|..And Some More..|
“I’m getting better, and I’m sure that we’re all getting better. But it’s hard to let it rest, because the news media’s not letting it rest. Every day, you turn on the TV and you hear something about it. And I think it’s a shame what they’ve done about [Jackson's] kids, (...), and blah, blah, blah. Those are kids, man. And Michael was their dad. (…) Michael was their father. So for them to do that, to run those kids through the mill like that, is atrocious as far as I’m concerned. It’s a ridiculous thing. They’re not thinking about [the fact] that these are kids that they’re doing this to, and what impact it’s going to have on their lives. They just want people to listen to whatever thing they’re doing. It’s a shame. So I haven’t had a chance to totally recover, because all this stuff is still going on.”
[William “Smokey” Robinson, American singer-songwriter, record producer, and former record executive; source: UKlovesMJ - www.facebook.com]
... was hard. I confess, I had to lie to get through. Passing myself off as the fiancée of an East German couple’s grandson – who was in fact passing himself off as their grandson when he was actually just the son of some old and dear friends of theirs - I was allowed a family exemption to travel to Hirschfelde, a tiny town near the “DreiLanderEck” of Poland, East Germany and Czechoslovakia. Everything was different there. Fear. Poverty. Hunger. Dreariness. And then, from the snack bar of a state forest in the middle of Nowheresville, East Germany, I heard it. “She Told Me Her Name Was Billie Jean, As She Caused A Scene….” It was incredible. There I was in Ronald Reagan’s Godless Communist state, with East German army guards all around, “enemies of capitalism,” “enemies of democracy,” and there was Michael Jackson too. And then I saw the little smiles, the tiny bemused smirks from the people in that gray place. It was then that I realized Michael Jackson was so much more than a Motown legend. He brought joy and happiness and hope to the world. He united all of us in our common humanity. And today, his music, and the music of other talented Americans does the same in Iran, in North Korea, in Cuba, and in all the other countries around the globe that still hunger for the freedom the East Germans eventually found.
Music unites us all. RIP, Michael Jackson.”
uld keep a black cab running on the meter on the corner of the street, and as soon as Michael emerged, they would leap in the taxi and would follow his car. (…)
[Edited from Article] ....Then, at the onset of one particular car chase with our taxi directly behind [Michaels] limo, we misjudged the 'Will he turn left or right game at the junction?' and suddenly found ourselves nose to nose facing his car in the wrong lane, blocking its path as we stared straight through the windscreen at the incredulous star and manager Frank Dileo. I recall feeling distinctly intrusive and shameful as the reality of what I was doing hit me, i.e. quickly morphing into the type of hack I had come here to gently mock.
Our cab driver for the week was a game sort. He's miss(ed) no opportunity to mount pavements or jump red lights. Still, after one bump too many, the acute danger of the situation dawned on me. I remember thinking. "Someone could die in this kind of caper.” Nine years later, in similar circumstances, the Princess of Wales did just that. Hearing the post Diana, white(-)Fiat theory, my mind snapped back to the rumour I'd heard during my week following [Michael], that one of tabloids was planning to crash a motorbike into the front of his limo to fabricate a newsworthy incident. Standing amid the tabloid scrum on the pavement outside Hamley’s as [Michael] indulged in a spot of after hours shopping, I was gobsmacked to hear the assembled hack cooking up an agreed list of his purchases, [Big Teddy.. Peter Pan Video's (sic(] only to see it appear in every national the next day. Naturally, I've scarcely believed a newspaper 'fact' since then. At the close of the week, I was asked to haul a lifesize cardboard cutout of [Michael] to shoot 'Mike' at various London tourist spots. Ultimately though, for me this was the week when the scales fell from my eyes as far as the behaviour of our national press was concerned. For Michael Jackson, meanwhile, it was the first real sighting of the media hellhounds who would remain on his trail to his dying days.”
[Edited from Smash Hits magazine issue (2009), “Tribute to Michael Jackson”; source: www.facebook.com]
ichael when he started out as an incredible young performer and watched him grow into one of the most outstanding talents we have witnessed in our lifetime. He was a terrific young man whose talent and creativity grew as he did. He was an innovative and talented songwriter. His works will live on and on for generations to come. He had the uncanny ability to touch everyone from all generations with his songs… not just his vocal performance and dancing, but his songwriting, music and lyrics cut through whatever else was happening on radio and were received on a worldwide basis in all genres. He is responsible for the world coming together to embrace these songs and him as an unforgettable entertainer. I was one of the lucky ones who was present at the Motown 25 (Special) that year when he debuted “Billie Jean,” and I was sitting in the audience. There was an incredible energy in the room that I can only call "spirit", that reached out and forced everyone to their feet. It was the most powerful energy I've ever witnessed from an entertainer. Michael was not only a great artist and performer, he was a philanthropist and such a generous man whose gifts were boundless. The last time I saw him was at a small dinner party in New York at the home of a mutual friend. He was an intelligent business man and a gentle soul who had tremendous love and respect for all of us who came before him in this business. I will miss him terribly."
[Lamont Herbert Dozier, American songwriter and record producer, p www.facebook.com]
“I am guessing that Michael purposefully chose to have a very classic looking stage. If you look at Michael’s staging over the tour, you will notice that it is always very conservative and very traditional. That means a rectangular stage – lights around the side and at the back, an open band behind him, you can see the technicians behind and at the side as well as the security. It was always a very Brectian epic theatre style production, as in you see everything that happens with no attempt to hide the show mechanisms and production behind nonsense. The crowd were at a Michael Jackson show to see Michael Jackson and you didn’t need a million dancers and a crazy stage… you just needed a stage.
[Anthony King, choreographer; source: www.facebook.com]
another celebrity event and Michael went by in his red limo. We decided to follow him, my mother was accompanying me that evening, we arrived to another house in the Hollywood Hills, I got closer to him and when he saw that it was the same photographer that he had met earlier, he relaxed a bit. Liza was with him and the Chaufer/body guard. Michael entered the house and Liza waited outside in the car, she invited me to sit inside while he came out. About 10 minutes later, he came out and we chatted a little more, I told him that I would like a few autographs, one for my Mom and he happily signed several photos, a couple of Thriller albums. After chatting some more, he took off his dark shades and was going to let me have them, I thanked him, but told him that I would prefer the glove he was wearing, which was his trade mark. He smiled and thought about it for a second and proceded to take his glove off and give it to me. We left very happy and excited, his white glove has a seal stamped on it, which was the invitation used for the famous ¨Thriller¨ party. When we arrived back to Spago, the famous celebrity restaurant in Beverly Hills, we told all the other paparazzis about our adventure and meeting with Michael Jackson.”
d to end the feuding and tension between rapper 50 Cent and The Game in 2005. “I was on tour in Canada, sitting in my room, cutting my hair… Then my road manager knocks on my door. Boom, boom, boom. He told me, ‘I got MJ on the phone’. I ran and snatched up the phone.” The Game said Jackson started the conversation by talking about music and complimenting him on his records. Then [Jackson] said, ‘I don’t know how you’re gonna feel about this, but I want to ask you something. I don’t want you to judge me, but I don’t really know everything that’s going on between you and 50. But I want to be the middleman behind you putting this situation to bed.” This gives us insight into Michael, the peacemaker.”
e’d had a friendly journalist-to-artist relationship for the past 16 years, and Michael asked to see me. For Kansas City, the suite was lavish, the size of a small apartment, but as I entered, let in by a security guard, Michael was nowhere to be seen. “Michael?,” I called as I walked around. After a few minutes, I heard giggling from behind a door. The 29-year-old Michael Jackson was literally playing hide-and-seek. Eventually he appeared, wearing black trousers and a bright-red shirt (…). He hugged me. He was taller than I’d remembered, taller than he appeared in photos, and while his giggling continued, I thought that the hug was a hug from a man - not a boy - and while there was nothing sexual, it just was strong. Then he pulled back, looked at me, and said, in the lower and more “normal” of the two voices he could produce at will, “What’s that smell? What’s that perfume? I know that smell.” I laughed. “Oh, Michael, you don’t know this perfume. It’s an old drag-queen perfume from the 1950’s.” At the words “drag queen” he started giggling and repeated: “Drag queen … hahahahahaha!!! No, I know it. It’s Jungle Gardenia, right?” I was more than slightly surprised. “How do you know that? The only people who’ve ever recognized this perfume are Bryan Ferry and Nick Rhodes. Well, I guess you’re not as la-la as they say you are.” The phrase “la-la” cracked him up and he repeated it: “La-la … hahahahahaha!!!”
A few days later, I sent a case of Jungle Gardenia to his hotel suite at New York City’s Helmsley Palace. The following night, on March 2, I stood in the wings at Radio City Music Hall as Michael waited with gospel singers the Winans, about to perform “Man in the Mirror” for the Grammy Awards live telecast. Looking at me, he whispered, “Thanks for the smells… I’m wearing it now.”
[Barbara Guggenheim, art consultant; source: www.facebook.com]
“The first time I met Michael was when I danced in the video for “Smooth Criminal,” and for some reason I remember his fingernails, because they were so well manicured. That was my first job in L.A. as a dancer. And it was the most amazing job - I made $10,000, because the job was for three months. Just the dance section. Isn’t that something? There were, like, 40 dancers on the job. You know the scene in “Smooth Criminal” when he gets on the table? I’m standing right there, because they wanted me to spot him, so if he fell, I would catch him. And he would never fall. I had gone to see his show in Europe, where it was (sic), like, 100,000 people and they don’t have seats on the main floor of the stadium. They just stand up and they’re like cattle shoulder to shoulder. And that was just amazing, seeing all the medics come in and out because people were fainting, people were crying. I can’t explain it. […] And Michael told me one thing too: When people would grab him when he was walking through from backstage, and they could grab him or something, he said it was like fire - because they would grab him and they would pull him. They didn’t want to hurt him; it was that they just wanted a piece of him. Most people, when they’re rehearsing a dance movement, they don’t do it full-out. Michael would always do everything to the fullest in rehearsal. He would do it like he was onstage, every time. And as a dancer, you would be like, ‘Why is he doing it that hard?’ Every chromosome worked, the minute he moved. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen when he was going to court (in 2005), he got on top of his car. Even in that moment, he didn’t dance like he was on top of his car, he danced like he was onstage. He danced like every chromosome was working, right there, on top of a car. And when you really look at that tape, when he jumps on top of the car, he hurts his knees. He has to land on his knees when he jumps on the car from the ground. But even though his knees were in pain, he still gave everything he had. If you rewind it and look at it one day, you’ll know what I mean.”
I could be the same way, because I was born on the same day. The first time I saw Michael Jackson dance was when I watched videotapes of him performing with The Jackson 5. I also remember my mom having the "Off the Wall" album and I couldn't stop thinking how amazing he was. The walls in my room were plastered with posters of MJ, to the point that it looked like wallpaper, because every inch of the wall was covered. I had buttons, magazines, you name it (…). Who knew that I'd have a chance to work with him?
I choreographed the video "Remember the Time." We rehearsed at a studio that was located near the [Los Angeles] restaurant Roscoe's Chicken & Waffles. He told us he had never eaten there before, so we made him try it. He was lots of fun. He brought in huge speakers, so people could really listen to the beat. He was one of those dancers that did the basic eight count; he would keep in step by making the beat with his mouth noises, amazing! We talked a lot about hip-hop. He had a lot of questions and was very open, and we were happy to answer. Part of what we do as choreographers is that we not only teach a routine, but we enjoy pulling out a dancer's natural talent as much as we enjoy giving and enhancing what's already there. Michael was an incredible dancer and such a natural, so a lot of what people saw in the video came from him, because when you truly feel the music, your body reacts naturally and does what it does. One of my favorite MJ moves is when he elevates on the tips of his toes, sticks his hands out and screams, but when he spins repeatedly and effortlessly, it's truly amazing. So many dancers and performers studied him. We didn't have access to any formal dance classes to teach us his style of dance, but we witnessed his performances and studied him over and over. We were all students of him and tried to emulate him because he did it better than anyone else. He was a perfectionist, and what you saw each time he danced was his love for performing, and you knew he was doing exactly what he was put on this earth to do.”
nked me for doing the show that night, considering how worried I was about my mother. And he assured me they would get me home ASAP. I left on a flight the next morning. And the next day, flowers arrived at the hospital for my mother - from Michael Jackson. I am loyal to him to this day because of his kindness. What I will miss most about him is the dynamics of his creativity. Being around him was electric!”
organise his workshop called the Carousel Pink House and some of the most beautiful parts of his collection. On June 25th 1992, immediately after landing in Monaco of Bavaria, Michael went to visit Peter in Sulzbach where many of the townsfolk had turned up. “"When Michael arrived in a limousine, escorted by I do not know how many cars, the townspeople thought it was a plot by the mafia" - tells Petz, laughing.” Michael spent time to sign autographs for the people waiting there. Michael then spent an hour or so walking around the grounds, looking at all the masterpieces of the sculptor and ordered some for his own collection. Peter’s wife was excited about the visit and Peter requested a photo with Michael and the family which still hangs in his office today. Michael also signed the guestbook. The thematics and supervision of the Carousel was overseen by Jonathan L. Beauchamp of Chance Rides in Texas. The Carousel was installed at Neverland Ranch October 30, 1990. […]”
celebrities whenever we spoke on phone during the years he kept in touch. It was October 1984 when he called us at The Four Seasons Hotel in Toronto in response to a fan letter I wrote on behalf of our daughter, Andrea, aged 3, and a letter that I was able to get through to his father whom I met outside the hotel walking on the street. Thereafter, he invited us to his Victory Tour concert as VIP guests. And started a friendship that would have him call us many times. In November 1987, he dedicated a single “The Way You Make Me Feel’ to our daughter Andrea, 7, and then invited us to a Bad concert reception in New York in March 1988. Thereafter, I received a large size photo of me with him. Michael autographed the cover of the Thriller album to Andrea, autographed the cover of the Bad album and also wrote a whole page in his handwriting to our son, as well as autographed many others (sic) photos to each one of us. And I took many photos of him with my family members when he had invited us to his hotel suite in the Four Seasons. Unfortunately, we never heard from him once he fired his manager at the time Frank Dileo. However, fond memories will always remain with us. We never used our friendship for any personal gains, although we had offers for our story which we always refused. […] To us and to the world, he will always be remembered as the King of Pop. We will miss him.”
“My name is Andrea Patel. I met Michael Jackson here in Toronto and he personally invited my family to his concert. Soon after, he would phone us, and send us boxes of stickers/gum. Then to top it off, he dedicated the single ‘The way you Make me Feel’ to me. “Dedicated to Andrea Patel of Canada, I love you.” It’s something I have never been able to live down, even if I try. People are always fascinated by this and refer to him as my best bud even, though I don’t talk to him anymore. It truly was 15 minutes of fame!”
ry excited about a new level of their career, new opportunities,” photographer Gregg Cobarr recalls of the Jackson brothers and little sister Janet on that warm summer day in 1978. 31 years later, he still can recall details about the day, and about the very special young man he encountered in Michael Jackson. “He had such a kind, sensitive, fun and charismatic nature. It made a lasting impression.” Cobarr had been hired by Epic for the promotional shoot. A few of the photos were used in promotional materials, but the vast majority never saw the light of day. Teaming with Fine Art Management Corp., Cobarr has chosen to make a number of rare photos from that shoot available for online viewing and purchase. In addition, he has an exhibit of the photos up at the David W. Streets Beverly Hills gallery. . The photos “pretty much have not been released for the public to see.” To those who question his motives, Cobarr responds: “I think people would think, ‘Oh look, they’re opportunists,’ but it’s not that at all. I want people to see the real Michael. They don’t know this Michael existed. They only relate to contemporary images. The way the media got hold of him and twisted so many things about him. I wanted to let people see what I saw: just this nice, gentle soul.”
“The secret of working with Michael Jackson was to think, ‘How would you, literally, deal with a 10-year-old boy?’ Francis got it. At one point, he was having trouble directing Michael. Michael didn’t seem to respond to the kind of word dialogue that a director largely uses. His only other big-screen appearance: As Scarecrow in 1978's "The Wiz." So [Francis] sent out for some masks: happy masks – like clown masks – and scary masks. And when he wanted to elicit an emotion from Michael, he would put on those masks and it would be as if a child were reacting to a mask. And it was effective! Michael loved to go toy shopping. But the adult in him wanted to drive his car. And he drove like a maniac. I was always grippin’ my seat. He loved masks. He had masks in his glove compartment, which he would put on as he drove. His explanation was, ‘If I don’t put it on, people will see it’s me and they’ll chase me.’ Then we’d go into a toy store. […]”
“My name is Gregory Smith, born in South Central Los Angeles, back in the early days. Born and raised by a minister, I am a pastor’s son, or the son of a preacher man. […] I started teaching at local schools - after-school programs - so I started falling into the teacher's mode of ‘Well, hey, I can teach, too; so let me start helping these kids out in another way as far as their education.’ Then I met with people who decided to take it to the next level and create the atmosphere of a performing arts school. […]. I had half-an-hour to go to [see] Michael Bearden and pitch the Believe Foundation to him in his trailer while they were on the set of the [George Lopez] "Lopez Tonight" [TV] show. Michael Bearden is very hard to pin down for half-an-hour, but he actually gave us two and a half hours, because he was so moved by the pitch. He said, “Greg, before Michael [Jackson] passed, he said that I was going to do some great things in the world. There are many things coming. Michael Jackson didn’t exactly know what they were, but he kept mentioning in the spirit of using one's gifts to Michael Bearden: "I feel you are going to do some great things in the world". And Michael Bearden felt this was aspect of his own humanitarian calling, so he jumped on board. […] Originally, Believe Foundation was an after-school program where I was trying to go into different schools, teach music, bring in celebrities and set up camps - like a work-shop. Then, when I brought in Dr. Walker as my project lead - he said we need to take it to the next level and build a performing arts school of our own. Why go to these charter schools when you can build your own? That’s when we came up with the vision of building LASAE. […] We’re stretching - our first fund-raiser raised $51,000. We just have to keep pushing, and if we can get to $200,000, we’ll be set. We think there are people out there who once they see something like this, will want to be involved. We just have to get to the right people who believe in the arts, believe in our vision and believe in what Michael Jackson stood for, too, because Michael Bearden is on board, and he said Michael would love this if he were alive. […] The facilities didn’t have the state-of-the art auditorium or music room that we need. So now they’re giving us more time and we have until, I believe, December 1 before we have to have our application in. […]”
“We need the Michael Jackson community to really stand behind this. Michael Bearden is very sensitive about it, because he’s trying to protect Michael’s [Jackson] interests. He is so busy, I can’t really ask him to do that much as far as how to attach ourselves more to the Michael Jackson fan base. But I knew some way, somehow, someone would hear about us and take a liking to us and want to help us out. I really need that help. Let me ask you this. How do we attach our track to Michael Jackson’s fans? Because we’re not using Michael Jackson’s name or anything. […] Michael Bearden told me that helping children was something Michael [Jackson] loved to do - he loved the idea of Believe Foundation. I said, “Well, Michael, can I put it out there in the press?” He was like, “Well, I don’t want to make it seem we’re using Michael”. I said, “We’re not. He told you that you’re going to do some great things, this is one aspect of what you need to be doing.” It’s funny, because he’s told me so many stories of him and Michael just talking and envisioning things, but then he says to me he doesn’t want it to seem like we’re using Michael. But we’re not; we’re just carrying on the legacy. […] The difference is exploiting. Michael Bearden gave us his blessing to put his name on this, not Michael Jackson’s, but it’s still part of his legacy. […] And, the other dream is for us to build schools in other cities, not only in Los Angeles, like Chicago or New York. Let’s keep it going, let’s make it happen - the Believe Foundation is known to build schools, that’s what we want to do. […]”
[Gregory Smith, founder of Believe Foundation – interviewed by Valmai Owens, transcribed by Kelly Gallagher; source: http://mjtpmagazine.presspublisher.us]
“Do I contradict myself? / Very well then I contradict myself, / (I am large, I contain multitudes.)" - Walt Whitman
1. "Creative people have a great deal of physical energy, but they're also often quiet and at rest. They work long hours, with great concentration, while projecting an aura of freshness and enthusiasm...This does not mean that creative people are hyperactive, always "on." In fact, they rest often and sleep a lot. The important thing is that they control their energy; it's not ruled by the calendar, the dock, an external schedule. When necessary, they can focus it like a laser beam; when not, creative types immediately recharge their batteries. They consider the rhythym of activity followed by ideleness (sic) or reflection very important for the success of their work."
2. "Creative people tend to be both extroverted and introverted. We're usually one or the other, either preferring to be in the thick of crowds or sitting on the sidelines and observing the passing show. In fact, in psychological research, extroversion and introversion are considered the most stable personality traits that differentiate people from each other and that can be reliability measured. Creative individuals, on the other hand, seem to exhibit both traits simultaneously."
3. "Creative people's openness and sensitivity often exposes them to suffering and pain, yet also to a great deal of enjoyment. Most would agree with Rabinow's words: 'Inventors have a low threshold of pain. Things bother them.' A badly designed machine causes pain to an inventive engineer, just as the creative writer is hurt when reading bad prose. Being alone at the forefront of a discipline also leaves you exposed and vulnerable."
These three seeming contradictions - energy/rest, extroversion/introversion, and openness/sensitivity- are not separate phenomena, but are intimately related to one another and, along with other traits, form the core of the creative performer's personality.
This contrast between onstage boldness and personal shyness was certainly seen in Michael Jackson. Famed record producer Quincy Jones recounts that "Michael was so shy, he'd sit down and sing behind the couch with his back to me, while I sat with my hands over my eyes - and the lights off." A little while ago, Susan Biali wrote a fascinating blog post for Psychology Today titled "Was Michael Jackson a Highly Sensitive Person(HSP)"? Are You?", which really resonated with me. In her post, she notes the seeming discrepancy found in Jackson between his "shy reclusive personality (documented since he was a young child), and his outrageously impressive and even flamboyant ability to perform on and dominate the world stage." Biali links this disrepancy to Jackson being a highly sensitive person (HSP) (…). According to HSP researcher Elaine Aron, HSP's make up 15-20% of the general population and tend to be more aware than others of subtleties, get more easily overwhelmed when things get too intense or there is too much sensory input, are easily affected by other's moods, and are deeply creative and moved by arts and music. In a very recent post called, "Why it's hard to be a highly sensitive (HSP) introvert", I felt Biali very accurately described the frequent frustration of being a HSP: "I'm extremely sensitive to other people's moods; when someone is angry, judgmental or irritated, those emotions come through my skin and into my cells, making me even more uncomfortable. Worst of all, if I don't have my own space to retreat to and recharge, I'll eventually have a meltdown."
