Being alone in this miserable flat ... living poor ... struggling with my book, my last chance.” I took the metro to Luzhniki. The crowd in the cars was mostly young and excited, and every now and then, between the roar of the train in the tunnels, I’d hear “Dzhekson ... Dzhekson ... Michael Dzhekson!”
Seventy thousand fans didn’t fill the huge stadium; there were empty seats, probably owing to the high price of the tickets and the terrible weather. I recall standing some 30 yards from the stage. The rain barreled down and I could see people’s breaths puffing; we got soaked, umbrellas or no, raincoats or no. He was one hour late, then two hours. Periodically, images of his catlike eyes would glow into view on a huge video screen above the stage, and people would start screaming. I didn’t scream, but I was certainly excited. The images would then fade. In the intervals, people were largely silent, as if by speaking they might scare him away. Breath puffed into the rain, the sky darkened, and there was no future: only a trembling expectation.

After two and a half hours, a light gradually illumined the center-stage and revealed Michael standing there, already posed, hand on hat, knee cocked. His breath puffed white in the now-frigid rain. (“He’s breathing!” a girl shouted next to me.) The crowd roared, people began jumping up and down. He launched into “Jam.” My journal notes don’t record more than this, but I remember his performance as stunning. I had somehow expected him to disappoint, as though careful editing of video clips might have made him out to be a better dancer than he was.

Soon someone in the management apparently decided that the rain posed a threat to Michael. Mop-wielding little old ladies (of the type once so common in Moscow) in headscarves shuffled out onto the stage, as he sang and gyrated and pranced, and wiped away the excess water, so he wouldn’t slip. He danced among them, around them, and never missed a step, never appeared to even notice them. He was soon into “Billie Jean,” and, by the time of his first moonwalk, I didn’t notice the rain or the little old ladies.

At some point, he took a break and the stage went dark. It seemed we all held our breath. No one spoke, everyone just stared at the stage. A few minutes later, the stage lights came on and we heard his voice, rather tender and feminine: “It’s cold as ice out there!” He felt the cold as we did, but he was able to perform and dazzle us all. This seemed simply incredible. I was already sore and stiff from standing there, yet he could dance. I had never thought of music stars as suffering from the cold on stage. (This was, after all, my first concert of any kind.) He returned and sang for another hour.
His brief stay in Moscow apparently hit him hard, making him feel lonely. At least we can gather as much from his later, soul-wrenching slow song, Stranger in Moscow. It contains the lines, “I was wandering in the rain/Sunny days seem far away ... Kremlin shadows belittling me/Stalin’s tomb won’t let me be ... KGB was doggin’ me ... stranger in Moscow.” The KGB surely did not dog him in 1993, but his words well expressed how lonely I often felt during my first year in the Russian capital.

Michael united me with the Russian audience in a visceral way. Better said, there were no Americans, no Russians in that audience; we were all just admirers of Michael.

I have never been to a concert since then. His performance, and what it meant for those who witnessed it on that long-ago, rainy September day, set a standard too high to match. Rest in peace, Michael. The people of Moscow, and I, will never forget you.”

[Jefrey Tayler, U.S.-born author and journalist; source: www.worldhum.com]

 

“Today, [June 25] marks the one year anniversary of his death. Over the course of the next few days you will likely hear his music, see news about his estate or kids, perhaps hear jokes and rumors. […] According to Sony Music, 31 million of his albums have sold since he died. The movie "This Is It" grossed $260 worldwide. His videos will be in heavy rotation this weekend, and his lighthearted Captain Eo will continue to draw crowds at Disneyland and Epcot Center in Walt Disney World.

People are beginning to remember that beyond all the tabloid headlines, eccentricities and accusations was a remarkably talented guy who created a soundtrack for millions of people. He was an entertainer, plain and simple, on stage and off. He was also a good client, boss, and friend.

Many of you know that I worked with him on countless projects spanning some 18 years. I have had the opportunity to meet and work with many "famous" people, but none more interesting or polarizing than this man. When people learn that I worked with him for such a long period of time, they are understandably curious. Typically, the opening line is, "So, was he as weird as he seemed?". But I can't really blame them. The media did a great job of painting him in such a way that it seemed he rode around on a monkey carrying the Elephant Man bones in a backpack wearing pajamas on his way to a Boy Scout camp.

Recently, an article was published by a friend of mine in the Huffinton Post. It went into great detail about how out of line the press was during his 2005 trial. The event became a global media circus, with soundbites and sensationalism taking the place of facts. When 14 jurors found him not-guilty, the story was over and the tents were packed up.

It is not my job to convince you that he was innocent or "normal." I can only share memories of working with him in the studio and at his home, known as Neverland Valley Ranch.

When I wrote the following article shortly after his death, I received countless notes of appreciation for introducing people to the artist that I knew. I will continue to write and compile these stories, as he was a truly unique individual, and he deeply impacted my life and career path.

If you can turn down the media madness for just a few minutes, I would like to tell you about a friend of mine that died a year ago. His name is Michael Jackson.


'Gone Too Soon

In 1985 I got married, got my first job in a recording studio (Westlake Audio), and met one of the kindest young men I have ever known, Michael Jackson. Quite a year. To Brad and Michaeleven attempt to sum up a nearly 20 year working relationship and friendship with Michael in one article is impossible, but let me try to give you a glimpse into the incredible world I was privileged to be a part of.

Michael was working on Captain Eo for Disneyland and Epcot Center. He was fresh off the Victory Tour, the Thriller album, his dominance of MTV, and he was back in the studio. I wish I could remember our first meeting, but it was likely just passing each other in the hallway. He was always warm, yet shy. Over time we would chat now and then, but it took time to build the trust.

Around that same time he did an often forgotten album, The ET Storybook. This was when I met Quincy Jones and Bruce Swedien. Early in 1986, the team moved into Westlake Studio D in Hollywood to record the BAD album, and welcomed me in. I worked other sessions during the day, but at night I was invited to sit in and learn. Eventually I worked my way up to technical director for the team, and the trust was solidified. It was during this time that Michael nicknamed me "Really Really Brad," a twist on the chorus, "Bad, Bad, Really Really Bad." Check the album credits, it's there.

Over the next ten years I worked with Michael doing tour prep for the BAD tour in 1988, then back in the studio for the Dangerous album in Los Angeles, followed by the HIStory album in New York. Toss in countless music videos, the HIStory tour, the Moonwalker project, Blood On The Dance Floor album, and various side projects, and I got to know him pretty well.

So who was Michael Jackson, and why did he have such a profound effect on my life? Not for a moment do I pretend to have been a close friend of his, or a confidant. Rather I worked for him and with him, and considered it an honor.

He was a consummate professional. If his vocals were scheduled for a noon downbeat, he was there at 10 am, with his vocal coach Seth, singing scales. Yes, scales. I would set up the mic, check the equipment, make coffee, and all the while he would sing scales for two hours.

He typically drove himself to the studio alone. For a while he drove a big Ford Bronco with dents and scrapes on it. He was not a great driver. More than once he called into the studio to say he would be late after being in a fender bender.

He was intensely curious about "normal life." He asked me about Christmas once, and couldn't understand how kids could wait until Christmas morning to open the gifts. You see, he was raised Jehovah's Witness, so Christmas was not celebrated in the Jackson family.

Since I was so close to this world, let me try to give you some insight. A "typical" MJ album would take between 10 and 16 months in the studio. His budget allowed for as many as 100 songs to be recorded for any given project. Some would be discarded early on, while others were fine tuned. Musicians would be brought in to add their textures and ideas, but in the center of it all was Michael. The team was remarkably small given the scope of the projects. Each project was slightly different, but typically there were less then eight of us working day to day, from the first day until the project was mastered. No entourage. No Elephant Man bones. No groupies. No drugs. Just music. And food.

During the BAD album, Fridays quickly became known as "family day." He would have his two chefs, affectionately known as the Slam Dunk Sisters, prepare a large dinner for the crew, musicians and any family members that might be around. Since I was working sometimes 80 hours a week, it was not uncommon for Deb to come have dinner with us. Michael loved these family get togethers. In later projects I would bring my girls, whom he loved and would play with. There is one moment in time in my head when Deb brought my daughter Amanda, who was just a baby at the time, into the studio for the afternoon. She set up a play mat and brought some toys, and Michael sat and played with her for a while. He looked at Deb and said, "This is her own little world, isn't it?"

When you work in this environment, your sense of normal begins to shift. It was not uncommon for celebrities or VIPs to stop in. One day the Secret Service searched the building for a couple hours before Nancy Reagan came for a visit. Next it was Princess Stephanie from Monaco. (She has a cameo on the song "In The Closet.") The chimps were common guests in the studio, as was a giant snake, both of which I would wind up holding during MJ's vocals. Michael loved mixing fun and work, but work always came first.

I have watched him write many songs, and the process is amazing. I asked him where they came from, and he said they were gifts from God. He could hear the entire song in his head before we could get tape on the machines. He would sometimes sing the drums, bass, percussion, keyboards, etc., and we would later bring in musicians to replace his demo tracks.

His lounge would be decorated with Disney posters and old Hollywood memorabilia. He loved innocence, and displayed gentleness, humor and patience.

This driving work ethic also had to escape from time to time. There were many days we would show up at the studio, only to find he had flown to Europe or Japan for a few days, and neglected to tell us. This sometimes meant an unscheduled few days off for us, which was awesome.

There were, however, memories that he would sometimes share about the endless travel and work schedule when he was just a boy. I remember him telling me about grown women throwing themselves at him when he was just 9 or 10 years old. One story I will never forget was him telling of flying with his dad and brothers through a lightening storm at night. The plane was being tossed around, lightening was flashing, and he started crying in fear. His dad ignored him, embarrassed. A flight attendant sat with until the plane cleared the storm. Hearing him tell that story, with tears in his eyes, gave a glimpse into his life.

There are few people I have worked so closely with for so long than Michael Jackson. There were many months when I spent more time with him than I did my own wife. Somewhere around 1991 he asked me to visit a ranch he had purchased, and design a sound system for a carousel. The next thing I knew I was at Neverland Valley Ranch, in Santa Ynez, CA. There was construction everywhere, and the amusement park was in the early stages of installation. Over the next few years Michael asked me to build system after system, putting music on the bumper cars, in the petting zoo, on two trains, all around the amusement park, the boat lake, the train stations, and eventually inside the house, and inside his bedroom and bathroom. Deb loves to tell of the times Michael would call at 2 in the morning (his sleep schedule was never normal) to talk to me about a new attraction he had coming to Neverland, and if I would put music on it. I still have an old answering machine tape of him thanking me for one of the systems we had built.

Michael had very little patience when it came to new rides. When the second train was ordered for the ranch, we were flown to Ohio to install the lights and music before it was trucked to California. That way, as soon as it rolled off the truck onto the track it was ready for Michael. He lived for those moments!

In it's day, Neverland Valley was one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. He loved that ranch. He could act like a kid, drive golf carts, throw water balloons and just have fun. Week after week the buses would roll in, bringing inner city kids, Make A Wish kids, friends and families. I have been there with sick kids whose dying wish was to spend a day with Michael.

As Neverland grew, I got the bug to continue building systems, and eased out of the recording studio. Soon I was working for Elizabeth Taylor, building a massive outdoor music system for her, followed by my good friend Quincy Jones.

This was the Michael I knew. Innocent, perhaps child-like at times, but not childish. A professional who worked to be the best performer in the world, yet knew how to have fun. If he was comfortable, he would laugh and joke with everyone, but if someone was there that made him uncomfortable, he would disappear.

We used to say there were two Michaels: the one we worked with, and the one who went on stage in front of 100,000 people and entertained them. There have always been singers and dancers, but Michael was in a class by himself. I have been to perhaps 12 of his concerts (my daughter Amanda was on stage with him in Paris with several other kids singing "Heal The World"), and there is really no one that comes close to his level of artistry.

Yes, there were allegations. No, I don't believe them.

[…] I have worked with plenty of normal looking people who thrive on pain and anger. I'll take a guy who might be abnormal looking and eccentric yet shows kindness, love, generosity, patience, humor and humility any day of the week. I could write page after page of simple acts of kindness I have seen firsthand.

[…] Thank you Michael, for letting me be a small part of your world. You have taught me more than you will ever know. Your friendship and trust is something I will always cherish. Rest in peace my friend.

[Brad Sundberg, technical director; source: http://campaign.constantcontact.com]

 

“[…] Those were the two I was friendliest with, Michael and Jermaine, those were the ones … what do I remember? They were both good-looking kids … hard to remember but I thought Jermaine was a very good-looking kid. I remember Michael Jackson called me “Greenberry,” and for about the first three times I was there he’d go, “Yahfahout, yahfahout,” and it took me three visits to finally figure out he was saying, “You’re far out,” cuz he just said, “Yahfahout, yahfahout.” […] He showed me a dance step, and so did Diana Ross. yeah, he showed me a dance step where you … a shuffle, you throw … I’m doing it … you throw your left foot out and you pull it back quick, and you shuffle your right. He showed me the straightforward shuffle and Diana Ross taught me a dance that was popular for a few months in ’72 called The Four Corners. […] It was about 3:30 in the afternoon and … who else saw it? There were a couple of his brothers around, but his parents weren’t there and I happened to come up on the motorcycle, so we went for about, maybe, about a 12-minute ride through the Hollywood Hills. Queens Road is right in the middle of the Hollywood Hills and, I know at least two of his brothers were there when I did, I think they asked for rides but I had to go or, I got worried, you know, actually, that maybe this wasn’t a good idea, you know, taking the kid riding around without his parents’ permission, the kid that they’re trying to make a star out of, but we did go for about a 12-minute motorcycle ride. 650 Yamaha. […] He was a very nice, gentle kid, he wasn’t uppity, he didn’t think he was a star, he was a very nice person at 11, somehow he got off the beaten path. […] Yeah, gentle, shy, reticent. Somehow, he never got out there in the real world and walked around, I don’t know, maybe he was protected, I don’t know what it is, but … I have no idea. […] I don’t know, maybe we were outside riding bikes, I don’t remember like, eight or… all the kids being, you know, I just remember when I was there, maybe three or four kids and … I never saw them argue with each other, you know? And if I remember correctly, the girls were very very young, like almost … could hardly talk, is that possible? I couldn’t remember any adult girls. […]

[Phil Greenbery, lifeguard; sources: http://trumbullisland.com, http://j5collector.blogspot.com]

 

“A lot of people don’t know, I was going to see Michael Jackson the day he died. I was on my way to the Staples Center that day… When I heard ‘Man In The Mirror,’ it just touched me. It wasn’t fake. I know people were trying to put extras on it, but everything was genuine. That was my ultimate apology, hands down.”

[Chris Brown, American singer, dancer and actor – on his BET Awards tribute to Jackson in June; sources: www.billboard.com, http://music-mix.ew.com]

 

“He helped me to appreciate just the art of [production and songwriting] and how it really was because back in the day you didn’t have a sequencer. Back in the day, you had a piano player there and people would write the song first with the piano or first with the guitar player and then everything goes to tape after that. That’s how the bands, after they knew the songs and after they taught all the musicians and all the background singers the parts that they would sing, they all would go into one room and cut it. He taught me the beauty of songwriting. That is the beauty. I think songwriting from a track is a little like making love without foreplay. And I never put it that way to anyone. But it just came to mind like, you going straight to have sex. Where is the beauty? Where’s the piano? Where is the piano? Where’s that Marvin Gaye song? That’s how love is made and that’s how music is made, with a piano to get you in the mood. That’s what it’s about.


[…] A real one, I can give you some experiences of a real recording session with Michael. I sat in sessions with Kool & The Gang and it took like eight hours just to tune the drums. Literally, like 8 hours. Go get tea, go get coffee, go look at a movie, while the engineer and the drummer just sit and hit the tom-toms for about an hour and move the mic around. And then the piano, tuning the piano, the tuner would have to tune the piano, and we have to set up the mics on the piano where we would get the crispiness of that piano sound. That’s two hours alone. Now what you’d call a modern day session is fast. Like I can do a modern day session in less than an hour. Get vocals done in another hour. The session is over at the end of the day. “Celebration,” “Ladies’ Night,” was three days. Michael Jackson’s “Heal The World” was a month. Matter of fact, I think longer than that, ‘cause they did it in days like with a string session. What I did with Michael doing strings on “Heaven Can Wait,” was like, we did the track first, that all took one day, and then the string section and then we did the guitar session and that’s about three days. So the modern day is a little quick. Lil’ Wayne, all those guys, the new cats, they cut a record in an hour. Michael Jackson, Kool & The Gang, Frank Sinatra, they take the time to get all that stuff tuned and get it all right so they are setting up the mood with the sound. […] Oh, he had modern day sessions before, but he’s not used to it. Like he’s done Pro-tools sessions. He’s not really used to that, but it made his life easier because he could sit and cut 24 tracks and then let the producer do what he do. Y’all want that work? Alright, you made life easier for me. But the sound is not the same. There’s a difference. It’s a big difference.


[…] Oh, [the work dynamics] worked itself out when he shook me. Not shook me literally, but when he shook me with words like, ‘Listen, you’re going to have to really produce me like you’ve produced a new artist. I need you to talk to me, I need you to criticize me, I need you to comment, I need you to give me all of you. I want the Teddy Riley that got that record out of Guy and the records out of your previous artists. It took you really producing them. I want you to really produce me’. So, I got used to it and I got into my own world. So that’s definitely a memorable moment. The other memorable moment was we were in a session and he was singing a song in the room and an anvil case kind of fell his way and I don’t know if it really fell on him, but it kind of fell his way and he heard the loud sound of an anvil case falling to the ground. You immediately heard him saying, ‘Help,’ but it was almost like him doing that ‘Ooh’ like in that “Beat It” video. You heard that high-pitched voice saying, ‘Help! Help!’ and we were like, ‘What’s going on?’ and then Bruce Swedien was saying, ‘I think something fell on him.’ Then we all went in the room. We wanted to find out if he was ok first. Then when we found out he was ok, he was like ‘The loud sound just scared me.’ After we found out he was ok, we just started laughing. You got to see if a person is alright. If they’re alright, then you laugh.


[…] The involvement was I was supposed to be on the History album and I came up for the History album but Michael wasn’t in the studio, he wasn’t really doing any work so I was just sitting there and I didn’t want to waste his money or his time, which I wasn’t wasting his time but, he was wasting his money by me sitting there, so I said, ‘Let me go home and then when you need me, call me.’ And then Jimmy Iovine didn’t want me to work on that project so he scratched me from the project. […]

‘Cause he wanted all the projects for himself. I had just came off a double platinum album with Blackstreet. He wanted me to work on the second project for Blackstreet, which was the Another Level album, so he gave me anything that I wanted to get back to working on that album.

[…] Listen. You know where I’m from. We come from the real. We come from a place where we keep it real and it’s just so crazy how this stuff here has been going on and now finally when something happens to him, everyone wants to come back, pay homage, benefit from this and there’s no benefiting from this. People want to throw a party or do something but, this ain’t about a party. Yes, we should celebrate him because that’s what he would want of us, but all of the making money and all that stuff. No. If you don’t have any past things with him or you haven’t been there to check on him when he was going through his trials and tribulations, then I don’t see where you fit… I don’t see where you fit. I have a legitimate contribution and I have a legitimate friendship with Michael Jackson. I have something that no one, a lot of people have never done with him other than Quincy Jones, Greg Philliganes, Bruce Swedien, Renee from Renee & Angela, and a few people… Babyface got to work with him. I got to work with this man. I got to sit and talk with him. I got to cry on his shoulder. I got to talk and really express some things that were just him and that I just didn’t understand and he helped me understand it. Then, there’s some things that he wanted to understand like why are they doing this to him. I couldn’t help him understand that because it was bigger than me, but I was always that shoulder. I was always that friend he could’ve said anything to. He expressed a lot of his most deepest concerns and feelings about a lot of things. I know some personal relationships that he has gone through, female relationships and different things like that, but I would never disclose that. That’s the stuff that I know.


[That period of him going through trials and tribulations] it affected me because as a friend, you (are) on CNN. If the media can say so much about us to tear us down, why we can’t say something about them to tear them down? And the thing about it is, once we do that, we get cut off in the interview and some of it doesn’t get played. […] [But in that CNN interview] no, I wasn’t. I cut myself off. I couldn’t do it no more. I couldn’t take it. [After what I heard about his passing, I was bed-ridden]. Oh, yeah. Two days. I just said… You know, my mom convinced me to get out of bed. My mom convinced me and I said ‘Alright, I got to get out of this bed.’


[…] Let me tell you some of the things that I am doing with the family’s approval…The one thing that I wanted to do which I told him, and I got a chance to tell him, that I wanted to make “Heaven Can Wait” over with Blackstreet. He gave me the song “Joy,” it’s on the first Blackstreet album, he gave it to me for Blackstreet, his name is on the record if you go back to it, and he gave me his blessings. That’s the only thing that I asked to do and I will reiterate that with the family because I want that on the new Blackstreet record and whether a part of the proceeds go for his foundation or whatever, I don’t care, I want to do the song, because that song never came out as a single and that was one of our favorites. When I did that song with him, he held his heart and he said ‘Teddy, is this mine?’ I said, ‘It’s yours if you want it, Michael, he’s like: ‘I want it, let’s go get it!’ He was so excited. I have a couple of witnesses that were in the room when he said ‘I want that song. I need that song in my life.’


[Teddy Riley, American singer-songwriter, musician, keyboardist, and record producer; source: http://hiphopwired.com]

 

“[…] ..a time to mourn and a time to dance" - Ecclesiastes 3:4


"I guess God… and rehearsal."--Michael Jackson, when asked backstage after his Motown 25 performance who taught him to move like that (www.EbonyJet.com)

[…] On June 25, 2009 pop music superstar Michael Jackson died after suffering a cardiac arrest. He was 50. Known as the "King of Pop," Jackson's songs and innovative dance moves were enjoyed by fans around the world. Test your knowledge of some of the biblical connections to the music of the Jackson 5 and Michael's solo career with this 20 question quiz.


Questions

1. What was the first song Michael sang in public at age 5?


2. This gentle ballad by the Jackson 5 begins: "You and I must make a pact, we must bring salvation back". Name it.


3. What carol, first made popular by the Harry Simeone Chorale, appears on the Jackson 5 Christmas Album (1970)?


4. What was the first single from the Jackson 5's Skywriter album (1973)?


5. What video for a song on The Jackson's Triumph album (1980) was voted one of the 100 best videos of all time, in a 2001 poll to mark the 20th anniversary of MTV?


6. This dance-pop R&B classic from Thriller (1982)--the best-selling album of all time--includes the lyric: "But the kid is not my son." Name the song.

7. Also from Thriller, this song's theme echoes Proverbs 20:3 "Avoiding a fight is a mark of honor; only fools insist on quarreling." Name the song.


8. What 1985 song written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie was recorded by a supergroup of 45 musicians billed as USA for Africa?


9. A gospel choir is heard on what song from Bad (1987)?


10. What song from Dangerous (1991) promotes racial unity?


11. This song includes the lyrics:"And you can go by feel/'Stead of circumstance/But the power's in believing/So give yourself a chance". Name the song.


12. On what song does Michael sing: "See the nations turn their swords into plowshares"?


13. What gospel-influenced song from Dangerous resembles a lament psalm?


14. What's the setting for the 1992 video, Remember the Time?


15. What 1995 ballad centers around the destruction and rebirth of planet Earth?


16. What music video directed by Spike Lee was filmed in Brazil, the streets of Salvador, and a shantytown in Rio de Janeiro?


17. What song from Invincible (2001) asks the question: "And will the sun ever shine in the blind man's eyes when he cries?"


18. What song did Michael ask pastors Andrae and Sandra Crouch to sing to him just weeks before his death?

19. When Michael was rehearsing "They Don't Care About Us" with dancers during a June 23 session at the Staples Center, a 1963 sound byte from Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. was added. What does King say?

20. What was the first song performed at the Michael Jackson Memorial Service? (July 7/09)


Answers

1. "Climb Ev'ry Mountain", at Garnett Elementary School in Gary, Indiana


"Climb Ev'ry Mountain" is a show tune from the 1959 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical The Sound of Music, sung by the Mother Abbess to Maria. The inspirational song encourages others to take every step towards attaining their dreams.