Some of the most creative people have very high levels of sensitivity. Like Bilali, they embrace who they are and find ways to accommodate their sensitivity. Take Yoshira Nakamatsu, perhaps one of the most creative (if not also a bit nutty) inventors of all time. He invented many 'calm rooms' around his house to minimize as much as possible any potential sensory input that might interfere with his creative process. My favorite calm room is his bathroom, where his toilet shuts out every noise and every magnetic and electronic field! According to Dr. Nakamatsu, "Such a calm room erases all noise from your brain, you can concentrate and think." It should be noted that Dr. Nakamatsu also has a "dynamic room" in his old house, where music, patterns and textures stimulate the brain. According to Nakamatsu, this room is conducive to inventing, allowing the creator to mix ideas in his or her head. The genius of Dr. Nakamatsu may come in large part, from his ability to flexibly switch between extreme quiet and extreme stimulation.”
[Dr. Scott Barry Kaufman, writer for Psychology Toda; source: www.psychologytoday.com]
“In the "trial of the century," the prosecution rested, the defense rested, the jury can rest now that they're dismissed. When does Michael Jackson get to rest? To the media, this wasn't the manslaughter trial of Conrad Murray; it was "the Michael Jackson Death Trial." And much of the time, Michael Jackson, though dead, was on trial.
Michael Jackson was not treated as a human being, but as a cash cow. His death hasn't changed that. The exploitation of Jackson was legion -- by acquaintances, hired help, colleagues, the music industry, the justice system, by families looking for deep pockets, by hangers-on, sycophants and especially by the media. Millions were made off the Jackson brand. What the public doesn't know, is how cynical and deliberate the exploitation was. […] The latest betrayal is a documentary by Conrad Murray -- the very doctor who is convicted of killing Jackson. Murray, charged with manslaughter, struck a deal two years ago with October Films for a documentary about his relationship with Jackson and his final days. Family and fans are asking how could NBC, in good conscience, produce and air a film that exploits Jackson yet again after death and by the very person responsible for that death? Murray inked a contract as Jackson was being laid to rest. The documentary included scenes depicting "private rooms" in Jackson's home with clips recognized as photos of Neverland Ranch taken in 2003, after sheriff's deputies raided and rifled through it. The same photos, originally used to slant opinion about Jackson's private habits, made their way into Murray's "documentary" along with a few contrived comments designed to denigrate Jackson while elevating Murray. How honest is a film and its intentions when cleverly edited for impact and ratings? Reminiscent of MSNBC Martin Bashir's Living With Michael Jackson, another cleverly edited film called a "hit piece mocumentary", that was cynically produced for ratings and profit, was refuted later by Jackson's own film crew who taped the same footage simultaneously with Bashir's crew. Murray's documentary circumvented the justice system allowing in the testimony he refused to give in court, despite a family's frantic search for answers to what happened to their dead loved one, Michael.
Conrad Murray's manslaughter trial became "the Michael Jackson Death Trial", because media long ago learned that connecting Jackson's name to anything increased revenues. People promoting their own brand still cynically link to Jackson, knowing that negative stories about him increases attention. Reporters invented stories and not to be left out of the profit making game, mainstream media soon followed suit. A large segment of the population still believes the tabloid caricature of Jackson and the accusations from which he was exonerated. And they mistakenly believe self proclaimed "Michael Jackson experts" -- who never even met the man and have an agenda and a reason to perpetuate the caricature myth -- to avoid being exposed for their past treachery -- using a human being for profit and to future careers. The propaganda about Jackson says more about the writer than it does about their subject. Nick Davies in his Flat Earth News exposé claims the public would be sickened by cynical media tactics and how they manipulate á la tabloid journalism gone mainstream. Jackson fans, who have been trying to warn consumers for years about the racist agenda and media exploitation of Jackson, issued a statement this week: "Michael Jackson fans have had enough. Ridicule us if you must, call us names, tell us we only think of Michael as an 'idol' -- but we are not the ones selling his memory, objectifying him and making money off him." They have called for a boycott of NBC and its sponsors. Murray may have administered the fatal dose of poison, but the media poisoning of public opinion regarding Jackson was relentless and protracted. Did the media torture a man to death for nothing more than ratings and profit? The most famous man in the world was also the most bullied. The tabloid campaign exploiting and lynching Jackson was unparalleled and lasted decades. Jackson's exploiters hail from every possible position -- from cleaning ladies to doctors and a rabbi spiritual director who published recordings of Jackson's private sessions -- all to make a buck off his brand. Physicians are outraged by Murray's reckless treatment and his violation of HIPPA laws and patient confidentiality. They find it incredulous that a doctor, now convicted felon, skirted both the law and testifying in court and pimped his documentary that profits the very man he killed. The fans, aware that public opinion about them has also been manipulated, are concerned that the public continues to allow salacious media exploitation of public figures and are duped into its consumption unawares. One fan writes: "Our living rooms should not be dumping grounds for salacious materials that strip humans not only of their dignity, but their very humanity -- and ours in the process. Where is the public outcry that says 'enough is enough'? People were outraged when the Rupert Murdoch scandal broke about phone hacking for headlines for front page fodder with ill gotten sensationalized information; where are they now? Airing this documentary is shameful."
British Huffington Post journalist Charles Thomson chronicled the shaming irresponsibility of the media while covering the Jackson trial in 2005 in a piece called "The Most Shameful Episode in Journalistic History." It might be worth pondering why a man who appeared to have it all needed such extreme measures to sleep. Why did he require medication that did not just help him sleep, but rendered him unconscious (…) in order to rest? How did a vegetarian and purist who hated drugs come to rely on them? […] Yet the Murray trial showcased, in Jackson's own words, his dream to build a children's hospital. His attorney, Thomas Mesereau, voices concern about the recklessness of a slanted media that capitalizes and exaggerates drama for profit and ratings; he is joined by other attorneys like Matt Semino and Mark Geragos who worry that celebrity cultism and media manipulated public opinion preempt justice. Authors (like) Aphrodite Jones in Conspiracy: The Michael Jackson Story, (…) try to set the record straight by telling the true Jackson story with new books that counter the tabloid trash and chronicle history. Even today, few people are aware that in both cases accusing Jackson of harming children, the same players appear -- the district attorney nicknamed "Mad Dog," the same attorney who recruited and represented both accusing families and the same psychiatrist reporting the accusations. Few people realize this gang still socializes together. Both the FBI and social services investigated Jackson and found no wrongdoing.
Adults wonder out loud where children get the ideas that seem so cruel and heartless. Enamored by celebrity, kids imitate the most popular, and are keenly aware of the values displayed by the adults around them. The new generation has just rediscovered Michael Jackson since his passing. Do you think they naively miss the tabloid battering of Michael Jackson? Where do they learn bullying? They are watching the media and watching us!...
Conrad Murray's trial for manslaughter predictably became about Michael Jackson instead of his doctor, because the use of Propofol was unusual and the patient was famous. In court, the displaying of medication bottles was high drama and the media pounced and rushed to publish "Michael Jackson's addiction." A close look at the dates, the number of pills prescribed measured against the number taken, number left and span of time the pills sat in that bedroom proves not that Jackson was an addict, but that he was actually non-compliant with medications he was prescribed. But that isn't sexy; and it's all about sexy and getting viewers for a trial that was predicted to be "bigger than the Casey Anthony trial." Except it wasn't. Hysteria fatigue, perhaps? Have we had enough?
Pundits on HLN seemed to push the "addict" label because it suited their agenda to promote books and careers. "Michael Jackson" has promoted many books and careers involuntarily as people conscripted his name for their own purposes. HLN was no exception. An addiction specialist physician jumped on the same "addict" meme despite the conflicting information between addiction, bottle labeling and usage, and despite medical records entered in evidence that were unsigned and confusing. The physician's questionable records were allowed in court, but the physician was not and he wasn't made able to explain his treatment of Jackson for facial procedures (…). Jackson had Vitiligo and Discoid Lupus -- the same disease which has left the entertainer Seal, facially scarred. It is entirely reasonable that Michael Jackson's face be treated (…). […] Jackson's fans could have enlightened any one of these talking heads, but they didn't fact check, nor ask fans. If you want to know something about a sports or pop culture figure, ask fans who know everything about them. In fairness to the pundits, the coverage could have been much worse and the fans could have been depicted in a much poorer or darker light. Unfortunately, the fringe elements of fandom were highlighted and that included conspiracy theorists who believe that Jackson is alive and in hiding. And for the most part, fans behaved well, except for an occasional scuffle.
Mainstream Jackson fans who get less attention than the vocal fringe, are articulate, thoughtful, bright, and interested in justice and vindication. Many are professionals who contribute to society, pay their taxes and raise children in the suburbs and cities. They have an interesting story to tell society should anyone ever want to listen. What they have to say is shocking. The trial, it seems, was all about Michael Jackson, despite Murray's dalliances are well known -- seven children with six women, his methodology even in his clinic appeared reckless to other physicians and one who ventured: "The only thing Murray could have done that was more dangerous was to push Jackson out of an airplane without a parachute." And what doctor ships a stockpile of medication to a private residence? What doctor using a dangerous drug does not have the proper emergency equipment required for safety and for resuscitation, when he is the only one there in case something happens to the patient? The drug labeling requires it as do protocols. A simple regulator pump that would have saved Jackson's life by regulating the flow of Propofol according to body weight and dosage guidelines would have cost $1,500 of a salary one hundred times that per month. Murray owned a clinic; if he could order Propofol in bulk, he could order medical equipment that would have saved Jackson's life.
Yes, it was the Michael Jackson trial, because once again, Jackson was put on trial even in the afterlife. And it's ironic that the most compelling piece of evidence came not from the prosecutor or from the defense, but from Michael Jackson himself. […] A children's hospital or healing center was Michael Jackson's dream. And this is not the first time the subject of medical treatment and healing of children has come up in Michael Jackson's legacy. When Jackson's slurred declaration was first reported, Jane Velez Mitchell (…) declared on air that this recording of Jackson proves what Michael Jackson fans have been saying all along -- that Michael was misunderstood and mischaracterized and Neverland Ranch was misrepresented to the public. She called the conversation vindication for Michael Jackson. She only said it once, as that very same day, people who made money with "hit piece" biographies chastised her on Twitter and she went silent.
Conrad Murray is not the first nor the last person to be privy to Michael Jackson's dream for children. In an article by Italian journalist Silvia Bizio, Anjelica Huston, who played opposite Jackson in the Captain EO film for Disney, accidentally ran into Michael Jackson about a month before he died. They hugged, hunkered down in a room together and caught up on each others' lives. Huston remembered Michael as being tender and fragile, having trouble mustering up enough anger to carry out his role as Captain EO with a spaceship crew who sings 'We are here to change the world.' She said it was as if anger didn't live in his DNA. He needed her there, in costume and sneering her lines to play off her villainous character. Huston said he seemed even more fragile especially emotionally, during their brief encounter. She put her arms around him; she says: "We talked about how he had felt humiliated by the accusation of sexual harassment and about the sorrow for the loss of Neverland, where he had lived many years. I remember his words: 'They ruined my dream. I had this dream, perhaps childish and foolish, a place designed to celebrate the innocence of that childhood that I never had, and they took it from me. I love children, I could never do them harm. I spent all my life loving them and trying to do good things for them. The libel of harming a child -- that breaks my heart. It is an unbearable pain, those accusations are unjust and terrible...' As he said these things, he began to cry. I held him in my arms… He was so skinny and frail." Jackson told her he was preparing for the London concerts. She remembers: "He was training hard, because he would have 'no more hope to be loved back again.' He wanted to be let back in to the hearts of the public after his public lynching for something he said he didn't do and a jury of his peers agreed with. […]
He equipped a burn wing at Brotman Medical Center in Culver City and built a 19-bed wing at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York.
Artist David Nordahl, Michael Jackson's friend for more than 20 years, and whose work was commissioned for Neverland Ranch, recently shared some memories of Jackson:
"That conversation they played in court was so Michael. Taking care of sick children is what he talked about in every conversation we ever had. He took care of sick children all over the world. He paid for Bela Farcas' liver; the cost was $125,000, and when they found out it was for Lisa Marie Presley and Michael Jackson who decided to split the cost, the price jumped to a quarter of a million. Bela got his liver. I didn't do just paintings for Michael; he asked me to do sketches for rides he invented at Neverland and the drawings for condos he planned to build for critically ill children and their families. He knew that critically ill children heal better in an environment of hope, positive thoughts, laughter and magic. The darkened and quiet sick room fosters depression, not joy, and joy heals according to Michael. His condos had large bay windows in the front and they were supposed to look like tree houses in the forest. He wanted the large windows, because he knew that very ill children often can't sleep and wake up at night afraid, so he built an outdoor theater to run cartoons 24/7 so that if the children woke up, they would be able to see the cartoons from the window." Nordahl spoke about Michael's mischaracterized love for children. How was he during that time when he was accused, I wanted to know.
"Michael knew, I mean absolutely knew -- without a doubt -- that his personal destiny was to heal children; it was his calling. He visited orphanages all over the world, built some, built children's wings on hospitals, he sent doctors to the Balkans and even sent a 737 with medical supplies to Sarajevo. Michael loved children; he lived for children. They were the most important thing in his life; in fact, they were his reason for living. All Michael's work was dedicated to children -- to the children of the world or to the child in all of us. Neverland Ranch was dedicated to children and it was always under construction. Its similarity to Disneyland was intentional. Michael saw helping children in this world as his life mission. He traveled the world advocating for children and contributing a great personal fortune to children's causes. It was his life and it was his reason for living. Can you imagine what it was like for him to be accused of harming children?" The story told is that as Michael befriended a divorced family with a boy diagnosed with cancer and brought them to Neverland because children healed there from all kinds of troubles and wounds, he came in contact with the boy's father who believed himself to be creative and an unrecognized talent as a playwright. Ravaged by a mental illness and prone to its delusions, the father believed he would become Jackson's partner in his planned production company -- Lost Boys Productions. Jackson, with $40 million in start-up money from his record company, commissioned Nordahl to design some logos for the project. Before the paint was dry, the boy's father realized he was never going to be Jackson's partner in the venture, and he demanded half the money. When Jackson refused, the rest became easy: make an accusation and collect $20 million earmarked for filmmaking -- Jackson's passion and next venture.
Unfortunately Jackson never got to realize his dream of making films. His reputation suffered and some will always think him guilty of a crime, when his only crime was being "different." But geniuses usually are often outcasts of their peers and culture. And we can guess, given the times, that more than a little of what happened to Michael Jackson was racially motivated. I pointed out to Nordahl that the blueprint for the condos at Neverland included waterfalls that produce negative ions which are uplifting and make people feel good; he had to know about endorphins. "Of course he knew; he had music piped in at Neverland for the flowers, because he knew it encouraged them to grow," Nordahl replied, "Michael read all the time. He knew a lot about healing; he knew joy and delight had an effect on hormones and mood. He wanted some of the construction at Neverland to be secret so that children visiting would not know ahead of time everything they would encounter there, so that there was the joy of surprise. He knew how it would delight them and make them feel. But the magic for Michael was gone. Michael loved magic; he asked for it in paintings. He saw the world that way and he deliberately looked through the magical eyes of a child because he preferred it. It's true he felt the loss of childhood, but more than that, Michael liked seeing the world through fresh un-indoctrinated and fresh eyes, so he chose it. Looking with those eyes and through the lens of innocence allowed his creativity to flow freely and fiercely like a river. When the accusations came, especially the last one, his river of creativity was dammed and went dry."
The media, in a frenzy, used Jackson to sell their wares -- the tabloid headlines, the stolen and unflattering pictures. He took to wearing a mask to discourage them. Fortunes were made on fictionalized stories and unauthorized biographies by people who never met him or knew him only on at the fringes of his orbit. The loudest Jackson detractors are often the most guilty of using Jackson and riding the hysteria surrounding him to launch and sustain careers "reporting" on Michael Jackson's life. Those same people know sensation sells and knowingly contributed to it. They still ride his coattails even in death, revisit the crimes whenever in front of a camera, and claim guilt to this day despite a mountain of evidence to the contrary and a not guilty (14 counts) verdict. They can't afford to be exposed for their bullying, so they stubbornly occupy their position. They bullied him for his skin color lightened by the disease Vitiligo; the paternity of his children (…), for his surgeries in a culture that reveres youth and eschews 'aging rockers.' Deep pockets and a racist agenda explains much because Jackson was born into and grew up in a racist culture and married white women. The rest is explained by the ego that: sees people not as who they are, but as who you are being.
"Some called Neverland a child magnet," Nordahl reminded me. "And it was really; that was deliberate. But Michael did not have the agenda they said he had -- his agenda was not to harm children; his only agenda was to bring joy and magic to kids. I watched him do that for 20 years. Michael himself had a kind of magical attraction. Kids just followed him. We were once in a Toys-R-Us store where Michael was buying toys for kids and I turned around to find a sea of kids following us. And Michael was in disguise. People said he was a recluse; he wasn't. He just always drew crowds. There was something about him; watching people descend on him was like watching a wave crashing to shore. He had to practice getting out of any article of clothing quickly, because people around him went into a kind of frenzy. He could get out clothes faster than anyone I've ever seen." Nordahl remembers too, the loneliness that Michael suffered. “Before and during the trial, he felt abandoned. He was being convicted in the court of public opinion and he worried about getting a fair trial. He worried about what would happen to his kids if he went to prison. He had trouble sleeping. We were staying at a friend's beach house on the ocean and I told him if he couldn't sleep to come down and visit me. He was worried he'd keep me awake, but I didn't mind; I knew he was lonely and worried. We spent many long hours talking and sometimes walking on the beach waiting for sunrise. He couldn't sleep. When you take away someone's reason for living, the reason for his life, what's left?"
I wanted to know if David Nordahl had been watching the trial.
"Sure; it's hard, because you know they had to make it about Michael. I wish the world could know the real Michael. Michael always said that if you talked about the good you did in the world, you cancelled the beneficence of the gift, so he was very private about his humanitarian work. Nobody will ever know how much he did for this world and for the children. The world will never know what it lost, because they took Michael from his work and that cheated not just him of his future, but it cheated all of us."
Artist David Nordahl lives and works in Santa Fe, New Mexico where he is currently getting ready for a show in Tucson, Arizona at Settler's West Gallery on November 19, 2011 and in Las Vegas at a hotel on the strip in April.”
[Rev. Barbara Kaufmann; source: www.huffingtonpost.com]
“Durham, NC - I'll start, not with that first solo release in October of 1971, but a few years earlier when Michael Jackson, a few weeks away from his 11th birthday, recorded his vocals for "Can You Remember." The song is easily forgotten, tucked away on the first Jackson Five album, the one that produced the hot single "I Want You Back."
Written by (…) producer Thom Bell and originally recorded by the Delfonics, "Can You Remember" is an obscurity even in the Philly Soul songbook. Much has been made about Michael's hard soul influences, from James Brown to Jackie Wilson. But apparently the kid also expressed some interest in the sweet music of Thom Bell and the sweeter vocals of William Hart, which partially explains why the Jackson Five recorded at least one Delfonics track on each on their first three albums, including "La-La-Means I Love You." Of course the group also looked towards the premier falsetto voice of Smokey Robinson and recorded a bunch of his tracks in those first few years, among them "Who's Lovin' You," the show-stopping B-side to "I Want You Back," and "Darling Dear," a personal favorite of mine.
But there was always something about those William Hart tracks, especially "Can You Remember." You can hear in young Michael's voice that earnestness that marked so many of those early recordings, but you also hear the nuances of a burgeoning archivist at work. So it was no surprise that when Michael was asked to step out on his own, he did so with the aplomb of a seasoned veteran, but with the heart of a child.
This aptly-titled collection using the two most dramatically rendered words in "Got To Be There," his solo debut ask us to remember a long forgotten time when a cherub-faced Michael Jackson was one of the most important figures in so many of our young lives. Emerging at a historical moment when African-Americans in this country were achieving an unprecedented public presence in politics, business, education and the arts of which Motown was on the forefront, Michael Jackson was, quite simply, the most famous African-American boy. Ever. For a community that often confronted a dearth of images of themselves in the public sphere, both positive and negative, the very sight of Michael Jackson on television was a powerful reflection of the social changes that were already in motion. It would seem that much of young Mr. Jackson's appeal had little to do with the tenor of the times. There was a simple sweetness and innocence about him, even as the very Afros that he and his brothers grew were viewed with suspicion and apprehension in so many other social contexts. It would be a lot to suggest that a young black boy from the city of Gary, Indiana deserves recognition for the easing of racial tensions in the early seventies, but when the young man galvanized an unprecedented audience of multi-cultural America a decade later, there is little question that for so many of us growing up on the Jackson Five, and not immediately privy to the bitter racial disputes of our parents and grandparents, Michael Jackson was a sign of possibilities.
As one (of) those little black boys watching Michael strut his stuff, I had more immediate concerns. Like Ralph Carter, the boy actor who showed up weekly on television's Good Times as little Michael Evans, Michael Jackson provided clues as to how to imagine myself in the world. Far too few of us will admit it now, but for many of us Michael Jackson was the template for our burgeoning black boyhoods. The soulful tilt of the applejack hat, the man-child sassiness, the natty mod-dress and, of course, the dance moves all became part of our boyhood repertoire. Indeed, even my first stabs at romance included Michael, as I often would send love notes to some lovely with lyrics to some of my favorites songs from Michael, especially stuff like "Girl, Don't Take Your Love From Me" and "Got To Be There" from that first solo album. I know I wasn't the only one.”
“I brought Michael Jackson to view properties around the country, mainly in Westmeath and around North Dublin (in 2006). Michael came here to live. The man loved the place and the remoteness of Westmeath and the fact that it was just an hour’s drive from Dublin. He spent a lot of time just looking at properties around the place. If he was looking at a property, he would make a family picnic out of the day. [He traveled light and without a security detail – just a nanny and tutor for the kids. […] The man was lovely. At the time in 2006, there were a couple of traveler children who were injured in a car fire. He wanted to go to Crumlin Hospital to visit them and do something for them. The owner of the Grouse Lodge told him that he couldn’t just walk into the hospital. But that was the nature of the guy and he really wanted to do something for the children.”
[Ray O’Hara, Michael Jackson’s Irish American chauffeur; source: www.irishcentral.com]
“Sheila Guerrero, 17, and her friend couldn't afford a ticket to the show, but they convinced a TV cameraman to take them past security to use the bathroom. The two friends waited anxiously in the bathroom several hours for the show to start. People began to arrive around 7 p.m. They started asking if anyone knew where Michael would be. A woman told them he was supposed to be in Suite 7. So, clad in their Looney Tunes t-shirts and blue jeans, they made their way through the crowds of ball gowns and tuxedos to look for their beloved King of Pop. As they waited outside of Suite 7, security started to gather. Ten minutes later, the elevator door opened, and Guerrero knew it was Jackson from just a glimpse of his right satin-covered shoulder. She started to scream and cry. The former Jackson Five front man came up to her and said, "Aw, don't cry. It's okay."
Guerrero, a junior journalism major, willingly admits that her wedding day didn't compare to that moment. Aretha Shotwell and Sheila Guerrero have been "Michael Jackson friends for life" since junior high school. "Our friendship has been greatly influenced by our love for Michael, because we both got a chance to see him at the Pyramid, and that is a memory only the two of us share," Shotwell said. Guerrero and Shotwell met Michael Jackson when he came to the Pyramid with Lisa Marie Presley for an Elvis Tribute concert in 1994. Guerrero started her own fan club, "Michael Jackson Fans Speak Out," (…) to support the pop singer faced with child molestation allegations. Most recently, she flew to Los Angeles to be present in the trial investing Michael Jackson's death. Guerrero decided to go to Los Angeles at the time of the Michael Jackson trial for her birthday. She knew the trial would be ending near her birthday, Nov. 4. Guerrero arrived in L.A. Thursday, Nov. 3, and by Monday, Nov. 7, the jury had reached a verdict. Conrad Murray, Jackson's former doctor was guilty. […] Guerrero was quoted in several articles written by CNN and Daily News Los Angeles the day after the trial results. […] During the interview, Guerrero expressed her happiness, thanked God and said, "Michael deserves justice, his family deserves justice and his fans deserve justice." […] David Evans, professor of American folk and popular music, said Memphis' own Elvis Presley would be the closest precedent to Michael Jackson and the type of fans who follow him. He said Marilyn Monroe and Jim Morrison also have a cult following similar to that of Michael Jackson. […] "He's different from the others, as he started as a child star and always retained something of that child quality in his persona. He sort of drew the image of the charismatic performer to a younger age level. He appealed as a dancer, as well as a singer-songwriter. […]
Guerrero's love for the King of Pop started in her childhood when Michael Jackson was topping the charts with "Thriller." But her favorite song is "Keep the Faith," from Jackson's "Dangerous" album.
“[…] A grand jury proceeding is supposed to be secret. It’s supposed to be closed. In the Jackson case, information was being leaked on almost a daily basis from that grand jury room. And remember, there’s no defense lawyer in sight in a grand jury proceeding. Additionally, on the first day of jury selection in the Jackson case, someone took all those transcripts and handed them to ABC. The judge had ordered that they be suppressed and basically remain secret until they naturally arose during the course of the trial. So people were trying to prejudice everyone against us. […] It was one primary accuser, and in California the prosecution introduce evidence of other similar acts. And they introduced evidence that five other young men had been molested as well, and they tried to introduce evidence that more young men had been molested. […] I called them to testify. They put on evidence that five other young men were molested, they did it primarily through third-party witnesses, however, one of them did testify, an alleged youth pastor, who said that he had been tickled outside of his jeans. I started my case by calling three of those five as my first three witnesses, all of whom denied that they had been molested by Michael Jackson. […] Michael had witnesses against him. There were people who worked at Neverland who tried to claim that all of these other young men were molested. They got on the stand, one after another, and said they’d seen things in the shower, they’d seen things in the pool, they’d seen things in his room, the prosecution really tried to load up on us in the Jackson case. The problem was, they all fell like a deck of cards when you start cross-examining them! They made conflicting statements, they tried to sell their stories, they had questionable pasts, I mean, it was just amazing to watch them fall like dominoes, and you never know if that will happen in this case. […] Remember, in the world of Michael Jackson, there were so many con artists, and exploiters, and imposters showing up and trying to take advantage of Michael Jackson. He was the best known celebrity, he was fabulously wealthy, and so many people would show up with their hands out, trying to get something, and we were able to not only knock over these witnesses one by one, but show a picture, a broader picture, of exploitation. And it all worked in the end. […]”
“I know he was 100% innocent. He wasn’t just acquitted, he was vindicated. The jury said “Not guilty” 14 times, and [gets interrupted by host] .. I’m 100% convinced that he was innocent and not a child molester, yes sir.”
[Thomas Mesereau, Jr., Michael Jackson’s former attorney - on 'The Bill O'Reilly Show' ; source: www.mjjcommunity.com]
“[…] [Murray] was instrumental to what happened to my brother. He should be held accountable for what happened to my bother and he will be held persecuted for what happened to my brother. But I want you to know one thing. He was not alone in this. […] There are other people that are behind this, that did this and Dr Murray (…) should be prosecuted for it because he was instrumental, but we must get to the bottom (…). […] You must remember I said something earlier that it's this whole case to me was like an Illusionist. It was like the movie The Illusionist, and when I say that to you, I say it because we are all focusing and concentrating on this right hand. We’re not paying attention to what this left hand is doing. When we were in court, we were presented with the right hand. The left hand is the one that was instrumental in getting rid of my brother (…). […] He was murdered. This was no mistake (…). […] I was there the first day that he passed. The coroner came back and told me and Mr. Phillips, ‘Someone injected enough propofol in your brother to intentionally kill him’. […]
I will say this to you. I don't want to see anyone in trouble, but I will say this. In the very beginning when this case started, AEG asked to be a part of this case. Now let me say something to you. When there's someone who's an artist and you are a promoter and the artist is no longer with us, you walk away. Why did you ask the judge, why did you make a file to be a part of this case and you want to be there? And when you're there in court, the first thing you say to the judge is that we're very good friends with the Los Angeles Police department? […] I believe, a part of me believes that Murray truly knows what happened. I truly believe this. I truly believe that he knows what happened and he's not speaking. Of course so I'm hoping and urging that somebody who knows something will definitely come out and speak the truth. […] This is not over. This is what this right hand wants you to believe, while the left hand did everything. Don't buy the media with the right hand, this is what they put and impregnate in our minds so we can believe this. Don't believe it, please. […]”
[LaToya Jackson, at a fan event; source: www.mjjcommunity.com]
all your presents at Neverland. I have a special place where I keep them. It means the world to me."
I asked Michael, "So, how did you know that I had this present for you?" He put his arms around my shoulder, turned me around and pointed at a TV screen that showed all the fans inside the stadium. "You know, you guys always think you're watching me, but in reality, I'm watching you", and he started laughing loudly. "I just don't know how you do it? All the travelling and standing in the sun all day long for the shows and waiting and all that. It always amazes me. You have so much love - it's a beautiful thing and it warms my heart."
[Gina Banic, German Michael Jackson admirer; from "Book .. It's All About L.O.V.E.", UKloveMJ’s www.facebook.com]
s, the experience for us was as close as you can get to being a pop star without having your name on the ticket. When you had the privilege and opportunity to work with Michael, you wanted to do your best all the time. Michael was a constant learner. He studied the greats and watched and listened to everything. Michael was a firm believer that everyone can make a difference. As a performer, Michael had the instrument, talent and gift, and, against all odds, he continued to push forward. In life, especially when he performed, he engaged one million percent. In that spirit I offer this quote from Michael: ‘Whatever you do, you gotta do it like you mean it.’ I can still hear him saying that and I take it with me wherever I go. Michael made it all possible and the incredible worldwide response to his death is testament to his passion, reach and amazing star-power. How many stars can brand a step like he did? He affected generations of dancers. He pulled guys into the studio and made it O.K. 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, Principal Director, EDGE Performing Arts Studio, the exclusive dance studio that hosted the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for The Michael Jackson Tribute Portrait in August 2009.
precious than all the others. "If my house were to catch on fire, I would grab my wife, my son and that picture of Michael Jackson, and we would hit the door," Anthony said. "That's how big that picture is to me."
Anthony had lunch with Jackson in 1981. He spent an hour and a half with the pop star, who was cutting tracks for the album "Thriller" at a Nashville studio next door. He met Jackson after he was called over by a record executive pal who noticed Jackson outside the studio. The two men approached Jackson and asked him if he'd like to join them for lunch in the record exec's office. Anthony calls it an experience he will never forget. He says the three of them ordered sub sandwiches and talked about everyday topics like sports and the weather. They were trying to steer away from subjects like celebrity that might make Jackson feel uncomfortable. "I could not believe how friendly he was, how nice he was, and how relaxed he was, "Anthony said. "It was almost like he had escaped out of that world that he was so used to and got to come into the real world with some real people and eat a sub sandwich."
The photo of Anthony and Jackson was snapped before their lunch. "I didn't realize I was going to be having my picture made with one of the biggest entertainers in the world!" Anthony, now 54, ended up in Tampa Bay when his career led him to a radio job here. Since then, he's met more famous people, and more photos have filled up spaces on his walls. But when it comes to celebrities, he will always regard the Michael Jackson photo as his most valuable item. Jackson's sudden death was a real punch in the gut to Anthony. "We have lost the greatest entertainer of all time, end of story." […] Anthony says there's only one thing left to say now, even for a former DJ. "Rest in peace, King." “
[Article from www2.tbo.com]
“One of my fondest memories of M.J. is the first time he and I sat down to write out a set list for the show. He showed me a computer print out of what the fans voted as the songs they most wanted to hear, and then he showed me his own handwritten list of what he wanted based on that information. He asked me my opinion and I told him I liked it so far, but he didn't have any J5 or "Off The Wall" stuff on the list. He said, 'I don't?' and grabbed it, looked at it and then balled it up. We had a very difficult time trying to get that list together. If we did all of his hits, he would have been on the stage for about two weeks. What was great about the time we had together that day was seeing firsthand the love and passion he had for pleasing his fans and wanting to make sure they were getting what they wanted from our show. I don't think I've ever worked with an artist that loved his fans more!”
[Darryl Phinnessee, backing vocalist on Jackson’s Bad, Dangerous, HIStory tours and ‘This Is It’ rehearsals; source: http://newamericamedia.org]
[Freddie Washington, HIStory Tour bass player; source: http://newamericamedia.org]
“The fondest memory I have of Michael Jackson was when we were on the 1996 HIStory Tour in Australia, we all had Thanksgiving dinner together and my 5-year-old son went up to him and took a photo of Michael. He thought it was so funny and just cracked up. I will mostly miss his bigger-than-life heart.”
“My fondest memory is just watching him be himself and seeing the energy and love that he brought to the rehearsals and show, and to have been a part of a time of wonder and beauty that may never come again. He truly was one of a kind. Also, I have a picture from Christmas in Japan when I was dressed up as Santa Claus, and he sat on my lap and took a picture pulling down my beard. Michael just being Michael and doing the things he loved to do with an energy that was uplifting and energizing. It still makes me very sad to realize he is no longer with us on this planet, and yet he will forever be in our hearts.”
[Akasha Richmond, Michael Jackson’s personal chef during Bad Tour and HIStory Tour; source: http://newamericamedia.org]
[Darlene Donloe, publicist on first half of Jackson's HIStory Tour; source: http://newamericamedia.org]
lped make sure he got it.] […] [I knew Michael Jackson better than most in Central Florida. For about five years, back in the 80’s, I did his hair every time he came to town]. […] [When Michael walked in, he was treated like everyone else and paid the same price as everyone else. He sat down in the chair to get his hair washed and the cost for a Jheri curl was $65.”
“I was devastated (when I learned he had died). First, I really didn't believe it. […] I used to ask him about the tabloids and he would tell me he didn't know about most of that stuff until he read it. [I had to sneak Michael in my shop after hours and I always treated him like another customer.] Here he didn't run into that problem at all. He got all the privacy he wanted. [In return, Michael bought the salon one of the first ever VCR-TV combos. He also gave us an autographed poster.] He's a wonderful person and he's going to be missed. It's a shame. He's really going to be missed.”
“It was an unbelievable experience that was surreal. I spent a day with Michael that has always been special and memorable, but now is sacred. It was 2004 and Michael was in need of dental care. He introduced himself as if he was an ordinary guy that I had never heard of. Soft spoken, gentle, and kind, talked highly of his family and had the utmost appreciation for what I was doing for him. He signed autographs, took pictures with us, and even sang. A private concert that I get to replay in my mind selfishly. The effect he had on everyone in the room was intense, and even more meaningful now. It was a privilege to have met him and I only hope he knew the way he touched our lives forever. There will never be another person as gifted as Michael in both music and life.”
“I recall the day I met Michael Jackson backstage in America. He came to see ELO when we played in Los Angeles back in 1978. He was ushered backstage and came to shake hands with us all. He seemed cheerful but rather shy, and there wasn't any conversation between us. But I was told that he liked our music, and that was quite a compliment. […] I was a huge fan of his music during the late 1970's and 1980's. […] I went to see him in concert at Wembley Stadium - I think it was on the Bad tour - and it was one of the best shows I had ever seen. As a live performer he was fantastic. He was the best dancer on the planet, too. It's best that we all remember him that way than for all the personal problems he faced.”
[Beverley Bevan (of Electric Light Orchestra); source: www.positivelymichael.com]
“[I first met Michael Jackson and his brothers in 1971, (and this triggered) a 38-year obsession with him that would include several personal encounters and trips to over 100 concerts.] I went to the concert and the man told me they would be in Winston-Salem the next morning. [When the group came back to Greensboro for its '72 concert, I got an unbelievable opportunity to deliver a cake to the Jacksons at their Winston-Salem hotel room.] I went to deliver the cake and the guard said, 'Just go on up, there's nobody there.' So I went up and I stayed. [And I took pictures. Lots of them. Michael Jackson performed in Greensboro at least six times in the 1970’s: four times with The Jackson 5 and twice with The Jacksons. Over the years, I had several additional meetings with Michael Jackson: in Greensboro, Knoxville and elsewhere. I went to every Michael Jackson concert within reasonable distance.] Over a hundred, maybe more. I would do three or four a year. [I even went on a trip to Los Angeles, where he gave me a tour of his parents' home.] I was standing outside and Michael came up and recognized me, and he invited me and another lady came in and gave me a tour of the house. People would say he's just an entertainer. He was more than an entertainer; he was a person. I will miss him. I will miss the fun times we did have, even though they were rare times that we had a chance to see him. It was nice.”
[Carlene Allen, long-time Michael Jackson fan; source: www.positivelymichael.com]
“[…] After "Beat It", he abruptly changed all the key players he did business with, including me. I had noticed that he had a pattern of changing managers, lawyers, and accountants after major professional successes, and he repeated it after Thriller's huge success. I suppose he didn't want his associates to rest on their laurels, and then he wanted the incoming team to challenge and surpass the achievements of the outgoing one. And no one can argue with Michael's success. He ascended, unchallenged, to take the throne as the King Of Pop.”
[Todd Gray, photographer; source: http://dangerouspyt.com]
“From the time I was five years old, I have been singing in studios all over NYC for commercials, demos and even music albums. My sister, brother and I have sung on albums for Gloria Estefan, Liza Minelli, Maureen McGovern and even soloed on the Canadian Brass Christmas album. One day, my mother got a call from our contractor booking us for a recording at the Hit Factory. We weren't allowed to know for whom we were singing and we were only allowed one parent per child. Our interest was peaked. We spent the next few days trying to figure out who this mystery recording could be for. We decided to bring three CD covers with us - Frank Sinatra (he was still alive at the time), Madonna and Michael Jackson.
We went to the studio and some guy told us we were going to be singing one word... "Childhood". He sang it for us once or twice, then began recording. All we heard in the cans (headphones) were tracks with no lead vocal. We still couldn't figure out what or whom this was for. After singing the one word a few times, I saw a man behind the glass in the recording studio step forward out of the darkness with a black hat, a red shirt and a black curl in front of his face. On the talkback we heard, "Can you sing it a little more like this... Childhood." As soon as I heard the voice I grabbed my sister's hand and spoke without moving my lips, "It's MICHAEL JACKSON!!!!"
I cooly sang "Childhood" about a dozen more times and the engineer thanked us and said we were done. We went back to the green room where our parents were waiting and I grabbed the Bad album cover from my mom and brought it to Michael's assistant. I asked her if she could please bring it to Michael and have him sign it. The other kids who sang with us began ripping little pieces of paper for him to sign. They were no where near as prepared as my family!! The assistant said "Let me see what I can do", and she disappeared for about five minutes. She came back and said, "Can I have all of the kids follow me?" We followed her to a door in the Hit Factory that had a star on it and said "Jackson". We went into the room and there he was, greeting us at the door with a hand shake and a smile and telling us that it was a pleasure to meet us. Can you imagine? A pleasure to meet us?? His room was filled with (…) life-size cut-outs of the Power Rangers, a train set, and a giant globe that rotated. He had pictures of children that he had helped attached to the country they were from. Michael had many questions for us, like if any of us went to camp for the summer. He said that he always asked his parents if he could go to summer camp, because it looked like so much fun and of course they told him no!! This was right around the time when the media was questioning whether or not he had married Lisa Marie Presley. I noticed a ring on his hand and I said, "So does that ring mean you are married to Lisa Marie?" He nodded his head yes and said "shhhhhh". We chatted for a while, he signed our album cover and we went home having what I thought was the greatest day of my life.
A week or two later my mother got another call from our contractor. This time she said Michael wanted to have us back to the studio to record a Christmas song. It was July, but when we got to the studio, it was decorated for the holidays. There was snow all over the ground, a tree, Santa who gave us all presents (we each got a Gameboy... tells you how long ago this was!!) and reindeer. Michael came walking right into the studio this time and didn't hide behind the glass. I guess he felt more comfortable with us this time. He taught us the song himself and stayed with us in the sound booth as we were singing it. After we recorded the song, he invited our parents into the studio and had the whole thing catered. We sat around the piano as he played the piano and we all sang Christmas songs. It's just like Christmas Eve at the Elefante's (my in-laws)!!!
So on June 25th, when the whole world was in shock of Michael Jackson's death, these were the memories that all came flooding back for me.”
“[…] In 1998, I had a short chat with Michael Jackson (…). We were both at a small amfAR benefit in L.A. to honor Dr. Arnold Klein, Jackson's dermatologist. I had never heard about Klein until this night, but apparently amfAR was founded in his LA home (…). But this isn't about Klein -- it's about Michael and me. He came with his wife at the time, Debbie Rowe, but, for an awkward moment, I saw him standing alone during the cocktail reception. So I walked up and introduced myself. I thanked him for his AIDS charity work, and told him I was amfAR's token HIV positive board member. He was painfully shy. I asked him what he was up to these days, and to be honest, I don't really remember his reply -- something about a casino project, I think. A few seconds later, the amfAR photographer asked for our shot, and (…) Michael put his arm around me, with his un-white-gloved hand on my shoulder, and smiled.”
“I like Michael for the person he was, not so much as the superstar. […] It was back in 1970 (when I first met him). […] I was one on the first people to get a job at the Riverfront stadium. That year, the Reds were playing in the World Series. They had hired more people to work there for the series, and the ones who (have) been there the longest got to work the blue section. Frankie and I got to work the guest room. The Jackson 5 was there to sing the “Star Spangled Banner”, but did not know the words to the song. Frankie and I had went into the room and found Michael sitting on the floor crying. I just could not stand seeing this little boy scared like that. He wanted me to go away, but I couldn't. Frankie was all for leaving, but I could not just walk out on the kid. Frankie tried singing the “Star Spangled Banner”, but he did know all the words. I knew the words, but I made a mess of it too. Frankie started making fun of me and I took a pillow off the couch and threw it at him and missed. He picked up another pillow and smacked me good. Michael started laughing at us, so I smacked him with a pillow. Next thing I knew, the three of us were having a pillow fight. Soon, these dudes came in and ran Frankie and me off. On the way out the door, Frankie told Michael ‘If you don't know the words, fake it’. Well, the Jackson 5 did an OK job and Frankie and I lost our jobs.”
“My ex-husband was a sound tech at the (Record One) studio. I was in and out of the place with my daughter and knew most of the people who worked there. […] Michael, Sarah and some other kids were in his office there, drawing and coloring. One of the staff kept coming in and trying to talk Michael into going into the studio and getting some work done. Michael wanted to stay with the kids. Someone else came and tried to talk Michael into going to work. Michael would not listen. After the person left, I took a pillow from the floor and hit Michael with it. If looks could kill, I would be dead. I asked him if he want to sing the “Star Spangled Banner”. And if he didn't know the words, fake it. He was so cute when he smiled. I took a chance and he remembered. Then told the kids he'd be right back and went off to the studio. I packed up Sarah and went home. We were asked to come back the next day. […] Then it was not time for Michael to be in the studio, we watched movies or cartoons. "Who framed Roger Rabbit" had just came out and we watched it. […] Sarah use to have at least a haft of dozen of them. They were like thank-you cards. I gave him a stuff toy of Roger Rabbit. He gave her a photo. I gave him a VCR tape. He gave her another photo and so on.”
“I never saw him play with toys. He did collect small action figures. He kept them in a large glass display case. […] [He like to draw and color with the kids.] He got my daughter interested (in) art.