Michael: "When I finished that song, the reaction in the auditorium overwhelmed me. The applause was thunderous and people were smiling; some of them were standing. My teachers were crying and I just couldn't believe it. I had made them all happy. It was such a great feeling. I felt a little confused too, because I didn't think I had done anything special. I was just singing the way I sang at home every night. When you're performing, you don't realize what you sound like or how you're coming across. You just open your mouth and sing."


2. "I'll Be There". The song continues: "Where there is love, I'll be there/I'll reach out my hand to you/I'll have faith in all you do/Just call my name and I'll be there".


In the book of Jeremiah, God invites people to call to him: "Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know." (Jeremiah 33:3)


3. "The Little Drummer Boy" (Davis/Onorati/Simeone). Also known as the Carol of the Drum, Katherine K. Davis first composed the words and music - transcribed from a traditional Czech carol--in 1941. The Trapp Family Singers recorded "Carol of the Drum" prior to their 1955 retirement. In 1968, Rankin-Bass produced a stop motion animated Christmas TV special based on The Little Drummer Boy.

4. "Hallelujah Day". The Hebrew "hallelujah" combines "hallelu" and "yah," and translates as "Praise God". The phrase is found in the book of Psalms (such as 113:1) and four times in the book of Revelation (such as 19:1)


From the song: "Somebody found the key/Somebody opened up the door/Now there'll be dancing in the streets/This is the day we've been waiting for".


(Matthew 7: 7-8) Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; those who seek find; and to those who knock, the door will be opened.

5. "Can You Feel It".


From the song: "Spread the word and try to teach the man/Who's hating his brother/When hate won't do"


(1 John 4:20) If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.


The song continues: "'Cause we're all the same, yes/The blood inside of me is inside of you".


One Blood: The Biblical Answer to Racism

http://creation.com/one-blood-index

Racism, Racial Issues and Christianity

http://www.christiananswers.net/race.html

(Genesis 1:26-27) So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

6. "Billie Jean". Jackson says in his autobiography, Moonwalk (1988) that "Billie Jean" was based on the groupies he and his brothers encountered while part of The Jackson 5: "There never was a real Billie Jean. The girl in the song is a composite of people my brothers have been plagued with over the years. I could never understand how these girls could say they were carrying someone's child when it wasn't true."

In Genesis 38:25, Tamar sends a message to her father-in-law, Judah, saying, "I am pregnant by the man who owns these." [Judah's own seal, cord and staff]. Later, Tamar gives birth to twin boys. In Judah's case, the kids really are his sons.


7. "Beat It".


"They're out to get you, better leave while you can/Don't wanna be a boy, you wanna be a man/You wanna stay alive, better do what you can/So beat it, just beat it"


From (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beat_It): "The music video opens with the news of a fight circulating a diner. This scene repeats itself at a pool hall, where gang members arrive via foot, forklift, and out of sewers. The camera cuts to a scene of Jackson lying on a bed, contemplating the senseless violence. The singer leaves the room upon hearing the commotion caused by the rival gangs. Donning a red leather jacket, Jackson dances his way through the diner and pool hall, towards the fight. Arriving at the scene, the singer breaks up the fight and launches into a dance routine. The video ends with the gang members joining him in the dance, agreeing that violence is not the solution to their problems."


(Romans 12:18) If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.


8. "We Are the World". Frederica Mathewes-Green writes at(http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/....html?id=15208): "My favorite [Bible blooper] is a line from that 1980s anthem, 'We Are the World': 'As our God has shown us by turning stones to bread.' I picture the songwriters Lionel Ritchie and Michael Jackson thinking, 'Hey, we're singing to raise money for hunger relief and there's something in the Bible about bread and stones--Cool!' The Bible describes Jesus being tempted, but refusing to turn stones to bread. The composers, the instrumentalists, singers, and technicians must each have read over these lyrics at least once. Nobody said, 'Hmm, is that right? I'd better check a Bible.' "


(Matthew 4:1-4) Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, "If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread." Jesus answered, "It is written: 'People do not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.' "


Lionel Ritchie, co-writer of "We Are the World", sang "Jesus Is Love" (from the Commodores' 1980 album, Heroes) at the Michael Jackson Memorial Service with the First AME Church Choir (July 7/09). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6aLnmRlYs_g

9. "Man in the Mirror" (words & music by Siedah Garrett/Glen Ballard). Jackson added background vocals from Siedah Garrett, The Winans, and the Andrae Crouch Choir.


"I'm starting with the man in the mirror/I'm asking him to change his ways/No message could have been any clearer/If you wanna make the world a better place/Take a look at yourself and then make a change".


(James 1:22-25) Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Those who listen to the word but do not do what it says are like people who look at their faces in a mirror and, after looking at themselves, go away and immediately forget what they look like. But those who look intently into the perfect law that gives freedom and continue in it--not forgetting what they have heard but doing it--they will be blessed in what they do.


Rob Sheffield of Rolling Stone magazine writes: "When people first heard the studio version, he sounded full of himself. But at the [1988] Grammys, he took the song to church, with a full-blown gospel production that stands as one of his most stunning vocal workouts. In a way, this was as majestic and definitive as the Motown 25 moonwalk."


10. "Black or White". From the chorus: "But, if you're thinkin' about my baby/It don't matter if you're black or white"

How did different skin colors come about?


http://www.onehumanrace.com/docs/skin_color.asp

11. "Keep the Faith". Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.(Hebrews 11:1)


12. "Heal the World".


(Isaiah 2:4) He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.


13. "Will You Be There". The song begins: "Hold me, like the river Jordan/And I will then say to thee/ You are my friend".


Jesus was baptized in the river Jordan by John the Baptist (Matthew 3:13-16)


"Carry me/like you are my brother"


(Isaiah 46:4) I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.


"Weary/tell me will you hold me"


(Psalm 139:9-10) If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.


"When lost will you find me"


(Luke 15:3-6) Then Jesus told them this parable: 'Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn't he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, 'Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.'


Near the close of "Will You Be There", Michael speaks the following:


"In our darkest hour/In my deepest despair/Will you still care?/Will you be there?/In my trials/and my tribulations/Through our doubts/and frustrations/In my violence/In my turbulence/Through my fear/and my confessions/ In my anguish and my pains/Through my joy and my sorrow/In the promise of another tomorrow/I'll never let you part/For you're always in my heart."


Types of Psalms

http://www.crivoice.org/psalmtypes.html
http://www.biblestudy.org/basicart/p...struction.html

Jennifer Hudson performed the song at the Michael Jackson Memorial Service http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V2mVK0--A5E

14. Ancient Egypt. The music video for "Remember the Time" became one of his longest at over 9 minutes. It featured groundbreaking visual effects and an appearance by Eddie Murphy as Pharaoh Rameses II--believed by many scholars to be the Pharaoh of the Exodus.


According to the Bible, Moses was the leader of the Israelites when they were delivered by God out of slavery in Egypt. Dr. Paul L. Maier writes: (http://www.equip.org/PDF/DA111.pdf): "The very name Moses is Egyptian, as witness pharaonic names such as Thut-mose and Ra-meses....It is true that few remains of encampments or artifacts from the Exodus era have been discovered archaeologically in the Sinai, but a nomadic, tribal migration would hardly leave behind permanent stone foundations of imposing buildings en route."


15. "Earth Song". Jackson and the Andrae Crouch Choir engage in a back and forth chant as the song reaches it's climatic finale. New York Times music critic Jon Pareles describes "Earth Song" as "a complaint to God (or to man himself) about problems that range from war to endangered whales."


"What have we done to the world/Look what we've done/What about all the peace/That you pledge your only son"


"Earth Song"


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BklGvlcLuEw
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qYHguBEXkac

(2 Peter 3: 10;13) But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare....But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.

16. "They Don't Care About Us". http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8CrNRBHBJQs


"Some things in life they just don't wanna see/But if Martin Luther was livin'/He wouldn't let this be"

For the first time in his career, Jackson made a second music video for a single--also directed by Spike Lee. This second version was filmed in a prison. It also contains real footage of human rights abuses, such as the Rodney King beating.


(Matthew 25:44-46) "They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?' "He will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.' "Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."


17. "Cry". The healing of a blind man is recounted in Mark 8.


The Bethsaida miracle - Jesus healing a blind man

http://findarticles.com/p/articles/m...19336556/print

D. Keith Mano writes: "As far as I can judge, this is irrefutable evidence that a miracle did occur at Bethsaida. Back in 30 A.D. the blind did not often receive sight: there were few, if any, eye surgeons and seldom a decent miracle-worker. No shill in the crowd could have faked it all by pretending to be blind--because only someone recently given his sight would see "men as trees, walking," would see the Cubist jumble that Virgil told Oliver Sacks about. A faker, not knowing about post-blind syndrome, would have reported that Jesus had given him perfect vision."


18. "It Won't Be Long", which begins: "It won't be long, then we'll be leaving here/It won't be long, we'll be going home".


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NflCoYmoStM


Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. ["I Have a Dream"] AP Photo


19. "...in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation." This is part of the opening sentence in King's historic "I Have a Dream" speech delivered August 28, 1963 at the Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C.


I Have a Dream

http://www.americanrhetoric.com/spee...haveadream.htm

"They Don't Care About Us" [rehearsal, June 23/09]


http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/sho....rehearsal.cnn

20. "Soon and Very Soon", sung by the Andrae Crouch Choir. The first verse: "Soon and very soon we are going to see the King...Hallelujah, hallelujah, we're going to see the King."


Facing a massive tour, Michael Jackson reached out to gospel superstar Andrae Crouch and his minister/musician sister Sandra weeks before his death [June 30, 2009] http://www.bullypulpit.com/


Quotes:

Cher: "He [Michael Jackson] was a great singer. You know, it's like God gives you certain gifts. And some people he gives different gifts and some people he gives more gifts." (June 25/09, Larry King Live)

President Barack Obama: "I think that Michael Jackson will go down in history as one of our greatest entertainers. I grew up on his music, still have all - all his stuff on my iPod. You know, I think that his brilliance as a performer also was paired with a tragic and in many ways sad personal life. But, you know, I'm glad to see that he is being remembered primarily for the great joy that he brought to a lot of people through his extraordinary gifts as an entertainer." (Associated Press, July 2/09)


(James: 1:17) Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.


Pastor Lucious W. Smith (Friendship Baptist Church, Pasadena, California) closed the Michael Jackson Memorial Service (July 7/09): ‘Our Heavenly Father, we thank you this day for the memory of Michael Jackson that means so much to us, even right now. Thank you for the gift of music that he gave us....Even now, the King of Pop must bow his knees to the King of Kings, and we pray that you remind us, Lord, that our lives are but dust, we are here for a moment and then we are gone.’”


[David Buckna, freelancer, special to ASSIST News Service; source: www.assistnews.net, www.mjjcommunity.com]

 

“[…] Michael was nourished by this, Michael loved coming to work, Michael was excited about the family of artists that he had assembled [for ‘This Is It’], we were on our way; I mean, we felt it in our hearts and knew it in our minds – we were going to London in 8 days, you know, and the show was coming together and he was so happy about it, you know, and of the way that it was forming. […] Michael presented it like, ‘I didn’t sleep last night, you know?... I was getting ideas and they were coming to me and I had to act on them, because they were wonderful, and we need to put Victoria Falls on the stage”, and I’d say, ‘Victoria Falls!?’ You know, and I said, ‘Michael, you just want the whole world on that stage with you, when are we gonna stop?’, and he said, ‘That’s right, I want my fans to see themselves, I want the fans to recognize themselves’, you know, an he was just so inspired, he was excited, you couldn’t turn it off. You know, this meant so much to him. He was also a dad and raising a family and had business, and he was creating new music for a future album, and, so, you know, he was just – he couldn’t turn himself off. […] The audience that was there [at the rehearsals] was a collection of dancers and a few technical crew members collected in the front of the stage, looking up at Michael, and they’re less than half his age, these dancers, that came to us from all over the world, the best on the planet completely awe-struck at this 50-year old man on that stage, improvising, you know, better than anybody that they’d ever seen. […] Michael was a perfectionist. I think the important thing here is […] - what this is is a great celebration of a master of his craft, it is a privilege peak at the, you know, at the creative process of a genius, and that we really do come to realize the reasons behind why Michael wanted to do this project […]. I think that’s why there’s validity in putting this [documentary] out there – Michael’s reasons and messages are clear, they come right from Michael himself in the film. […] Hanigng out with Michael Jackson was just, you know, fantastic. I mean, we had so much in common, you know, we really appreciated so many of the same things in life – travel, culture, art, music, children, you know, the planet, you know, he was a really great guy – kind, generous, appreciative, thankful, courteous, you know, you’d ask anybody that had worked with him and they’ll say they’d never worked with a nicer man. […]”


[Kenny Ortega, American producer, director and choreographer – talking to CNN’s American Morning hosts, John Roberts and Kiran Chetry – source: www.youtube.com]

 

 

“I call him a creative tornado. He's all about the creativity in every aspect -- music, dance, visual… everything. […] I think, basically, the public doesn't know anything about him and they just take home what they hear from the news and rumors. I would just say he's the sweetest guy in the world. He was just always kind to everyone and gave everybody first-class treatment. […] I never asked [why I was hired], I was never told, but I would assume it's because I knew the 'Beat It' (guitar) solo. I had been playing that for years in a Top 40 band. We were in Japan, and he came up to me and said he really liked how I was playing the 'Beat It' solo.”


[Jennifer Batten, American guitarist; sources: www.post-trib.com, www.mjjcommunity.com]

 

“Today, on what would have been Michael Jackson’s 52nd birthday, I wanted to share some of my favorite memories. I was fortunate enough to have met Michael and I have the fondest memories from Neverland Ranch. I had my 14th birthday party at Neverland Ranch! It’s truly the most exciting place I have ever been in my entire life and those memories will live on forever in my heart. The love that the Jackson family members have for each other is indescribable. Happy Birthday, Michael. We miss you.”

[Kim Kardashian, American socialite, television personality, producer, actress, and model – on occasion of Michael Jackson’s birthday; source: http://kimkardashian.celebuzz.com]

 

Thank you for changing the world in so many ways.


You are the only person I have ever met and felt "star struck" because you are larger than life, your presence is powerful.”


[Kourtney Kardashian, American entrepreneur, socialite and reality television personalitysource: http://twitter.com/kourtneykardash]

 

“Because of the messages in your music, we all make better choices in our lives today. We have to keep trying to make the world a better place. […] You would be so proud of your 3 children right now, they carry on your spirit with so much pride!... I love and miss you. I remember how in the 80's you turned Hayvenhurst into a mini-zoo, with giant snakes, llamas, tigers, parrots and monkeys :) I remember how one day the snake escaped & we were so scared, especially Toya, Janet & Mother. My favorite short film you did is "Ghosts"! Love the choreography & of course your performance of so many different characters. Because of the messages in your music, we all make better choices in our lives today. We have to keep trying to make the world a better place.”


[Jackie Jackson, Michael Jackson’s brother – on occasion of the former’s birthday, August 29; source: http://twitter.com/jackiejackson5]


 

I promise to spoil my 3 cousins w/ the same love & joy that you spoiled us. Take care of my mom up there. I love you more. […] Thank you, uncle Michael, for leaving your music and legacy with us. We will take care of both with pride. There will never be another person who genuinely loved his fans as much as you did. Today, they are showing that love back. […] Remembering how my uncle stopped everything, so that he could go over choreography for our first live performance of Anything. Remembering how my uncle did his amazing 3T "I Need You" end vocals in just ONE TAKE. Remembering when my uncle told us the importance of visiting children hospitals around the world when we toured. Remembering when U grabbed a baseball bat after the '94 Northridge earthquake & said "This is when people start acting crazy". Remembering when we all hopped into my car after the '94 Northridge earthquake and there was no gas in the tank. Remembering that U climbed our tree when the '94 Northridge earthquake had an aftershock. We asked what U were doing, U said, "That tree is not going anywhere. It's been there before we were born." You had a point. […] Remembering that the day after my mom died, you played Hide and Go Seek with all my school friends at Hayvenhurst. Thank you, everyone, for all your #messagetomj tweets. You were the world to my uncle, and today you displayed your love & support for him.”

[Toriano Adaryll II ‘Taj’ Jackson, nephew of Michael Jackson/ 3T member – on occasion of his uncle’s birthday; source: http://twitter.com/TajJackson3]


“I will forever live my life trying to make you proud. You have made me who I am. Love you forever!!! – T.J. Jackson”

[Tito Joe “T.J.” Jackson; nephew of Michael Jackson/ 3T member – on occasion of his uncle’s birthday; source: http://twitter.com/tjjackson]


My Uncle was the most thoughtful person in my life and always managed to bring a little bit of magic into my childhood years.

Being Jehovah's Witness, I never celebrated holidays. One Christmas, when I was 8 years old, my Uncle Michael made sure I came over the day after Christmas.

Walking into his house, he brought me over to the Christmas tree where I found 40 gifts with my name on them. I was filled with all the excitement a child could have seeing gift after gift with my name on it, but I asked him,

"Why did you do this?" he said, "to make up for all the Christmases you've missed." After this, I felt like Christmas became my holiday. He always managed to make my life a little happier,
a little more exciting, and a little more special. You had a rare heart. Happy B-day, I miss you.”


[Austin Brown, American singer, songwriter, instrumentalist, dancer and record producer , nephew of Michael Jackson – on occasion of his 52nd birthday; source: www.twitlonger.com]

 

 

“My cousins & I went 2 Neverland 2 visit Uncle michael & had a candy fight on the sea-dragon; of course uncle threw the most candy. I Love you Uncle Michael! Always threw my bday parties at Neverland, thanks, Uncle Michael, for allowing me to do that. Best Birthdays EVER! They sure were the best birthdays ever. Uncle Michael always called me "Randy with a Wig on”.


[Genevieve Jackson, singer, Michael Jackson’s niece – on his 52nd birthday; source: http://twitter.com/genevievejaxn]



“Mike, words will never express the hole left 4 me, my kids & the world. Our bond is unbreakable. My 1st #messagetoMJ is.. I LOVE YOU MORE. My 2nd #messagetoMJ is #HappyBirthdayMJ, always my little brother! I miss you. Study Peace, Marlon J. […] Thank you for the global support in celebrating my brother Michael. My last message is to love one another & Study Peace.”


[Marlon Jackson; source: http://twitter.com/ALLJACK5ONS]


 

“[…] I'm sorry for the pain inflicted on you. I’d take it away if I could, but will make sure Prince, Paris [and] Blanket only see the good. Your music & presence endured my whole life. Many things 2 say in only 140 words. Let's start with one word L.O.V.E. […] To whom much is given, much is required. U carried an enormous gift of LOVE, HUMANITY & TALENT. Thx for sharing with the world.”


“My #MessagetoMJ is thank you! Your INFINITE vision, ENDLESS love, LIMITLESS talent were God’s gift delivered to the world. You weren’t the bluebrint, you are what blueprints are based on. Your hunger to exceed expectations inspired me to dream bigger. Nothing could contain, stop or define the force that lived within this one man. History books will never capture the essence of your humble soul and the lives you literally saved. Video archives will never accurately depict the excitement you caused EVERY time you set foot in public or on stage. The best mankind can do is observe your genius and pay it forward as an example of how a true angel walked amongst us. I’m thankful our worlds intersected, because there’ll never be another MICHAEL JACKSON.”


[Jodi Gomes, Jacksons TV producer – on Michael Jackson’s 52nd anniversary; sources: http://twitter.com/jodigomes, http://filesocial.com/73ymakr]

 

 

“When my Daddy took me to meet u @ the age of 4, I had no clue I was meeting an angel, such an inspiration u r 2 me forever!”


[Dejanee (Deja) Riley, daughter of singer and producer, Teddy Riley – on Michael Jackson’s 52nd year-old commemoration; source: http://twitter.com/dejariley]


“His music, his spirit represented love and peace around the whole world and it influenced me and what I do, so for me to come through, it's just showing love and respect and paying homage to a great artist who meant so much to music in general and the people."


[‘Snoop Dogg’, American entertainer, rapper, record producer and actor – paying homage along with director Spike Lee to Michael Jackson on what would have been his 52nd birthday at the Brooklin Loves Michael Jackson festivity; source: www.rapbasement.com]

 

“It's like losing a member of family. During my 40 years of life there has always been Michael Jackson, and we will miss him for at least the next 40 years. A beautiful man and a genius beyond any comparison - thank God he is free now. It is the world's huge loss.”

[Sinnita, American-born actress and singer; source: http://news.bbc.co.uk]


“It's always inevitable, but a shock when death comes. With Michael, it seems to me even more shocking, and I feel very sad. He seemed to have the heart of a child, though he was a giant of a musician. The moment I heard he had been taken to hospital, the worst was anticipated. I hope he finally worked out his purpose in life, before he left it. I just discovered his middle name was Joseph. He'll be missed.”

[Yusuf Islam - commonly known by his former stage name, Cat Stevens - singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, educator, philantropist; source: http://news.bbc.co.uk]


“We’ve not only lost a great friend in Michael but also lost a wonderful sensitive human being. The Bee Gees heard music with the same ears. Michael had a great voice and millions of people yet to be born will sing his songs. This tragedy should teach us a lesson to value and praise those gifts while we still have them in the world. If even a small portion of the praise that is bestowed on Michael Jackson now in death was given to him last year in life, he might well still be with us. That is the sad truth. One consolation is that he will triumph by his legacy.”

“He was a great friend, a very sensitive, gentle, gifted man. My brothers and I first met him in about 1972 when he was in the Jackson 5. We were in the same studio, the Hit Factory, in Los Angeles. Every time he was in Miami he would stay over, particularly with Barry. He often showed up out of the blue: he used to leave Bubbles with someone and come on his own. We hung out, had jam sessions.

I last saw him a few weeks ago in LA at a party. He looked well but he wasn’t well — he was worn down. He was very, very wary about going back into the limelight, and I sympathised with that. It wasn’t the London dates so much that bothered him, it was the way the critics might evaluate him after those dates. I told him he should say, “So what!” instead of “What if?”

The fact was that he wasn’t afforded the respect that he deserved — here was a guy who was acquitted in his trial last year but in, America particularly, he was very troubled. He was very frightened of doing live stage shows after the trial because he was worried about the attacks that might occur. I think it really got to him. The problem is he was very fragile — the nature of artists is that they are sensitive and soft. But that doesn’t detract from their intelligence and their talent.

His death wasn’t a huge surprise — I just wish people wouldn’t have hounded him so much. He was a very lonely man and misunderstood. He had to do it on his own. He underwent a lot in the last two years and I don’t think many people could have stood up to as much as he did.

We had a shared camaraderie. He will be sorely missed because this didn’t have to happen. He was young, like my brother, who died in 2003 — of course, Michael came to Maurice’s funeral. It’s so sad that we can’t praise people while they’re here in the world. When they’re gone it’s too late. The people who were down on him last year are praying to the altar of Michael Jackson today.”

[Robin Gibb, singer-songwriter, member of the Bee Gees; sources: www.robingibb.com, www.mjjcommunity.com]


“[…] It was a blessing [working with Michael], I mean, definitely a goal of mine when I was a kid, like when I first decided I wanted to be a producer at 11 years old. […] And I just believe that guy granted my wish, you know what I mean, and I had the chance to work with him, we became friends and, of course we miss him dearly, he was truly the greatest, you know? […] I mean, probably, from a business standpoint, it definitely was publishing [what I also learned from him], he literally was the one that taught me publishing. I thought I knew publishing before working with him, but I came in the game as a youngster, I was 16 years old working. When I worked with Michael, I just turned 20. So, I was young and he just took me aside one day when we got recordings and he said, ‘I’m gonna teach you how to really really get some money.” So, he taught me, you know, the BMI system and how to get money from them and he taught me how to – he taught me how to buy my publishing, so, I started acquiring catalogs at a young age and I don’t talk about it, but I just do it. And, so, now I have other people’s publishing that I own, and I’m still buying other people’s publishing [laughs], so , you know, he really was a mentor in that way, and then musically, he just – just the fact of me working with him taught me – it just taught me understanding of the technology and how to never stop challenging yourself […], after really working with Michael, he taught me how to challenge ‘till I really, like, finish when it’s out - when it’s mastered, it’s complete. You keep working until it’s mastered. So, we gon’ keep working until we know it’s mastered. […] No, he was like that (secretive) with people he didn’t know or their public persona, but with people like myself, people that he knew, that knew him, he was cool. Like, I took Mike to the Time Square in New York, you know, we used to hang in Miami, […] he used to roll in my Bentley, you know.. […] I took Mike all around Europe in my Bent’, I took – you know, Mike was so cool […]. When we finished “[You] Rock My World”, which is [his] last number-one record, before radio even got it, before anybody had it, I told Mike I wanted to go test it at Rocka Park in Harlem, and he said, ‘Yeah, go do it.’ I took the record to Rocka to a game and in the halftime I tested You Rock My World. And he was trippin’, because I was playing the new Michael exclusive at Rocka Park. And he - that showed me what kind of person he was. He could’ve been arguing like, “No, you can’t play my music for anybody”, he was like, ‘No, go play that; if they love it, let me know”. And I was like – and I actually called Mike, “Listen, listen to the response”, and they was (sic) going crazy down there. So, that’s the kinda dude Mike was. […] It was devastating [when I heard of his passing], I didn’t believe it at first […], but when I’d hear his family up and tell me it was real, it came down like a – it was like a house falling down on me or something… But, you know, the one thing that I keep with me is knowing that his legacy, the music that he left us is so amazing that we – we have music from him that can inspire our generations from years and years to come, make people cry, make people dance, make people feel good, and we gotta preserve his legacy, and how we do that is keep – you know, I’m about to work on a new unreleased project that we’re talkin’ about doing right now. […] It’s definitely gonna come, you know, I mean it takes time, though, it’s a lot, you know – you gotta do a lotta – the red tape, but yeah, it’s definitely gonna be an unreleased Michael Jackson, it’ll definitely be stuff to come, you know, hopefully I’ll be a part of that project. And – and I learned a lot from him, I mean I really did.”


[Rodney ‘Darkchild’ Jerkins, song-writer, record producer and musician; sources: http://VladTV.com, www.youtube.com]

 

 

“If you were to ask me what was one of my fondest memories with my uncle Michael, the first answer that would come to my mind would be, "Huis Ten Bosch" What is Huis Ten Bosch. The Huis Ten Bosch I am talking about is a Dutch Village theme park in Nagasaki, Japan. The quick story is.... my brothers and I were visiting my uncle Michael in Japan. All of us were invited to visit the theme park Huis Ten Bosch . I won't go into too many details because most of these memories are very special to me and I hold them close to my heart. However what I can tell you is that the four of us never laughed so hard....period..We were all just acting silly and making each other laugh that day. For years afterwards we still talked about that trip. Matter of fact, whenever my uncle need some cheering up, all we had to do was mention Huis Ten Bosch and he would laugh again. That's one of the things I will miss most about my uncle. Making him laugh or smile. He had a great laugh. A laugh that would make you laugh back. That trip was purely a magical one and I will never forget it.”

[Toriano Adaryll ‘Taj’ Jackson; source: www.tajjackson.com]

 

“Happy Michael Day! Today, Michael would have been 52 years old. But even though he has left us in body, he will never leave us in spirit. His music will play as long as there is a heaven and there’s an earth, we will always play the music of Michael Jackson! I’ve talked to his family this morning - they’re opening a memorial in Gary Indiana. His children are fine… A little over a year ago, I eulogized Michael, I still can’t believe he is gone, but Michael will in our hearts forever. And I know that Michael had many friends, but one friends will never let the world forget him, and, thus, the Brooklyn Birthday Party for him, give it up for Spike Lee! […] He did something else, because, ironically, today is not only Michael’s birthday, it’s the fifth anniversary of Katrina, where people died for no reason, where they looked for [the] government to help them, they stood upon roof tops and died. And Spike went down and did the documentary that really showed the world what happened in Katrina. So, today when remember Michael Jackson, we remember the victims of Katrina 5 years later, that it may never happen again. I’d like us to pause – whatever faith you believe in, whatever way you worship, in the spirit of Michael, I’d like you to take the hand of the person you’re standing next to – I hope you’re standing next to somebody you don’t like [jokes]. Let us bow our heads for a moment, take your hat off […] and let us bow our heads in a moment of memory for those that suffered and died in Katrina, and for the King of Pop, our brother, Michael Jackson. Let us pray: ‘In God we thank you for throughout history you gave us gifts, and you gave us gifts and the music of Michael Jackson. May he rest in peace knowing that he is still loved and will always be remembered. And for those victims that died senselessly in Katrina, let us be recommitted – Black, White, Latino, Asian, doesn’t matter our religion – to make sure that human suffering will no longer be tolerated. Bless Spike who has given his talent to uplift humanity, and let us leave here looking at the man in the mirror to improve ourselves, for there’s a Michael Jackson in all of us, and let us rise above ourselves, so we can give glory to humanity. These blessings we ask in your name. Amen.’ Michael Jackson Day!”

[Alfred Charles ‘Al’ Sharpton, American Baptist minister, civil rights activist, and radio talk show host – speaking at the Brooklyn Birthday Bash in memory of Michael Jackson; source: www.youtube.com]

 

“[…] There are a lot of memories that come to mind from This Is It, but let me just backtrack a little. After working with Madonna, she went into a different direction, and I needed a new direction, too. So in the interim, I actually became Jennifer Lopez's musical director. I worked with J for about a good year and a half. But while I was working as her MD, I got a call to come play at Michael Jackson's 30th Anniversary concert at Madison Garden in New York, right when 9/11 happened. So that was my first taste of Michael, and I wasn't his MD at the time. He already had his MD, so I was just playing the keys. With that concert, I got a taste of how Michael liked to work and his ethic, and the thing that I was most surprised about was how approachable that guy really was. He was really one of the kindest artists I've ever worked with, bar none. But when he got on the stage and he had that mic in front of him, man, there's nobody that I've seen that could touch him. There just isn't. So I got a taste of that, then. And he saw that I had the same kind of work ethic, because we were working really hard on that concert. We did a lot of rehearsing – just to get it the way he wanted it. But we were always there for him. So I think that helped me secure the MD position for the This Is It, is that even at age fifty, he was hip. When he got on the stage, that was just his comfort zone, his sanctuary, his home. He was just so comfortable on the stage. Everything he did, it was just natural for him. I always felt like a little kid around him, because I was such a fan for so long. I grew up with the Jackson Five. They're from Gary, Indiana, and since I'm from the south side of Chicago, they were right there. So I saw them when they were coming to Chicago to play in certain venues before they even got famous. When they got famous, I watched the cartoons, the whole thing. Concerts. […] The cartoon was there every Saturday, with the cereal, we were watching the Jackson Five. All of that! [laughing] So just imagine my excitement – during rehearsals – when MJ would come by me. He would just be dancing the way he does, and he would look back at me and give me a smile or a thumbs-up. And sometimes I would just be in a daze, because I would be a kid. I'm thinking about all that stuff and here I am, on the stage. Not only am I on the stage with MJ, I'm like leading his whole thing. So one of the most memorable things for me is just that full circle moment of just loving him as a kid, then actually being on a stage with him, chosen by him to share the stage. […] The charity single (“One Last Goodbye”) was born out of the shock that I experienced from Michael’s death. Kenny Ortega, Travis Payne, a wonderful choreographer, and I were with MJ so much during the preparations for that tour. I mean, I was easily pulling twenty-hour days; Travis and I easily. Kenny maybe more, and MJ more than all of us. We were up constantly, going back and forth over notes, how to make this show the best show ever on the planet. Just doing all that. So having all that momentum going into something like this, then to have it just all of a sudden stop, I haven't really dealt with MJ not being here. I went straight from him passing to the memorial, and putting all of that together. And then right from the memorial to putting the film together, because I was one of the film’s producers. And then right from the film into my current job with George Lopez. So I hadn't really dealt with MJ passing, so this new tribute single is sort of a way for me to give Michael a personal goodbye. […] I just want people to remember Michael's central message – which was basically “love.” So I'm just hoping that with this single, which will be released near the anniversary of his birth, we can just keep the legacy of Michael's memory going, and take it back to what it should have been about since he was born: his music. And that's what I want to do with this.

[Michael Bearden, American musical director; source: http://allhiphop.com]

 

“[…] Everyone was completely devastated [by Michael’s passing], you know, I was getting ready for rehearsals and I found out then and – and we went down to Staples Center to be together and everyone was just standing in disbelief that it happened. […] The night before – the night before we were rehearsing with him; he was in great spirits, super excited about putting out the shows for everybody, his fans especially. […]”

[Orianthi, Australian guitarist – interviewed on U.K.’s “This Morning” show; source: www.youtube.com]

 

“I think about Michael every single solitary day. If you have ever lost a parent, you’ll know that you’ll do something and think, ‘Oh I’ll ring mum and tell her.’ Then you remember you can’t ring mum. It’s the same with Michael. I think of something I want to tell him and then I remember. How can you even comprehend that? It’s just too much. He was a big part of my life…”

[Lionel Richie, American singer-songwriter and record producer; sources: The Sun, www.mjworld.net]

 

“The anticipation had been building all week. Our teacher had told us we were going to Cologne to sing at a Michael Jackson concert. Our class talked of nothing else – we were going to sing “Heal the World” with the King of Pop. Our school – the main English language primary school in the Bonn area – had been chosen as it was a melting pot of different nationalities. We had embassy kids and children whose parents worked for international organizations and multinationals from over the world. Our class was like a United Colors of Benetton ad, so we fit the bill perfectly for the make-the-world-a-better-place message in the “Heal the World” song we were to sing. I sat on the coach on the way to Cologne as the class sang the “Heal the World” song again and again. I remember not knowing the words. I hadn’t really paid much attention to music up until that point in my life. I was 11 years old and associated music with pesky recorder lessons. Michael Jackson was someone I was only vaguely familiar with. But, by the time we arrived, I knew most of the song. “Heal The World, Make It A Better Place, For You And For Me, And The Entire Human Race.” […] We were in a spacious backstage room. It had several tables, each with piles and piles of chocolate bars. It was an 11-year-old’s dream. We set about attacking the food. I can not remember how much chocolate I ate that day, but such was the impression the chocolate extravaganza made on me, that even today, I can remember thinking that it was a shame we had to leave so much behind. After what seemed like an eternity the door opened. We were all disappointed. It was not Michael, but instead a business-like lady who explained that we could not all go on stage to sing the song. They would select a dozen or so children and the rest could watch the concert. “Is there anyone who would prefer to just watch the concert?” Silence. So we lined up; and in the cruel fashion we were already familiar with from playground sports, the lady proceeded to pick out the kids she wanted. “The others were in floods of tears,” my classmate Sarah Jewer recalled. Luckily for me, I was one of those chosen and was led away to the dressing room along with the others. There I was informed that I was to represent an American kid and was handed my “American outfit”. I quickly squeezed into my blue jeans, t-shirt and baseball cap attire and nervously looked around at my classmates who were sporting similarly clichéd looks. When we finally walked out of the room and scurried across a stretch of tarmac towards the back of the stage, I was struck by how big everything seemed. That was small wonder as the Dangerous Tour had equipment weighing over 100 tons. Two Boeing 747 jets and multiple lorries had been required to transport this gear to the venue. Added to that, the sound of the music – even from behind the stage – was deafening. I began to understand what having butterflies in your stomach really meant. I walked up the stairs with my classmates where we waited in an area to the right of the stage. The roar of the 65,000 sell-out crowd was incredible. We must have arrived in between songs, because suddenly, around 20 meters away, I spotted the man we had all been hoping to meet. Michael Jackson was there standing in the wings talking to what looked to be Macaulay Culkin, the actor from Home Alone. I bounced up and down along with my classmates, pointing and screaming stuff no one could hear over the music anyway. When Michael Jackson was back on stage, I concentrated on remembering the instructions I had been told. Looking back, it wasn’t rocket science. At the time it required the utmost concentration: “Hold hands with designated partner. Move onto stage. Look forward and not at Michael, smile, and ‘sing’.” Before I knew it, my classmate was tugging at my hand and we moved out onto the stage. I gazed out at the sea of faces and promptly forgot I was meant to be singing, or mouthing the words. Standing on stage in front of 65,000 people was intimidating to say the least. My classmate Sarah, just two people removed from Jackson, recalled: “The crowd was mesmerising. Just so many people and so many lights.” We moved clockwise around a huge inflatable globe; I ignored the “don’t look at Michael” instructions and turned my neck to try and catch a glimpse of the King of Pop. But I was on the wrong side of inflatable Earth to see him properly. My memories are of brief fleeting glimpses. Before I knew it, the song was over and I stumbled off stage glancing back to see the superstar. We were whisked away, given a T-shirt and headed home. My classmate, who had been holding hands with Jackson, was the center of attention. She ran through a blow by blow account of her experience and pledged never to wash her hand again. I was jealous and exhausted. I fell asleep on the bus, wearing an oversized Dangerous Tour T-shirt.”


[Alex Handcock, German editor; source: http://blog.young-germany.de]



“It is so sad when the public judge even the innocent - for any reason, and accusation... But where the paths of compassion grow, in the end - these paths reveal lives authentically lived. Many lights among us are passing on - We have all have lost so many beloved - Some who touch our lives like a lighthouse shining through all storms... The news today of renowned singer Michael Jackson's passing leaves many bewildered. Creative icons are as human as each of us. I am always touched, how in death, so much more is revealed. There is such great beauty in how friends and loved ones are able to come forward to give testimony in grief for the beloved passing. I wonder also how easy it is for people to judge without knowing any truth, and how easy it is to cling to images that are not true, or to defend after death what some fear to defend in life. The Maya ???? (the illusions of what is seen as duality) of life spins ever tangled webs. Those who live intensely with the core of creativity often suffer this stigma. There is also a phenomena when there is so much light, one can be blinded by its intensity. I think also, the more light in a life, the more shadows of Maya/controversy pursue a life. May the true singing of soul ever continue in our hearts.

Blessings, love and light,

Rebekah”

[source: www.intent.com]


“If he'd died two weeks before he'd done it, I'd have said he'd never have done it. But he performed a full show twice on Tuesday and Wednesday before he died and he nailed it both times. He was stopping to give us notes. I was devastated when he died. Even if he'd done one show, it would have been great to see him do it and take the accolades for it. I think it would have been one of his finest moments. It was one of those things that you get the phone call and you don't turn round and say, 'I'm busy.'


You drop everything. It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to work with one of the biggest artists the world has ever seen. In our first meeting he was explaining the lighting notes for Billie Jean. It was six weeks before he died and before we moved to the Staples Center for the final rehearsals. He was telling me, 'I walk on stage, cock my hat, click my fingers and a light comes on.' I'm writing all this furiously. 'Then I move over, click fingers, light comes on. I turn to the audience, look this way, look that way, light comes on.' It becomes a surreal moment. Afterwards, I said thanks very much, Michael, went back to the control room and was straight on the phone to my kids saying, 'Guess who I've been speaking to.' […]”


[Mark Cunniffe, British lighting programmer and operator for This Is It; source: www.dailyrecord.co.uk]



“He was a super kid. He was always making jokes; he wanted to be like everyone else. He seemed happy back then. As soon as he left the school walls he went back to being the superstar. [The young Jackson was a very good student, very curious and popular with the girls. He would even treat the school to some dance moves now and then.] Michael wore a uniform like all the students, but we gave him a bit of freedom. He could have long hair. Every morning, he was dropped off an hour before the start of classes by a chauffeur. He would go and see his friend Jon Blosdale, who would finish his homework at the last minute in his car. Sometimes he had to chase Michael away, because he would push all the buttons and ask too many questions. […] I think in all his life Michael never had a childhood. It looks like he tried to recreate a childhood for himself. His father, Joe Jackson was very strict -- he didn't give him any leeway," Simpson noted. "One day, Michael got in trouble, not a big thing, but Joe Jackson came to the office furious and started yelling at him. You could see that Michael was very intimidated by his father. My uncle (who was the principal then) had to intervene to calm things down. But he idolized [his mother, Katherine]. She was the saint.”

[Mark Simpson, principal at Montclair College Preparatory School in California, where Michael Jackson studied in his 9th and 10th grade; source: www.torontosun.com]


“[With “Ghosts”,] Michael wanted to make the biggest, scariest music film ever. Well, I don’t know that that’s what happened; you can’t really be scary in this context, but it’s huge, the music and dancing are great, and it’s quite the spectacle. And it definitely got its point across. That theme of the outcast stranger that he and [Stephen] King created was important, and stayed the focus through various incarnations. […] I’d get midnight calls from Michael, who was so passionate about finishing it, making it special. He and Stan [Winston] had become friends way back when they did The Wiz together. In the beginning, he and Steve did the script together, and I wasn’t really privy to what went on then. It was when it was greenlit that Michael and I and Stan would get together for hours on end, planning the complicated effects as well as the music and storytelling. But it started as something completely different. Nobody knows this, but it was originally going to be a video to promote Addams Family Values. In fact, Christina Ricci and the boy who played Pugsley were both in it. We shot for two weeks and never got to the musical numbers. It was very expensive and ambitious. And when the first so-called scandal happened, it was when we were shooting. Suddenly, Michael was out of the country, and the studio no longer wanted him to help promote that film. […] It’s incredibly sad [that both Michael and Stan are gone], of course, and really tragic. Stan was a very talented and funny and friendly man. But I was closer to Michael, spent more time with him. It really breaks my heart to see what happened to him. He was always very fragile, had lots of trouble sleeping. He reminded me a lot of Don McLean’s song about Vincent Van Gogh. The world can be mean, and Michael didn’t have a mean bone in him. Very vulnerable and sweet. And what most people don’t realize is how smart he was and especially how funny he could be. A very witty, explosively talented guy. […] Michael always seemed to hope to make something that would be huge. He thought big, because his whole life seemed to be surrounded by magnitude. I don’t know what his hopes were in terms of comparing it with Thriller, but I know he thought it would be very special. […] He was very playful with that image, though as the press got meaner, he was definitely hurt by it, and pulled back and became more reclusive. But though we were friends, it wasn’t like I saw him all the time. A couple years could go by without seeing or speaking with one another, but when we did, we always had a good time. […] I was driving in my car when I heard on the radio that he’d been found unconscious and had been rushed to the hospital. I was stunned, of course, like everyone. Then, about an hour or so later, when I heard it rumored that he had died, I just couldn’t believe it. It took a couple of days for it to sink in. Maybe it was inevitable, I don’t know. I just know that he was fragile, sensitive, and an incredibly sweet and generous guy. It broke my heart, just like it broke the world’s. And I really felt for his kids, who are terrific and unspoiled in a way you wouldn’t imagine. At least, they were when I last saw them a couple of years ago. […] He was someone I liked a lot, and was privileged to know and work with, and I miss him. Even though I hadn’t seen him in a couple of years, it always seemed like we’d be getting together again soon to talk about movies, and laugh and joke and have fun. It makes me so sad that it won’t ever happen again. […] One of my earliest meetings with him was in New York, where he had a penthouse apartment in the Trump Towers. He was so very lonely. He’d take me to the window and point down at Fifth Avenue below and tell me he’d give anything to be able to just walk down there and go into the shops, but he couldn’t. I went out to visit him in Orlando, and was surprised to find that I was the only one, other than staff, that was around with him. There was nobody but us for a couple of days. I don’t think he had a lot of close friends, people who didn’t want something from him. […] [My enduring memory of him will be] making him laugh. When Michael laughed, when you got to him for more than just that giggle behind the hand, it was a sight to see. He just loved to laugh, and it was fun to tease him gently. Maybe one of my favorite memories was on the set of Ghosts; we’d finish a take, and if I wanted another, I’d put on Bullwinkle’s voice and say, “This time for sure!” The first time, he just laughed and laughed and laughed. Then he’d keep asking, even after the good takes: “Mick, do Bullwinkle!” That’s how I like to remember him. […] I hope [Ghosts will get a proper promotion]. It was hugely expensive, and never released in the United States. He paid for it out of his own pocket, too. So I don’t know who owns it. But I think people would love it. It changed a lot from the time that I worked on it to the time it was finished, but it’s quite an accomplishment. I’d love to see it available. The only copy of it I have was one I came across in a music store in Hong Kong, on the old VCD format. It deserves better.”


[Mick Harris, film director; source: www.movieline.com]

 


“Michael was ... I mean, here's a little boy who could sing his little a** off. "When he did one of Smokey [Robinson]'s songs, 'Who's Lovin' You?' ... at the end of it he would do this riff, and he did a riff that went off into a little minor bluesy kind of thing. I go, 'Now wait a minute, he's too young to be riffin' like that. [One of my fondest memories of him – we were in Chicago, where the Temptations and the Jackson 5 performed at Jesse Jackson’s Operation Push, and] I remember to this day, Michael said, 'Where's Otis? Where's Otis?' [ as we were trying to escape a mob of fans]. And somebody put the truck light on, and I said, 'I'm here, Michael. I'm right here.' And he looked up at me like a little boy and I never will forget that. It was so touching. He was so concerned, he wanted to know where I was. That high, squeaky voice going, 'Where's Otis? Where's Otis?' I love the Jacksons.”


[Otis Williams, American singer, co-founder of Motown vocal group, The Temptations; source: www.spinner.com]


“It’s hard to watch the VMA’s, because every time I watch it, I think about 3T being there. No one rocked the VMA’s like my uncle Michael did. I am still upset at them for not mentioning his name on the Video Vanguard awards anymore. The lifetime award, they removed his name. I was there when MTV was on the phone begging my uncle Michael to make an appearance, cause their ratings were down. Funny how easy they forget. They didn’t mention his name the last 2x they gave it out. My comments were about MTV America. I think the MTV’s overseas are way better, are they?”

[Toryano Adaryll ‘Taj’ Jackson; source: http://twitter.com/TAJ]


”Ever sense the spiritual graduation of the entity the world recognizes as the 'King of Pop', I've been reluctant to share my thoughts about the life and times of the greatest entertainer - Michael Jackson. I figured there would be countless writings, pontifications, and opinions; mainly about the, mostly negative, superficial aspects of his journey through this experience we call life.

In other words, I was hoping to read or hear much more about the greater meaning and significance of the life of the 'gloved one'. Although his many outstanding achievements and highly publicized trials and tribulations are nothing short of legendary and at the same time pitifully sobering, I find myself wanting us to realize what I have about this often misunderstood entertaining 'alien', who's gone too soon.

When I first heard the news of his passing from family and friends, (because I don't watch much television) I didn't react with any measure of passion worth noting. But as I began to recall my days growing up in the 1970’s, I started to feel, more deeply, the 'real' life purpose of this giant of a spiritual being. He is much greater than we have seemingly yet to allow ourselves to recognize!

Beyond the fascinating ability to 'moon-walk', or the epic trend setting video productions, or the mountains of philanthropic donations he personally gave to charities; I still see far beyond the world of magic and make believe he so profoundly manifested for our collective and hyper emotional enjoyment.

Though he dazzled us with his awesome 'flex' and rhythm, the prodigal son was trying to teach us all something far less shallow and deeper than setting fashion trends, for example. MJ, all along, was telling a story, in each and every song, of acceptance, joy, peace, understanding, inclusion, gratitude, respect, praise, healing, humility, introspection, and compassion, to name a few.

What he wrote in the form of lyrics while sitting in Neverlands' oak tree, were cosmic universal, poetic metaphoric messages about the internal, higher true self? The 'man in the mirror.' If we seek to continue dissecting all the external, material aspects of his 'reality', we are certain to loose (sic) the message he personified; the message of the great eternal spirit?? The message of love, agape!

So as we look to the days ahead, for confirmations of things that ultimately matter not, I am comforted in the promise that Mr. Jackson's message will rise above the perception of scandalous gossip, and take spiritual flight in the hearts of those who know, from within, the true essence of his ultimate becoming.