“[I was 3 years old went I met Michael Jackson. […] When I was young, I didn't know any men with long hair and lighter voices, so when I met Michael, I thought he was a girl. He does have a vibrant personality too! […] I roughly know, because it was a long time ago, but mom said that he thought I was a really funny girl. [...] [I had been in and out of studios since she I was born. When I was a baby, my father worked in the sound department at 20th Century Fox. We spent a lot of time there. In fact, the house we were renting, at the time was owned by Jack Wolf. He was the headman at the sound department. […] Ain't it cool? I feel super special having that many famous people around me when I was a toddler. […] Like I said, it was a long time ago, I remember being with him and other people doing art and watching TV. […] He was a fun person to be around with. […] One time he put a rabbit mask on and acted really hilarious towards us. One time he was at the studio sounding like Elmer Fudd because he had a flu bug. [The weekend before, he had a group of children at the ranch and came back with a cold.] […] I roughly remember it was cartoons and some other shows (that we watched). […] “Who Framed Rodger Rabbit”, “Duffy Duck”, and all kinds of cartoons. […] Being around him back then is the biggest memory of all! […] Yes, indeed, (I am a big fan of his,) ever since I was little. […] It's 'Bad' 'Thriller', and 'Dangerous', mostly every album of his music made in the 80’s and 90’s (that are my favorites). Also, my favorite video is and always (will be) “Moonwalker”. It inspired me into music, science fiction, and it also inspired me to help others. […] The way I remember it, he was at the studio for about 3 or 4 weeks. […] (If I could see Michael today, I would tell him: ) ‘Thank you for your help and the inspiration you gave us with your awesome music. Hope your goals for world peace will come true one day soon.”
“I seized the moment. I was living at Robert Evans’ house at the time, and the interesting thing about his home was that you never knew who was going to be there. This particular night, amongst the guests was Michael Jackson. I’ve been a fan of his since grade school. Every Sunday, my favorite show would air a Michael Jackson video. My mother and I would watch it (…) and practice all his moves. Then the neighbors started coming over and it became a regular thing. When I met him, he was sitting on the sofa, just observing the crowd. He didn’t have a slew of people surrounding him. As I approached him, he smiled so sweetly and said, “Hi, I’m Michael,” in a soft, Disney-like whisper. I told him what a huge fan I was and how his music and dancing shaped my upbringing. “Thank you, thank you so much,” he chimed. I said I would be honored if he would allow me to take his photograph and he demurely said, “Of course.” […] I wanted to capture what was in front of me and not recreate something that wasn’t there. Meeting him was like seeing a unicorn, because over the years he’s become a fairytale legend, something that’s based in fantasy. […] No, he wasn’t (self-conscious when I photographed him). He was meek, he was kind and fragile and yet the biggest superstar in the world! He’s a dichotomy; he’s like no one else. […] For the most part, I’ve noticed my subjects of stature exude strength and confidence and it’s no surprise that they are where they are. Though the photo of Michael Jackson, for instance, I think is very vulnerable. It depends on the person, not their station in life.”
“As much as the headlines may say otherwise, what happened (…) was not justice. True justice shouldn't feel as empty and pointless as this. “Justice" is not having some clown of a doctor act so criminally negligent with Michael's life that he ends up killing him . . . then receives such a pitiful sentence. That's not natural justice. That's "justice" on paper for the prosecutors and courts to record as another conviction secured. For us as a family, it feels like justice - in the true, hard-hitting, let-the-punishment-match-the-crime sense of the word - has been denied by a technicality.
Let me tell you what justice should have - and could have - looked like: Dr Conrad Murray charged with, and convicted of, second-degree murder and sent down for decades. A life incarcerated for the life lost because of his reckless choices, inept skills and breathtaking disregard of the human life in his solo care. As someone who sat through the evidence at trial before Murray was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter, I know there was enough legal justification to charge this case as second-degree murder. In the US, the malice is deemed "implied" if a person's negligence is so unbelievably reckless. As Murray's was. I also know the District Attorney's office in LA seriously considered this route. But they opted for the less risky, more conviction-likely, safer option when the overwhelming evidence screamed for a stronger charge. That is why, when I watched Murray being sentenced at LA Superior Court (…), I felt more like shrugging my shoulders than punching the air. Because I was witnessing the due process go through the motions for the soft sentence that involuntary manslaughter carries.
I don't blame Judge Michael Pastor. The maximum sentence could only be four years by law. From the start, this case, its truth and the wider circumstances leading up to Michael's death, have been placed in a straitjacket. Judge Pastor's hands were tied and he gave him the maximum sentence, but four years feels woefully insufficient. What I appreciated was how the judge "disassociated" himself from all suggestions that Michael would have died with or without Murray's involvement. That lie, that Michael somehow self-administered or contributed to his own death, was sent to jail with the rest of Murray's lies. […] Murray's recklessness has robbed our family of a son, brother and uncle. It has deprived Prince, Paris and Blanket of a wonderful father who doted on them. It has deprived the world of a genius artist whose music would have kept on evolving. And it denied Michael the greatest comeback of all time - the comeback he had imagined for such a long time. He was on the verge of turning over a new leaf in his life. The This Is It concerts in London were just the beginning of a five-year plan to turn things around and restore some financial security. He was even finalising a (…) downpayment on a home in Las Vegas. This payment was one of the last things he spoke about at rehearsals before heading home for that ill-fated, sleepless night. Murray's recklessness denied Michael the new, exciting future he had his heart set on. I have seen some ill-informed reactions that have painted Murray as some kind of "scapegoat" and that my brother's death was due to his "addiction to drugs". None of which is true — as all evidence proved. For the record, Michael had no dependency on the painkiller Demerol at the time of his death, as was claimed in court. […] But circumstances in 2001 did not kill him in 2009, despite Murray's defence team doing its best to link the past to the future. Bottom line: There was no Demerol found in his house or in his body. So much for him being "an addict".
Michael, a chronic insomniac, died because he wanted to sleep, not because he wanted to get high, and he trusted Murray to ensure this happened by administering an unorthodox measure - the anaesthetic propofol. Michael regarded this sleep-inducing drug as the only effective solution to an insomnia triggered by touring. Propofol is like a gun - safe in the right hands, but in the wrong hands, it's deadly. Michael placed his life in Murray's wrong hands. One of the toughest aspects of the trial was realising how saveable Michael was. Had Murray monitored him, instead of wandering off to ring his girlfriends, he'd have seen that Michael had stopped breathing. Had he had the standard life-saving equipment and rang 911 and not stalled for 15 inexplicable minutes, there was always a real chance of life. Had he not kept hidden from paramedics the vital fact he'd administered propofol. Had he been a trained professional who knew what he was doing, Michael would still be alive today.
I remain haunted by the endless list of "Had he done this . . . " I also remain haunted by the wider truths that hide beneath the surface of the Murray case. […] I think the story behind his decline in health and his treatment by certain people - topics that were never fully explored at trial because of the narrow scope of evidence - is troubling. From what eyewitnesses shared with me (…), too many people kept their eye on the prize of a money-spinning (‘This Is It’) concert and lost sight of the frail human being at its centre.
Based on the dire condition Michael was in, This Is It should have been shut down by June 20. In other words, he was saveable long before June 25 when he died. […] It is within the arena of a wrongful death civil lawsuit against the concert promoter AEG which is where some wider truths will, I hope, be examined. The conviction and sentencing of Murray is the first step towards a greater justice.
Nothing can bring Michael back. Nothing can change the meagre reality surrounding Murray's sentencing. But it is our duty to his memory to bring out the truth of what happened to him. Maybe then we'll start to feel better vindicated. Maybe then we'll feel less empty. Maybe then we'll be able to rest, knowing "truth" is sometimes the definition of true justice.”
[Jermaine Jackson – interviewed by (tabloid) “The Sun”]
“When I went to Neverland Ranch, ( I saw) Michael’s sanctuary, I was in his bedroom. You looked out and you could see a giant oak tree. What I remembered about young Michael was, he loved to climb trees… He loved it so much, that he would sometimes sleep up in the tree, he would write in that tree - he wrote the ‘Dangerous’ album in that tree. He wrote a lot of poetry there, he painted there and did drawings in that tree as well. It was really the source of his inspiration. […]”
[Jamie King,creative director and choreographer; source: http://m.lasvegassun.com]
“This enchanting and whimsical painting, “Study for Field of Dreams" is called a 'Study’, because it was never truly completed. As David Nordhal told it, "The idea began in May, 1989, and Michael and I continued to work on developing this painting until I finished a study version of it in April, 1993. If we would have gone on and completed this work, it would have been 12 feet high and 38 feet long. I did hundreds and hundreds of drawings for this painting. Some of the children are Michael as a young boy, Janet Jackson, a cousin of Michael’s, Ryan White, Macaulay Culkin, and some of our friends’ children.” To compete the full scale work, Nordhal needed additional artists, but he was unable to secure commitments from qualified painters for the time required.
(As) David Nordahl began sketches for this work, Michael sent him this note: "David, if our kids don't have the truth in heart of expression, then we're dead. It'll be as fake as manufactured flowers with no fragrance ~ not studio shots, but kids in real life, candid situations. We MUST capture the true life spirit of the wonders of childhood. If our picture has a full spectrum of human emotions; belief, truth, heart ~ then the entire world will be touched from generation to generation ~ immortality. Conquer the world ~ Love, MJ” ~ Nordhal says he received many such “stream-of-consciousness” missives from Michael, saying, “Michael always thought big, and he was so eager to be a force for good.”
[Article by “Michael Jackson: What About The Man”; source: www.facebook.com]
ld and he recorded a song I co-wrote, “Little Christmas Tree”. I met him and his family at the Tokyo Music Festival in 1974, and had a chance to tell him how much I liked his recording of my song. I also told him that he was one of my biggest dance influences, which made him smile, considering I was three times his age. When I told Michael that I was a songplugger and I couldn’t go out dancing late at night like I once did, he said “Artie… why don’t you build a dance floor in your office?”. As soon as I got back to Hollywood, Warner Brothers Music built me a four foot circular plywood dance floor, but a few months later when I went to run A&M’s publishing company, they constructed a six foot mahogany one for me! To this day, I’m proud to tell everyone that it was Michael Jackson’s idea.
The last time I was in touch with him was when he was about to do the “Thriller” album. He was holding onto one of my songs for over a year, and even made a few suggestions to improve the bridge, but in the end he didn’t record it. I was still grateful for the opportunity. From now until the end of time, millions of words will be written about him and his influence in music, dance, and fashion, but the most important gift he has given the world is everlasting hope and inspiration. Thank you Michael and R.I.P. […] ~ Respectfully, Artie.”
[Artie Wayne, semi-retired record producer, award winning songwriter, and active blogger; source: http://artiewayne.wordpress.com]
“It’s summer of 1973 and Ed Silvers, President of Warner Brothers Music, is losing his patience with me. He thinks I’m spending far too much time trying to get our songs cut at Motown. Although I secure songs in our catalog by some of their biggest artists, they’re only album cuts. Ed is convinced that I’ll never get a single released by Motown. I know at this point that the only way I could have a chance for a hit and escape the wrath of Ed, is to get a cover by the Jackson 5 or little Michael. There was only one staff writer at Warner Brothers Music who could write in a classic R+B style, George S. Clinton, Jr. I go to the two producers who love George’s writing the most, Jerry Marcellino and Mel Larson, who just had big hits with 12 year old Michael on “Rockin’ Robin” and “Little Bitty Pretty One” (which was my suggestion). They tell me that “Ben”, from the movie of the same name, is racing up the charts and Berry Gordy wants each of his producers to start recording new sides with him. I sit with Jerry and Mel and we talk about what kind of song they should record with Michael. I suggest a Christmas song, one so commercial, that it could be the follow(-)up single to, “Ben”. When I see their eyes light up, I tell them that George S. Clinton, Jr. and I have started such a song! When they ask to hear it, I tell them we were still working on it, when in fact we hadn’t even started! I can’t tell them the title, ’cause there isn’t any! I do tell them, however, that it’s a true story of how my girlfriend left me out in the cold like the last tree in a Christmas tree lot, which is left unsold on Christmas Eve. They freak out and say they had to have the finished song by Monday. I say, “No problem”.
I call George, who knows nothing about any of this, as soon as I get back to my office. He can’t believe I told them we’d have a finished song to them by Monday, when it’s Friday and we haven’t even started. Saturday morning, we meet at my office. It’s the middle of summer, about 90 degrees, but we have to get in a Christmas Mood. As I tell George about my break(-)up with Diana last Christmas, then I start to throw Ivory Snowflakes around the room. Soon, we have the first verse and chorus.”
“Little Christmas Tree,/Looking sorta’ sad and lonely just like me,/No one seems to care, they just went away/And left him standing there…/All alone on Christmas Eve!”
On Monday morning, George does a piano voice demo, and I get it to Jerry and Mel that afternoon. They love it so much, that they knock one of their own songs off the date and cut ours. I’m almost in tears when I hear the finished record the following week with the news that it’s being considered for the follow-up to “Ben”, which had just hit number one! You can imagine how I feel a few weeks later when Berry Gordy, Jr. decides not put out any follow(-)up to the Oscar nominated “Ben”, until the Academy Awards are given out… which is after Christmas! A few days later, I come up with a plan and present it to Motown. I suggest that the company puts a double(-)albums worth of previously recorded Christmas songs by each of their hit artists, along with “Little Christmas Tree”. The double album is called “A Motown Christmas”, which includes cuts by Stevie Wonder, The Supremes, The Temptations, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Diana Ross, and it’s released just in time for the holidays. […]"
Copyright 1973/2009 by Warner Brothers Music
“[…] We’re mainly just glad that the case is over with (…). I mean, the biggest thing (is) Michael’s not coming back. We were gonna get in touch with that, I mean, we all have to come to that, and to all of – everybody out there, you know, we miss him, too. We miss him. But as far as Conrad Murray goes, like I said, nobody’s perfect. He got sentenced, but then again, we got the American justice system to deal with, so he could be in and out. He was, to me, in short - he was an illegal drug dealer. But if you bust a drug dealer on the street and catch him with something, he is gonna be serving 5, 10, 15, 20 (years), they’re gonna try put him under the damn jail and and bury him in it. Where he (Murray) just comes and kills a man who was, honestly, putting his life in this man’s hands, because he thought he was a doctor. And he killed him. And he’s getting little to nothing. […] No, there is no good outcome to it, and I can’t sit here and say that I wish him harm, I mean I’m only a human being. For me and him happening to be in a back alley, then, you know, what happens is what happens, only one of us might come out. But in all truthful(ness), whatever is gonna happen is gonna happen – put him in public population, let him see what happens, don’t treat him special(ly), treat him, I mean – he took a man’s life. […] I just really want everybody to remember to is, even through what happened with Conrad Murray and everything, just remember what type of person my uncle was. He wouldn’t want us to sit here being mad, because life does go on. Just, truly and honestly, remember the times that you did have with him. Remember what he gave to you. … Rest in peace.”
[Sigmund Esco “Dealz” Jackson, Jr.; source: www.youtube.com]
“He was probably – he was the best father than anybody could ever have, because, you know, he raised us the right way and there’s, like, nothing that (one) could ever do to make us forget about it.”
[Prince Jackson, Michael’s son]
“[…] In September 2011, former assistant District Attorney, (and Sneddon’s lieutenant during the 2005 trial) Ron Zonen married his longtime girlfriend (and prosecution witness) Louise Palanker. She describes herself as a “writer/producer/author/comedian/filmmaker/performer/teacher/philanthropist and enthusiastic typer of ////s”. I don’t know about her other descriptions, but she certainly is a good comedian! Her testimony during the trial is absolute proof of that! She actually helped the defense by proving that the Arvizos were a bunch of celebrity grifters! Here is a summary from Day 17 of the trial:
- Day 17, which Judge Melville announced would only be a half day, featured the testimony of a comedian who gave $20,000 to the family of the boy now accusing Michael Jackson of molestation. She testified Tuesday that she received a tearful phone call from the boy’s mother that led her to believe the family was being held against its will. Comedian Louise Palanker said she tried to get in touch with the mother after seeing the TV documentary “Living With Michael Mr. Jackson”, in which Mr. Jackson and his accuser held hands and Mr. Jackson acknowledged letting children sleep in his bed. Palanker was called by the prosecution in an effort to support the charge that Mr. Jackson conspired to hold the family captive after the documentary aired on Feb. 6, 2003, in order to get them to make a rebuttal video praising Mr. Jackson. On the witness stand, Palanker said soon after she left a message with the boy’s grandparents, the mother called her and sounded frightened. “She was extremely agitated and she was almost whispering. … This was fear-based agitation,” Palanker said. The mother told her not to call her back at the same number, the witness said. Palanker quoted the mother as saying: “Don’t call me back here. They’re listening to everything I say. These people are evil.” Palanker said that she believed the boy’s mother suffered from a “hostage syndrome” that made her feel trapped. She did not say where the mother was at the time of the call. The comedian said she called her attorney after the call. She did not call the police. The defense contends the boy’s mother exploited relationships with Palanker and other celebrities to get money. With Palanker’s testimony, the prosecution sought to show it was the now-estranged father who did that. Louise Palanker said she believed the woman had felt like a hostage since she became married at age 16 to a man who allegedly abused her. The comedian told jurors how the accuser’s family, who claimed to be poverty-stricken, joined classes in 1999 at the Laugh Factory comedy club in Hollywood and received help from comics including George Lopez and Chris Tucker. Palanker said she once gave the family $10,000, so they could take time off work and cover personal expenses while the boy was being treated for cancer in 2000. “I was in a position where I could help this family and I didn’t want someone to ever be alone in a hospital,” she said. But within two weeks of the first gift, she said, the father asked her for another $10,000 to fix up a germ-free room for the boy when he came home. She obliged and later visited the room, where she found the family had bought a large-screen TV and DVD for the boy, expenditures she considered to be poor money management. She said the contractor sent to fix up the room was never paid, and eventually decided to consider his work a gift to the boy.
Palanker said she and Jamie Masada, owner of the Laugh Factory, organized two benefits for the family at the father’s urging, but by the time of the second benefit, Lopez refused to perform, because the father and boy had accused Lopez and his wife of stealing $300 from the boy’s wallet. “They were irate,” Palanker said of the Lopezes. “They thought (the father) was lying.” When Lopez refused to perform at the final benefit, she said, the father picked up a pile of cash that had been raised. “He threw it at Jamie and said, ‘I don’t want your money,’” Palanker said, adding that the father eventually took it. After that benefit, she said, her contact with the family “became less and less” until the call from the mother.
Mr. Jackson’s attorney questioned Palanker about the family’s interest in meeting celebrities. “Did you say at any time that they were trying to latch on to celebrities to get out of their situation?” Mr. Mesereau asked. “Latch on to anyone that could help them,” said Palanker. Palanker acknowledged the family “liked to make phone calls” to celebrities – including Jay Leno, who contacted Palanker. “He told me they had left three messages on his voice mail,” she said, acknowledging that Jay Leno did ask her to tell the family to stop calling him. On top of that, after her abysmal testimony, she had the temerity to accuse Mesereau of “twisting her words around” and making the current case “like the O.J. Simpson and Robert Blake” cases! She told Jamie Masada her thoughts on Mesereau after her testimony, and before his.
Here is a summary from MJEOL:
Louise Palanker seems to have a problem with Tom Mesereau. Palanker was called out repeatedly about the prior insulting and inconsistent statements she made about the family. Apparently, through the testimony of Jamie Masada, the owner of the Laugh Factory –who claims to have “introduced” the accuser to Jackson - Palanker had the gall to claim Mesereau was making this “case” into another O.J. Simpson or Robert Blake. […] Masada admitted to talking to Palanker about her testimony on the stand after she testified and before his testimony on March 29, 2005. Palanker seems to have a problem with being caught either lying on the stand or lying to police during an interview she didn’t know was being taped by the police. An Associated Press (AP) report by Linda Deutsch titled “Witness Lashes Out at Jackson’s Attorney”, dated March 29, 2005, details Masada’s testimony about the apparently unfunny Palanker. The tone changed when Masada, who owns the Laugh Factory club in Hollywood, was asked by Mesereau about comedian Louise Palanker, who testified last week. “She wants to be a comic,” he said. “We help them. Sometimes you have to give them bad news.” “You’ve told her she’s not funny?” asked Mesereau. “Let me tell you,” Masada said. “I find you more funny than she is.” Masada said Palanker had been in touch with him since she testified and that she once referred to O.J. Simpson’s acquittal in the 1994 killings of his ex-wife and her friend and Blake’s recent acquittal in the 2003 slaying of his wife. “She said that you have made this court like O.J.’s court or Robert Blake’s court, and you lied and changed the words around,” Masada said. Mesereau asked the alleged “comedian” about her transcribed and recorded statements to the police. We’re still in the process of going through Palanker’s cross-examination via the transcripts and she came up with some doozies. She was caught on tape by police - again, she didn’t know the police were taping that interview - insulting the mother and the family; calling the mother bipolar, saying the family is “as wacky as they wanna be” and she even called Masada a “pathological liar“.
Now THAT’S comedy!
The fact that Zonen married Palanker (…) isn’t even the biggest aspect of this post; it’s the fact that both Gavin and Star Arvizo were at the wedding! And Palanker literally thumbed her nose at the fan community by publishing the photos of them on her public Facebook page! And on top of that, she originally tagged them to their OFFICIAL personal Facebook pages as well! And if that wasn’t enough, Diane Dimond was there too! It’s truly amazing how everyone involved with the allegations is linked to each other, as shown by this flowchart from The VERITAS Project. I don’t believe it was an accident; Palanker knew exactly what she was doing, and she quickly removed the photos after they received numerous angry messages from fans. I personally believed that she wanted to pour salt in the wounds of grieving fans during the trial (…). Their lies set the wheels in motion of what would be the destruction of Michael Jackson! The joy she felt from upsetting so many fans far outweighed the privacy of the Arvizos! I would have posted the photos here when they first hit the internet, but I decided to wait until after the trial is over.