For those who willingly insist on beating the negative drum(s) of judgment (sic) and aim it at the one who suffered silently, but smiled anyway, I would say to you, bless you?? And so would he! May you rest in eternal peace, Mr. Michael Jackson. And thank you for loving a strange and fearful planet.

One day, as sure as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, we shall know, internally, what you were so well aware of. Until that time comes, I'll keep "living off the wall!”

[T.F. Hodge (California, U.S.A.); source: www.spiritual-healing-secrets.com]


“The three words just don’t belong together. Michael. Jackson. Dead.

Perhaps Stevie Wonder summed it up best when he sang his heart-wrenching ballad, “I Never Dreamed You’d Leave in Summer,” during his performance at Jackson’s Memorial Service at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on June 7, 2009.

I met Michael Jackson once - outside his Neverland Ranch in the spring of 2005. Jackson was on trial for child molestation and other charges (of which he was later acquitted), and I was one of the few who got to observe the courtroom proceedings in Santa Maria, Calif. first hand.

As a journalist, several questions had been running through my mind during those two days. Was Jackson targeted by the prosecution because he was black, because he was an eccentric millionaire whose facial features had mysteriously morphed from Negroid to European over the years, because he had spoken openly about sharing his bed with children in his opulent lair? Could he actually get a fair trial with the intense and media coverage and speculation from the hyperbolic Nancy Grace and others?

Jackson’s parents, Joe and Katherine, entered the courtroom first. The room was silent when Michael walked in. I had almost expected the floor beneath him to light up, like the sidewalk panels in his “Billie Jean.”

Jackson was certainly dressed like a superstar, in a natty black suit, accented with a gold vest and one of his trademark armbands. His gait was steady and confident, his demeanor calm, as he offered a shy smile and wave to his fans before he took his seat near his defense team, Thomas Messereau, Jr. and Susan Yu. We all rose for Judge Rodney Melville, who presided over the case, and then the jury came in.

Hearing testimonies by Jackson’s former travel agent, videographer and his ex-wife, Debbie Rowe, it was clear that so many people had benefited from Jackson’s vulnerability and generosity.

I caught a ride to Neverland on my last day in Santa Maria with a group of superfans, two young African American women from California and a young couple from Newcastle, England. The drive to Los Olivos was beautiful - we passed verdant hills, fields of lavender and a farm for miniature horses.

A crowd had gathered outside the estate to welcome Jackson as he returned from the courthouse. It was a blustery day and rained intermittently. Fans sat on rocks and picked at the wildflowers surrounding the property.

MJ as a Kid. Photo I purchased at the Michael Jackson Auction in 2007, Las Vegas. I remember the deafening screams of “Michael!!!!” and the crush of bodies I got lost in when I approached the black SUV as it slowed. Joe and Katherine were seated up front and his brother, Jackie, was behind them. Michael was way back.

“Michael?” I said.

I reached for his hand and he took mine. It was cool, steady and trusting, a distinct shade of pink with flecks of brown, evidence of the skin disorder, vitiligo. I remembered the hero of my youth and when I looked at the man in the car, I could see the physical and emotional toll the trial had taken on him.

My friend had given me a strand Ogún beads that I often wore for safety and protection when traveling to unfamiliar places. I took off the black and green necklace and folded it into his hand. He accepted it and nodded. No words passed between us. Then, I watched Michael Jackson’s SUV disappear through the gates of Neverland.

[…]

Indeed, the loss of Michael Jackson was felt by all in the Bay Area.

On the June 26, 2009, the day after Michael Jackson’s passing, Dorothy King, owner of Everett and Jones restaurant in Oakland, and her friend Annemarie Stephens hosted a Goodbye Party (on her birthday) to mourn the loss of the King of Pop and to celebrate his life, legacy and contribution to the world.

On June 28, the R&B Grammy nominated sisters Hélène and Célia Faussart paid tribute to Jackson during their performance at the Stern Grove in San Francisco. Les Nubians began with a French/African version of Jackson’s jazz-inspired, “I Can’t Help It,” written by Stevie Wonder for Jackson’s breakthrough solo album, Off the Wall.

In a pre-concert talk, the sisters held back tears as they described Jackson as one of their biggest influences and remembered sneaking out of their beds to watch the Thriller video on television when it premiered in 1984.

“The beauty of music and the beauty of art is that it makes you immortal, eternal,” said Celia. “Michael Jackson will definitely be eternal for the next generation and the generation after that.”

During their 4th of July performance at Pier 23 Café in San Francisco, the Mighty Diamonds, Jamaica’s premiere vocal trio, paid tribute with a stirring rendition of Jackson childhood ballad, “Ben.” At first, the audience got quiet, and then everyone cheered.

[...]

Lead vocalist Donald “Tabby Diamond” Shaw remembers meeting Jackson and his brothers at a Jackson 5 show in Kingston. He recalls Jackson as a curious, humble youth who was interested in his surroundings.

“Everybody loved Michael Jackson in Jamaica,” said Shaw. He was a role model for most kids. He was a special person.”

Although he never met or recorded with Michael Jackson, Tarrus Riley, currently the number one singer in Jamaica, shares a common bond with him.

Six months ago, Riley recorded a cover of “Human Nature” (listen to the Human Nature clip) for a compilation of Michael Jackson covers produced on a Japanese label. Before Jackson’s death, the song had already reached number one in parts of the Caribbean. “Human Nature” will appear on Riley’s next album, Contagious on VP Records and is not a permanent fixture in his concert repertoire.

Riley was just a kid when Thriller came out. Rastafarian, Riley offered some comforting words on life after death for Michael Joseph Jackson.

“Michael is in the place he was before he was born, before he was in the flesh,” said Riley.

During a stop at Jamaica Place restaurant in Emeryville, Grammy winning jazz/blues artist Taj Mahal, who lives in Berkeley, commented on Jackson’s untimely death. His favorite Jackson recordings are the ones that Quincy Jones produced, such as “Off the Wall” and “Thriller.”

“We lost one of the most incredible innovators in popular music,” said Mahal. “He opened the door for a lot of people. I never worked with them, but I saw the Jackson 5 at the Grammys in the seventies.”

Soon after he got word of Jackson’s death, Grammy winning producer Narada Michael Walden went into his Tarpan studio in San Rafael and began to build an upbeat, funk-infused tribute entitled “Michael”.

Acclaimed recording engineers David Frazier and Jim Reitzel assisted him on the song. Walden said the Spirits gave him the lyrics, which are intended to acknowledge, comfort, and pay homage to everyone who loved Michael Jackson.

Walden first met Jackson in the late seventies in New York at Central Park during the time Jackson was filming The Whiz.

“He was like a deer - a doe, very gentle,” said Walden. “We just talked - of course I knew his music and he knew mine at the time. It was a really nice encounter. No pressure, just hanging out talking. The next time I saw him was at the Oakland Coliseum (now Oracle Arena) backstage when he played there with his brothers. He reminded me when that we had met in New York. He was sharp to remember that.”

[Shelah Moody, American journalist; source: http://cityflight.com]


“Dear Michael,

Words can not even begin to describe how much we've missed you, ever since that moment that you magically gave us a big surprise, we know you love surprises! Remember that once we were all sitting together in your movie theatre in Neverland watching your MV "Ghost". Just before the movie finished you suddenly disappeared in front of everyone, your love of magic always brought the kids lots of happiness, we'll never forget your kindness and hospitality.


We will also never forget your performance in Durban, South Africa on 15 October,1997, the last concert of your History tour. (Never thought that it would be your last ever performance!)


You were having your make up backstage getting ready for the show, as you looked up in the mirror, you saw the twins Prety and Morly that you had said goodbye to a few hours ago at the airport, reappear at your make-up room. You were so surprised, your expression was exactly like Macaulay Culkin in 'Home Alone', " WOW! " You jumped out of your chair, shy with your hands covering your face, you had only just applied the make up…


The last song "History", you invited the lucky twins onstage with you to end the concert and said your farewell to hundred of thousands of the live audience, and all the fans around the world. No one knew this was going to be your final curtain call - The End. It became History.


Feeling particularly sad at this moment, looking at the concert photos that you sent us in the past. You led Prety and Morly's on stage to end the show. A smile on your face, in your favourite white military jacket, waving goodbye to everyone, it turned out to be your last appearance on stage.


My Lord, we sincerely pray to you that our beloved King of Pop, Michael Jackson is in your safe hands. His purity, kindness, humbleness, love and his beautiful laughter will remain with him, with your blessing, he is forever free from worries and pain in this world, and is free to be the real Peter Pan in Neverland.


Dear Michael, we were planning to give you another surprise at the London O2 show before Father's day and your 51st birthday. Remember our secret password for meeting you: "Can you dancing?" You may be laughing out loud hearing it!


Rest now, everyone who loved you will pray for your family and your mother Katherine and especially your children Prince, Paris, Blanket. We sincerely thank you for your sincere love and all the wonderful memories you left us, despite our grief and pain of losing you, you will forever be in our hearts.


Forever missing you from your family friend in Taiwan.


Love from - Prety, Morly, Jocy (Ma Qi Zhen) and Hairess 17/07/2009


p.s While immunised with emotion writing this letter, felt a sudden tremor, sensing a very familiar scent in the air, it was your favourite perfume, was it really you…


We shouldn't be sad, as you once said, you would never wanted anyone who cared for you to be sad. We hope you are truly free now. Rest in peace, Michael!”

[Pei Ling, Taiwanese fan and friend; sources: http://mjmemoriestaiwan.blogspot.com, www.nownews.com]


“Well, today I actually am gonna open with this show, because we’re gonna show a little videoclip of – of AIDS Project L.A., what the people have done, what their money is on, how it’s helped and changed the lives of people with AIDS Project L.A., and I have worked with them for a while now ever since my brother passed, it’s a very important situation for me, because I wanted to follow some of the charities that he was involved in, so I’m continuing that on, and this was the one that was closest to me, it was in L.A. and it’s one of the ones I continue to – to really support and […] go out and pass out food to [girls] and do whatever I can to help them, whenever I have free time. So, they asked me to come out today and do this, well, so here I am. […] Everyone [in the family] is well, thank you, that’s very kind of you to ask, they’re well, thank you.”

[LaToya Jackson – at the Macy’s Passport Glamorama charity event; source: www.ontheredcarpet.com]


“[Thomas Mesereau] said you can’t win a case in the media, money was in a conviction. It cost the media millions of dollars by getting a not-guilty verdict. People were gloating over the fact that they would be profiting over this case. Mesereau said he had never heard such salacious, disturbing testimony. It almost became a circus and the witnesses were so quickly crumbled under cross examination. Really interesting. Three of the five witnesses started out saying that “He never touched me”, the fourth one never showed up, the fifth one said he was a youth pastor, and when I end all of this bunch of nonsense and he was selling stories to the tabloids. Mesereau said the trial was very agonizing, back-breaking, a hundred + witnesses, five days a week. Media’s goal was writing some revenue that wanted to see Michael go down. […] Mesereau said that. […] [The Los Angeles County BAR Association] – I think that they were trying to show different perspectives from each person who was involved in the trial - show their perspectives, but it was wonderful that Mesereau was at the end, because he landed a wallop. He was very angry – it was controlled anger, but he said, “Absolutely, I do NOT think Michael was guilty. I think he was innocent.” And each one presented it from his perspective. They started out with [judge] Melville explaining the set-up of the conditions of the trial, they waited until the end of the program to talk about the jury selection and whether or not a change of venue would have been a good thing to do. But each one had his own say in it and they talked about the first issue of the child molestation charges. And then they talked about the second one - the trial. And Carl Douglas was there, and there were five men there. […] [Carl Douglas] is an attorney, he was one of the people there to represent Michael with the first set of child molestation charges. […] No cellphones, no cameras, no photograph equipment at all [were allowed inside]. […] They videotaped [the seminar] themselves. […] First one who talked was Judge [Rodney] Melville. […] He discussed, first of all, problems they had with so many people outside and the tremendous number of people from the media that were there and all the fans […] And I believe he said there were approximately 40 seats for the public and that they would have a lottery drawing each morning [at 6 a.m.], so that people could come in and sit down. […] [But the media did not have to show up until 8 a.m.]. How they were able to – he was very concerned about having to prepare copies of documents and they were able to get this put out for public media […], but they said it was they were very concerned about the number of copies and the extra personnel that would be required to provide all this information. Because Santa Maria had never had this type of case before. So, because it was a high-profile case, he had to make some new rules, to keep order. […] He said that they had a row that was the buffer row, but so that the attorneys could talk without the public being privvy to what they were saying, so they set up a buffer there. […] He also issued gag orders, but he talked about two sides getting together, he was always available to them, gave his personal phone number to them, so that they could get together on very short notice to talk about the kind of statements that would be made to the public a nd they co-operated in that. […] Melville made an interesting statement, he said – and he made a point in saying this, he said that both sides were represented by the most “ethical lawyers”. [longer pause accompanied by a shocked, disbelieving stare of the reporter’s]. Well, the next one was Feldman, he talked about the first case and how the case was settled and he talked about the similarity in the two cases and then – and there were a lot of similarities, but there were also some differences, and then he really went in to the fact that Geraldo had tried Michael Jackson on T.V. and he’d won; he talked about the fact that there were claims of extortion, there were a lot of problems with that case. He said there was quite a bit going on behind the scenes. […]”

"[Prosecutor Ron Zonen from Santa Barbara also spoke]. He talked at length about Gavin [Arvizo, the 2003 lying accuser] and the terrible situation that he grew up in, living in one room for the first twelve years of his life until his father was removed from the scene. About the horrific abuse that that family had at the father's hands, and that they all lived in one room all this time, separated by sheets, to make the different rooms. He talked about the Martin Bashir interview. [...] He talked a little bit more about Gavin's mother being uncontrollable and unstable, that there were significant issues with her in Zonen's office. [...] [Zonen said that the 2005 trial was] ultimately a shakedown of Michael Jackson. [...] Yes, he [admitted that]. Yes, he said that the mother was uncontrollable, that no one knew what she was gonna come out with next, what she was gonna say. She was loud to say anything at any time. [...] What can I tell you?.. [...] I don't know - I don't know if they realized it was a shakedown before or after, but that he did say that. [...] He also said that it's a Santa Barbara tradition that you have a grand jury for a high-profile case and it was appropriate in this case, because you should be able to do so in secret, so they would protect all parties and including Michael Jackson. [...]"

It was wonderful that Mesereau was at the end, because he landed a wallop. He was very angry -  it was controlled anger, but he said "Absolutely, I do NOT think Michael was guilty. I think he was innocent." [...] Randy Jackson [Michael's brother] - the reason Mesereau brought in his name was that Randy was the one that brought  him (Messereau) in, because he felt that Mesereau was not someone who would be looking for camera coverage for himself. [...] And that was one of the reasons. Mesereau said that people were gloating over the fact that they would be profiting over this case. [...] One comment that he made that I was really impressed with is he said that he had never heard such salacious, disturbing testimony, that it became almost a circus and that it was amazing how quickly their testimony would crumble under the cross examination. [...] He did not attack anyone, but he did say that the trial was "a very agonizing, back-breaking experience." 140 - approximately - witnesses, five days a week they would go for five hours a day. And straight testimony didn't break for lunch. And he said many of his people from his team did not sleep at night while they were updating the witnesses information. And he said that he was up, he would go to bed at 9 at night, his associate would go to bed at 7, and they'd be up at 3 or 4 o'clock in the morning, working. So, it was a tough - tough time. [...] Zone brought that up, I believe, that the[ two parties] had gotten along so well, because each side would let the other know the day before when they were gonna bring in new witnesses or new information. So, they made it sound as this was a good thing, because they were cooperating... Though they didn't focus on the fact that it was at the last minute, which would strain the other side [the defense side]. [...] [I flew from Texas just for this event] I told Mesereau after it was over how much I appreciate it that my students in Houston are looking forward to this information. And that I appreciate the fact that he digs for the truth, that he searches for the truth. Stands up for the truth. [...] Mesereau said that Michael Jackson was very cooperative, he was very nice, he  never got in their way -  of what they were doing. He said the problem was with the people around Michael, that they were always nipping at the heels of Mesereau. There were lawyers that were always criticizing Mesereau and they were keeping Michael off-balance and scared, and, in that way, keeping themselves necessary to have around all the time. [There weren’t given] any names. He said that they were nipping and that they ensured their presence there by keeping Michael upset all the time. It was a – definitely a strategy. Mesereau said that his own strategy was to bring in a story and have very long-winded questions just to wear them down [laughs]. That was his strategy for working with the witnesses. So, it was very interesting; he wanted to neutralize the prosecution by showing that different perspective, where Michael would sleep with the mother and his sisters and say his bedroom was huge, it was the size of a house and they were trying to show this from a different perspective. […] It sounded like, from the way he was describing it, it sounded like a giant dormitory room. More like a sleep-over for a camp-out or something. […] [After the seminar was over], I thanked him [Mesereau] for searching for the truth, I told him that my students were eagerly awaiting to get this information and that they were becoming critical thinkers, because they’re learning the truth. Thanks to attorneys like him. […]"

* (!) The accuser's mother kind words on Jackson - shown in the above footage - shortly before the false allegations broke out in 2003: "He plays with them, laughs with them, he lets them win! [grins]. [Gavin Arvizo adds: "He wrestles with us."] And he makes jokes with them. [...] He said 'Come to me' - not just Gavin, but Star and Daveline (who is seen crying) and me and called us his family. And Gavin was the one that asked him: "Could I call you daddy? And Michael said "Of course." And so, through him, it sparked Star and Daveline calling him daddy Michael. Very innocent and beautiful relationship. For example, to see my children interact with the ideal role - father role model.."

[Martha Gallien, Texas Instructor of Criminology - talking about the secret Los Angeles County BAR Association seminar  "Frozen In Time: A Riveting Behind-the-Scenes View Of The Michael Jackson Cases" that she was present at and took 15 pages of notes, to William Wagner, ‘bringing the scoop nobody else would’ On Second Thought; sources: www.OnSecondThought.TV, www.youtube.com]

* For even more details regarding the Los Angeles' County Bar Association event, visit here: http://xltweet.com/show/?id=565259585C

 

“He never told me [what drew him to oe of my Native live paintings]. The painting depicted a cavalry killing women and children, so I think it was the empathy he was drawn to. […] [He wasn’t very knowledgeable of Native culture]. That is to say, what he knew about it was no more or less than what the average person knows. But he did have a very good overview knowledge of Native culture. […] Michael was aware of everything. He was a voracious reader. […] Every tribe has their own version of the prophecy. […] [Michael was aware of the prophecy]. […] [The first time we met] he told me he wanted to take art lessons. […] He just wanted to meet me [though] [laughs]. He wanted to set up a meeting, to see if we would hit if off. [I did give him some drawing lessons, but] he got frustrated too easily. He wanted it to be right on the first try. […] I told him once, he had the ability to be a great artist. But it would take years to develop. I told him he could be a great artist if he would be willing to give up his music career, and just devote time to his art and nothing else. […] Diana Ross was the one who got him interested in art. She took him to museums. […] He used to say he could fool everyone with his disguises, except for the women. The women would recognize his walk; they had it all down. […] [As for the concepts of the paintings I did for Michael, it was usually a collaborative effort], Michael did some, and we did some together. He had these wonderful ideas. […] I personally think all of the paintings are beautiful. But I don’t have to tell you, that there are some people who have called works like ‘Field Of Dreams’ and ‘Michael’ as ‘pedo art.’ [But Michael simply wanted a painting that would depict children of all nationalities and races - in keeping with his vision for the Heal The World Foundation, which I painted the logo for - doing kids stuff – even, yes, being naughty. The little boy seen peeking beneath the little girl’s dress was Michael’s idea.] He said, ‘Kids do stuff like that’. […] Martin Bashir, as you know, made a point of cutting away to the ‘Michael’ painting every chance he got. A**hole! Pardon my language. […] Martin Bashir is an a**hole. I tried to tell Michael not to do that show. But he was convinced Martin Bashir would do for him what he did for Princess Diana [TST note: or what he thought he had done for the Princess]. […] [After the 1993 false allegations, media and tabloid requests would constantly bombard me, some offering up to 25,000 dollars to dish dirt on Michael – true or not. They would want to know who the kids in the paintings were, what their names were. Well, we couldn’t give them any names, because none of the kids really existed. They were all made up. [Except for a little African-American girl eating a vanilla ice cream cone, who is actually my wife.] I decided to use my wife here, as well. The only difference was, I just made her black instead of white. [And most of my paintings are filled with such hidden surprises and secrets]. Sometimes Michael would tell me where he wanted the hidden surprises to go. But then sometimes we would hide them so well, that even we would forget where we had hidden them. […] [I did a painting called “Camelot” for Michael and is then wife, Lisa Marie, at Michael’s request.] I spent two weeks with them [for that]. [They were] absolutely fabulous. Just a lovely couple. […] Not a doubt. […] But Lisa came into the marriage with her own children [and she didn’t want to have more]. [The “Camelot” wasn’t finished]. Michael wasn’t happy with the castle. He wanted it to be more fanciful.”

“He never stopped trying to make it into a better place for the sick children who came there. Michael understood that for a sick child, it’s not easy to sleep at night. He wanted them to have cartoons playing so that when they woke up in pain, and couldn’t sleep, they would have something to watch. He was always thinking of those kids, and how to make things better for them. [Even the horses on the carousel at Neverland were designed to be a unique experience for every child or person riding them]. Each horse had its own poem inscripted on it. […]

“These were all guys that were used to just going in the recording studio and laying a track down in one take or two. [Michael was genuinely hurt and puzzled that these guys would be ticked off after being asked to make take after take.[ “All these people are mad at me,” he said. […] [I also remember Michael’s sense of humor. One time, I was trying to get through to him on the phone; instead, I got this woman with this very grating, annoying Brooklyn accent who refused to let him through. Finally, I met with Michael and told him] I would have gotten here sooner, but I was held up by this awful, annoying woman who talked like this (mocking her nasally, irritating voice). [Then, he started giggling and I realized I’d been ‘had’. “Michael, was that you?”, “What do you think?” Michael said, talking in “her” voice. […] [One of the portraits I did for Michael was a portrait of his son, Prince, ‘The Boy King’, depicting Prince as a toddler, asleep on his throne.] We were going to do portraits of [Paris and Blanket too], but Michael wanted to wait until they were a little older. […] [One other time, Michael, the kids and I snuck in to see ‘The day After Tomorrow’ at a shoping mall theater in Santa Fe, New Mexico. I took the kids to get popcorn. Michael waited until the lights went down, and slipped in through a side door. He was wearing these red, silk lounging pants, like pajamas [laughs]. [I was also there when he came to me all excited, because Blanket had spoken his first sentence.] “Blanket just said his first sentence!”. ‘What did he say?’ “he said, ‘Where is Dave?’ […]”

“He never complained [when dealing with his skin condition, Vitiligo]. […] When I first met him [in 1988] it was already all the way down the right side of his neck. And on his right hand, as far as I could see, going all the way up his arm. [But it was hard to know how much further the disease had progressed] since he always wore those long-sleeved, corduroy shirts. Of course, as he developed more blotches, he had to go with lighter and lighter makeup to cover it. […] White people have pigment. Look at your skin, and look at mine. But now…look at that piece of paper there. That sheet of paper right there… imagine someone whose skin is as white as that paper. Michael always considered himself very ugly. […] he thought he was extremely ugly. He was always wanting to look like what he called “normal people.” But I never once heard him complain. He never said, ‘Why me?’ He always knew who he was, he knew he was black.”


[David Nordahl, American painter, interviewed by AllForLoveBlog’s reporter, Raven Wood; source: http://allforloveblog.com]


 

“Michael had so much energy, it bleeds off to you. […] Michael always did themed lunches; [for example, one day it might be Mexican, which meant a table loaded with authentic Mexican cuisine, waiters and waitresses in Mexican dress, Mexican music and authentic decorations, and even travel posters depicting the most beautiful places to see in Mexico! The next day, the theme might be German, and so on.] On most sets, you would be lucky if you got a bag of chips and a hot dog. And maybe a place to sit - usually outside in your car. But not when you worked for Michael. [My friendship with Michael began while on the set of the “Smooth Criminal” video]. I told him I was from Gary. “Really, you’re from Gary?” I didn’t tell him at first that I was actually from Hammond. […] [Michael did all the chase scenes himself in ‘Moonwalker”, he willingly performed some of the toughest action sequences in the film.] But Michael didn’t want to take part in any scene where he actually had to point the gun at someone and pretend to kill them. But he didn’t mind doing the scene where he shoots it in the air. [I also had another function on the set. Michael chose me specifically to guard his back, but it is not unusual when working with A-list celebrities. He wanted someone at his back at all times. He never liked the idea of leaving himself vulnerable, in a position where someone could sneak up behind him.] I usually stood just back of his right shoulder at all times on the set, except when a sequence was being filmed. The double might be standing alone. But Michael would never, at any time, be left standing alone. [There was a scene in “Moonwalker” when Michael is chased by some dogs, but nobody notified him about this! He sees them, panick and starts running (he was once attacked by a dog as a child and still would have a fear of them as the years went by). He is seen running toward the camera, but, in reality, he was actually running straight towards me. He grabbed e by the shoulder and swung behind me, hiding and screaming “Help me! Keep them off of me! Please!”. The dogs, however, were in pursuit of a guy holding steaks for them. Bubbles was also there on the set and] you couldn’t lay anything down. This one time, I had a can of Sprite. Bubbles swiped my can, turned it up, and drank the whole thing down. When he was done, he turns the can over like this (demonstrating turning a can upside down) to see if anything was left. Then, he reached over and took my Hershey bar, and ate it. [It was also Michael’s idea that the children’s dog, seen disappearing into a sewer during the film, is brought back, alive and unharmed, at the end of the movie.] Michael was very adamant about that. He wanted everyone to know the dog was okay. […]”


[Scott Thomspon, former weapons specialist, current washing machine salesman – interviewed by Raven Wood;, reporter of AllForLoveBlog; source: http://allforloveblog.com]


“I can remember days when, you know, he would come in, he was always very… what’s the [word]… – just quiet and humble, and very humble in front of the jury, always stood up when the jurors came in, which I’m sure Tom Messereau told him to do, but there are – I’ve been at Robert Blake’s trial, I’ve been at Phil Spector’s trial, I’ve been at a lot of trials, okay? These people don’t stand up, you know, they think they’re bigger and better than that - that’s not Michael Jackson, okay? That said, you know, one of the things that struck me watching all this was the prosecution puts on its case first, and then the defense. So, months and months and months go by of people coming forward who work for Michael, who – who Michael helped, who were his manager(s) – Bob Jones, who were his – his, you know, his employees at the – at the ranch, at the Neverland Ranch, all of whom are alleging and stating things that are falsehoods, that are negative, that are hurtful, and, you know, Michael once said, “I’m a person […] and it affects me”, and he was sensitive than most people, frankly. So, you know, we think about these stars, ‘You know, it’s okay if you make fun of Cher or Michael Jackson or Balbara Walters or whomever, ‘cause you’re not in their circle, you can gossip about those people, you know, ‘cause that’s not in your world’, so to speak. But the truth is Michael was in all of our worlds. And, at the same time, he was the butt of every joke, every – every horrible thing in the world that’s imaginable, and, in this case, he was on trial for criminal prosecution, for possibly spending time in prison for something he didn’t do. And he’s watching - imagine watching the whole world going for you, just put yourself in those shoes - forget about fame, forget about the whole media being there, which just compounded it all – but if you were sitting there and you had trial and the whole thing was fake, all right? Made up. And you had this D.A. that had it out for you and you knew that, all right - which is Tom Sneddon, the vendetta man. And now, here comes your ex-wife, Deborah Rowe, or your ex husband, and to testify against you, now here comes Bob Jones, who was your manager, to testify against you, now here comes - and they figured out ways to subpoena these people to get them say certain things they wanna say, but these people would also have their own agendas – they’re pissed about this and, look, Debbie is pissed about [that] she didn’t get her kids and that it – whatever! Could you imagine sitting there month after month after month like that?”

* TST note: Debbie Rowe’s answers on the stand would prove in favor of the defense and Michael Jackson.

[Aphrodite Jones, American journalist, author of “Michael Jackson Conspiracy”, host of the TV series, True Crime – speaking to Raven Wood; sources: www.youtube.com, www.allforloveblog.com]

 

“It was a serenade, it wasn’t a performance, he was serenading to his mom. And you can just see she was just as mesmerized. Now, when I look at her, it can - you know, it can bring tears to my eyes.. The love that Michael and his mom had was, you know, very very special..”


[Steve Howell, Michael jackson’s personal cinematographer – on Jackson’s tribute to his mother’s birthday, May 4, 1984 in California; sources: The Insider HD; www.youtube.com]


“AmeriCares is indebted to Michael Jackson for his generosity. His kindness will stay in the hearts of AmeriCares and the many children he helped through his “Heal the World” foundation”.

[Curt Welling, AmeriCares President and CEO; source: www.americares.org]


“[What I miss most about Michael is] his sense of humor about himself. […] No, I mean, Michael was adorable and he was funny. You know, we talked every week on the phone, no matter where we both were. And he had the best sense of humor, especially about himself. Yeah, really good. I don’t think that’s a side that people know.”

[Liza Minnelli, American singer and actress – on Oprah show; source: www.youtube.com]


“I think he would want us to keep his legacy alive by performing and doing what we know how to do. […] So, this is healing for me as well, because sitting and thinking about what happened, it eats you alive. […] There is a part in the show where we, well, I kind of bring the – the music down and it’s just the – the keyboards and strings and I do sort of like an unplugged and just my voice and a few things - I do “Man In The Mirror”, “Human Nature”, “[I] Can’t Help It”, (…) “She’s Out Of My Life” and then “Gone Too Soon”, and then I come from – I come out of that and I do “Smile”, which is really emotional, ‘cause I sang that at the memorial, but that was his favorite song. […] I’m not trying to be Michael. Michael is – is amazing with what he did. So, let’s go out and let’s do the music, let’s continue to put smiles on people’s faces and get them up and going energetic, that’s what it’s all about: in his honor.”


[Jermaine Jackson – in the studio rehearsing for a Las Vegas show in honor of his brother; source: www.HipHollywood.com, www.youtube.com]

 

“We’re hanging in there, but it’s – it’s been tough, but we’re – we’ve just learned… it’s tough.. […] [Our mother] is holding up because she has to give that love and that support, but it’s very very tough losing a child, it’s very tough. But she’s – she’s doing fine. […] Well, this [tribute] all happened, because I was asked to come to the Gambia in Africa to do a show for the President, for [his] birthday, so I put this massive band together, so […] why don’t I just do some of everybody’s music? So, we’re doing 40 years of just Jackson music from mine, to the Jacksons to the Jackson 5, to Michael’s and a few of Janet’s songs. […] Well, I have the responsibility of performing, but my brothers are gonna be there if they feel it and if it gets in their system like it does, then they – by all means, they have a free pass to the stage, they can definitely come up there. […] This is – this a very exciting show, ‘cause it’s a lot of music and our music is upbeat and it just goes on and on and on, but we… [it] is healing for me to perform the family’s music and to keep it on the level in which we recorded it is the task within itself, but we’ve achieved that and I think is important that we continue to keep the legacy alive by performing. There’s no way possible that I’m trying to be Michael or anything like that, Michael was – was a gift. And – but I do feel that he wanted us to perform, ‘cause [there are] such beautiful songs, not just his music, but the Jackson 5 stuff […]. [The tribute] is planned in [Planet] Hollywood this Saturday coming and… we’re ready. […]”


[Jermaine Jackson, talking to MORE Local Las Vegas; sources: www.fox5vegas.com, www.youtube.com]

 

 

“Being a brother you grow up with, you (playfully) slapped on, you shared triple-bunk beds. And all of a sudden, he's gone. When I think about it, my mind goes blank. […] [For the Vegas tribute] we're just trying to tell a story through the show. I'm sharing some memories. I talk about being at Neverland (Ranch), and what it was like -- the feeling we all got through the chance to relive our childhood, because it was a place for children to come and have fun, who were terminally ill.”


[Jermaine Jackson; source: www.lvrj.com]

“It was February 1998, and the King of Pop was in town for the inauguration of President Kim Dae-jung. There Jackson was, waving itty-bitty waves in the middle of a wedge of enormous bodyguards moving quickly through the jampacked lobby. […]

I followed along with my wife and fellow Post correspondent, Mary Jordan, enjoying the spectacle. We were there to cover the inauguration, and we had brought our 2-year-old daughter, Kate, rather than leave her at home in Tokyo with a babysitter.

Suddenly, the tinted front passenger window of the van rolled down, and a familiar face shouted my name. It was a Kim aide I knew.

“What are you doing here?” I asked him.

“I'm in charge of him,” he said, thrusting a thumb toward the back of the van.

We asked if we could meet Jackson, and our friend told us to come to the Presidential Suite on the top floor later.

“Michael is happy to meet you. Wait in here,” he said as we arrived, pushing open the big doors to the suite where countless visiting heads of state had stayed.

We entered the main room, which had a sort of Versailles feel to it: lots of white, gilded armchairs, incredibly high ceilings, an ornate fireplace and mantel. And everywhere: toys. Scores of stuffed bears and ducks and bunnies in sweet pastel colors, plump and planted around the room.

There were Playskool castles with little steps and slides, and balloons littered the floor and floated to the ceiling like at a 4-year-old's birthday party. Michael was 39 and had a 1-year-old son at the time, but the King of Pop seemed to be on his own in Seoul.

Was this Peter Pan fantasy scene ordered up by Michael? His handlers? […] Or did the Shilla Hotel staff imagine this was what he might like as a welcome gesture, instead of a bowl of fruit and a pair of Shilla slippers?

We never did find out. But right then, Kate decided Korea was pretty cool. She found a little white floppy-eared dog and scooped it up.

We waited about 15 minutes, alone (…) Then a side door opened and there was Michael, dressed all in black with that Sgt. Pepper jacket. His shoulders were adorned with epaulets, and there were three gold stripes and a gold diamond on each sleeve. […] Long black curls fell out from under his black hat. He was taller than I imagined, probably 5-foot-10 or 5-11, and skinny as a chair leg.

“Hi,” he said, in a soft, high voice. “Could you come away from the window? The sunlight is too strong for me.”

[…] We approached Michael and stood next to the huge gilded fireplace, where a stuffed panda sat waiting for a hug.

We introduced ourselves. I shook a small hand that felt like it might break, like a little bag of sticks.

“This is Kate,” I said, holding a very, very suspicious little girl in my arms. “Kate, can you say hi to Michael?”

Kate squeezed the floppy-eared dog. She said zip.

“Hi, Kate,” Michael said in that famous breathy voice, giving her a big pop-star smile. “How are you?”

Michael Jackson was absolutely sweet and endearing with Kate, who was giving him nothing back. He was warm and engaging and seemed truly delighted to meet her. He was fine with us, if a bit awkward, but when he was trying to cajole a smile out of Kate, he was magical.

Despite all the allegations of creepiness with children, he did not once make us nervous about being there with our toddler. […]

We asked him why he was in Seoul. He praised Kim Dae-jung's commitment to children, and he said he was considering a concert to benefit starving children in North Korea and around the world. (Jackson did headline two huge concerts in June 1999, one in Seoul and one in Munich, that raised several million dollars for children's charities.)

He asked us why we were in Seoul. We told him we were journalists for The Washington Post.

“Oh, that's nice,” he said, not missing a beat or showing any obvious horror at the discovery of reporters amid the teddy bears.

[…] We talked with him for a good 30 minutes, and he never gave us the impression that he needed to be anywhere else. Charmingly, he kept trying to engage Kate, who warmed up a bit eventually. […] We liked Michael Jackson. He did seem like an inhabitant of a slightly different universe. His personality was so huge onstage, and so small and hesitant in person, like a kid not quite sure how to engage adults. […]”

[Kevin Sullivan, American reporter of Washington Post newspaper; source: www.washingtonpost.com]

 

“You know, it’s funny when people are alive, we take things for granted, but when they go, we have the tendency to remember the simple things. He was a really good guy… you know what I’m saying? You know, he was very humble… you know? I mean, he had attained a level of success that we can only dream of, and he was so humble and.,you know, just a really, really good guy. And I think he taught more lessons through actions than even verbal messages. You know what I’m saying?... He was just a really, really good guy. You know? You could feel the authenticity and humility. […] I think Michael was aware of his power, I think Michael was aware of the place that he held within – in a society and as an entertainer, I mean, he was so big that he literally had to speak in a whisper to make people comfortable. I mean, that’s… that’s pretty big. One thing Mike did make me realize and made me realize is that – is how much art affects people. You know?.. And how important art is. When you think about artists and the contribution that they make to society, it really is truly amazing, because the work really does outlive the artist. Especially in what is really incredible work. People always remember it and cherish it. Thriller was absolutely as [Leonardo’s] Mona Lisa. Collaborating with him was incredible, because before we did anything, he was sitting and playing a lot of music for me. You know? So he’s playing the music, he’s dancing around the studio – it was just me and him; it was amazing just watching him, how much passion he had for the music. How excited he was about the projects. I mean, he really was exciting – excited about what he was doing. I mean you know, there was a lot of passion, there was a lot of energy… it was just amazing, you know?.. It was – it was deep. And I hope people remember him as a guy who shared his gifts and talents, and through sharing his gifts and talents, he was rewarded with more gifts, and then shared those gifts. I think the answer to everything that happened to Mike’s life is his legacy – in his legacy and the feeling that he has left the world with his joy, love, happiness, peace, friendship, unity, people coming together, people feeling healed, people ralling around this one human being’s soul and how it affected and touched so many… Every great painting, if you put it under a microscope, it probably has a few little nicks and scratches. It doesn’t mean it’s not a masterpiece.”

[James Todd Smith, better known as LL Cool J, Haitian rapper and actor; sources: www.cbsnewscom, www.youtube.com]

“First of all, you know, Mike – we were very close, we worked together quite a few times, made a lot of songs together. Actually, my song, ‘Hey, Lover’, which I got a Grammy for, Michael Jackson, Quincy Jones and Rod Temperton actually cleared that sample and made it possible for me to get that Grammy, and a lot of people don’t know that because Mike wasn’t a big – he wasn’t big on clearing samples, so he - yeah. […] What it means is that I actually used a piece of “[The] Lady In My Life” – the song “[The] Lady In My Life” for my song, “Hey, Lover”. I used a bit of the instrument – the instrumentation, and Mike said, ‘Yes, LL, it’s okay for you to use it’, and together with Boyz To Men we actually went and got a Grammy, and Mike blessed me with that, so that was generous and, you know, success rubbed off [laughs]… you know? […]”

[LL Cool J – talking to The View; source: www.youtube.com]

“The person that I had the most fun with – you know, may he rest in peace – the songs [we did together] were never actually released, but I did quite a few songs with the King of Pop: Michael Jackson. One time we was (sic) in the studio, you know, and I said ‘Mike, you know, in the “Smooth Criminal” [video] how’d you lean forward like that?’’ You know, and he was sitting – I was sitting at a, like, a baby grand piano, I’m sitting on a chair, you know, and he was sitting up on the piano like this [cross-legged], you know what I mean? [laughs] And he said, ‘Oh, look..’, I said ‘How’d you lean forward?’, he said, ‘Well, you know, we had a Swami come in and, you know, we did a special thing and he did a ritual and he leaned forward and we all leaned forward together.’ I was like, ‘Really?’ And he was like, ‘No, silly!’ [laughter] I’ve never told nobody this, and excuse the vulgarity of it, because it – but it’s late, so it’s cool [laughter].. You know one time I said, you know, I was sitting there, we was (sic) in his office, I said, ‘Mike, you know, I gotta… I gotta – I gotta pass gas..’. He said, ‘What?’ – he said, ‘What?’ I said, ‘Mike, I gotta fart’, he said, ‘You gotta what?’ I said, ‘I have to fart’, he said, ‘Oh, go ahead then’; I would – and I would [emits the specific noise], and he would [laugh in hysterics, looking disgusted]. [laughter] […] So, he gets on the phone, right, I said, ‘Oh, man, I would love some ice-cream’, he says ‘Really? Yes, it’s okay, hold on a second. [dials phone number] Hello? Yes, hey, guess what LL did: he ordered some ice-cream.’ [laughter] You know, you know, Mike was a trip. You know, let me tell you something. Working with Michael was like the most amazing part of my life. I respect him so much, love him so much… [applause] He was incredible. […] Incredible. […] Yeah – yeah, it’s amazing.”

[LL Cool J, on the Lopez Tonight show; sources: www.tvsquad.com, www.mjjcommunity.com]

 

“About a week before he died we all had our contracts extended by a couple of years. Michael told us we had five years to change the world. So after we did a year or so at the O2 arena in London we planned to bring the show on the road. I have 10 tracks that we were going to play during the This Is It Tour, and I will be playing through those tracks just like we would have in concert. It’s a dedication to Michael. He's like family to me, I spent more than half of my life with him. I saw him the night before he died at rehearsals and he was great…I just remember how happy he was. After that I needed time to mourn, I miss him so much. But I’ve realised now I want to play his music forever, it brings me so much joy and brings back so many memories. At one point I couldn’t accept it was a reality. How could he not be here? He is invincible to me. But now it’s time to celebrate his life, legacy, and contribution to music. […]”


[Jonathan Moffett, drummer; source: www.heraldsun.com.au]



“People's reasons for making music have changed. I remember a time when people made music for the sheer joy of it. Nowadays people are just trying to make money and you can hear it. Everything sounds the same: it's shallow, hollow and thin. […] Michael told me the songs had to be magical. 'Magical' was a word that kept coming up.”


[Shaffer Chimere Smith, better known as Ne-Yo, American pop and R&B singer-songwriter, record producer, actor sources: ‘The Independent’ newspaper; www.musicrooms.net]


 

“My favorite moment [from the 2010 Grammy Awards] was the Michael Jackson tribute. […] I definitely felt Michael’s presence, and to hear his voice, you could just imagine how it would have been if he was there… So, it was really emotional for me and everyone in the crowd. And to see his children, and the strength and elegance they have, it was just – I – I was praying, like, ‘You can do it, you can get through this’, and I just have so much admiration for those children and his family. […] I’ve met [Michael] a few times and I’m so happy I got to tell him on numerous occasions how much he impacted my life… And I honestly will not – I would not have been any – anything that – I mean, any amount of success that I had, I wouldn’t have had without Michael Jackson. He’s taught me so much and my family so much, so… You know, I’m happy I was able to tell him while he was here. […] You know, he’s very humble, he – he was always very humble.. […] I’ve seen [‘This Is It’], yes, I was in tears, bawling.. Yeah. […] “With love: L.O.V.E.” [laughs gently]”


[Beyoncé Giselle Knowles, often known simply as Beyoncé, American singer, songwriter, dancer, actress and fashion designer - on ‘Tyra Banks Show’; source: www.youtube.com]

 

“[What I miss most about him are] his energy and his commitment to friendship. I just miss him. […] Yeah. And what all these other people say, I -- I didn't see a hint of that. Nothing. […] And I'm pretty bright, you know? […] [My mother and Michael…] They both loved me. […] You can't get better than that.”

[Liza Minnelli – on ‘Larry King Live’; source: www.youtube.com]

 

“Romania is special, because Michael Jackson brought me here. It was a very special event [the Dangerous World Tour concert in Bucharest] and I think he made the tickets a lot cheaper, ‘cause people back then were very poor. […] It was all Michael’s ideas – he wanted me to stand out [on stage], so he was the one that had me, you know, [wear] the giant blond hair that took two and a half hours [to do]. […] Oh, Gosh… Well, the Superbowl [Halftime Show] was [a very memorable moment for me], ‘cause it was so much fun, and meeting him the first day – I’ll always remember that, that image is burned in my mind, I thought he was just gorgeous!.. […] [He was] a very kind, gentle man… Just a little kid, really, I mean, everybody says that he was like a child, and in that he really got excited about surprising people. […] He just liked to be on the cutting edge of technology and his imagination would just run everywhere. […] He went through hell. Especially the last 16 years since the allegations, it was - it was all about extortion. People trying to get money from him. […] I was driving in my car in Portland, Oregon, where I live [when I found out Michael had passed], and an acquaintance called me. And I didn’t believe it at first, ‘cause I’ve heard so many rumors about him over the years that weren’t true, so… And I got home and found [out] it was true. […]”

[Jennifer Batten, American guitarist – in an interview for Romanian TV show, ‘D-Paparazzi” on Kanal D; sources: www.mjjcommunity.com, www.youtube.com]

 

“I knew him very well when he was very young and then I knew him maybe 10 years later when we made contact again and he was a lovely guy. I used to play pool with him and he used to come to my house in Los Angeles... He was too heavily protected. You couldn't know him too well because his dad was always in his way. But I have great memories of him.”


[Don Black, British songwriter who wrote songs “Ben” and “To Sir With Love” for Michael Jackson, the latter being sung by British singer Lulu as well; source: www.aceshowbiz.com]

 

“I don’t want the world to remember him as a crazy person, because he wasn’t. I want him to be remembered as a human being who wanted to make the world a better place and as a father, because that’s the role I saw was most important for him. […] Elizabeth Taylor was always very nice when she came to visit [at Neverland], others were not. […] One time he asked me why no one ever spoke to him. I then had to tell him that those were the rules we were given, but he didn’t understand why, he hadn’t actually made those rules. […] He liked to laugh, he was open and happy. After being accused [in 1993], which I am sure he was not guilty of, it was like he changed. He wasn’t as happy anymore. […] [We developed a nice friendship.] He used to tell me that he could hear my laugh all the way across the house. […] He asked me if he could trust this person or this person. It was hard, it wasn’t my place to judge who he should be surrounding himself with. [I gave him Christian books and wrote Bible verses on the kitchen walls and he gave me credit for it.] I want people to know that Michael believed in God, it was no doubt about it. […] We started talking and when we were about to leave, my friend asked me if we could pray together. We all joined hands and he started to speak in tongues. In my mind I said to God: ‘I really hope You know what you’re doing right now’. When we left, a person from the crew asked about what had just happened, what language he was praying in. Michael then explained, completely natural, that my friend had been speaking in tongues, and then told them about what it means when you do that. [When the terrorist attacks happened at World Trade Center in New York, Michael got really shaken and gathered all of the staff outside to hold hands in prayer.] He asked me to pray to God. I was stunned, but he continued: “Pray Kiki, do it.” Inside, I prayed to God to help me and, now, I don’t even remember what I prayed for. […]”

“What parents leave their children for weeks and weeks at somebody else’s house [like the Arvizos did]? That was really irresponsible of them. And the children got spoilt and manipulative. They asked us what it was going to be for dinner and then they demanded something else, just because. They made us work harder and harder and threatened us to get us fired if we didn’t serve them alcohol. […] [Michael] wondered why people called him ‘Wacko Jacko’, that made him really upset and it was painful to him. […] [Michael was a very complex person. He was a really good business man, but also threw money on his so-called friends. He was timid and shy, but could, at the same time, have big statues of himself made, because] he wanted so badly to love and to be loved. He loved his children, he sacrificed himself for them. He never had a childhood of his own, therefore it was very important to him how his children were raised. And that’s why he used to cover them up and never show their faces when they went outside. […] [The last night I saw Michael was during the 2005 trial when I was a witness.] Michael wondered how it went, and I said it went good. But he then got told that it was not permitted to speak with the witnesses. […] It still hurts so much to talk about and I haven’t even been able to start grieving. I see his face in the newspapers and I read so many lies about him. I don’t know how to cope with all the feelings I have, but I pray to God and I know that He’s got everything in His hands now.”


[Kiki Chambers, Michael Jackson’s former maid (1991-2003); sources: www.dagen.se, www.lepost.fr]

 

 

“You know, Michael -- even in the last few years, the last year and the last months of his life -- we were very close. He was like a brother to me. For me, think the best moments were when he would tell me stories about how my mom [Diana Ross,] used to take him on trips and things like that. It was the only time he really had where he wasn't working on music. He would talk about these vacations and things he had with mom and how amazing they were. He felt she was like his second mom. He always felt like that -- even in the later years. He was somebody who was so caring that he cared more about other people more than himself. I just feel like it's important for people to really know that.”