According to Gavin’s profile, he attends Emory University, located in Georgia, which is where the family moved after the trial. Star graduated from Georgia Military College with an associate’s degree in Business Administration, and is now attending Georgia State University. Ironically, Star lists God as one of the people who “inspires” him! Gavin also graduated from Georgia Military College. Here is the Summer 2009 Dean’s List; Gavin was on the President’s List for having a GPA of at least 3.7. Here is an official newsletter from Summer 2009, and Gavin is listed on Page 3. I did some research, and found some startling information! It seems that Zonen was correct, and Gavin really is trying to become a lawyer! He recently participated in Emory University’s Mock Trial program! Here is the proof (this is the bombshell info that I found tonight!):
Here is the official Facebook page of the group:
Here is how I found out he was involved: I did a Google search of “Emory University Gavin Arvizo”, and I stumbled upon the comment from Brandon Bullard, who gave well wishes to Gavin, who was preparing to take the Law School Admission Test. The team also wished Gavin a happy birthday on September 13th! How nice of them! […] Here is Zonen’s description of Gavin from last year’s “Frozen In Time” seminar:
“Where is he today? He’s twenty years old. He’s a 3rd year student at a very prominent university on the east coast. I’m not going to mention the name of the school, but anyone who would like to know come see me, I’ll tell you. He’s an Honor student who has a 3.5 GPA, and a double major in Philosophy and History, and he’s planning on going to Law School! Some of you will agree with that, and some of you won’t. He’s a deeply religious young man, in a relationship with a young woman, for about 2 years, the daughter of a minister. He attends church on a regular basis. He doesn’t drink, doesn’t do drugs. He’s delightful in his presentation. I spent time with him only a month ago. And he’s really doing remarkable well. He has never asked for or taken a penny from anybody about any of the activity of this case. Never. There are standing offers from the press for his story for enough money that would cover his tuition, which is considerable, never mind that he’s on a 50% scholarship. But he has never taken a penny from anybody, and no intention of doing so. He’s accruing debt like college kids do today, but he’s doing just fine. I assume that we’ll have more questions coming up about jury selection, and the trial, and I’ll be happy to answer them at that time.”
I think it’s highly probably that as soon as Gavin earns his law degree (assuming he’s accepted to law school), he will surely have doors opened for him, as Zonen and Sneddon will give him excellent “character” references! […] Gavin is more than qualified for a career in the legal field! […] I am sending this message out so that MJ fans can keep abreast of what (they) (…) are up to, but not to harass them, because it’s pointless. If M.J. could move on and not have malice in his heart towards them, then so can we.
(Update: Both Gavin and Star have changed their privacy settings, and you cannot send them any messages or friend requests.)
[…] Dimond is friends with two of the “Neverland 5″: Melanie Bagnall and Adrian McManus! You can read more about McManus’s laughable testimony in this post (Bullet point #6), and in this post. (Kassim Abdool, Ralph Chacon, and Sandy Domz are the other “Neverland 5″ members.) They also sold their stories to Maureen Orth and Victor Gutierrez, and you can read this post to see how their lawyer was fined $28,350 for not disclosing their interviews to a judge before their civil trial! Bagnall and McManus are also FB friends as well, as you can imagine!
Here is Dimond and her buddy Zonen. How many journalists remain friends with the lawyers that they cover? […] Yes, that’s Jason Pfeiffer in the photo below! The same guy who, along with MJ’s “friend” Arnold Klein, sold a story claiming to be MJ’s gay lover ON THE SAME DAY that Aphrodite Jones aired her documentary on Investigation Discovery! Nikki Allygator debunked that trash in this post!
[…] You’ll see that Dimond is truly being a guardian angel for Star! (She isn’t FB friends with Gavin, but that doesn’t mean that they’re not in touch!) I wonder what type of advice and mentoring she’s giving them?
[sanemjfan; source; http://vindicatemj.wordpress.com]
“(!) […] Very few people know, for example, that Ray Chandler went to law school after the 1993 case and it was exactly that law school where Tom Sneddon taught law!
Veritas Project about Ray Chandler:
“One could wonder how Ray Chandler, a lawyer since 2001, could commit such an act of fraud in a book not even worth the paper it is written on. However, considering that Chandler got his “law” degree from the very college where Tom Sneddon “teaches” law students every unethical thing he knows, one has to assume that Chandler took notes well from his master.” -- Veritas Project on The Main Players in the Michael Jackson Case (January, 2005) […]”
Sneddon and the Chandlers
(1) District Attorney Tom Sneddon, who attempted to bring charges against Michael Jackson in 1993 and who is now prosecuting the current case against Jackson, is on the faculty at the Santa Barbara College of Law. Ray Chandler, (2-3) the uncle of the boy who accused Jackson of sexual abuse in 1993, studied law at the Santa Barbara College of Law and is currently a real estate lawyer.
(4) Dave Schwartz, the stepfather of Jackson’s first accuser, is the founder of Rent-a-Wreck, a car rental agency that is represented by the public relations firm Tellem. After Jackson was arrested in 2003, Tellem offered Tom Sneddon their services – for free.
The Chandlers’ Former Attorneys and their Ability to Find “Victims”
(5) Civil lawyer Larry Feldman represented Jordan Chandler, the boy who accused Michael Jackson of sexual abuse in 1993.
(6) Feldman sent Jordan Chandler to see psychiatrist Stan Katz for an evaluation.
(7) In 1993, Jackson’s former maid, Blanca Francia, was deposed by civil lawyer Larry Feldman for the Chandlers’ lawsuit. In the deposition, Francia claimed to have seen Jackson act inappropriately with other children, including her own son. She later recanted these statements, but members of the District Attorney’s office often refer to Francia’s son as an alleged victim of Jackson’s.
(8) After getting in contact with Larry Feldman, Gavin Arvizo accused Michael Jackson of sexual abuse; the boy was then sent to see Dr. Katz.
(9). Note that less than four months earlier, Gavin Arvizo and his family had vehemently defended Jackson on numerous occasions. Feldman is not the only former attorney for the Chandlers who can’t seem to stay away from the Jackson case.
(10) The Chandlers’ first attorney, Gloria Allred, has also made it her life mission to seek out other accusers. We’re sure her efforts are solely motivated by justice and have nothing to do with the cut of the settlement that she would inevitably receive if one of her clients were to successfully sue Jackson.
(11) In February 2003, after seeing a documentary that put a sinister spin on Jackson’s relationship with Gavin Arvizo, Gloria Allred contacted Tom Sneddon and demanded that he investigate Jackson. At the same time, “media psychiatrist” Carole Lieberman also filed a complaint against Jackson. Sneddon responded to Allred and Lieberman’s complaints by stating that although he would take the matter seriously, he could not reopen the Jackson case without a cooperative victim. Months later, Gavin Arvizo told Larry Feldman that Michael Jackson sexually abused him. Once again, Allred missed out on the opportunity to represent a Jackson accuser. As for Lieberman, she made sure to advertise on her website that she was the first psychiatrist to demand that Jackson be investigated.
(12) Not to be one upped by Feldman and Katz, Allred and Lieberman teamed up on another collaboration – an accuser named Daniel Kapone. After being treated by Dr. Lieberman, Kapone suddenly remembered having been abused by Jackson when he was just three years old. Once Lieberman helped him recover his “repressed memories,” Allred signed on as his attorney. Unfortunately for Allred and Lieberman, it was later determined that Kapone had never even met Michael Jackson.
1993: The Media
(13) During the 1993 case, many of Jackson’s former employees cashed in on the allegations by selling salacious stories to the media. The most visible opportunist from the 1993 case was the aforementioned Blanca Francia, Jackson’s former maid. She first sold her story to Diane Dimond during an interview on Hard Copy and later collaborated with Chilean journalist Victor Gutierrez on his book “Michael Jackson was my Lover”.
(14) Aside from providing Blanca Francia with a platform for her sensational stories, Gutierrez and Dimond had something else in common; they were both were sued by Jackson for spreading a false story about him in the mid-90’s. During an interview on Hard Copy, Gutierrez claimed to have seen a videotape of Jackson molesting one of his nephews; Dimond later repeated his story on a local radio station. It was eventually proven that no such tape existed and Jackson filed a lawsuit against Gutierrez and Dimond for defamation of character.
2003: The Media
While the mainstream media has been collectively irresponsible in their coverage of the Jackson case, NBC seems particularly intent on ruining Jackson’s reputation by hiring several well-known Jackson detractors to cover the case. The following people either have an axe to grind with Jackson, have spread false rumours about him in the past or have connections to the Santa Barbara District Attorney’s office.
Take a look:
(15) Despite the fact that Jackson sued her for spreading an irrefutably false story about him, NBC hired Diane Dimond to cover the Jackson case in 2003.
(16) Dimond also admittedly receives information from the District Attorney’s office and there has been much speculation regarding the nature of her relationship with Tom Sneddon.
(17) Tim Russert, the senior vice president of NBC News, is married to Maureen Orth, a journalist who has written three slanderous articles about Jackson for Vanity Fair magazine. Two of these articles were written about the case and were full of half-truths and rumours.
(18) NBC hired Jim Thomas as a special analyst; Jim Thomas is admittedly good friends with Tom Sneddon.
(19) NBC produced two salacious Dateline NBC specials about the Jackson case. The most recent one featured interviews with Jim Thomas and Ray Chandler and was heavily slanted in favour of the prosecution’s version of events.
(20) The special was produced by none other than Victor Gutierrez, who was hired by NBC to cover the Jackson case, even though he still owes Jackson $2.7 million dollars from a defamation of character lawsuit that Jackson filed and won against him. Conflict of interest, anyone?
Gutierrez and the Chandlers
(21) Many have speculated that Victor Gutierrez collaborated with Evan Chandler, the father of Jackson’s first accuser, to write “Michael Jackson was my Lover”. The book contains personal photographs of Jordan Chandler and court documents that only somebody directly involved in the case could possibly have access to.
(22) Victor Gutierrez and Ray Chandler recently worked together on the Dateline NBC special, which Gutierrez produced.
Is it merely a coincidence that all of the people who have accused Michael Jackson of acting inappropriately with a child are connected to one another? Every accuser, every professional who has worked with each accuser, every tabloid hack who has reported negative stories about Jackson – literally all of the players involved in both the 1993 case and the 2003 case are related to one another.
Is it a conspiracy?
hts. Lots of lights. It will be Christmas every day."
“[…] He went into depth about how he felt that Steven Spielberg and David Geffen had mistreated him. I could tell he was very hurt about that. He told me he was supposed to be a partner in The DreamWorks Company, and that he wanted so badly to make a movie. Steven Spielberg told him to find a good script, and he would be cast in the starring role. Michael said that is what he did. He said when he found a great script he sent it over to Steven Spielberg, and a couple of days later, he received a call from him, "Michael, I have some good news, and I have some bad news. The good news is... the script you sent over was great. The bad news is that you will not be starring in the movie." Michael said that was one of the most painful days of his life. Michael knew and felt that he was being "blackballed" by the entertainment industry. He told me he did not allow his children, Prince Michael and Paris (…), to watch television, because everything that was being said about him was always negative. He said they always referred to him as "Wacko Jacko", and they are always calling him a child molester. He also said no matter what good he did in the world, it was never talked about publicly. He knew that he was disliked by the powers of the entertainment industry [...]”
[Leonard Rowe, Michael Jackson’s former manager – excerpt from book "What Really Happened to Michael Jackson, the King of Pop: The Evil Side of the Entertainment Industry.”; courtesy of Mirabella76 @ www.mjjcommunity.com]
* Blast from the past: “He gave me books to read. When I finished a book, he’d say, ‘Ok, you should read this one.’ And he’d ask me if I had any questions. He’d tell me to make sure I understand each and every word I read.”
[Janet Jackson – interviewed by “JET” magazine (July 23, 1984 issue)]
“What I remember most, Larry, is his dedication to the industry -- to the music industry, and how hard of a worker he was. I have some (…) memories from being on the road with him and (inaudible)... […] I did the Off The Wall Tour, yes. (And we played) a lot of them (cities). About 52, I think it was. […] Well, you know, Larry, we couldn't handle them all consistently. So what we did was, after about the first -- I think it was about the first 21, 22 shows, I had to pull it down for about two - and-a-half weeks, because he caught an infection in his throat that spread to his ear. And I had to let him come home and rest for about two-and-a-half weeks. And then we was (sic) able to finish. (On) every performance (he gave his all.). You know, we was (sic) in Alabama one night. And this is when he had got the infection. And he was coming out of the dressing room and I was hoping we could make it, because we had a break coming up before we could go to Hawaii. So when he was coming out of the dressing room, I said, ‘Mike, don't exert yourself so much and cut down on all the dancing and the spinning.’ And he looked at me with them humble eyes and said, ‘I can't do the people that way, Rowe. I've got to give them all I got.’ And I remember that so vividly.”
“He was very deep, Larry. You know, he was above his years. And he was -- when I met him, he was about 21, 22 years old, but he was way beyond that in wisdom and knowledge. And that's what used to shock me. You know, when you -- when Michael, not being close to a lot of people, when he'd get close to you now, he would talk you to death. But when he'd get close to you, he would talk -- call you at 3:00 in the morning, 2:00 in the morning. So just get ready, because he don't (sic) have that many people. And so when he instilled that trust in you, he'd talk to you a lot.”
“A lot (turned their backs on him during his lowest, the 2005 trial). I met him in Florida. He asked me to fly to Florida in '07 to talk with him. So I flew down to Florida that night and his brother picked me up at the airport. And Michael and I sat up until about 3:00 -- sat up until about 3:00 in the morning. And he spoke about how Hollywood had mistreated him. […] And I could see and hear the hurt in his voice about that situation. And I told him, ‘You've got to move past it.’ […]
[Leonard Rowe, Michael Jackson’s former publicist – on “Larry King Live”; source: http://talkinstuff.wordpress.com]
“I remember years ago when he wanted the cover of "People" magazine years ago, when I was at CBS Records working for him. He always wanted the cover of "People" magazine and the tabloids. And then (inaudible) he was blessed with having that great success there. And it came to devour him and turn against him. That's why that song he did, "Leave Me Alone."
“I remember (…) the day they left Motown and I was -- I happened to be at the house compound in L.A. And he said, “You know, Steve, it's like Pharaoh. I feel like pharaoh going across the Red Sea going to Columbia Records, to Epic.” It was like uncharted waters for him. He said this to me. It was like he was so afraid what was going to happen. But what happened? He had Off The Wall and also Thriller, you know?
“Yes, he was a very shy guy. 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, the late Robert Johnson and Bob Johnson -- I mean, the Johnson publication people (“Ebony” magazine)... turned him on to Mary Jackson. And that was a great influence of him in Chicago there.”
“Yes, he was (an easy touch). Yes. 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. […] I'm not going to name -- turned their backs, shunned him. […] They embraced him one time and then absolutely turned their back upon him. […]”
[Steve Manning, Michael Jackson’s former publicist – on ‘Larry King Live’ show; source: http://talkinstuff.wordpress.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.
“[…] Whenever [the Jackson 5] traveled in the early days, they would always go to Black Bookstores in different cities. It would be Michael and his mom. People said he didn't know Black history, but he loved Black history. He loved "Before the Mayflower", by Lerone Bennet Jr. His parents always instilled Black history in him. He also loved Greek classics, fables, and Greek mythology.”
“[…] 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 (would) drive 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 trial took such a painstakingly horrific toll on his spirit. He was so looking forward to the (‘This Is It’) tour. There was a new vitality and zest for life in him. […]”
[Steve Manning; source: the September 2009 Ebony Magazine Commemorative Issue: ‘Michael: Our Icon.’]
“[I went in a car with Michael Jackson once and sprayed gun complete strangers with a water pistol.] It was a childish prank, yeah. […] He was so wonderful. He was a big kid. He really was that. It wasn't -- he was so innocent and just a big kid. And to me, at that age, he just was like me, but taller and very much more talented. […] But he was also - had this, like -- this thing just bubbling over. He had no choice. I mean, when you sound like that and you dance like that, what choice do you have? You have to give it to everybody, you know?”
[Rashida Leah Jones,American film and television actress, comic book author, screenwriter – on “Piers Morgan Tonight”; source: http://transcripts.cnn.com]
* Blast from the past:
“He’s talkative. He jokes about everything. If he sees someone dressed funny on the street, he’ll laugh. He’s normal folk. […] How he presents himself to his fans, and he’s really impressive in that respect. It’s amazing how nice he is.”
[James Shento, driver at Pittsburgh Limousine; source: July, 1990 issue of “Spin” magazine]
“[…] The court of public opinion (…) has already delivered its verdict on a related topic: Michael Jackson, it seems, is a “weirdo”. And this is no longer an insult that critics lob as an incendiary anti-Jackson projectile; this is now an accepted designation, no different from “Nazi chess legend” Bobby Fischer or “noted orangutan enthusiast”, Clint Eastwood. More than any other public figure since Howard Hughes, Jackson is officially weird; you can now refer to his weirdness without any ancillary evidence.
In fact, Jackson actively makes other things weird. For example, if Michael Jackson started eating strawberry pancakes for eating, the practice of daily pancake consumption would immediately take on an alien depravity that would taint all others who share that inclination. Obviously, this will never happen, as Jackson subsists exclusively on a diet of colorless, gluten-free sludge and bubble gum Skittles. [sarcasm used] But I think you know what I mean. We can all safely argue that Michael Jackson is crazy in a very specific way; there is a universally understood totality to his weirdness that (almost) makes his eccentricity unremarkable.
As such, I will not remark upon it. Instead, I will take an alternative approach; I want to explore the myriad qualities of Michael Jackson that are abundantly normal. These are the traits the mainstream media never want to address. Oh, you’ll inevitably see wall-to-wall coverage whenever Jackson climbs a magical tree and asks his noble wood for advice, because that’s how journalists love to marginalize him; they constantly want to paint him as one of those ‘tree people’. But why doesn’t anyone report that Michael Jackson’s name is Michael? Why won’t CNN mention that “Michael” is the second-most popular male name in America and that more than 6.5 million people share this name moniker? I don’t hear anyone calling actor Michael Caine “weirdo”. Nobody automatically assumes Michael DeWine (R-Ohio) is a “homosexual predator”. Sometimes it seems like Jackson’s unorthodox behaviour completely usurps the normalcy of his first name. Moreover, Michael Jackson was born in Gary, Indiana, a city with a population of more than 100,000 (and the city famously sung about in Meredith Wilson’s beloved play, The Music Man). In this respect, he is no more sinister than Gary native Glenn “Big Dog” Robinson, the 1994 Sporting News collegiate hoopster of the year and a man who’s only been arrested twice.
Jackson even gets labeled “curious” and “reclusive” and “bats*** insane” for things he hasn’t done. Perhaps you have heard the urban legend about Michael owning the skeleton of 19th-century medical anomaly John Merrick, [TST note: his correct name is, in fact, Joseph Merrick] the so-called Elephant Man. This is actually not true. Jackson has never owned the Elephant Man’s bones. But let’s say he did purchase Merrick’s remains: Why criticize someone for an interest in life science? Marilyn Manson claims to have smoked human bones in New Orleans, yet nobody thinks he’s weird. Jackson should not be attacked for unconventional thinking, especially when such thinking focuses on dead people. It’s akin to all those rumors (and photographs) indicating that Michael was sleeping in a hyperbaric, life-enhancing oxygen chamber. […]
“If there were no children on this earth, if somebody announced that all kids were dead, I would jump off the balcony immediately.” That is what Jackson told documentary film maker Martin Bashir in 2003. “I’m done,” he reiterated for emphasis. “I’m done.” Here again, we see the hypocrisy of the public’s perception of Michael: Much like the (possibly sane) British pop star, Morrissey, Jackson is hated for loving. I mean, just imagine the nightmare scenario Jackson has theorized. Imagine if all the world’s children were suddenly dead. Imagine there is a poison gas that only attacked the red blood cells of prebubescent humans, or if packs of invisible werewolves ate all the babies on earth, or if I traveled around the world shooting every kindergartner in the back of the skull. Imagine if the streets of Gary, Indiana, were suddenly covered of young corpses, facedown in their own warm blood. Surely, this scenario would cause any sane man to leap to his death. Who would want to live in such a (…) kill zone? […] And in some cultures he (Jackson) would be rewarded for those values [of caring]. […] But not in America. Oh, no. Not here. … Allegedly.”
[Charles John “Chuck” Clusterman from the June, 2005 issue of “Spin” magazine]
“Michael is not guilty. All those people coming forward to accuse Michael of abusing children are being paid off. I talked with Michael. And you know what, Michael was more concerned about me than himself. And he said, ‘Mother, I am not worried because I didn’t do that.’ He told me, ‘I don’t want you to worry, because I need you around.’ It seems to be that the attacks were planned. They waited until he got out of town (as the concert kicked off). And then people started the attacks… These people are trying to destroy our son… […]”
[Katherine Jackson; source: the January 10, 1994 issue of JET magazine]
“[…] In the early days following Michael’s death, I began to notice that many people were taking it upon themselves to decide who was a “real” fan and who wasn’t based on longevity and age. New, young fans joining the (websites) were being shot down in flames for even daring to call themselves a fan. How could they possible know or understand who Michael was? They were too young, they hadn’t be there since day one or through Michael’s allegations and trial, how could they appreciate his music or understand his genius, how could they be a “real” fan? Instead of welcoming arms, these new fans were met with derision and shameful condemnation and many disappeared from view. Now we see the rising of another trend, the “true” fan syndrome.
In a recent podcast we did with Joe Vogel and Frank Cascio, Joe made a comment that gave me a great deal of pause for thought. He said that Michael Jackson fans, in many ways, were very tribalistic. I have been pondering this for several days now, and in light of recent tweets, blog posts and messages on Facebook I have read, I have come to accept that he is right in what he says.
Now, before anyone takes the meaning of tribalistic out of context, let me give you the definition of the word straight from the dictionary: tribalistic: noun. tribal organization, culture, loyalty, etc. a strong sense of identifying with and being loyal to one's tribe, group, etc. See? It is clearly not meant as an insult, but it is clear in its definition of the fan community at present.
There has been a slow, but obvious shift from the early days when Michael passed, when fans united all over the world to mourn together his passing. There were signs that a global community would arise from the tragedy and unite to carry out and continue Michael’s hope for a better world, from the many interactions and messages of love and support between fan groups and individuals. However, these sentiments have been replaced or rather displaced, as the community divides and forms individual tribes with their own particular focus. And these tribes often work against each other, as opposed to working together.
A friend, who shall remain unnamed, hit the nail on the head when she gave titles to the main tribes/groups that have the loudest voice in the community: The Reality, The Lovey-Dovey, The Conflict At All Costs, and The Negativity Always. Whether you like it or not, whether you’re offended or not, all of us fall into one of these categories in some capacity. […] Ridiculousness at its best, shameful at its worst.