[Evan Olav Ross, American actor and musician; source: www.essence.com]

 

“[…] (I) talked to my grandma before she did [The Oprah Show]. We all want to clear MJ's name. That's our first priority. We are trying to set the record straight. I am the first person who is angry at Oprah and how she turned her back at my uncle. However, you let things linger and the world believes. I personally don't care what Oprah thinks, but I do care what her millions of audience thinks about my uncle. Esp. when it's not true at all. It's time to set the record straight with everyone. […] How unique & special MJ was. He was too good for this world. Mj's legacy is being shaped everyday. I owe it to my uncle to do everything in my power to keep it alive and erase all the untruths. […] How many of the so called MJ experts actually sat down with my uncle & talked to him about what he wanted. I did. My grandma as well. I was lucky to have that type of open relationship with my uncle. [...] And like expected, Negativity still makes the front page and positivity doesn't. It's so easy to throw stones from a distance. Where's the press about the campaign for Uncovering MJ's name at Gardner Street School. http://www.facebook.com/UncoverMJ. TMZ of course, not to anyone's surprise, constantly posts negativite (sic) things about MJ and my Grandma. Why? Because our family divided is what sells newspapers. Some of us realize that and fight to unite, some of us don't and feed it. Guys, we are there, on the front lines, making sure my uncles (sic) legacy will last centuries. That is the big picture for me. That is my mission. I thank the many that did support us and gave us the trust and benefit of the doubt. To see some of the hate we face... […] [People hate my uncle] because it's easier to hate then find the truth. Guys. I can't say this enough. My grandma was there EVERYDAY during the trial, on camera and off. I know cause I was at Neverland with them. I moved to Neverland right before the trial to support my uncle. It was the least I could do for him. He was that amazing to me. I saw him everyday before and after each day of court. I'll never forget that my Grandma was by his side the whole time. To have some fans turn on my grandma like that really upsets me. At least give her the benefit of the doubt. You would for my uncle. Stayed at the ranch the whole time. […] Sorry, guys.. it's just that if you knew the love my uncle had for my Grandma, you would be feeling the same way. We need to stay focused on all what MJ stood for. Love. Yes, and his kids of course. My uncles (sic) legacy is the most important thing for me. I am not even promoting Code Z like I should because of this importance. I am so thankful that I was able to tell MJ how much I loved him & appreciated everything he did for me, 3 months before he passed. My Grandma needs Ur support, not ur stones. My uncle looked up to her everyday. She was also my mom's role model. That's not a coincidence. […] My uncle always said he has the best fans in the world and I know it. My uncle is not gone, he lives through you guys. […] History is what people with the pen write. It then get's (sic) past (sic) down to each generation. I'm making sure people know the truth about my uncle. I know my grandma is on the same page. Let the world know the real Mj, as only we knew him. The incredible person with a true heart of gold. Thank you so much, guys, for listening and understanding. […]”

[‘Taj’ Jackson, source: http://twitter.com/tajjackson3]

 

“I was throwing this party for the MTV Movie Awards (in 2003)… […] You know, I invited everybody, everybody was there: the Beckhams was (sic) there, I remember Beyoncé was there, Jamie Foxx, Ashton (Kutcher), Cameron Diaz, I mean, it was Will Smith, Chris Rock, everybody that was moving and shaking at Hollywood. So, the party’s goin’ on, the party’s off the chain, the party is already a success. I remember Beyoncé had just dropped ‘Crazy In Love’, I remember that was just killin’ the dancefloor… And she was there […]. Security comes to get me and says, ‘You have a guest here who wasn’t on the list’, and I’m like, ‘Who?’, he was like ‘Michael Jackson’. I’m thinking they’re joking around, I’m thinking, like, you know, they – they’re tryin’ to maybe punk me, they - this is like, I think ‘Punk’d’ was out during this time, I’m not to know what’s goin’ on. So, then, I go towards the back, back, like, where the catering was, and there’s Michael. I’m like ‘Michael, whatchu – what’s up!?..Whatchu doin’ in here?’, and he’s like, you know, ‘I’m here with Brett Rattner, we came to the party. Is everything cool?.. Can we come?” And I was always impressed, you know, on how down-to-earth he was, but this is, like, extra down-to-earth, he was asking ‘Is it alright to come to the party?’. He said, ‘Oh, this party was really - this party was really hot, but you gotta invite me to more of your parties’. And then he leans over to me, we’re taking some pictures, he leans over to me, he is like: ‘Where is Beyoncé?’ [laughs] And I’m like – I’m like, I didn’t think I heard him correctly, he was like, ‘Where is Beyoncé?’ I’m like, ‘Okay, hold on, I’m gonna go find out where she’s at’, so, I’m running up on B, B, she was on the dancefloor, I was, like, I’m like – I’m like, ‘B, you know, Michael is here, he wants to meet you’ or whatever. And, so, I get Mike, bring him over, he said, you know, ‘I love the record’ or whatever, whatever. He goes to tell the DJ to play the record (“Crazy In Love”). (The) DJ plays the record… And I recall him dancing, I don’t wanna be quoted for that, that could’ve been in my imagination, but I do recall him dancing or something. But even if they never danced, that’s the way it is in my mind, but I’m pretty sure that they did dance. And – but the whole recollection of that it was that it was so - so real, that - that Michael recognized the greatness in Beyoncéearly. And, you know, they had no ego about it and he was ready to meet her and give her a hug. And he was also ready to go for her as a man, I think, we all, as men, at that time, wanted to dance with Beyoncé. And I remember Michael had the courage enough to come to the party, ask for Beyoncé and – and even dance with her.”

[Sean Diddy Combs, American record producer, rapper, actor, and men's fashion designer - on MTV’s 2009 commemorative special, ‘Michael Jackson’s Human Nature’; source: http://robneox.pl.tl]


“My favorite moment was the day that we actually met. ‘Cause I wasn’t expect (sic) him to be that cool. You know what I’m sayin’? I’m expecting him to be as just diva, you know, hard to deal with, barely speak (sic), you know, ‘Gotta send this message through somebody else’, you know, like he’s in the stories that you hear. You know, so, I’m going upstairs and knock on the door, his bodyguard opens, he said ‘It’s okay, he’s waiting to meet you’. So, I walk in, and he’s in the spinning chair, but he’s facing backwards. [laughs] So, I walk in the room, and his back is turned. And the guard says, ‘Hey, Mike, you know, Akon’s here’, so he just spins around and, like it was all choreographed, alright? [laughs] So, on top of that… ‘Oh, boy…’ You know what I mean? [laughs] And as soon as he gets – he turns around and gets up, ‘Yo, what'up, man?’, I was like, ‘What'up, Mike?’ [laughs] And he gave me a pound, we hugged each other, he said, ‘Yo, man, I’ve been meaning to meet you for so long, it’s a great honor. Thanks for showing up, thanks for your time.’ And I’m like, ‘Mike, I should be thanking you right now for making the time’. But it was the greatest thing, ‘cause we sat down, we talked about Africa, we talked about my foundation, we talked about the music, we talked about girls… Like, we had a great – an incredible time that day!... I love movies, he was a movie goer, he loves movies as well. And he’s like, ‘Yo, man, I gotta take you to this theater, this new technology they got, it’s 4-D, it feels like the images are right in front of you, like you’re actually in the midst of it.’ And I was like, ‘Naw.. I know 3-D’, he was like, ‘No, listen, you gotta check this out’, I said, ‘Well, let’s go.’ And he paused for a minute… He was like, ‘Okay… Let’s do it tomorrow’. Man, I’m saying to myself, ‘Okay.. I don’t know how we expect to go to the movies, but…’ [laughs]. You know what I’m saying, like, this is Michael Jackson, like, how the hell are we actually gonna go the movies?’ So, the next day, you know, he calls my room, we both stayed at the Palms in Vegas.. And he’s like, ‘Are you ready?’ ‘I’m ready.’ I was like, ‘Yeah.. When do we get dressed?’ At that time, I thought he was just joking. […] But this is broad daylight. And so, he got to go grab the kids, they’re looking normal, Mike comes on, he has a disguise on. So I started laughing. [laughs] ‘Cause I didn’t even recognize him, you know? It wasn’t like he had a fake moustache, or he had a fake wig.. A nothing. He just had a simple hoodie on. So, when you look at it, he could usually passed (sic) to be a Saudi or somebody like that. You know what I’m sayin’? So, you know, we’re going into the mall, get on the elevator, go down, we’re going through the little – the hotel or whatever they have at the IMAX thing, and, as soon as we walk in, all these kids just start running towards us, you know? So, I’m like, ‘Oh, damn, I think they know who he is’. And they – all the kids just come running out to me, asking me for an autograph. So, I’m like, ‘Okay, I should just go ahead and should I just toss some walk before they recognize who he is or just play it cool?’ So, he shakes his head, like as if, ‘Go ahead, do what you gotta do.’ So, I said I’m signing autographs, I’m taking pictures, and I’m looking at these kids’ faces and they not even knowing that Mike is standing right next to me, like, if they only knew this guy was standing right next [laughs]. So, we’re going into the theater and then, the manager greets us upfront, so, he comes and hands us the tickets… we’re all seated. So, we’re talking – I, sometime (sic), I forget he’s supposed to be in his disguise, and I keep calling him ‘Mike’. Right? And this little girl is here and she’s like - and she looks over… and I think she recognized him, like, I really think she did. So, then, I realized she was peeping, then I started calling him ‘Dave’. [laughs] And she wasn’t stupid, so she runs up, full speed, all the way to the top of the theater, and I say a whisper and I look up and the girl was pointing, and I know she was not pointing at me, like, I know this. And I think he kind of felt it too. So, right before the movie was over, we was (sic) just all got up, walking out. But by the time we got to the car, everybody in that place knew that possibly that could’ve been him. [laughs] It was just the funniest thing. He was just extremely funny, you know, he tells jokes, he laughs a lot, he just liked to have fun. […]”

“Lots of our memories in the studio was (sic) a lot about work, because he was so focused on trying to get the right material out. That we didn’t really play around in there. You know what I mean? Like, we talked, but we didn’t – we rarely joked. ‘Cause, at that moment, regardless of what we was (sic) doing, ‘Now,’ it was like, ‘let’s get serious. And let’s really do what we came here to do.’ He was never satisfied. Like, we’d (inaudible) of ideas that I know for a fact in my heart it was (sic) smashes. He would be like, ‘No, no, we gotta come up with better. We gotta come with something better.’ And I’d be like, ‘Mike, it can’t get no better than this, what do you mean!?...’ ‘No, trust me, if we can create this, we can create better.’ […] And I promise you, as soon as we create something better than that, he’d say, ‘We can do better.’ So, we could never do better. ‘Cause it was – his expectations was (sic) so high. And I think that was one of the main reasons why it took so long for him to create a project and him to be happy with it. Because he was so hard on himself, he was such a perfectionist to a point where, no matter how incredible the record was, he believed it could get more incredible. It’s, like, we never finished. It always became – it was – we might’ve - we did tons of ideas, like, ideas - I got ideas for years. Literally, I got ideas now that I’ll probably use for myself, ‘cause we never got the chance to use them. But I know were great, you know what I mean? ‘Cause me and music was (sic) always just fun. And great-going. But with him, it was a legacy that has to be […] on a standard that had to continually match or get beyond. Because he had accomplished and done so much. To a point where he had to expand higher than what he was already at. He created a standard so high for himself, that he could not see himself lose. But in this way, I think, I could never dispute with him, because, at the end of the day, a project was done and you couldn’t deny it.”

[Aliaune Badara Akon Thiam, commonly known as Akon, Senegalese-American singer-songwriter, rapper, record producer - on MTV’s 2009 commemorative special, ‘Michael Jackson’s Human Nature’; source: http://robneox.pl.tl]


“Working with Michael was not like, you know - it was like a completely unique experience to anything else that you could possibly have in your life as a creative person. The first time Michael called me to work with him was before “Dangerous”, two decades ago. And it was the most unbelievable day of my life. And this guy was just, you know, the hero in whatever aspect of what I loved and why I was doing what I did. One thing that will really live long and be everlasting with me just in terms of my, you know - what I learned from Michael was his reasons for doing things. And they were pure. You know, we were going out to do ‘This Is It’. And he never once, ever, in the months that we worked together, talked about selling records. He talked about wanting to do ‘This Is It’, because he felt that he was young enough to be able to do it and he wanted to share it with his children, who were old enough to be able to appreciate what it was that he loved all of his life. He wanted to do it for the fans, he wanted to give to them back for staying there with him, for supporting him, for not quitting him. And – and most importantly, he said, you know, ‘Kenny, I wrote these songs over a decade ago… ‘Earth Song’, ‘We Are The World’, ‘Heal The World’, and look at the planet. Look at the peril that we’re in, look at the human condition.. And if we don’t do something to help this planet the next 4 to 6 years, we’ll have done irreversible damage and there will be no saving this place for future generations.’ And that’s how he talked. ‘Now, let’s go to work, let’s dream up the show. Let’s entertain people, but let’s leave them with something important at the end of the day.” […] I was doing the Olympics the second time Michael called me. So, I was, like, doing the Atlanta Olympic opening and closing ceremonies when Michael called and said, ‘I need you now.’ And I was like, ‘Okay’ [laughs]. You know, I was doing the biggest show on the planet! But I was still gonna figure out a darn way to work with Michael. […] But (I) never wanted to pass up an opportunity, because I knew it would be life-changing. […] I was with Michael in Eastern Europe, and we’ve got off of a plane when he said, ‘You wanna go to the hotel or you wanna come to an orphanage with me?’ You know, he was like, rather than going to the hotel, he went to the orphanage. And he walked into this orphanage and I remembered him looking and he was walking through it, he was very calm, the promoters were there and he was looking around… And the conditions were pretty – pretty grim. And – and I saw him whisper to someone and then whisper to someone else, and he was, you know, moving through and interacting with the children. And then later, I found out what he had whispered, and it was, you know, ‘This orphanage will be turned around, there will be new beds in here, there’ll be clean sheets in here, there’ll be more people in here taking care of these children by tomorrow, or I’m not gonna go on stage.’ I saw this guy going to an orphanage in – in Romania and turn the conditions around within 24 hours, and [it was] another thing that I will always remember about him. This guy had the biggest heart of anybody and really really did care. About improving, you know, the human condition, especially for children. That – that was part of his mission: while he was on tour, you know, that he always wanted to know what he can do in each place, so that when he left, he left a place better, having been there. […]”

[Kenny Ortega, American producer, director, and choreographer – on MTV’s 2009 commemorative special, ‘Michael Jackson’s Human Nature’; source: http://robneox.pl.tl]


“[…] I remember one day he was visiting me at my ranch north of Santa Barbara. It was the first time he had been in that region but he must have liked it because later he bought his ranch in that same area. Anyway, as we walked around the ranch which was perched right at the edge of the mountain overlooking Goleta, I pointed to a spot where I told him I wanted to be buried. Michael had a melt down right then and there when he heard this. He shrieked and bent over and said “No, no, no!” “ What’s the matter,” I asked. “Don’t ever talk about your dying,” he answered. “Don’t ever think about it.” […] I like to think he’s happy now (…). Free and floating and knowing how his art continues to be revered and celebrated by all of us all over the world. It will continue.”

[Jane Fonda, American actress, writer, political activist, former fashion model; sources: http://janefonda.com, http://twitpic.com]

 

“Was Michael a good judge of character? Yes and No. Time really reveals what people want and what they are all about. There are some people [who] are not good people at all. It really hurt him deeply how people talked about him. So many people in Hollywood betrayed him, people he trusted. Hollywood turned on him. He was sensitive. You could not find a person who cared more about [other people's] suffering. [And so] he had to forgive. When you are a kind person and man of God like he was, [you have] to forgive. [He believed] holding grudges holds you down. He forgave, but he did not forget. Sometimes he would drive by himself. He would say " Steve, come and ride with me." We would ride in his Mercedes or Rolls Royce. Just him and me. He wouldn't do the freeway. He wouldn't go too far without a bodyguard. He drive (sic) cautiously. He liked fantasy, escapism. He certainly could afford to escape. I believe [he did that] through movies, through the dancing, through the books. He loved films. Three Stooges and kid movies. We saw The King and I with Yul Brynner. He must have seen The Wiz on Broadway 100 times and Annie a million times. He also liked to draw. He sketches pictures during 9/11. He drew clowns, Mickey Mouse, children and captains. He liked to sketch. […] The media are attacking [his family] and it's unfair, the crazy things they are saying. They want to thank the million of people all over the world who have supported them. They were touched by that.”

[Steve Manning, former president of the Jackson 5 Fan Club and publicist of the Jacksons; currently Tito Jackson’s manager; sources: September 2009 Ebony Magazine Commemorative Issue; http://twitpic.com]

“I have too many fond memories of Michael. He was -- personally, he was a very kind soul, a humble guy, very generous in spirit, who was a caring, loving -- a true person who loves loyalty. And he was just a very humble, kind guy. For all his fame and success, he was very, very kind and very (inaudible). […] He was a perfectionist. […] He was a perfectionist. Everything had to be perfect. I used to tell him all the time, ‘You know, Michael, you want the biggest, the best, the greatest all the time’. And he'd say, ‘Yes, I do, Steve..’ […] [Tito…] that was Michael -- one of his closest brothers and they were very, very close. Very, very close, him and Tito (…) […] He was a very shy guy. Yes. […] Well, the people don’t know him. I mean, they’ve never - the real Michael Jackson - the Michael Jackson nobody knows. He was very misunderstood. He felt that people didn’t understand him. I’ve known him for 40 years. […] [His biggest weakness was] Being kind, being trusting to you… Yes. Absolutely, yes. And I’ll tell you something, he also often wondered, he just had a great faith. That song there was influenced by Mahalia Jackson (ph), the late Robert Johnson and Bob Johnson - I mean, the Johnson publication people… […] And that was a great influence of him in Chicago there. […] He trusted people. But he also believed in great loyalty. A lot of people betrayed him. He was hurt by Hollywood, also. […] The big crowd of people in Hollywood betrayed him. […] They turned -- they turned their backs on him. That hurt him deeply. […] The power -- the powerful people in Hollywood... […]..I'm not going to name -- turned their backs, shunned him. […] They embraced him one time and then absolutely turned their back upon him. […] He -- they all ran -- they all fleed from him like a -- like a disease.”

[Steve Manning; sources: http://talkinstuff.wordpress.com, http://archives.cnn.com]


“[I took the liberty to cut Michael’s hair short for this 1999 photo session of unreleased photos set for an auction by Pierre Bergé & Associés,] because he liked him (sic ?) that way. […] We were like two boys playing on the floor, putting puzzles together. I was a kid then, but he was ten times the kid I was. I would bring glitter pots and he would stick his finger in them and watch how it sparkled. We would spread it everywhere. The fashion design folders were like toy catalogs to him. Michael Jackson wasn’t just asking me to take pictures. He wanted me to build him a look for the next ten years. […] It was the world in which he lived, like seeing him in his little golden prison, discovering. He was extremely curious and cultured, but always humble, respectful, and kind. He would jump on the couch and clap when he fell in love with a new detail. He would give me hugs and bow with his hands together, Japanese-style. I had to ask him to stop thanking me, but I was really very touched. […] [During the photoshoot, we’d have French music on radio with horrid sound]. Michael Jackson was curious and wanted to know what this French music was. He was listening to (Joe Dassin’s) 'Aux Champs Elysées' and old Georges Brassens tunes. […] [Michael] didn’t care about any of that [sanitized items and all that]. [There were no excentric celebrity demands, no complaints about the food or the room temperature.] […] [Michael entered a zen-like, meditative state during the hours-long make-up sessions]. He had this ability to turn himself off and then back on in two seconds. I had asked him to dance for some of the pictures and I thought he was dozing off. He looked tired. Then he just kick-started and did it. […] He wanted to dream, to feel the elegance of a 'French touch'. When I brought him François Lesage embroideries he touched them and was fascinated. He had never seen such delicate, handcrafted work. […]”

[Arno Bani, French photographer; source: www.artinfo.com]



“[…] It was on the Sony lot, and he had a trailer, just like a normal Starwaggon, nothing special. He had one security guard, and he knew I was coming - it was just me, because we didn’t want to crowd his trailer with a whole lot of people, so it was just me, and his outfit, and the security guard let me in. And like, he was there, in like sweatpants and a robe, and you know how they have these like little small kitchens in those motor homes? He was at the table, making sandwiches! And there were these two kids, like little kids, his kids, and they were coloring. It was like the most perfectly normal family scene you could ever imagine. I never thought that his kids would be there, for one thing, because he was working. And I never expected for him to be making them sandwiches! I was expecting something, I guess, a little more elaborate! Or a little more bizarre…? And he was just like, “Oh, hi! – Oh, you have my suit?” And he was like, “Oh, I’ll put it on!”, and so he went to the back of the trailer and put it on. I had pre-tied the tie, you know, velcroed it in the back so that he, well he’s probably used to stage clothes that are already pre-rigged, and so… everything was fine. He said that he wanted to keep the clothes, and I just said, “Fine!” I’m sure everyone expected that. And then he went out and shot the scene, and it was just him shooting against a green screen. I think it took a couple of hours. And then, that was the end of it! It was really interesting because he was really quiet, more concerned with the kids’ lunch than anything else. A phone call came in about music, a business call, and he suddenly, completely changed. He was then a very efficient person, you know, efficient voice and it was just all business, like a Wall Street stock trader or something. You could really see how he was, a businessman. It was very interesting. […] The clothes (suits) were very simple, they were like tailored, and we made a million of them. But the fact that he was so nice, and so, you know, unaffected, which is interesting… he was just a very nice person! You know, making sandwiches for his kids.”

[Mary Vogt, costume designer for Men In Black II; source: http://frocktalk.com]


“[…] As the months and years roll by, it is the contribution of his musical genius that will be written permanently in the hearts and minds of people everywhere. Even now, the greatest of his peers have recognized him as one of the most gifted and accomplished musical artists of the last century.

Few artists have used their talents to uplift mankind as vigorously as Michael Jackson. Though lean in stature, he stood firmly against social and political forces that seek to diminish the integrity of the human spirit. He uplifted individuals struggling to be free. At the same time his voice spoke a message that went far beyond the rights of the individual. Michael reminded us that personal dignity and individual freedom can only be perfected in the warm embrace of human solidarity.

It was the human family that stood foremost in Michael’s mind. “We are the world,” he said. And against this backdrop he challenged freedom-loving individuals to act heroically for the betterment of all. “If you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and make a change,” he said.

Thus Michael Jackson was no spokesman for narcissism, despite the fact that he often sought refuge there. At bottom, his music was driven by the ancient dream of the brotherhood of man. He saw redemption in a bonding of all individuals in simple humanity. Human solidarity — Love — was for him the foundation of Justice and the meaning of Life!

Armed with this simple vision, Michael set about to dedicate his life to others. As a young boy, he burst onto the world’s stage like a bolt of lightening and, once there, he inspired youth, and the youthful, to act on behalf of justice and the human community. He created a powerful synergy with his audiences and through this confluence helped generate a moral force that that over time would bring the world to a better place.

It is not commonly recognized how much Michael Jackson contributed to U.S public diplomacy during the last decade of the Cold War. Throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, Michael’s music inspired young people in captive nations to take chances on behalf of freedom and democracy. With his dramatic style, he electrified youth and stirred them to unite in common purpose. In response, they rallied moral forces against fear and set about to challenge the ubiquitous brutality of totalitarian regimes. The collective energy Michael and other artists inspired became a critical factor in bringing about the political collapse of the Soviet Union and its Eastern European empire. “We are the world!”

Surveys taken by the Voice of America during the 1980s demonstrate his appeal. Michael Jackson, Pink Floyd, and Billy Joel were the preferred pop artists for VOA listeners behind the Iron Curtain. The music they provided offered a unique
challenge to the fundamentals of Soviet totalitarianism — fear and isolation. It enabled listeners to dream of freedom and dignity, and it filled their hearts and minds with a practical determination to seek a brighter future.