How can positive change and expansion occur in this situation? […] While we fight with each other over Immortal, the Estate, Frank Cascio’s book, the Michael album, while we accuse people of not being loyal to Michael because they don’t boycott all of the above and anything that looks as if it’s tied to AEG, Branca and Sony, while we accuse people of not being “true” fans because they don’t share our belief’s (sic), while we question people’s allegiance and intelligence, while we stomp on and beat people down because they dare to say they support something we don’t, demean them, berate them, insult them, undervalue them, vilify them, and put the fear of God into them for offering their opinions, we are doing the same thing to Michael’s legacy, and therefore to the man himself. Why? Because it’s our legacy too; it’s in our hands bequeathed to us and to his family by him. We are it, and all I can say at the moment is heaven help it, because the hands it’s laying in are shaky at the best.
Of course, length of time can often give one a misplaced feeling of ownership and entitlement, but here is a reality check. No one, and I mean no one, has exclusive rights or ownership of Michael Jackson. Just because you have been a fan for all your life or most of it, just because your website is the largest or most popular or the longest running, just because you have a multitude of followers, a loud voice in the community or believe in what you believe in, doesn’t make you any more important than the fan standing next to you with a quiet voice, a scattering of followers and their own opinions and beliefs. No one here has the right to judge or condemn another, and certainly no one has the right to decide who is a “real” or “true” fan. For those who have appointed themselves these roles, you are danger of being labeled also.
It’s a very heavy and vitally important responsibility that has been placed upon us; yet, it is in danger of not reaching its fullest potential. What a tragedy that would be. We have the collective power, if we use it and use it wisely, to bring about the change that is so desperately needed and that Michael himself worked toward and believed in, but instead, we waste that power by pouring our energy into the antithesis of what his vision was.
We all may have a different area of focus in the community, but they are all important to the whole, and at the very center of everything we do, should be Michael’s vision to make the world a better place. It is really the only one, true thing we can be sure of. He spoke of it often, and the message is there in his music, undeniable and strong. Anything else we presume to think, what he may have thought or wanted or how he felt are merely that, presumptions. The only person, who knew Michael inside and out, was Michael himself.
[Valmai Owens, administrator at www.thejamcafe-mjtpforum.com]
“Before pop superstar Michael Jackson’s death in June of 2009, his name was more of a draw as his association with global popularity first, his social and physical demise second, and his music and artistry third. In the wake of his passing, his music was suddenly revived to pre-1993 status, as people sang along and played his memorable hits such as Remember The time, Billie Jean, Off The Wall, etc. His classic album Thriller began to be played like it was 1983 again and the album itself began to fly off the shelf, with its latest certification of 29 million sold certified just weeks after his death. But even before his death, the blockbuster album was regarded as his only true magnum opus, which in my opinion is a slap in the face to the incredibly musically gifted Jackson.
Originally limited to songwriting due to his experiences with Motown’s The Corporation/Hal Davis, Jackson proved that he could be a legit song architect when he penned number ones such as Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough from his 1979 adult solo debut Off The Wall and Billie Jean of course from Thriller.
But he was only responsible for the composition of three songs on Off The Wall, and four on Thriller, but yet we build his artistic legacy from only those two albums more specifically Thriller? Seriously?
Because of the enormous success of Thriller, Jackson’s Bad album is constantly overlooked as one of the best put together and well-crafted pop albums ever made, and the Dangerous and HIStory albums were each fresh and up to date sound that saw Jackson’s artistry and creative vision continue to increase. But it’s never the case with critics, because to them Thriller was his Omega.
An interesting fact of his overlooked artistry post-Thriller is from Bad-HIStory he wrote/co-wrote every track except seven songs. To make an even more valid point, he also co-produced (even written and produced songs like They Don’t Care About Us and Stranger in Moscow credited solely by himself) each song from the three albums.
Thriller is of course undeniably a classic, but we can’t really say it’s his best work, when Rod Temperton, Quincy Jones, Steve Porcaro, etc. were successful participants to why the album was a success (...).
Yes, Off The Wall is an R&B/Pop classic, and yes, Thriller changed the landscape of music and how a pop record is made, but it also helped create unrealistic goals for Jackson to accomplish, although the albums sold extremely well, each album that followed Thriller was dismissed as a flop in contrast to Thriller. It’s so disappointing that we forget that Bad/Dangerous sold 30 and 32 million globally (eight million and seven million in the U.S.). We forget that on Bad he was the first artist to achieve five number ones. We forget on the Bad album he co-wrote nine of the 11 songs and co-produced the entire album. We forget Dangerous provided four top ten pop records in which he wrote/produced on all four of the records. We, as music lovers, forgot about his music before he died, and now are forgetting that his artistry grew AFTER Thriller.
Thriller didn’t just make Jackson try to achieve 100 million records for each album, it made him the poster of 1980’s, his album as the “source of validation” you know what good music is, even though grooves like “Leave Me Alone”, “Black or White”, “Liberian Girl”, “The Way You Make Me Feel” and even later on “Earth Song” are musically one of his most strongest arrangement-wise songs he’s ever made. So while you make your argument that Thriller is of-all-end-all Michael Jackson, just know Jackson at its artistic peak is post dark-skin. Just saying.”
[Brad Washington, journalist; © 2012 Starpulse.coml source: www.starpulse.com]
“Michael brought a style that was so unique because of his sharpness, and it's something I point out to my dancers. I, you know - I started the Debbie Allen Dance Academy in Los Angeles and I train young people daily, all the time. We're always - we're rehearsing for something, a show or just for class or just - and I pointed to them how hard he would rehearse. He rehearsed over and over and over and over and over. And when he performed, he was so sharp. He was electrifying. You wanted to see him do it again just to say, wow. Wow. In rehearsal, it would be amazing to see him do something twice, two or three times. You know, he didn't just do it once. He might do it two or three times. His dancing really redefined dance as we know it since the moment he did that moonwalk in that Motown special and the whole world, like, stood on its ears and on its toes. There are few dancers in the world that have done that. You know, there's been Baryshnikov and there's Gregory Hines, and Michael Jackson has a category all to himself. […] I actually choreographed him, and I actually - he used to come to my house. I have a dance studio in my house. I used to train him. He wanted to learn new things. This was what was amazing. Michael would spin like a top, I mean, just (makes noise) so fast. But he wanted to learn how to turn like Baryshnikov. I said, Michael, you already turn - Baryshnikov can't do what you do. He said, ‘But I want to learn it, Debbie.’ I said, okay. So we worked on that. Then he wanted to learn about tap dancing. He really loved Savion Glover, and he really wanted to work with Savion Glover. And we were - we actually had spent time working on a movie idea for him and Savion. And so, he wanted to learn how to tap dance. So he actually would come to my house and we would work very privately. And I would sometimes be with kids or with his son while he was in the studio practicing with one of my master friends. Paul Kennedy, actually, was the main person (…). So I have worked with him. I was a supervising choreographer on a big special he was going to do, and I've known him over the years. Our friendship has always been based on dance, and I've known him since he was probably about 14 years old. That's how long I knew Michael. […]”
“You will go to many concerts, you will see various artists, but you won't see the kind of detail and the kind of execution that you would see in - even in the preparation for “This is It.” Michael liked to rehearse. He liked to work. And he was there for everything. You would see him in the auditions. He didn't leave that up to somebody else. He would be in the auditions when you're auditioning to cast people to be next to him. He was there. If you're shooting whatever the footage is of a little girl in the rainforest, he was there looking to see how was it shot. He was there. So I think it gives another sense of - another regard for him and respect for the genius of who Michael Jackson really is and who he's always been to us and to see it, as you so gracefully say, the curtain lifted behind the scenes. […]”
[Deborrah Kaye “Debbie” Allen, actress, dancer, choreographer, television director, television producer - from interview with NPR; source: www.mjjcommunity.com]
“Michael Jackson is a phenomenon. I say is -- he will always be. […] And our relationship was totally based on dance. He came here many many many nights. Many days. Right there in my dance studio. Trained, new techniques, he wanted to learn how to tap-dance. He actually had an idea of doing a production with Savion Glover, cuz he really admired him. He admired Fred [Astaire] too. What is so great about Michael is he never ever settled for what his ability was at the moment. It always had to go further. He trained and practised everything that he already knew every day. Just a perfectionist! And so smart. Soft-spoken, but a tiga’! I think what's missing today is we don't have enough of that development. When I think about the record business and I think about the music business and how young people just put a video up on YouTube and they can jump out there -- but who is there developing them? Michael appreciated people that were real around him. I mean, he had a lot of people around him, but I think he was attracted to me because I was always very real with him.”
"Michael loved people, and he loved young people. I took a lot of people up to Neverland, a lot of kids, and the first place we went was his room, to see everything in there that was great. [sighs] But Michael had a lot of hurt in his life, a lot of hurt... […] I was devastated (to learn he had died). I called - I remember calling Berry Gordy's office to confirm this. Nobody, like if you weren't right there in the middle of his rehearsal, you might not know. And I remember calling Diana Ross, and, ugh! It just was like, something we couldn't believe was true. And it was so painful, and it was so hurtful... we were rehearsing that day. We were rehearsing for a spring recital and I had to... I couldn't hide it from the kids because Twitter and everything is out there, so I had to tell them. And, oh my God, all these hundreds of kids just weeping and crying, and then we said, "Okay, pull it together! We are dancing for Michael now!" And that helped us, you know, get through the hurt. And, of course, I immediately thought about his mother. […] I knew this was going to be really hard, and it was just hard for everyone...”
[Debbie Allen; source: http://transcripts.cnn.com]
“[Michael Jackson wanted to learn to tap dance. About 10 years ago (1999), he asked me to help him find a great tap teacher.] When they asked me to find the best tap teacher, I selected Paul Kennedy. I knew Paul would be discreet. Michael and Paul came to my home where I had a studio. I had the highest regard that Michael would train and work outside his own box, but nothing was outside his box. It was a great creative journey watching him develop. Michael was good. He was from the same world of Sammy Davis and could pick up everything. My floor still has his prints. I took care of [Jackson's oldest son] little Prince during the classes and we would often go in the kitchen and eat cornbread. Michael was a fan of Fred Astaire, and Astaire a fan of Michael's. It was mutual admiration. It was not a surprise that he was so successful. [The classes were held at night usually once or twice a week for awhile until Michael's schedule got too complicated. His mother Katherine brought him to Broadway to see my shows, "Sweet Charity" and "West Side Story" and I remember Janet also attending. Katherine supported Broadway and made sure that her children saw many shows. When Paul Kennedy became ill and could no longer attend the classes with Michael, Kennedy phoned Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards to tell her that Michael was looking for a tap teacher/choreographer and encouraged her to interview. […]”
[Debbie Allen - interviewed by Melba Huber; source: http://melbasdance.com]
[Michael flew me to Paris, France for the interview in 1997. Michael had lots of questions: "Can you dance like the Nicholas Brothers or Fred Astaire? How fast can you move your feet?" Michael laid down on his stomach with his head very close to my feet and said: "How are you getting all those sounds out? Do it again as fast as you can go. Can you teach me how to do that?" I didn't know if I got the job until two years later. Michael was on the line. "What's going on?", he asked before inviting me to work with him. I was concluding "Noise/Funk" (1999) and pregnant. He asked me to get back in touch after I delivered when I was ready. In a few months, I was.] We worked whenever and wherever in Los Angeles a couple of times, but mostly in Las Vegas every weekend. I would fly out Friday nights, work Saturday and Sunday and then travel back to New York on the Sunday night red eye. This lasted for about two months. We also worked here and there between Vegas, Los Angeles and West Palm Beach, Florida.] "While we were in the studio, we were the only two and I got to know him as a person. He was well aware of everything: world issues, religion, family and all in life outside of entertainment. He was a man and father with a great relationship with his kids.”
“[After 9/11, he called me and offered to bring my entire family to California for two weeks while we worked. (Sumbry-Edwards is married to tap dancer Omar Edwards and they operate Harlem Tap Studio. They have two children, Jeremiah and Ebony, who is currently in "Billy Elliot.") We had a varied schedule, but my family enjoyed the time in California, in West Palm Beach, Florida and at the Ranch home.] Michael would invite us to dinner, and while it was being prepared, our kids hung out with his kids before our sessions. [Michael was busy doing many things, and when we worked, it was usually about four hours a day.] Michael knows exactly what he wants. Most of the time it was without music, but one time he played a song Janet had recorded and said it was his favorite. He said he liked the feeling and wanted to do something with that feeling. "What do you see right here?", Michael would ask when he needed my choreographic help.] He would back up and let me create. He would make some changes and then I would break it down with the changes. He was a perfectionist and in four hours we might work four bars. He would not move on until he was completely comfortable with one movement. That way he took the material in and made it a part of himself. He polished it before he moved on. I saw the passion in his work, very intense.
"Sometimes Blanket would find his way to the studio. During the last two years, they worked in Las Vegas at a studio in his home. Once we both kind of messed up and Blanket was standing at the door laughing. We both got a special moment from that. It was sweet to have him there. Michael loved tap dancing. He loved the Nicholas Brothers and Fred Astaire. He was clear about what he wanted. He loved rhythm. He would sit and watch."
[He worked at learning to tap. He had two years of technique before doing anything else. He learned the ABC's of tap: shuffle exercises, paddle and roll, cramp roll, pull backs, draw backs, clean time steps", we both did all the basics. Most of the time, I would arrive in the studio early and would put on my shoes and warm up while waiting for him. When he would enter, he would not stop me, but would sit and observe. When I finished, he would say, "Wow! Those rhythms are great" and sometimes would want to incorporate my improvisations into what they would were doing. I consider him one of the world’s greatest entertainers.] Michael has inspired dancers over the decades. In 2009, there are still aspiring entertainers who are studying Michael. [The last time I worked with him was September of 2008.]”
[Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards, tap dancer – from interview with Melba Huber; source: http://melbasdance.com]
[Janet Jackson – from interview with Anderson Cooper; source: www.accesshollywood.com]
* Blast from the past:
“[…] Don King flies out to California with the contracts on a Saturday. I fully expect he’ll be back on a Monday. […] Don finally comes back. And there are the signatures. Joe and Katherine Jackson, the parents and managers. Tito, Jermaine, Jackie, Marlon and Randy, Michael’s brothers. And, in a huge script that fills almost a page, Michael Jackson’s. You would think that Michael’s the most enthusiastic of them all. Just the opposite. Don filters the story of what went on in California through Jay Coleman. But I get enough to know that everybody signed away - except Michael. Michael felt pressured. […] So it took King several days, with a lot of help from Michael’s family, to get that last name on the contract. When Michael finally signed, it was four a.m.
We, of course, are the other targets of this purported change of heart. Michael’s buddies – Paul McCartney, Jane Fonda - have been calling him. “Why are you doing commercials?” they ask. “People do commercials when they’re looking at the downhill slope of their careers, not when they’re shooting up like a rocket. You do these commercials, you’ll get overexposed.” Are they right? By all the then-known laws of show business, of course they are. […] Overexposure? This is a new one. All along, he thought the problem was the idea of endorsing a product! Alan and Phil fly out to Los Angeles with revised storyboards. They also have a cassette of a song the agency had written. The song’s been recorded by a Michael Jackson sound-alike, so Michael can get a sense of the whole package. Michael looks over the storyboards. He hears the song.
“Everything’s fine,” Michael says. Alan and Phil grin like fools. “There’s just one problem,” Michael says. “I don’t like the music and I don’t like these commercials.” “We can change the music,” Phil says. “What’s wrong with the commercials?” “My face. I’m on camera the whole time. I don’t want you to show me for more than four seconds.”
A brilliant solution to the question of overexposure - but not one you expect to pay millions of dollars for. Alan and Phil try to change Michael’s mind. But Michael knows what he wants. And what he wants is a world-class commercial in which, as they read it, he does a cameo. […] Finally, I talk to John Branca. […] Then I heard a rumor that the son of Quaker Oats executive adores Michael Jackson. And he’s had a vision. Michael endorsing Granola Bars. He’s shared this vision with his dad, Dad’s handed it over to his marketing folks, and Michael has supposedly decided that Granola Bars are somehow healthier than Pepsi. […] I have a feeling that Quaker Oats didn’t know that the Jacksons had actually signed a contract with us, because once they are so informed, that’s the end of the $10 million offer. […] The best meeting we can arrange is between Alan Pottasch, Don King, and Joe Jackson, Michael’s father. […] “I think I know how to resolve this,” Joe says. […] Joe calls his wife and gets Alan invited to lunch. […] Alan and the Jacksons conclude that Michael has a moral responsibility to go through with this deal. […] In a day or so, Michael agrees to a meeting. […] Michael brings along John Branca. […] “It isn’t that I don’t want to do this commercial,” Michael says. “I just think there are better ways to do it. […] I don’t want to be on camera very long – one close-up of no more than four seconds. But there are other ways to show me than push a camera in my face. Use my symbols. Shoot my shoes, my spats, my glove, my look – and then, at the end, reveal me.”
A brilliant use of imagery. But now it’s four seconds. […] “What do you want to do about the music?” Alan asks. “Well, I don’t like the song you had written,” Michael says. “It’s not big enough. Why don’t you just use “Billie Jean”?”
“Billie Jean”! Alan exclaims silently to himself: My God, he’s just offered us “Billie Jean”! Well, why not use it? It’s only the song of the year! And Michael’s offering it like a free hors d’oeuvre! […] Now all the other stuff – a few seconds or four, two close-ups of Michael or one – seems unimportant. We’ve got Michael and his best song, and he hasn’t even asked us to pay for it. (Later, his lawyers requested a very reasonable fee. We were happy to oblige.) The filming is rescheduled. Alan and Phil show me the revised storyboard. The commercial starts with the Jacksons - but not Michael – drinking Pepsi and relaxing in their dressing room before a concert. […] Then the set opens, and with a flash of fireworks, Michael dances and spins into a full-fledged, singing the reworded “Billie Jean” to a mob of screaming fans in the audience. […] And then… but what’s this? Ah, the second commercial. […] It features Alfonso Ribeiro, the eleven-year-old dancer from the Broadway show The Tap Dance Kid. […] Michael goes into the studio to record the new lyrics for “Billie Jean”. His brothers are supposed to be there with him. They’re nowhere to be found. Michael works his butt off anyway. His brothers materialize. The song is terrific.
A few days later, Walter Yetnikoff, the president of CBS Records, throws a huge party for Michael at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. I don’t see Michael – he pops in for just a few minutes. […] The Jackson party ends early.”
“Michael says nothing (following the stage pyrotechnics accident that set his scalp alight during a Pepsi commercial), but a spokesperson issues a statement that indicates a lawsuit is likely. And, by the way, that Michael didn’t want to do these commercials in the first place. The press wants our response. We don’t know what to say. No question Michael was hurt during the filming of our commercial. But it doesn’t, thank God, appear to be too serious. […] Phil smiles. “Now would you like to see the Jackson commercials?” “No. Of course not. We’ll just get a new add agency if you don’t roll that film. Phil starts with a ninety-second version of Street.” There’s Alfonso, stealing your heart. And then Michael and his brothers come in and take it to a whole other level. The music gives you goose bumps. The film is rich, exciting. Dynamite. And Michael Jackson’s face is all over it – there’s a lot more of Michael than the four seconds we’d agreed to. […] Michael doesn’t want to sit in a screening room in L.A. with us and watch the commercials. He prefers to have a cassette sent to his house, where he can watch them alone. Then he’ll make his decisions and get back to us. We decide that Phil Dusenberry should bring the cassette out and watch it with Michael. Now, during the filming of the commercials, Michael’s been pressured plenty by Phil Dusenberry. Take off your sunglasses. Turn this way. Move this way. Just one more close-up to be sure we’ve got it right. […] Phil, of course, was just doing his job - he wanted Michael’s commercials to be brilliant. Michael was just doing his job too - he wanted his spots to be magic. […] Michael, who by now sees Phil as kin to a Nazi SS officer, says, “Mr. Dusenheimer? No way.” […]
In a few days, we hear from Michael’s aides. “Forget it. This isn’t the commercial Michael agreed to. You, guys, are trying to pull a fast one.” “Like, specifically, how?” Phil asks. “There’s much too much of Michael’s face.” […] I call Michael’s father. […] A few hours later, Joe calls me back. “Roger, I have Michael here,” he says, “and I’m sure you guys can work things out.” There’s a pause. “Talk to the man, will you,” Joe whispers to Michael. “Get on the phone.” A very soft voice comes on. “Hi.” “Hey, Michael, how are you?” “Okay.” “Good. Michael, if you’ll explain to me what’s wrong with the commercials, we can fix them.”
“Well, these just weren’t what I agreed to do, I mean, even with the compromises I made. Mr. Dusenheimer made me take my glasses off. I didn’t want to take them off, but he said there would be only one close-up. And now I see lots of close-ups of me with my glasses off, and there’s too much of me in there anyway. […] And the film is too dark. […] I had to fight with (Bob) Giraldi about the same thing when he made my videos - he makes everything so dark. Your Pepsi commercials are always bright and light. That’s why I like them. I want my spots to be that way too. […] There’s too much of me in concert. Way over four seconds on my face. […] And in the street commercial, I want bells when Alfonso bumps into me - like the sound of a wind chime. […] The street commercial… […] It’s magic, Roger. It’s just magic.” The way Michael says this gives me courage to continue. He’s not just trying to kill the deal with all this talk of spins and cuts and seconds and close-ups. He’s a perfectionist. To be sure, he’s freaked out being overexposed, but creative geniuses are sticklers for details. “I spin twice in the concert film. I should only spin once. […]” […] “Okay,” I say. “I’ll tell Alan. We’ll do what we can and send you another cut tomorrow.” “Thank you, Roger.” “Michael, we’re a week from the convention - we have to move faster. Would you be willing to sit in a studio with someone tomorrow and show him exactly where you want to put the bells?”
“Thank you, Michael.”
I give Alan my notes. He re-edits for the millionth time. We send the edits out to Michael. He watches them with our producer. […] “Let’s watch it again,” the producer says, “and you say ‘Cut’ where you want us to get away from you.” They play the film again. “Cut,” Michael says. That’s exactly where the editor has already cut to another shot. “Cut,” Michael says. And again, the cut’s right there. […]”
“You ought to know,” Branca says, “that Michael’s planning to donate whatever he gets to the Burn Center at Brontman Memorial Hospital, where he was treated. Actually he’s going to do more than that - he’s going to add a lot of his own money to whatever he gets from you. In the end, it will be a substantial contribution, but I think Michael’s willing to hold a joint press conference with you at the Burn Center. You should be able to get some good out of that.”