But, among all American pop artists, it was Michael Jackson that towered above the rest. His popularity achieved the highest ranking by VOA listeners –more than 50% approval.

I recall myself and a friend crossing the border into East Berlin before the Wall was torn down. As my friend maneuvered our rented VW to the checkpoint, I pulled back the sunroof and rolled down the windows. Earlier I had cued a tape to play Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror.” As the guard approached, I hit the play button and turned the volume way up. The guard, who was carrying an automatic rifle, asked for our passports. Instead of responding directly, I said over the top of the music: “Do you like Michael Jackson?” He looked nervously at the guard house and then quickly nodded in approval. For a long moment, his face was covered with an unforgettable smile. But more than signaling his approval, the guard had broken military decorum.

Similarly, when we returned to the West through Austria, the guard stationed there responded to my question by first placing his machine gun on the ground. Then he grabbed my closest hand with both of his and said: “Yes, oh yes. Michael Jackson!” Not far away, hidden in a clump of bushes and trees, I saw the dark, sinister presence of Soviet tanks.

Michael’s creative imagination enabled him to craft a music of freedom, a music replete with a crisp defiance of injustice and unjust authority, a music deeply tinged with respect for the essential dignity of the human person. In a world whose temptations breed isolation and aloneness, Michael’s music gave voice to our common need for love, compassion, understanding, and mercy. It gave succor to those struggling to belong and unleashed a willfulness to labor against the forces of spiritual alienation. In a world dominated by fear, his music gave transcendent purpose and the hope of future redemption. In short, Michael’s artistry was an energy that inspired resistance against all forms of cultural and political repression. It was a music whose vitality cried out for a liberation of the human spirit.

Reflecting on the 1980s and early 1990s, one labors to imagine a more heroic episode in history’s hard march against tyranny. Liberty sprang up amidst a near bloodless convulsion, and took a daring but peaceful step forward. It was in the intensity of this revolutionary fervor that the artistry of Michael Jackson towered as a beacon of light for those struggling to be free.

[…] Listen to Michael perform “The Man In The Mirror.” Hear his words. Watch the imagery. Reflect how deeply he pleads for each individual to dedicate their lives to the reconciling impulses of Justice and Love. In a world that continues to be much too cold and brittle, Michael Jackson has established himself a much-needed prophet for our age.”

[Gerand L. Campbell, journalist; sources: http://vox-nova.com, www.mjjcommunity.com]

 

“[…] I was diagnosed with a rare form of child bone cancer in 2000 at the age of fifteen. I was to start chemo therapy in August of that year. Not many people know this but Michael opened up Neverland several times each year for anyone to come and enjoy the park. Everything was free. Rides, games, food. A friend of mine who was a regular at Neverland called me one night and told me the park was going to be open for two weeks at the beginning of August that year. I asked my parents if they would take me the week before I was scheduled to start chemo. My doctors all advised against saying they feared I was too weak but I eventually talked my parents in to it. We had to drive what seemed like several miles after we went through the front gates of Neverland to get to where the actual park was with the rides. As we were driving down the winding road something came over me that I can't explain to this day. It was almost a feeling of peace.

When my family and I stepped out of the car we weren't sure if we should check in with someone or really what to do. A man finally walked over to us and introduced himself and then explained to my parents how everything worked. We signed in with our names and other information and were given matching wrist bands and told we could ride anything we wanted, eat anything we wanted, play any of the games, etc. The man mentioned that on occasion Michael would come outside and say hello to everyone there. My parents thanked the man and within minutes I was at the top of the ferris wheel with my Dad. We rode it three times in a row and then it was on to the swings. We rode the rides for hours before getting in line to get some cotton candy and popcorn. As we sat down at a table with our snacks we noticed a crowd of children running all in one direction. I stood up on the seat of the table we were at but couldn't see anything. Several minutes later the crowd began moving towards us and it was then that I saw Michael. Standing under a huge umbrella and laughing as children were pulling at his arms, legs, and hugging him.

My Mom then grabbed my hand and we made our way over to him. We introduced ourselves and my Mom told him what a wonderful time we were having. She then told him about my cancer and that I would be starting chemo the next week. When she said that Michael put one hand on my head and said, "God Bless you." When he touched me I felt the same feeling of peace and comfort that I did as I had when we drove through the gates of Neverland. He stood there and talked to us for a couple more minutes and then he left. I continued riding rides with my family and the other children but I couldn't stop thinking about meeting him. As we were leaving that night the man who we spoke to when we arrived stopped my dad and handed him a note. The note was from Michael and it was inviting the three of us to have dinner with him. Without hesitation my Dad accepted the invitation and the man then directed us to through another gate which led to the main house. I was surprised once we were in front of the house. I expected it to be this huge mansion but it wasn't. It wasn't small but it certainly wasn't huge. Several people who worked for him greeted us when we pulled up outside. We had dinner with Michael and his children that night and to this day it was the best night of my life. After dinner he asked my parents if it would be ok if he prayed with us and of course they said yes. I had never and still to this day have never heard anyone pray the way he did. At fifteen years old it made me cry.

After he finished praying I opened my eyes and looked to each of my parents who were in tears as well. Michael was gracious enough to give us a tour of some of the things were weren't able to see earlier in the day. He showed us the arcade and the movie theater. The movie theater at Neverland was not your typical theater. Not only were there seats like a real theater, there were also beds for the children who were too sick to sit up. After showing us around we said goodbye to Michael and thanked him for everything. Imagine my Mother's surprise when she received a call from him several days later! We assumed he had obtained our number from the sign in sheet that we filled out upon arriving at Neverland. He asked her how I was doing and she told him I would begin chemo on Monday. He then gave her a number in which to reach him directly and asked her to please call him and let him know how I was doing around the middle of the week. She agreed. I went that Monday morning to the hospital prepared to begin chemo. When the doctor walked in the room he asked both of my parents to sit down. The three of us feared he was going to say the cancer had spread. They had run blood work and some more scans on me two days prior which is typical prior to beginning treatment.

When the doctor began to speak he looked at my parents and said, "I don't know how to tell you this. I don't know how to explain this but Danielle no longer has cancer. There are no signs of it on any of the scans we just took." My Mom, my Dad, and I sat there and just stared at him and finally my Mom burst in to tears. We left the hospital and the first thing my Mom did when we got home was call Michael. I was embarrassed because she was crying on the phone but then she handed the phone to me to speak to him and it was obvious he had been crying as well. Through the years Michael remained in touch with my family and would call us several times a year on the phone to say hello. He would sometimes send us gifts and cards. I have been cancer free for ten years now. I can't explain what happened when I went to Neverland. It's defies (sic) explanation. I want people to know that I am not the only one who visited Neverland very sick only to become well after my visit. There are hundreds, if not thousands of us. Our stories were never made public because Michael didn't want that. He was a wonderful man. I have never met anyone who cared so deeply about not just children but people in general.”

[Danielle, cancer survivor; sources: www.oprah.com, www.mjjcommunity.com]


“Once you learn how to keep secrets, you will hear many. I arranged everything for Michael's visit. When his plane landed, we had a car drive up to it on the tarmac and rode straight into Tokyo. He stayed in a hotel but was usually at my office. We talked and did karate for three days. Nobody knew he was here, and he loved this fact.

A phone call should not be longer than 10 seconds. That is enough time to say hi, thinking of you, me too, great, bye, bye. Michael has been calling me for 13 years, a couple of times a year. I'm sorry he's gone. We won't be talking anymore, but we're still connected.

If you work for world peace, you will make powerful enemies. My goal has always been to end the oppression of colored people. I backed the Sandinista Revolution in Nicaragua and supported Daniel Ortega, Nicaragua's current president. I was friends with Jose Francisco Pena Gomez, a great political leader in the Dominican Republic, and helped Castro in Cuba. I sponsored the South-West Africa People's Organization and the independence movements in Namibia and South Africa. I supported the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and the third Egyptian president, Anwar El Sadat. I was sabotaged from left and right, but I kept on going.

It is rich people's duty to support artists. Michael was a genius in art and business. When he said he was in a jam, I felt like when you stand by a Shinto shrine, happy to throw money into the altar. For me, he was a messenger of the universe. I gave him about 20 million dollars in seven installments, and it never occurred to me that I would ever see that money again. My contribution was a fraction of what others gave him.

[…] Karate, like other sports, eliminates discrimination. Regardless of color, race or gender, all people who do karate respect each other's strength and ability. Michael asked me to show him some karate moves. He could do them immediately, totally perfectly. He could have been a brilliant athlete. I asked Michael to help me put karate into the Olympics Games. He talked to International Olympic Committee chairman, Juan Antonio Samaranch and we were told that if we could unite all the sects of the martial art, karate had a chance to be an Olympic sport. Hopefully 2016 will be our year. […]”

[Daikaku Chodoin, founder and president of the United World Karate Association; sources: http://search.japantimes.co.jp, www.mj-777.com]


“The first time my husband Akio saw Michael was at Yokohama Stadium in 1987. We traveled from our house in Tokyo to Yokohama and were going on to our villa in Hakone for the weekend. We were simply enthralled by his music and incredible dancing.

Unlike today, there were no cell phones and the road conditions were bad, so it was very late when we arrived at the villa. On arrival we received a call from the house in Tokyo saying that Michael’s manager had been calling again and again because Michael was anxious to meet with Mr. Morita, so Akio hurriedly called his hotel.

Michael thanked Akio for coming to the show and apologized as he felt his performance was not 100%. His voice has not been at its best and he invited us to come again when he promised an even better performance.

For artists there is no peak - they constantly strive to do better - to a point that might even be called self-indulgent.

Subsequently, Michael was in Japan at the time of my birthday and he came to a party being held at my home, where this picture was taken.

As a vegetarian he avoided meat and fish and, as you see, we prepared a large plate of Twenty Century (Asian) pears, which were in season. I don’t remember anyone else eating them except him, and that day remains a topic of conversation in our house to this day.

He found some of Akio’s toys, such as a mechanical piano, music box, miniature street organ and a record from the Edison Museum, and spent the evening playing with them like a child.

While in Japan, he visited Sony’s head office, the CBS Sony Studio that was in Shinnanomachi, Sony Media World, the Ginza Sony Building and so on, asking many questions and getting hold of the latest Sony products.

As promised, we were invited to see him perform again at Tokyo Dome in 1992. The studio always arranged for an official photo to be taken backstage and we have many lovely photos that were later signed by the artist.

The History Tour came to Tokyo Dome in December 1996. Akio had already fallen ill by that time and I don’t remember the details, but I went to the Capitol Tokyu where Michael was staying and rode to the Dome in the same car. Many fans surrounded the car and others followed in taxis. When we stopped at red lights people would pass him paper or handkerchiefs. He would sign them quickly and my job was to hand them back. He gave autographs to so many people between the hotel and the Tokyo Dome, but he never once made a face. He happily signed them, and as I sat next to him helping, I thought what a truly kind person he was.

He genuinely looked forward to meeting Akio. In 1995 he released History and at that time had a special shield made to present to Akio, as well as a signed album.

On the shield it said:

“THIS ALBUM OF MY MUSIC WARMLY DEDICATED TO AKIO MORITA… FOR OUR EVERLASTING FRENDSHIP. WE ARE LIVING IN THE SAME DREAM FOREVER… WITH ALL MY LOVE”

After Akio fell ill in October 1993, the first message of support we received from abroad was from Michael Jackson.

It was a healing tape that he had made himself on which he had recorded his own voices saying “Mr. Morita…Mr. Morita” many times, as well as phrases such as “You will get better…you will speak again”, and a gentle song that he had chosen.

He also included a handwritten letter that said, “Play 3 times a day right before awaking before sleeping and mid day. Michael Jackson.”

I played it every morning for 10 minutes before Akio got up and every night when I put him to bed for the six years until he passed away.

In 1998, Michael performed in Honolulu, Hawaii. Pushing Akio in a wheelchair, we went to see the show at Aloha Stadium, and the next day Michael visited us at our villa. I can’t say how delighted Akio was and to this day I can not forget his kindness at that time.

It is 10 years since Akio passed away. Michael treated Akio as a respected teacher and friend. Many times he asked questions such as “How can I better engage young people?”, “What can I do to be more respected?” and “Who should I trust?”

Michael couldn’t trust anyone and he found comfort in children and animals. Now he can rest in the comfort and peace of heaven, unbothered by others.

Many times he called me to say “I need your help”. This was 10 years ago and I regret that at the time, when Akio’s condition was at its worst, I wasn’t able to respond. I am so sorry to Michael for that. But now I believe he is resting peacefully in a happy place.

[Yoshiko Morita, wife of late Japanese businessman and co-founder of Sony Corporation; sources: www.akiomorita.ne, www.mj-777.com]

 

“It brought back some wonderful memories of my son [David Smithee, who died from cystic fibrosis] and how special Michael Jackson treated him. His loss was terrible, and his death brought up a heavy heart. […] He was just in heaven [when donning the jacket and glove Michael gave to him]. […] [David died a month after]. Michael Jackson gave us the happiest last month of our lives. (David) died very happy. […] Despite everything that was said of him later, we saw none of that. I never, never, never believed any of it. He was alone with my son a lot and never did anything ever happen. I never really believed any of that. […] The jacket and glove are under lock and key. But now they've become too fragile to take out and touch too much. […] I still - when a Michael Jackson song comes on, my heart still pounds.”

[Karen Wilson, mother of 14-year old David Smithee, who died from cystic fibrosis; sources: www.tulsaworld.com, www.mj-777.com]

 

“It’s a strange feeling when someone you know dies. Strange in the sense you can’t really feel much at all. It feels strangely empty, although emptiness is of course not really a feeling. You fall into a sort of hollow Nirvana, a cage made out of glass. It is as though for a few moments you completely disconnect from reality only to snap back into it surrounded by a cushion that fogs your sight.

I experienced this (…) after I learnt of Michael Jackson’s death and I admit that for the days that followed I felt somewhat in a haze. It was also a little strange the way I found out. I don’t regularly buy newspapers as I am a big fan of reading news online but on that particular day I did buy a paper. […] When I actually read the headline I felt as though my heart missed a couple of bu-bu–ms. Could this really be true?

I have observed that we tend to feel very close to superstars like Michael Jackson. We practically feel like we know them. We consume celebrities like a hot slice of pizza which only tastes good steaming hot and fresh out of the oven … after a little while all you are left with is a greasy lump of goo you throw in the bin. It’s sad and when I step back from it all I find it appalling to talk about anyone the way we tend to talk about these strangers in a cage.

I know that I often find myself judging celebrities. I can catch myself saying Jordan is a b**** or Keira Knightley seems boring. How exactly would I know, I have never met either? It only hits home how appalling it really is to judge others when you are on the receiving end or when you actually know the person who is being slated.

In the case of Michael Jackson I did. As bizarre as this might sound, Michael was our friend. He came to our house in Germany a few times and we visited him in his house/ranch/estate – the infamous Neverland. We went to several of his concerts and my brother even toured most of Europe with him. Whatever dirty thoughts you might be having now I must disappoint you - my brother Albert wasn’t our bribe into Michael’s closest circle … or was he?

Well, I suppose in a way he was. Michael loved children. He felt a real kinship towards them. He was excruciatingly shy and I think that only amongst children did he really feel safe. It seemed he was particularly shy with women and it therefore seemed sort of natural to me that he preferred the company of boys. I never perceived him as being sleazy, quite the opposite. He was extremely polite and respectful. He was very generous and once he warmed up a little, even very funny.

Being the children of a strict mother, we had niceties such as saying “please” and “thank you” ingrained into us. Whenever we would thank Michael for something he would reply “No, thank you”, which we thought was particularly funny and uber polite.

Our friendship with him all began because of my mother’s PA at the time, a woman named Regina. Regina was a huge Michael Jackson fan and, when I say huge, I mean HUGE. Regina was so much more than a PA. She was my mother’s best friend, advisor, travel companion, shrink and a fairy godmother to us kids. Regina is a legend. It was Regina who got the ball in motion and struggled her way up the ladder of importance until she fell right into the lap of someone influential enough to grant us audience with the King of Pop. I will not describe the whole story because that would take up too much time but let it be said that Regina shamelessly and enthusiastically pulled quite a few chains (rather than strings!!) to get us where we wanted to be. In the end she succeeded, and out of the five minutes of “meet and greet” grew a couple of visits to our house, more concert invitations, a trip to Disneyland together and finally - the grand finale - an invitation to Neverland. It was at the after party of one of our first MJ concerts in Munich that the ice really melted. We, kids, were thrilled. There were balloons, chocolate fountains and even dodgem cars but, most importantly, Michael was there. My brother went straight up to him, past all the insecure grown-ups and desperate wannabes who were circling and trying to get a piece of Michael, and in his angelic voice and with the nonchalance only a child has, asked him: “Michael Jackson, will you go on a dodgem with me, please?”  Michael was obvioulsy so taken by Albert’s genuine openness that he took him by the hand and practically spent the next few hours playing with him, taking him around the rides and munching away at the snacks (much to the disdain of all the grown-up guests who were lurking away in the background).  What started as a formal meeting between Michael Jackson and a couple of Princesses and a Prince ended up as a real friendship between us kids and an introverted musical genius there after.

Our trip to Neverland was the highlight of this friendship. Michael had everything a child’s heart could possibly desire. There was a huge funfair with all the rides you could possibly wish for but no queuing or paying necessary. There were stands filled with chocolates, cotton candy and ice cream to be taken at our leisure, no need to ask for permission! There was a cinema with a huge bed in it, where we watched the Sound of  Music stuffing our mouth with handfuls of popcorn. We went on quad bike tours around the countryside. We played with Bubbles the chimp and the other animals in the zoo. But the highlight of all was the super soaker park where we played for hours with Michael. He loved throwing water bombs and super soaking one another. He really turned into a kid. He didn’t mind his hair getting drenched and the make-up he was wearing washing off, he was enjoying himself and that was that. We were young enough to enjoy the children’s paradise but old enough to really remember and realize how special this actually was.

We lost contact over the years and like many friendships do, ours fizzled. Incidentally, it was not too long after our visit to Neverland that Michael was charged for molestation by that kid, who actually was with us at Neverland at the time! It felt strange and very sad to hear such terrible things about the man who played so happily with us kids for hours. He had become so much more to us than a two dimensional superstar. He was a man, a buddy, and one of the friendliest people I had ever met. I couldn’t imagine Michael hurting a fly, let alone a friend.

I have fond memories of the overgrown boy, the friend, and the superstar. I hope the world will remember him as one of the greatest musical performers of our time. What I wish him even more is to enjoy the eternal Neverland up in heaven where I can’t wait to join him and throw another water bomb right into his face.”

[Elisabeth von Thurn und Taxis, FQR’s features editor; sources: www.finchsquarterly.com, www.mj-777.com]


“As I was told, there was a certain spot that I directed in my early years as a commercial director for WLS-TV in Chicago, about two elderly blind people - a married couple - that didn't run from a neighborhood that all the other white folks fled from. It had become a very inner city, tough neighborhood and they chose to stay and throw a block party for all the young kids in the neighborhood. It was a commercial that Michael was really taken with - it was an emotional commercial, it was based on truth and he liked it a lot. So he wanted to meet and we met. […] I wanted "Billie Jean" and he had just finished shooting "Billie Jean", but he said he had this track called "Beat It" and maybe I'd like to come up with an idea for that. In those days, you didn't compete [for videos]. There were no three bids - there wasn't a whole lot of politics. Record labels didn't have commissioners, it was a different business. It wasn't a business yet. […] One of the things that is totally mistaken that I've read many times is that most people think "Beat It" was inspired by West Side Story and that's absolutely not true at all. I grew up in Paterson, New Jersey - always an edgy town but full of people really trying to be so much tougher than they really are. It seemed to me this song of peace, this song of reconciliation that Michael had written was perfect for a quasi kind of rumble. I've read where, the two lead dancers - Michael Peters and Vince Paterson - when they had their wrists tied and held the switchblades, that came from West Side Story. That's not true at all. That came from a story I heard when I worked in a factory one summer. A real tough kid from Jersey told me that he'd witnessed two guys who had their wrists tied and they held switchblades, and only one came out - and not too well. It was based on that little fable. Michael liked my idea and decided he was going to include the Crips and Bloods, which I thought was insane. If you see the video, you'll see guys that look like the real deal because they are the real deal.”

“It was Michael [who cast the real gang members]. He went out and he got 'em through, I guess, the LAPD's gang squad, and he convinced them that, with enough police presence, this would be a smart and charitable thing to do; get them there to like each other and hang with each other for two days doing the video. I didn't like the idea, because it was hard enough to direct actors and dancers, let alone hoods. […] Michael was always about peace. He was always about some sort of peace offering. That was his idea and the cops did go along with it and as history has it, we were almost shut down the first night because, as you know, film sets get to be very boring after the first hour. […] The gang members couldn't dance, so they formed the ring and watched. And the [dancers] all started to dance with Michael Peters and Vince Paterson. When Michael Jackson comes down and does what he does, I remember looking at the faces of all the Crips and Bloods lined up and their expressions as they listened to that music and watched those kids dance. Those kids were basically, most of them were gay... and when they started to dance, the Crips and the Bloods had that look like, 'You know what? With all our wars and vendettas and stuff, that's cool right there. That's something we'll never be able to do.' And that's what made that evening work. […] It was taking video to another level with dance and choreography and the fact that Epic, CBS could put down on the desk that these two were the largest selling records in the world. It was hard for Les Garland and [Bob] Pittman to hold on to that original idea, which was [playing] new wave bands for white teens in the suburbs. Michael was given credit, and rightly so, for being the first really, truly crossover artist of our generation and the man who forced MTV by his genius to rethink it's platform.”

“I met a man who I have total respect for. One of the most interesting things he ever said to me, I'll never forget, we were arguing, he said to me in that very high-pitched voice of his, 'You use the F-word to much'. That always stuck with me. I thought that was smart to say at a time like that. I watched a man dance better than anyone I'd ever seen in my life and I watched a man talk softly and carry a tremendously big stick, get what he wanted and get his way. […] But nonetheless, I watched him get his way but always using the softest, quietest approach you could possibly have used. I was influenced not only by his talent, but by his personality.”

[Bob Giraldi, American film and television director; sources: www.giraldi.com, www.boardsmag.com]


“During the time we spent together (on writing a book, in 2000), he put my efforts as a father of three to shame. He was certainly strict. As a result, Prince and Paris were among the best behaved, the politest and happiest (kids) I've known. And they weren't spoiled. I believe he was uniquely attuned to children. Once, in a noisy restaurant, he held his hand up to stop everyone because he heard a four year old's tiny voice ask something. He asked her softly what she'd said, she asked for a glass of water. Michael poured it and took it over to her. […] I never saw anything strange happen between him and children. I honestly don't think he ever did anything dark or bad - ever. He was utterly determined that his own kids, and other people's, had a magical (childhood). (…) What he thought was magical, many of us think is a bit odd. This was all about Michael's delayed childhood and absolutely not anything dodgy.”

[Jonathan Margolis, British journalist; sources: www.contactmusic.com, www.boardsmag.com]


“Today is another sad day. I am from Barbados and we just learned that our Prime Minister [David Thompson] has pancreatic cancer, one of the worst and only 5% survival. He has been away from office since March and everybody wondered what was wrong with him, he is only 47 years old. He made a recorded public speech to our Nation and their (sic) was a section at the end that just made me cry my eyes out all over again. It went like this:

“If we can unite first and foremost as sons and daughters of these fields and hills we call our very own, nothing will hold us back. We did it in the 60s and 70s, and we make no wanton boast of what we can achieve.

“Michael Jackson of late memory reminded us in his song, WE ARE THE WORLD, that change will only come when we stand together as one. In his seminal work he wrote:

"There comes a time when we heed a certain call, when the world must come together as one. There are people dying, and it's time to lend a hand to life; the greatest gift of all.
"We can't go on, pretending day by day, that someone, somewhere will soon make a change. We are all a part, of God's great big family, and the truth, you know,
love is all we need."