“That is a very different position,” I say. “Let me think about it.” We hang up. I talk about it with Joe McCann and Alan Pottasch. And we all agree. Once again, Michael’s out not for himself, but for others. Let’s join him.
After the Victory tour zapped its last laser and blasted off its last skybomb, Joe McCann and I went out to Los Angeles for the press conference at the Burn Center. […] I spoke first. Michael was standing backstage, behind me and off to the side. For the first time - and, I suppose, much to his surprise - he heard me say a lot of nice things about him. I meant every one of them. After my introduction, Michael came onstage with a stunned look, spoke briefly, and received thanks and a plaque from the head doctor at the Burn Center. We stood together for some photographs. Then he leaned over close to my ear.
“Roger,” he whispered, “do you get nervous at these things too?”
I thought: In the beginning, there was Michael softly telling me, “I’m going to make Coke wish they were Pepsi.” And then there were all these people – Don King, Frank Russo, Chuck Sullivan, thousands of reporters, a zillion lawyers – and all those misunderstandings. And through it all, Michael was a pro. He worked his butt off. He did make magic. And at the end, here we are again, Michael Jackson and Pepsi making another, different kind of joint contribution. It all seemed so fitting.
“Yeah, Michael,” I said. “I get nervous too.”
[Roger Enrico, business man, former Chairman/CEO of PepsiCo (& Jesse Kornbloth – journalist and editor); excerpts from “The Other Guy Blinked. How Pepsi Won The Cola Wars” (1986)]
“In the fall of 1983, Jackie (Onassis) set out to snag what was then the biggest celebrity of them all. Along with fellow Doubleday Editor Shaye Areheart, she flew to Los Angeles to meet with Michael Jackson. Next to Elizabeth Taylor and Michael, the woman Michael most admired was Jackie. This was apparent back in 1977, when he visited the apartment of New York Daily News reporter, Bob Weiner. While Weiner prepared a promised home-cooked meal for Jackson, Michael made himself right at home, plowing into the books, photographs, tapes and knickknacks that cluttered Weiner’s apartment.
Suddenly, Michael let out a horrified gasp, and his host came running from the kitchen. Michael was staring at a calendar that featured one of the nude snapshots of Jackie taken on Skorpios. “Oh,” said Michael, stricken at the sight of a topless Jackie, “why did she pose for these pictures?”
“Since it’s not every day that I encounter an eighteen-year-old millionaire with innocence intact,” Weiner recalled, “I broke it to him gently that the photographs were taken without Mrs. Onassis’s knowledge. He breathed easier.”
[Christopher Andersen, journalist and bestselling author; from source: “Jackie After Jack. Portrait of the Lady” (1998)]
“[…] Over the next few years, Kate [Katharine Hepburn] and Michael cultivated a friendship. She invited him to dinner when he was in New York City; and he reciprocated with tickets to his concerts. She showed up to one of his events at Madison Square Garden (with Phyllis in tow); and a lot of pictures of the two stars together were snapped that night. Frankly, it was a good photo opportunity for each of them. Kate didn’t really care much for the music, but she thought he was a masterful showman (…). […] With Michael Jackson at the peak of his fame, tickets for his upcoming “Victory Tour” performances at Madison Square Garden being scalped for $700 apiece, and “Michael Mania” in the air, she would have no difficulty rustling up guests for a private dinner. (…) Kate invited her niece Katharine Houghton, who had become friendly with Michael as well, and Cynthia McFadden. We were all told to keep the event under wraps. They were happy to see each other. Kate introduced us all, and Michael found a place on the couch, at Kate’s immediate right. […] At twenty-five, he had the demeanor of an extremely polite ten-year old. He spoke in a gentle voice, full of sweetness and wonder.
“Is it too bright in here?” Kate asked her guest. He said no.
“Well, then, Michael, you really must take off your sunglasses, so that I can see your eyes. If you don’t, then I’ll have no idea where you’re looking.” He reluctantly obeyed. “I think you wear your sunglasses far too much,” she continued. “It can’t be very good for your eyes, and in the getups you wear, it’s hardly as if you go anywhere unrecognized. So let us see our eyes. They’re the window to your soul.”
After a moment of silence, I asked if I could fix Michael something to drink. Kate interjected that Michael didn’t drink alcohol and asked what he wanted – “Juice, soda, fizzy water, plain water, tea, ‘funny’ tea?” He wanted nothing. “Are you sure?” Kate asked, then ran through the entire menu again. “Nothing, thank you,” he said sweetly, then sank back into silence. […]
We were drawn back into their conversation when Michael raised Charlie Chaplin’s name. Kate said she knew him a bit and had played tennis with him, but that Michael should really talk to Phyllis. Constance Collier had been a great friend of Chaplin, she explained, and Phyllis had spent a lot of time with him. “Yes, that’s true,” Phyllis said. “He was very amusing.” And that was it. Conversation ground to a complete halt. “Thank you very much, Miss Phyllis, for enlightening us with those fascinating comments,” said Kate.
I asked Michael if he liked movies, and he sparked to that subject. He spent most of his afternoons and nights watching videos of old movies. Katharine Hepburn, he said, was his favorite movie star. “Mine too,” I said. “And which of Kate’s pictures are your favorites?” He turned to me with the sweetest smile; and with what looked like heavily made-up eyes glowing right into mine, he said, “I’m not sure.”
I told him my favorite was The Philadelphia Story. He said he had not heard of that one. “What about “Holiday” or “Bringing Up Baby”?” […] He didn’t recognize those titles either. Trying the other end of the spectrum, I asked if he had seen “Long Day’s Journey” or “The Lion In Winter”. No, he didn’t know those. “The African Queen”?
“Is that the one in Africa?” he asked. Never saw it.
“On Golden Pond,” I said assuredly - after all, it’s how they met. Never saw it. […] “Well, Michael, there’s got to be some movie of Katharine Hepburn’s that you’ve seen!”
“That one with Spencer Tracy,” he chimed in. “Adam’s Rib?” No. Thinking sports, I say, “Pat and Mike?” No. “Woman of the Year?” “Desk Set?”
“No, the one where Spencer Tracy plays a fisherman, and he saves the little boy…”
“Captains Courageous?!” Kate asked incredulously.
“Yes,” Michael said. “He was very strict, but he was sweet to the little boy.”
[…] Cynthia came to the rescue by inquiring about Michael’s famous menagerie, asking him what animals he had. At last, he felt at home. With great enthusiasm, he spoke of his ranch with his llama and monkey and his boa constrictor, Muscles. […]
The playwright Tom Stoppard had dashed off a note saying that he had young sons at home in England and that he had heard that Michael Jackson was having dinner next door and that if he didn’t do everything he could to obtain an autograph for them, he would never forgive himself. “Out of the question,” Kate barked. […] Then it occurred to her that perhaps she was being harsh.
“Of course, it’s not really my decision. Michael, how do you feel about signing autographs?” Kate explained that Stoppard was a great playwright.
“I like to do things for the children,” he said. “I’ll sign something for them.”
Kate deputized Kathy and me to go to Soundheim’s and notify Stoppard that he would be granted a brief audience with Michael Jackson. […] Stoppard was effusively grateful to his hostess and her special guest, who signed some pieces of paper. It wasn’t until Stoppard left that I noticed that Michael was wearing his sunglasses again. […]
Dinner was served. […] Because Michael did not eat meat, Norah had prepared a vegetarian meal, starting with bowls of cold beet soup. A plate of toasted Portuguese bread got passed around, as did a small tub of whipped butter. When the butter reached Michael, he dipped in his soup spoon, then dropped a big white dollop into his soup, which he started to eat. Kate saw what was happening and apologized, saying it was her fault that he had mistaken the butter for sour cream. She called for Norah to get Michael a fresh bowl of soup. No, Michael insisted, he would eat this one. Kate said absolutely not, that it would taste terrible with all that butter. But Michael persisted – finishing the entire bowl, glob of butter and all. […]”
[Andrew Scott Berg, biographer; excerpts from source: “Kate Remembered” (2003)]
“[…] Michael took (my son Ryan and I) on a tour of the (Neverland) house. He said he wanted to have a family, a boy and a girl. He had their rooms already done up, with dollhouses and model trains. It was not to be the last time that I would come upon a rich, famous man longing for the comfort of a family of his own. As one who had also dreamed of perfect dollhouses in a perfect world, I felt a kinship with Michael. […] At the pool, he noticed Ryan leafing through the pages of his favorite car magazine, Mustang Monthly. That glimpse into Ryan’s dream world was all Michael Jackson needed.
Shortly after we came home, a car salesman from Noblesville called and said, “Ryan White? We’ve got a red Mustang here for you. It’s from Michael Jackson.” […] Right after Christmas, Michael Jackson invited him to come up to California. Michael was getting things set up so that children who were sick would come out to the ranch and enjoy themselves. Dr. Kleiman and I were completely reassured that there were enough medical personnel around to take care of any emergency. I sent Ryan off to California. Even though it was warm out there, he needed his heater. He was so cold that Michael gave him an extra-heavy coat. People have asked me if I ever hesitated sending Ryan off alone to stay with Michael Jackson. The answer is: Not for one minute.
They found someone to give the boy a computer, because he wanted to record his thoughts and feelings at the end. I remember asking Michael Jackson’s office to send a memento to a kid named Rocky, who was Michael’s biggest fan. Like Elton’s office, they were immediately generous in cases like that. But what could you say to a woman who demanded that Michael buy her a Cadillac? How could you react to the woman who called up Elton’s office and pretended to be me and said Ryan wanted concert tickets?
The kids enjoyed some of the things we had that Ryan worked so hard and suffered so much to give us – the comfortable home, the trip to visit Michael Jackson at his ranch. But they resented the fact that my life and work were dedicated to making sure that Ryan would not have died and suffered in vain. I tried to explain to them that everything we had was because of what Ryan had done and the courageous way he had led his short life - but it wasn’t easy for them to understand.”
[Jeanne White, mother of national poster child for HIV/AIDS Ryan Wayne White (1971-1990); excerpts from “Weeding Out The Tears. A Mother’s Story of Love, Loss and Renewal” (1997), co-written with Susan Dworkin]
“So what do you give someone who already has everything? What do you buy for a guy who is worth an estimated $450 million? What kind of thing do you purchase for the oldest “boy” in the world? What sort of present do you give to the first solo artist to generate four Top-Ten hits on the Bilboard charts on one album, seven top hits on another album and five number-one hits on yet another album? What do you give to a man who doesn’t really want anything, except to be accepted? What do you give to Michael Jackson? It took days to figure out. […] We were jamming to the sample of “Do The Bartman”, when John leans over and says, “I won’t be directing you on this one.” “Oh, bummer!” I replied. “Yeah,” he went on. “Some guy named Michael’s gonna lead you.” It took a few seconds for the penny to drop and my jaw quickly followed. Michael?! I raced to the nearest mall. A set of sunglasses? A T-shirt? A nice tie? […] Something more personal. I raced home and rummaged every closet. My trumpet? Never! That negligée? A family photo? I had to think of something. I don’t know why, just had to. Then, as I dug deeper into my collection, I heard the strangest thing. Little Lucy, all of nine months, got her finger in the string of a talking Bart doll and I heard my own altered voice say, “Eat my shorts.” Problem solved. I have about ten of these dolls and, besides, the “shorts” line it voices about five other expressions that have been incorporated into our American vernacular. Pretty sad. The vernacular, not the doll. The doll is actually kinda cute. […] I figured this might be just the perfect gift for the guy who has everything.
Standing in the lobby, the front door opens and in he walks. He had on his sunglasses and was a little taller than I had imagined. Jim was right there and shook his hand and said a few things, welcoming him and all. Then, Michael turned to me. I had the doll behind my back because I wanted to surprise him. I had signed the doll’s belly and written “Bart (*heart shape*) Michael” on the front of his T-shirt. Just as we finished our greetings, I pulled the doll out from behind and handed it to him, saying, “This is from me to you”. He just about had a heart attack! His eyes lit up like a six-year old’s and he took it and hugged it. “Omygod, he really is a kid!” He thanked me profusely and, from that moment on, I knew we were going to have a great time.
We went into the studio and began the rehearsal for “Do the Bartman”. Michael was absolutely incredible. We had so much fun. It didn’t take us very long at all, because he knew exactly what he was doing. We started at the top and just ran through it a couple of times and he couldn’t stop laughing. He absolutely loved Bart and when I spoke like him, Michael was delighted… like a kid at Christmas. At one point in the song, there was plenty of room for ad-libbing. I went nuts. I added this one toward the end, “Eat your heart out, Michael,” and he loved that! I hope it stays. We finished and he gave me a copy and gave me a hug. And then I went out to the very cozy living room and had a little lunch. Oh, and by the way, those dolls? I found them on sale at Toys “R” Us for $10 apiece. They retailed at $30. I snatched them all, it was such a deal. Hey, you never know when you might run into Michael Jackson.”
[Nancy Cartwright, film and television actress, comedian and voice artist, best known for long-running voice-role as Bart Simpson; excerpts from “My Life as a 10-Year-Old Boy” autobiography (2000)]
“Superstars don’t make records like this (“Scream”). Especially superstars who’ve spent the last 18 months (…) after sensational child abuse allegations. They make safe, nice records. You know, easy on the ear, simple, friendly. This really is dangerous. Just like Black & White (…), so Scream goes in the face of everything you’d expect. Police sirens, anger (… you make me wanna scream”), his sister’s small, but vital contribution (“I was disgusted by (all) the injustice”). This is Michael fighting back. And he’s delivered what could be a knock-out blow. Incredible.”
[Tony Cross’ singles review for May 1995’s “Smash Hits” magazine]
“[…] I spoke with Gil Garcetti and explained that I had been hired to represent Jackson and asked him whether any warrant had been issued. He told me none had. I then asked that, if a warrant ever were obtained, he would contact me and allow me to arrange a dignified surrender, rather than simply arresting Michael. Gil agreed. Early the next morning, Michael Jackson, who was in Europe, telephoned my house. He obviously was relieved, and we hit it off immediately. It was the first of many long telephone chats we have had since. But what impressed me most was the very first thing he said to me.
“I am innocent of these charges, Johnnie,” he said emphatically.
I told Michael of my plans to involve my associate Carl Douglas, a federal public defender, in his case. Carl and Eric Ferrer are two of the best trial lawyers in our firm. Carl is a terrific lawyer with an astonishing capacity for hard work and a willingness to put himself on the line emotionally for his clients. I felt sure he and Michael would like each other, and so they did. A couple of days later, Carl and I drove to the Santa Monica airport, where Michael’s private helicopter was waiting to fly up to his famous Neverland retreat in Santa Barbara County north of Los Angeles. It is, as the name suggests, a consciously magical place with its vast mansion, private zoo, and dazzling amusement park. There is music everywhere, and, the minute I stepped out of the helicopter, I understood that this whole enchanted environment had been designed to reinforce and maintain the childlike sense of wonder so crucial to Michael’s art. I remember turning to Carl and saying, “We can’t let this young man be taken down. He’s told us he’s innocent.”
I also knew that by then, the parents of the alleged victim had fired their first attorney, a strident part-time radio talk show host by the name of Gloria Allred, and hired Larry Feldman, one of the finest trial lawyers in the country. […]
Shortly thereafter, Michael appeared at the NAACP’s Image Awards, where his surprise appearance provoked a (…) standing ovation. […] I thought it essential that he see for himself the reservoir of pride and goodwill his people maintained for him. He was touched (…). I know that support was a source of comfort and strength to him during his ordeal and, perhaps more important, something for him to ponder afterward. From a lawyer’s standpoint, Michael was – and is – an ideal client. He is intelligent, articulate, and decisive. Best of all, he solicits counsel when he feels he needs it, listens carefully, and follows reasonable advice to the letter.
Larry Feldman and I sat down to negotiate under the auspices of a retired judge we had retained, as California law permits. […] Both Larry and I agreed that it would be in our clients’ best interests to put this matter behind them and allow them to get on with their lives. It was Martin Luther King’s birthday. We held an outdoor press conference in Santa Monica to announce the settlement. Howard, Larry, Carl, and I all were there. So were more than 250 reporters. As Carl and I were walking to my car, I recall looking up and seeing news helicopters overhead filming us. I turned and whispered to Carl, who seemed slightly dazed by the whole scene, “Take a look at this, my boy, you’ll never see anything like it again in your life.”
As we both were about to discover, I’ve never been so utterly wrong.”
[Johnnie L. Cochran, Jr., high-profile lawyer (with Tim Rutten); excerpts from “Journey To Justice” (1997)]
“The pyjama day (at court) stands out a lot in my mind. [Michael had slipped in the shower and bruised his lung. He received a call at the hospital, informing him that if he didn’t arrive at court within a strict time limit, he would go to the cells. With no time to go home and change, he sped to court wearing the clothes he was taken to hospital in and hobbled up the courthouse path in his pyjamas, the agony etched across his face.] That’s when I went to the hospital and I saw him. We had a talk and he just said he’s the most misunderstood person in the world. He was serious and he was tearing [up] and I hugged him and it’s like, you see where we come from and we’re no different from any other family but the success, it sort of just overwhelms the human person in him. So much, they talk about the legend and this and that, but he’s a human being. He’s a father who loved his children, who would spend a lot of time with them. I brought my kids over one time and Prince and Paris were acting up. Michael said, ‘I’m very disappointed in you, you all are acting crazy in front of Jafaar and Jermajesty, so you’re grounded’. I mean, he was so on them that he wanted them to be good. He would not agree today, if he was alive then, he would not let them be on the internet and all this kind of stuff. He was totally against all that stuff. […] Yes. And we’re against it. We have meetings with my mother about it. She can’t control it. She’s 81 years old. They had the computers taken away from them and then they got them back and they say they need them for homework, but they’re doing that little thing here and there. […] (Hackers) are doing that stuff! Yes! One person out there got in a confrontation with Paris and started calling her father all these kinds of names and stuff and I said, ‘See, this is why they don’t need to be on the internet. These people aren’t all nice. They’re waiting to say horrible things.’ […] When you put something out there, you have to live with it and it’s around forever, more so today than other times because of the internet and twitter and this and that. I had a conversation with my mother and I just explained to her how this is still not the proper time, and then in the same conversation she tells me the brothers are rehearsing! So I’m saying to myself, ‘But the trial…’ Because, see, this is what I don’t want: What’s gonna happen in the (2011 People vs Conrad Murray trial] is again, [they’ll] humiliate him, say the most horrible things and all this kind of stuff….But [the family] don’t see how two weeks into the trial, to do a show when the world is focused on getting justice for him… The performance can come later.”
“We know somebody did this. Whether we’ll find out or not, I don’t know. The trial is just a procedure, but just look how long it took. It makes me feel like they didn’t care. Look how long they took to arrest Murray compared (to) how quick they put Michael in the handcuffs on national TV. [Michael’s home was searched in November 2003 and jury selection was underway by January 2005. Conversely, Conrad Murray wasn’t arrested until almost eight months after Jackson’s death and it was another 18 before he went on trial.] One thing that rubbed me the wrong way is when the judge said, ‘We wanna get this out of the way before the holidays’. This is the problem with L.A. and the whole justice system. […]The world lost someone that they loved and they say, ‘We want to get this out of the way for the holidays’. That was the wrong thing for me to hear.”
“One of my sources told me that one day Michael was looking around and he said, ‘Who are these cameras for?’ He didn’t even know! What they did with This Is It, they covered up a lot (…). Michael wasn’t happy with how they hired people, ‘cuz he wanted people that he wanted to hire and they hired who they wanted to hire. So I guess they wanted everybody to be loyal to them. I spoke to five people who were either in rehearsals or in touch with Michael outside of them. They told me what they were doing to him. They could see he was hot and cold and so they’re throwing him jackets. Charles, they treated him so bad. Someone said, ‘Just chuck him a bucket of chicken’. But all someone had to do was call us up. Any one of us. Even the drummer from This Is It, who has been around us all these years, Jonathan Moffett, who knows us! Pick up the phone! Call me! Call Jackie! […] ‘Can’t you see there’s something wrong? What are you all concerned about? The show? There won’t be no show if he’s not well’. And nobody said anything. I was told by one of these five people that they were told to stay off the internet, don’t contact [the family], what stays here, stays here. Just a lock down. So much that they had a person in his room! […] When I tell my mother to this day, she says don’t tell me, don’t tell me. She cries. And I say, ‘Mother, you need to know this. You need to hear how they treated him in the very last days.’ ”
“People keep on telling me how lucky I am to have met and worked for Mr. Jackson. I couldn’t agree more. I could have done something right in my life to be granted with this kind of opportunity. It was truly a blessing. Mr. Jackson was a blessing. He gave me the chance to see the world... literally. I traveled with them across the globe and got to experience so many "firsts" in my life, like traveled privately on a chartered jet plane, commercially on first & business class, lived in a castle, stayed in 5-star hotels and so much more (I could go on and on and on). I can still remember clearly this conversation with him when we're at the airport.
Me: " Mr. Jackson , if it wasn't for you, I wouldn't be able to travel and see beautiful places. Thank you for showing me the world."Mr. Jackson:
"My pleasure, Ms. Aileen. Thank you for teaching my children. God bless you."
But more than the material things, I am so grateful to the Jackson Family for the love, respect and trust. They never treated me as an outsider, but a part of their private family. I stayed where they stayed and ate the same food they ate. I never felt as an outcast. It’s also worth mentioning that the children were so kind and polite. They never failed to say “please” and “thank you.” Kudos to Mr. Jackson! He did an amazing job raising his kids.
The world knew Mr. Jackson as a brilliant performer… I knew him as a decent man, great father to P,P& B and the coolest boss on the planet.”
“Bahrain - One afternoon, after school, the children came to me and gave me a present.
PP: “ Hey, Ms. Aileen, a gift from Daddy!”
Me: “Wow, thank you."
P: "Open it. "
Me: "Okay, I will."
P: "Do you like it?"
Me: “Yes, very much. Please tell your Daddy that I’m so happy. Thank you!”
P: "Pleasure. Okay. Bye."