That's me fondest wish for Barbadians. That we use adversity to refocus our energies on what's best for Barbados and that we wrap our actions and our utterances in the national flag and the furtherance of this great nation we call home. That's my challenge to you. UNITE AND LOVE.”

This is coming from our dying Prime Minister and whom would he quote none other than Michael J. Jackson.

Its (sic) a sad day for Barbados.”

[Misses’ Shannon; sources: http://es-la.facebook.com, www.nationnews.com]

 

“It’s a sunny spring day… we are in the centre of Bucharest… University Plaza (sic -> Square)… a lot of studentls, antiquarian booksellers, flowers (sic) sellers at the corner, [the] water fountain from University School of Architecture having on its ring a lot of lazy people… Crowded place, a lot of cars, busy people, noisy people… two begging children with two small puppies in their lap… a couple of young lovers… hand in hand… kissing in the day light…

In the middle of [the] crossroad, a small surrounded place… A green place with some stone crosses… for remembering their sacrifice… supreme sacrifice from 1989 [the Romanian revolution]… of some reckless young people who didn’t care [about] looking death in the eye… for freedom!

How many of us still remember of (sic) them, how many still pray? I don’t know…

But what I know for sure is that he was here… with flowers and tears in his eyes… in September 1996…

Thank you, Michael, for passing by!”

[Dana, Romanian fan – sharing this story with www.mj-777.com]


“I don't think he ever had any kind of peace or normality since he was a child. I would see him as a restless soul but he felt quite homely here. He was very careful about who he trusted. He once told me how he had gone to stay at another castle to seek out privacy and he had just landed in the helicopter a few minutes when the owner took him straight inside, opened a door and there was a hundred or so people waiting there to meet him. So he was understandably very wary.My wife, Sheila, is very much into her healthy food and she had a bowl of porridge every morning, so she gave some to Michael, he loved it and he insisted on having a bowl every morning from then on… His children adored him and he was a very good, loving father. He brought them here [at Blackwater Castle in Cork, Ireland], because they had been hunted down in Disneyland Paris and they were looking for a place to escape. He raised them to be very well mannered and very polite, and all his decision’s (sic) centred on the children’s best interests.”

[Patrick Nordstrum, Blackwater Castle owner; sources: www.independent.ie, www.mj-777.com]


“The man that I came to know was kind-hearted and a gentleman. It is tragic that he spent his life being hunted. I hope he has found his little piece of heaven now. His children adored him. They would ask me if I would race their dad and tell me proudly that he would win because he was so tall and fast. You could tell they really looked up to him. Even at the end of their stay, when they were leaving for home, the children jumped into the limousine and Michael made them get out again and come over to thank each and every one of us for our hospitality. His real personality only really emerged in the privacy of the woods. The shyness left him and I saw a much more boisterous and loud spirit who loved playing with his children. That quiet-spoken Michael that you would see in the media instantly disappeared. He loved apple pie and ice-cream and really enjoyed being in the privacy of the castle grounds and I know he loved the friendliness of the Irish people.”

[Liam Sheehan, Irish magician; sources: www.independent.ie, www.mj-777.com]


“The US constitution dictates that every American citizen has the right to a fair trial and that until proven guilty, every citizen is presumed innocent. This is a fundamental principle of American life and forms the very basis of the US legal system.

Michael Jackson was a US citizen, no different from any other. He had the same rights as any other citizen and when he was exonerated by a jury, he should have walked out of the courtroom with no stain on his character, just like any other US citizen.

But Michael Jackson wasn't treated like any other citizen - not before his trial, not during his trial and not after his trial.

The prosecution of Michael Jackson was one of the most frivolous wastes of taxpayer money and one of the most horrendous abuses of power in the history of California. In pursuing Jackson, Californian police officers breached the terms of their own search warrants, stole defense documents, conducted illegal raids, leaked sealed documents to the media, verbally abused Jackson in television interviews and were caught trying to plant fingerprint evidence during grand jury hearings. This was the dictionary definition of a malicious prosecution.

After Jackson was acquitted on the basis that the prosecution had no evidence and no compelling witnesses, that should have been the end of the matter. But a combination of manipulative propaganda released by the prosecution and shoddy reporting at the hands of the media meant that Jackson wasn't able to walk out of the Santa Maria courthouse with no stain on his character. He was denied this fundamental right. The continued censorship of Michael Jackson's name on the Gardner Street Auditorium is a continuation of this injustice.

Throughout this campaign, staff at Gardner Street School will have heard much about Jackson's charity work and his humanitarian efforts - but in a way, that is all irrelevant. It reads almost as a list of redeeming qualities, but this issue does not call for redeeming qualities. This issue is very simple. Michael Jackson was a US citizen, entitled to the same rights as any and every other US citizen. He was never proven guilty, ergo he was innocent. To continue covering Jackson's name on the Gardner Street Auditorium even after his acquittal is to strongly imply that he was a guilty man. This is unfair, unconstitutional and un-American.

Gardner Street School should decide to once again display Michael Jackson's name on its auditorium not on the basis of a petition or a list of humanitarian achievements - but simply because it is the right thing to do. The continued censorship of Jackson's name on the auditorium is a blow against everything that America is supposed to stand for, and a gesture of support for malicious prosecution, abuse of power and the erosion of civil liberties.

In brief, to uncover Jackson's name would be a gesture of support for everything the American justice system stands for. To continue censoring Jackson's name would be a gesture of support for everything which is wrong with the American justice system. It is up to the staff of Gardner Street School to decide which of these values they wish to instil (sic) in their students.”

[Charles Thomson, British journalist; source: www.twitlonger.com]

 

“[…] It was certainly a pleasure knowing Michael as a person, you know, sort of over that period. Michael was (…) very spiritual and he was also very gentle. And I suppose during that time, we probably didn’t appreciate that he didn’t have much longer on the planet with us, and certainly if I’d known that, my experience with him would have probably been even a deeper one. Because, Michael used to phone me a lot and ask my advice in different things, and there’ll be little silly things, like, (…) he would (say) “Oh, you have to go to the restaurant and I need a menu out of there” or something, it would be all, sort of, little things like that or, you know, he was having some difficulties regarding certain things, he’d phone, he’d say, ‘Treacy, I want your opinion on this”. He wouldn’t call me Patrick, you know, and he says, “Treacy, I really would like your opinion on this.” […] There were certain things in his life that would trouble him, that he wanted to get off his mind and, certainly, people in life that bothered him, and in that period, I suppose, post Santa Maria, he felt that in many ways that America had let him down, honestly. And, you know, he felt also, sort of, that probably he wasn’t gonna go back to Neverland. […] I think, in many ways, he was sort of paranoid of everybody around him… I don’t mean the fans, he loved the fans always, [it was] the media particularly and, in many ways, he felt, you know, sort of betrayed, I think. […] And the sad fact is this: that he was such a good and gentle person, and because he did it in a total Christian way, he never really got the credit for it. […] Michael always, you know, would, certainly, sort of do all of his charitable works and humanitarian works behind the scenes, you know? Which was, sort of, one of the reasons, in many ways, that people were sort of unaware of his humanitarian work. Or the depth of it. But, you know, I mean, at times, Michael lived penniless. And I know this. You know? And he certainly would be giving away (…) many many millions to people that were less fortunate. And, certainly, you know, his image, because of that, will go on for years to come. That people, you know, find out about Michael, find out the truth about him and realize that so much injustice was done to him. […] People will realize the real treasure they had, you know? […]”

“My great concern now is the [involuntary manslaughter] trial that’s coming up. Because, I get the feeling that we will be all sort of subjected to a media barrage of corporate America trying to further sort of destroy his name. And in some ways, he’ll be made out to be some sort of drug freak that sort of self-injected himself (sic), was responsible or culpable or in some way involved in his own death. And, you know, I really believe that this will be put across, probably, on a business insurance pay (?), I know a lot of people are saying that in the background, but I think there is a time and a place that we will have to – and I’ll probably have to step forward as well – to defend his name, because, you know, it was bad enough the case had been brought against him in Santa Monica, and on 14 charges, every one thrown out and it wasn’t even a word about this in the media the next day, (…) and I think this time around we’re gonna see something similar happening the period after Christmas, you know, when the trial starts. […] And the thing is, because there is a sort of public out there that has been to an extent conditioned to some level of brainwashing, you know, they will have an appetite for listening to faults and so and so. I mean, I’ve already been offered, you know, sort of 5 to 6 figures or numbers to try to say bad things about him. Number one: they don’t exist… that’s fair enough. But to think that anybody could in some way, you know, want to print or make up something just for the sake of selling a paper, (…) particularly (to) somebody who was so good to other people… You know, it really astounds me and, in many ways, horrifies me. […] And the sad fact is, you only had to be in his company (for) 5 minutes and he emitted this total radiance of goodness, you know? I mean, you never really heard him give out on anybody else, and even though, you know, he was sort of bothered by a lot of people that would probably, I would say, even steal money from him, money-wise, you know, he never really (…) – you know, he would always, to an extent, reach the point where he would sort of naming names, but he would make it more aware of what was bothering him that way, you know? But there’s no doubt about it, he often spoke in generalities in a way that, you know, there’s just no badness in him. And he continually, all the time, he seemed to sort of think about other people. That thing we mentioned about the kids in the hospital that were burned and, certainly, I think there’s a book coming out about them as well… And he, from time to time – you’d be chatting about something else – and he just, you know, a few days later, would turn around and say something like, ‘Patrick, tell me, are those children in pain now?’ You know? ‘And would they be getting morphine for their pain?’ And I would say, “Yeah, the hospital wouldn’t allow them to be in pain”. But 3 or 4 days later, it would be back to the same thing, you know? You would see the things that had bothered him continually, and there was just genuine affection, you know, sort of for other people and particularly children, you know? […]”

“I certainly experienced that on almost every occasion I met him. You now, because he almost worked on two different levels – it was interacting like you’re doing with persons – but there was a continual thought process of, you know, sort of wanting to help other people as well. It’s almost like that, you know, sort of state that I’ve mentioned, and others of them, of people that just - who reached that level of spiritual enlightment, almost within themselves, continually, you know, sort of wanting to help other people. And it was fascinating to see that in Michael and I was so humbled, you know, having shared many experiences like that with him, you know, because when you’re in the presence of somebody good - you know, I’ve met many celebrities in my time and even this week alone I did, but there was no one like Michael, really. You know? It’s almost like they all had an anger, but he didn’t, you know, and it’s almost like a lot of them have been involved in certain charities or functions (…), but everything he did was, sort of, behind the scenes. […]”

“Oh, it’s incredible the sort of depths that they go to, you know, just to sell papers. And, you know the sad fact is they also have absolutely no sort of feeling of any sort of wrong in this. Because, you know, I know, because I’ve been in some of these people’s presence, that they – you know, that is just another business deal [for them], there’s no right or wrong until they got there. So, you know, it astounds me at times and certainly it’s going to be an interesting January. […] We’re all now (…) afraid to look or smile at children, in case there’s people sort of getting the wrong impression. […] Some of my friends that I grew up with in school had kids by a puddle and I had a camera with me and I just went over, because - I didn’t really know the kids, but knew him well (…) and I was at the puddle match with him, you know? And I just did a photograph of the kids, and these - one person came up and said, ‘Do you have permission to take a photograph of these children?’ […] My friend said, ‘Patrick, but that’s how people are now, you know?’ And it’s just incredible how, you know, almost in one generation, the whole, you know, I suppose relationship between children and adults has changed as well. Because, kids don’t walk to school anymore – people in Ireland – and you know, I suppose that normal bond and relationship they got from strangers is almost gone now, you know? It does concern me, you know sort of, because I see even my brothers’ children, they really pampered them and they’re brought to schools or everywhere in SUV’s, and, you know, they’re never allowed to walk out the dark or out on the road, and when we were kids growing up, we’d walk 2 or 3 miles to school and we came home together and there wasn’t, you know, - no fears, you know, it was just a different world. […] So, it’s unfortunate that that whole period, and, particularly in a country like Ireland, where paedophilia got associated with clerical abuse, and there was almost like a wall (…) that brought down governments, that brought down institutions, that brought down people of respect, and that was the period, also, with the Catholic priests in the United States, Michael got caught up in all that as well. So, it’s very easy to turn the minds of a hostile nation, because of being (inaudible) or other problems, because Michael’s legacy is still out there very very tainted, and, you know, I can see it sort of happening again. […] The interesting thing is, you know, sort of when Michael was with us in Ireland - without getting into any of his medical conditions around him as well, and, you know, I would never do that, but he also received Propofol from us. But, I mean, the thing is he would never do it in the absence of an anesthesist, you know, and I have good evidence of that. Let’s put it that way, if required. So, I mean, for somebody who sort of not tick (?), not even Propofol, but Medazolam or any of the other benzodiazepines types without an anesthesist being present... It belies belief that in a two-year period, suddenly, he would be, you know, a self-injecting drug addict, you know? It just doesn’t happen. […] Mr. Brian Oxman is covering it for Joe, Michael’s father, but Katherine has a different defence, but, yeah, you know, it’s going to be a 2011 with kisses. I think that the Conrad Murray case will probably be more like a stalking horse, from the point of view that they will be testing the waters in terms of - this is from the family’s point of view – what way the act of fall (?). And then I’d say it’s like the O.J. Simpson case, the family will take a private bill, and the fact that Katherine is coming behind it now would mean that it will give (a) sort of credibility and I think it will be in that period that any possibility of restoring Michael’s good name and dignity and leaving a good legacy behind [will happen] and I’ll think it will happen in that era, you know? I think during the first LAPD case, this will be when all the mud will be thrown and I think we should prepare ourselves for that. […]”

“There’s no doubt about it, conspiracy theories probably will abound for a long time, you know? And it is a good fit from the point of view that a lot of people certainly made money out of Michael’s death, but I suppose – and will do for the next ten years - but I suppose the court case, hopefully, will bring some sense of objectivity to it, but I’m not sure if we’ll ever really go there. […] I’d be very careful, of course, with what I say, because if I’m called as a witness, I would have to maintain some sense of objectivity and credibility, and, certainly, I would think that your expressed opinion there would be the correct one, you know? It would seem unusual that, you know, somebody in that situation would – it’s just that I know I’ve been in the same situation with Michael, you know, and he refused it, and that’s quite important, you know? And I have some other, you know, sort of evidence of this that may be potentially very vital, you know? There’ll be time and a place for everything and I think that it’s gonna be, you know, sort of an interesting period. There’s no doubt about that. […] Let’s say I have some graphic evidence as well. […] The accumulation of benzos and all the respiratory antagonists and, as a consequence, the mixture – you put a synergy in existence, there’s no doubt about it, that two and two might come to be five rather than four, with, you know, sort of particularly - I mean, Medazolam and Propofol wouldn’t be, necessarily a good mix. […] Let’s put it this way, and I certainly wouldn’t be breaking any medical confidentialities, in the sixth or seventh month when Michael was with us, I certainly may have written him one or two prescribtions, but none of them were ever for any drug, and none of them were ever for any medication that would be given for insomnia. So, I’m not saying anything but in the – in the negative, if you know what I mean, so I’m not breaking any confidentiality, because I can certainly say, you know, sort of hand on my heart, that, you know, in all that period, any script I’d ever had (sic) written him was for (…) more for a cold and sort of anything else, if you know what I mean. […] I mean, he had total access to sort of almost – to get what he wanted, so, unless he had a suitcase of medicines coming from somewhere else, I’d never see anything of it in his house and never wrote anything for him. You know, and certainly, any time I had ever seen him, he was sort of – you know, in his full mentality and certainly was never sluggish or anything, just, you know, sort of warm, loving and fun, you know? He had a great sense of humor, you know? […] And if he’d get into the culture of a country, he was very intelligent. You know, this is one of the things that sort of didn’t seem to come across as well, you know, to a lot of people. And a good guitarist, pianist… you know? And he had, I suppose, you now, a different intake or input into, you know - he could sit and tell you about Ireland in a way that sort of I wouldn’t have expected. You know, he’d know about the history surrounding the place he lived, you know, back at 2000 years. You know, that type of thing, in a way – even though I’ve lived in Ireland […]. [He was] very into medicine as well. I have a nice library in the clinic and he often wanted to deprive me of my better texts, you know, [laughter], and other things he would pick out would be 400-dollar books, and I’d try to replace them with something, I said, ‘Michael, you know, there’s nicer pictures in this one’ or something, and he’d look at me and say, ‘You know I don’t fall for that sort of thing, Patrick’, you know? [laughter] […] But yeah, I mean, he was an avid reader and the sort of things which would interest him were a bit unusual, I would’ve thought, because you wouldn’t have a situation where, you know, sort of the average patient would come in and be looking at, you know, fish anatomy or surgery and know not a thing about it, and he would know a little thing, you know? And he’d be discussing sometimes, like, an artery or a blood vessel, you know.. ‘Tell me the dangerous places (…) does the mandibular vein runs there […]”. You know, it’d be almost like we would be looking at a book or something, and it’d be, like, an albatross or something, and he’d know the genus and the species, you know? Yeah, it was just amazing that – because it is not the sort of level of knowledge you would expect a popstar to have, you know, in that sort of category, but not to the same level intellectually, if you know what I mean… It was almost like he enjoyed, you know, sort of a good conversation and he enjoyed, in some ways, slipping his utter knowledge in certain subjects, you know? […] Absolutely [that he was gifted in almost every area]. There’s absolutely no doubt about that. You take some of that out of Elvis [Presley], and I don’t mean in any way to sort of disrespect Elvis’s legacy or his memory, but, you know, Elvis could sing, but that was about it, you know? Michael could sing, he could write music, he could dance, he could play, you know, sort of a guitar, he could play a piano, and it’s just, (…) he was sort of multitalented on many many levels. […] In some ways, Elvis was at Graceland sort of with barriers, almost like keeping fans out, whereas Michael was the antithesis of that and invited particularly the children and other sort of groups to his own home. And I think, in some way, his love of the fans also got him into trouble to an extent, because, certainly, the (balcony) incident (…) in Berlin [in 2002] was nothing more than him wanting to share the joy - I think it was Blanket, wasn’t it? Yeah. But it certainly gave the media (ammunition) and took it the other way around, because there’ll certainly be a lot of people, I’d say, Kurt Cobain, when he was alive, in his hotel room, when there was a big toast, he’d be in his bed, rather than sort of, you know, wanting to interact with all those fans. […] I think that whole episode with meeting [Martin] Bashir was horrendous, you know, (…) I think it was such a horrible think to do. A lot of people don’t realize that [there were] two cameras running at the same time, and Michael was doing his own sort of edit, at the same time as Bashir’s documentary was going, and that for sure, up until the trial, they compared the two things and, thankfully, you know, within 2 or 3 days – and Tom Mesereau will tell you this – that Bashir was absolutely humiliated, that he’d sort of come across with falsities, that he’d edited his thing to put Michael in a bad light and he was, sort of sent down as a bad witness and left the trial very quickly. But, I mean, I think that it really really was such a level of betrayal. I suppose Michael – he never discussed that with me per se regarding Mr. Bashir - he certainly often mentioned Tom and, you know, in fondest terms. But you could – you could know that it hurt him so that he didn’t even want to discuss it. Because it almost – when he’d come close to it, not so much clamor, but almost stopped talking and looked in the space for a while. And you just knew yourself [to think] ‘Don’t go there at this point in time’. […]”

"Michael was coming to see me, apparently, it was in the London papers almost 2 days before he died, which is – which is sad as well, because he would have been out of that situation, yes. Just one week before, I think I saw it in the London papers (…). But there were some things (…) - he had wanted to do something together with HIV kids and patients in Africa and he was gonna set up a concert in Rwanda […]. And we talked with Nelson Mandela one day on the phone, he, Nelson, had phoned Michael, and Michael comes through and says, ‘It’s Mandeba, do you wanna speak?’, and I didn’t even know who Mandeba was, but that was, you know, sort of his pet name. […] That would have been such a wonderful thing, because I think he thought he hadn’t done enough, I think, for Africa, from the point of view of the music. Now I know he gave 60 to 70 percent of all his humanitarian thing (which) went to the African departament, so I don’t mean in that sense. But when he was done in Africa before, and his concerts were often in the West Coast, and I think he would’ve loved to have been involved in a Band Aid type of thing for the HIV and Africa humanitarian concert, and that would’ve been lovely to see, because that would be the uniting of all the forces: his goodness, his roots, his continent, you know, sort of helping people with that particular illness, and it would have been, I suppose, putting his stamp on something that the world sees, rather than all the time getting behind. And I know that he became involved in the 9/11 and he also sort of wanted to – in my mind – have done something similar to Africa. He mentioned it on at least 2 o 3 occasions. […] [discussion carried out about the song, “What More Can I Give” not being released, due to Sony’s refusal]. It’s interesting that the last concert he gave it was in the period he was in Ireland, remember when he went on stage to the World Music Awards in London, and in that whole period beforehand, he was like a little child being afraid because he was going to meet the Queen and wanted to look his best, it was quite funny. [laughter] And it was concerning him almost more than the song. So, he’d go to his house late at night before that sort of thing, and to see somebody so famous and in awe … Yeah.. […] He was in no way standoffish and in no way did he put himself in any elevated platform, treated everybody that I’ve ever seen him with exactly the same. And, you know, I think he was a bit afraid of people, to use him for their own ends, and, you know, sort of – whenever there was the level of trust (…), ‘cause he’d often ask me, you know, such and such or ‘What do you think of them?’, you know, that type of thing, so I think that it was a certain level of… I suppose, more suspicion rather than paranoia. […] But, what a loss, and I think it will be a long, long time before, I think, the planet ever has anybody of that level of, I think, integrity, spirituality, creativity, you know.. Because he had them all in one package, really. […] It was a universiality about him. Already was a catholic in the proper sense of the word ‘catholic’, if you know what I mean. […] He was a Christian and he certainly maintained Christian beliefs in everything he did. And now, that goes to other sort of great religious people that lived on the planet, […], but I mean, certainly, you know, a lot of people see him analogous to almost, I suppose, the love that Jesus has for people, you know? […] He lived his faith. He lived his faith, there’s no doubt about it. You know? […] Any of the badness associated with him was all things that were thrown at him by the media, or made up. And because he probably was so good, that was his own vulnerability, that he sort of tended to trust everybody… […]”

[Patrick Treacy, Irish Medical Director of Ailesbury Clinic Dublin - interviewed by BlogTalkRadio with Reverend Catherine Gross, and Deborah Kunesh of Reflections Of The Dance; sources: www.reflectionsonthedance.com, www.youtube.com]

 

 

“My uncle was always big on teaching my cousins and me about song structure.  He would like to break down songs -- he would always start with the base line, and then start humming a melody. He wanted to teach me how things came together, how to portray my voice and where music came from. The main thing with my uncle was just the love he showed all of us and how caring and giving he was to other people as well. The most important lesson that he showed us was charity and giving back. All of this meant nothing if you weren't giving anything back. […] We would go on rides and eat candy and watch movies. I know this might sound cliché but it was just like anybody hanging out with their relatives. […] To this day it's hard for me to talk about [his passing]. It just hurt me that much. What I'll always remember were the wonderful memories that he gave us. And for me, as a child, I remember the lessons and love he showed me -- unconditional love. […] All of my cousins are musical in some way. We all have the music bug and we all love music -- every last one of us. […] I'm not sure [if my uncle’s children will do music as well]. I think their main focus is just being kids.  […] That's actually not true [that my uncle and Prince (the singer) didn’t get along]! My uncle actually told me a couple years ago that they talked about doing stuff together again, but it just never happened. When I saw Prince a few years back he was giving my uncle props and saying how much he loved his voice. So I don't know how true it is that they didn't get along because that's not what I saw.”

“[I wrote a song for my uncle, called “I Never Will Forget”]. It's the fastest I've ever written a song. I wrote it in five minutes because the emotions were just pouring out of me. It's the most special song I’ve ever written, and I just can't wait for people to hear it!”

[Austin Brown, American singer, songwriter, instrumentalist, dancer and record producer, Michael Jackson’s nephew; source: www.usmagazine.com]