I'm sure the kids saw the stars in my eyes when I opened the beautifully wrapped box. I was thrilled to bits not only because it was my first Apple Ipod, but because it was given by no less than Michael Jackson himself! How cool was that! A notice came early in the morning that we will be moving from Versailles to Disneyland Paris. Obviously, I was overjoyed, because it was my first Disney adventure. I believe I was more thrilled than the children. When we got there, I was surprised to see a bunch of fans screaming Michael Jackson’s name. “How did they know we 're here?” I wondered. That totally puzzled me. […] Without a doubt, I did have a magical moment at the happiest place on earth.
The next day , I was informed that we will be going to the park together with Mr. Jackson and the children. I was kinda excited and didn’t know what was it like to be going out with them. It was my first public engagement with the family. We did not pass the entrance gate, but security ushered us to the back gate instead. When we got in the park, people started screaming and running towards us. Mr. Jackson waved his hand and said “I love you” to the people. Security was already in full alert trying to protect Mr. Jackson and the group. When the crowd became irrepressible, we headed to the nearest shop. The security was forced to lock-up the place to prevent them from coming in and to give the group some time inside. We stayed inside the shop for awhile.The fans didn’t stop from screaming and waited patiently outside. I was instructed to keep an eye on the children all the time. When we went out, the crowd mugged us. Security needed to take the children away from Mr. Jackson to keep them from being hurt. I was stunned with what had happened. Found out that one of the children got a bruise on the arm, but didn't complain at all. After some time, we proceeded to the park as planned. The children and the grown-ups surely enjoyed the rides and the different attractions. I felt my excitement fading away when we headed to Space Mountain, a steel roller coaster-type attraction in Discoveryland. I simply hate roller coaster!
Me: “I think I will just have to stay here and wait for you, guys.”
Prince: “Come on. Let’s go.”
Me: “You can go without me, Prince.” Have fun!” I will be right here waiting, okay?
Prince: "Are you sure?"
Prince: "Okay. We will be right back."
I sighed with relief. Then they proceeded along with the security and took the ride. So I stayed at the waiting area until they came back. After an afternoon filled with fun, thrill and excitement, we were escorted back to our hotel. When dinner was over, I went to the hotel shop to buy some more stuff. Then again I saw the same people who greeted us when we entered the hotel. They were seated at the lobby waiting for Mr. Jackson to come out. They were talking so loud that everyone could hear them converse about their enthusiasm of seeing him. At that time, I didn’t quite understand why people would go crazy chasing him and would be willing to splurge a huge amount of money for airfares and hotel accommodation just to have a glimpse of Mr. Jackson. It’s funny that I never understood why people who went to his concert would cry and faint. A person who could draw attention from millions of people all over the world was just amazing. He was like a MAGNET attracting the public wherever he went. He was incredible! It was only after I got to know his real character and who he really was that I understood people’s enthrallment towards him. More than his exceptional and incomparable talent, his pure heart made the people adore and love him immensely. It's true that I read a couple of those offensive rumors about him, but never did I question his morality... not even once. I have been a living witness to the inherent goodness and decency of Mr. Jackson. Those horrible tabloid rumors were far from the real person that he really was. It made me wonder over and over again.. Where the hell did they get all those stories from?
"It’s funny that the people who didn’t get the chance to be with him have a lot to say."
“The next day, I saw Mr. Jackson and the kids. He brought the kids to the classroom, one of the suite rooms they have reserved for us.
Me: "Good morning, Mr. Jackson. Good morning, PPB."
Mr. Jackson: "Good morning. I'm happy you're here with us. Do you like France?"
Me: "I haven't been around yet, but so far, YES, I do. "
Mr. Jackson: "You should go out and explore. This is a beautiful place."
Me: "I will. Thanks."
Mr: Jackson: "So I will now leave you here and children behave, okay?"
PPB: "Okay. Love you, Daddy."
Mr: Jackson: "I love you more."
PBB: "Miss you."
Mr. Jackson: " I miss you more."
The children were so attached to him. He was the apple of their eyes and you can see the love and respect they have for him. Their eyes twinkled every time they talked about their dad. Despite his busy schedule, Mr. Jackson attended to them personally, making sure all their needs were taken cared of. He was a very "hands-on" father. He played with them, prepared their food, read books to them, watched movies with them, went shopping with them.. practically he was with them all the time when the children were not in school. It was pretty clear to me that he was a great dad with so much love for his children. He could live without anything, but not without his children. PPB were his life. If there's one thing that people should not question about... it is how brilliant he was as a father.”
“If you were working for a celebrity there was a pressure to perform your best. The pressure doubles if you work for no less than the music icon himself, Michael Jackson. My journey was not that easy. It was a roller coaster ride of emotions. I would lie if I say that I didn’t come across any challenges at all. There were a lot actually, from little stuff to complicated ones. Ms. G used to tell me this and it continued to be my main motivation whenever I’m troubled and confused. .. “The problems and trials that we experienced were purposely given to us to shape our character.” She added, “Always pray. It doesn’t matter where you are as long as you talk to God. You don’t need to be inside the church to offer a short prayer. You can pray inside your room, while having a shower, when you’re inside the elevator or wherever you need to talk to Him.”
True enough, her words of wisdom helped me a lot overcome my anxiety. Prayer is the most effective way to overcome any obstacle. It costs nothing but your little time and strong faith. Indeed, the bumps and humps were essential for us to appreciate a smooth ride. There may be pressures and demands that came with the job, but it was definitely all worth it.
In November 2006, we flew to England for the World Music Awards. We checked in a luxury 5-star hotel in London. Since it was a huge event, people knew that Mr. Jackson will be in town. To my surprise, they arrived at the hotel before we did. Fans stayed outside the hotel screaming, singing and yelling “We love you, Michael.” They sang and danced to his songs. It was like watching a production number for free. And they did successfully caught his attention. In fact, not only his, but the entire staff and guests at the hotel as well. Needless to say, Mr. Jackson loved his supporters so much. He appreciated all the love and devotion. He knew his fans would always be there for him in good and in bad times.
Each night, Mr. Jackson asked our security people to hand food and drinks to his loving fans that stayed outside 24/7. I’m not exaggerating. They stayed there day and night. The fans went wild when he waved and opened his hotel room window. When I witnessed how the fans screamed at the top of their lungs and how they chased our vehicle every time we left, I realized how privileged I was to be with him most of the time and be able to talk to him casually. Honestly, there were times in the past when I would forget that my boss was the most famous human being in the world, the one and only, Mr. Michael Jackson. Please, don’t get me wrong. It was because I saw him every single day. I saw him when he was just wearing his pajamas, sometimes in his Donald Duck shirt and bumped into him at the pantry every now and then. When school was over for the day, he would at times call me on my cell phone and ask about school stuff or something else. There were times when I missed his calls and he would leave a voice message:
Moreover, he NEVER acted like a “superstar” around us, even though he really was a true "superstar" in the real sense of the word because of the obvious reasons we are all aware about. He was naturally kind and a delight to be with. One of the most humble men that I have the pleasure to meet in this lifetime. Albeit the rubbish rumors written on the tabloids, no one and nothing could ever take away my admiration for the one and only, King of Pop.
One fine afternoon, I got a heads-up from the Head of Security that Japan will be our next destination. No other details were revealed, except an instruction to pack my stuff. I didn’t attempt to ask “when” and “why”, because I knew I wouldn’t get an answer anyway. Packing really wasn’t that strenuous since I was living out of a suitcase. In Japan, we stayed in one of my favorite hotels, Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo. Great service and excellent food. Though I didn't order Sushi and Sashimi ( so sorry for the sushi and sashimi lovers out there, I just can't take the taste) but their authentic Tempura is to die for. I called Room Service every single day to order Tempura for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner for 7 consecutive days.
Mr. Jackson went to greet 3,000 plus U.S. troops and their families at Army base Camp Zama, Japan, just south of Tokyo. He told the crowd: “It’s an honor and a privilege to be here. You people are among the most special in the world, because you have chosen a life of service. Because of you here today and others who have given their lives, we can enjoy our freedom at home. I thank you from the bottom of my heart, and I love you.”
Additionally, Mr. Jackson needed to be in Japan for a couple of important events like the Platinum VIP Party, Meet and Greet event and the Fan Appreciation Day. Even with the hectic schedule, our group did not miss to visit Tokyo Disney Sea. We got there just in time for their Fireworks Display. It was undoubtedly spectacular. A must-see for all ages. We then settled down and waited for our food to be served. After some time, I heard Mr. Jackson called my name and asked me to come closer.
Mr. Jackson: Ms. Aileen, I would like you to meet The Queen of the Jackson Family, my mother. Facing Mrs. Jackson, “She is the kids’ teacher. She is from the Philippines.”
Mrs. Jackson smiled to me and said, “ Hi, How are you?
Me: I’m good. Thanks for asking. I’m glad to finally meet you, Mrs. Jackson.”
Mr. Jackson must have noticed that I was not at ease where I was seated, because I was so quiet. So he went out of his way to let me feel comfortable and asked me to sit beside him and the kids. I honestly felt out of place, since his staff talked about office matters that I didn't know about. I worked closely with Mr. Jackson and the kids, so I have no clue about some meetings and contracts they referred to. He was very sensitive to other people's feelings. He had his own unique ways of letting you feel special and saving you from awkward situations. […]
Arigatou gozaimasu for the love, Mr. Jackson.”
“We have stayed in Ireland, the land of many beautiful castles and stone buildings for quite a while enough to be considered as our second home. It was our sanctuary away from the paparazzi and media. Personally, I have learned to love their weather, culture, lush and green environment, food and most especially the warm people who showered us with so much attention and love. When I think of Ireland, I remember these: the fried chicken (and milk, PP, you know exactly what I'm talking about) at Luggala, the excellent homemade cookies of Claire and Laura, my afternoon walk from the cottage to Coolatore, sauna just before bedtime, treadmill sessions and morning/afternoon jog with the children, my first helicopter ride ever, shopping at Dundrum and wearing those wellies.
My unending gratitude to the Jacksons, my family away from home. The loneliness was perfectly compensated with the fun and laughter everytime I was with the family. The giggles, fooling around, silly jokes and the pranks with them were unforgettable. Without a doubt, a wealth of priceless memories with Mr. Jackson and the children in the land of the Emerald Isle.”
“Admit it or not, many of us seek for stardom in some point of our lives. […] Well, I have witnessed first hand the life of not just your typical star. […] I have seen how the public got so interested in him, that they followed us everywhere. From the castles of Ireland to the world-class hotels in Vegas. Every move, every step and every breath he took was publicized and sensationalized. Seeing those desperate paparazzis and reporters made me realized that being famous ain't easy. During his time, media forgot their boundaries. They did everything just to get a snapshot of Mr. Jackson… the funny looking photos, the better. Once they get these precious images, then they start to fabricate ridiculous stories. Helicopters hovering just meters away from where we were staying was just a "normal" thing. People would do anything and everything just to get a scoop. When we took a short unplanned trip and flew commercially somewhere in Europe (we were not able to have prior reservations, because it was an urgent thing). Mr. Jackson and the children were seated quietly on their designated seats along with our group. The three angels were very behaved and hardly talked so that they won't attract anymore attention. Obviously people were busy looking and observing their moves. The following day, I was aghast to see the front page of the local daily that the spoiled children of Michael Jackson were yelling and throwing soda cans during the entire flight. Unbelievable! How on earth can they write such story which didn't happen at all? Those were clearly just a figment of their wild and stupid imagination. People who were not on that flight and will read stories like this will likely believe all of this crap.
From that moment on, I knew why the boss would hate to see us read tabloids. That was not the last time it happened. I would run out of space and time if I go on. Over time, I have developed an emotional attachment with the family, especially the kids. It pains (yes until now) me to hear or read false accusations against them, because deep in my heart I know how kind and well-mannered they were. They were my family in a land where I have no body to rely on. When you get to look into the lives of these famous personalities, you will eventually start to appreciate your simple life. The freedom to go anywhere and anytime you want without somebody stalking is beyond price. Nobody would even bother to critic if you opt to go to Target or Walmart. Mr. Jackson wasn't able to enjoy the same kind of liberty that we ordinary people have. He couldn't go out, dine out and go to a bookstore (He was a bookworm. He read about history, photography, designs, film, travel, architectural designs, Africa and so many other interesting books... that explains why he was well-informed and very smart) without cameras following him. No matter how hard he tried to cover up, people still recognized him. Paradoxically, those people who are apparently not MJ fans started to say good things about him when he passed away. They then remembered how amazing he was as a performer and how great his music was. The life that Mr. Jackson lived may be unfathomable, but one thing for sure.. he was a person with extraordinary talents, but with ordinary wants just like you and me. Again and again I'm extending my gratitude to you, my boss, for allowing me to have a glimpse of your private world.”
[Aileen M., educator, writer; source:
“People should know by now not to believe the media when it comes down to TMZ talking about my family. #HoldMyHad IS my dad actually singing. [But "Monster," "Keep Your Head Up" and "Breaking News" are clearly not.] Yes.”
“On June 6, 1990, musician Teddy Riley was supposed to be at friend and fellow band member’s birthday party. Instead, he spent the night at a Soundworks Studio on 23rd Avenue in Queens, working on grooves for none other than the King of Pop, Michael Jackson.
“I told [the group] I had a lot of work to do,” Riley recalls. “Michael was my priority. I was going out to California to meet him soon, and he wanted me to bring my best work.”
It was a fortuitous decision.
Later that evening, Riley learned someone was shot on the dance floor at the party he had skipped. He was shaken. At just 23 years of age, violence and death were already becoming a recurring theme in his life. Within that same year, his half-brother and best friend both had also been murdered.
The rhythm track Riley worked on that night was aggressive, ominous, menacing. But it had no words, no title, and no melody.
The following Saturday, he was on his way to Neverland Ranch to meet Michael Jackson. Riley was nervous. Jackson had already tried out a handful of people to replace legendary producer, Quincy Jones, including L.A. Reid, Babyface and Bryan Loren. None stayed on. Jackson had high hopes, however, for Teddy Riley, whose street-inflected New Jack Swing style brilliantly fused jazz, gospel, R&B, and hip hop. Indeed, perhaps its greatest achievement was in bridging the divide between R&B and hip hop, a bridge, incidentally, that Jackson had been hoping to find since working on Bad.
Jackson listened carefully to the tapes Riley brought with him and instantly loved what he heard. The tracks used different chords than he was accustomed to. The rhythms were fresh and edgy. The beats swung with velocity and hit like sledgehammers.
Among several tracks Jackson listened to that day was the groove Riley worked on the night of the party. Jackson had no idea about the context. “He knew nothing about it,” Riley says. “I never told him anything about it.” A couple of weeks later, however, Riley says he was shocked to learn Jackson’s title for the track: “Blood on the Dance Floor.” Riley got goose bumps. “It was like he prophesied that record. He felt its mood.”
Over the subsequent months, Jackson and Riley began working feverishly on a variety of tracks, sometimes separately, sometimes together at Larabee Studios in Los Angeles. “I remember he came back with this melody, ‘Blood on the dance floor, blood on the dance floor.’ I was like, ‘Wow!’ He came up with these lyrics and harmonies. Then we just started building it up, layer by layer.”
Riley used a vintage drum machine (the MPC 3000) for the beat. The snare was compressed to make it pop (“I want it dry and in your face,” Jackson used to say). It was a sound they used throughout the Dangerous album. “Listen to ‘Remember the Time,’” Riley says. “It’s very similar.”
Ultimately, however, “Blood on the Dance Floor” didn’t end up making it onto Dangerous. “It wasn’t quite finished,” Riley says. “There were still some vocal parts missing. Michael loved the song, but he would listen to it and say, ‘I like what you did here, but we still need this here.’ He was a perfectionist.”
[…] Jackson wouldn’t resume work on “Blood” until nearly seven years later. It was now January of 1997. Jackson was in the midst of his HIStory World Tour, and had decided to visit Montreux, Switzerland during a break between the first and second leg (…).
Here, at Mountain Studio, Jackson went to work on the old demo. “We took Teddy’s DAT (Digital Audio Tape) and worked it over with a four-man crew,” recalls musician, Brad Buxer. The completed multi-track, engineered, and mixed by Mick Guzauski, was modeled very closely on the last version Jackson and Riley recorded.
“When I heard it finished, I wished I could’ve been the one to [complete it],” Riley says. “But Michael knows what he wants, and he was happy with it.”
It was, in some ways, an unusual dance song. Like “Billie Jean,” its subject matter was dark and disturbing (in this case, a narrative about being stabbed in the back in the place he least suspected – the dance floor). Jackson’s clipped, raspy vocals evoke a sense of foreboding, as the electro-industrial canvas conjures a modern urban setting. Still, the song feels anything but bleak. The beat cracks out of the speakers like a whip and the hook is irresistible.
Jackson told Riley he believed the song was going to be a “smash.” “He explained it like this: A hit is a song that stays on the charts for a week or two. A smash is a song that stays up there for six weeks,” Riley says. “He felt ‘Blood on the Dance Floor’ was a ‘smash.’”
“Blood on the Dance Floor” was released on March 21, 1997. Strangely, the song wasn’t even promoted as a single in the U.S. Riley says Jackson didn’t mind in this case. “He figured people in America would find it if they really wanted it. He wasn’t worried about it.” Globally, however, the song thrived, reaching the Top Ten in 15 countries and hitting No. 1 in three (including the U.K.). It also proved ripe for remixes and received frequent play in clubs and dance routines. Left off Jackson’s two major studio albums that decade, “Blood” ironically became one of Jackson’s most durable rhythm tracks of the ’90(‘)s.
Fifteen years later, what makes the song unique? I ask Riley. “It was just a direct, aggressive sound for Michael. He always pushed for something stronger. But what was really amazing was how he pre-meditated the energy of the song. He knew what it was about even before I told him what happened that night. I’ve never witnessed anything or anyone as powerful as Michael.” “
[Joseph Vogel, author of Man in the Music: The Creative Life and Work of Michael Jackson. source: http://www.theatlantic.com]
“I'm not at odds with anyone because everyone accepts that Michael died due to Propofol intoxication, and he used it because he was desperate to sleep, not because he was addicted. I personally felt it was important to point out the difference between Michael's one time addiction to painkillers, and the sensationalist addiction talk of him being "a junkie" that the media and Murray wrongly attached to his death. […] My siblings shared private conversations and concerns with our brother about his addiction around 2001/02 time (…), but talking about that period does not mean they are calling him a drug addict in 2009. He wasn't. […] I don't dismiss Michael's experience and feelings. What I have tried to do is balance what happened and do what Michael tried to teach us all: be more understanding and more compassionate. That's why I used his Oxford University speech in the book, because he didn't have the judgment or vitriol that some fans have for Joseph. He forgave him. He didn't judge him. He also loved him and history deserves to know that.”
“[…] The biggest misunderstanding is that I introduced him to Michael as some kind of partner or manager. That's not true. I first met Tohme-Tohme as someone who could help fund the Crystal City project, (…) which I was working on with Michael around 2007 time. I had four meetings with Michael to get down our vision on paper. He was all about it. I met with Tohme-Tohme to find a consortium to raise the $5-6 billion we needed. Not once did I mention to him that Michael was involved in this project. […] Soon afterwards, I heard that Neverland was in trouble. There was talk of foreclosure. That was the first time I went to Tohme-Tohme about Michael, (April 13 2008) because if this guy could find billions for a leisure project, he probably knew businessmen who had $23-24 million to save Neverland. That was my thinking. Long story short, Tohme-Tohme introduced me to Tom Barrack at Colony Capital. [...] Folk out there have no idea how close to the wire things got. From that moment on, I wasn't part of the equation and Tohme-Tohme turned against me. He was no friend of mine and I know that he became no friend of Michael's. But, from April 2008, the choices and the appointments that were made had nothing to do with me. Michael was his own man with his own mind. […] I think the access went to (Thome’s) head. His manner was too sharp and fiery for Michael in the end. […]”
“[…] Everybody doesn't know, because Michael had agreed to do one "final" concert with the brothers and that was because Mother wanted to see us all on stage one last time in her life-time, not thinking that Michael would pass before her. He made that promise to her, not us, and we hadn't really spoken about it. But that concert was included in the many plans he had for after This Is it, including spot-dates in China and a performance at the Super Bowl 2010 (plans made prior to John Branca's return).”
“For us, it was nonsense to hear all those tabloid lies about Michael bleaching his skin, but I'll say what Michael said: if we spent our time extinguishing every rumor and every lie that was ever said or written, none of us would have had lives. When I first started writing the book, I didn't intend to include anything about this. We are (as a family) very private. But I mentioned it one day and my ghost-writer thought it was significant. We talked about it and I agreed to include it after being persuaded that it was important information (to share I too have Vitiligo).”
“For now, I'll say what I've always said on this issue: when has Michael's music and voice ever been released with a question mark over it, as to whether it's 100% him? I think the truth will come out one day ,but no, that first (posthumous) album (“Michael”) is not 100% Michael and no one can talk to me about the authentic sound of my own brother's voice.”
“[The worst prank Michael ever played on me?] Buckets or bottles of water balanced on the top of doors. Water, water, water. Every prank I ever remember involved a soaking! […] [What do I miss about Michael most?] That's simple: his smile. He had a smile like no one else. […] [If I could say just one more thing to Michael,] it wouldn't be one thing, it would be many things. Many private things, but I would probably remind him how brilliant his London concerts were going to be, because his self-doubt worried about that. That's the saddest thing for me: that his death confirmed the lie that he wasn't ready or fit enough to perform again, when the truth is that he was going to produce the most amazing show on earth and prove everyone wrong with the comeback of all comebacks.”
MJJC Exclusive Q&A; source:
“Well, I feel that - like we're supposed to have forgiving hearts. (It) doesn't mean I have to forget. […] I forgive him. I am supposed to. […] I'm not saying that I'm not upset about what happened. But I can't go around angry and upset and want to get revenge and all these things like that. You know, things happen and I'm made to forgive. So I have to forgive. It doesn't mean I have to forget. I haven't forgot what happened. It hurts me dearly. Were there some terrible things done? Absolutely. But I have to forgive. I can't be angry.”
[“Tito” Jackson, Michael Jackson’s brother - interviewed on “Piers Morgan Tonight”; source: http://transcripts.cnn.com]
“I think what we do here on planet Earth is that we are too quick to judge. I think the Lord put us on the Earth to love one another, not to judge one another. That's His job to do, to judge people. When you do leave this planet, you are going to be judged on what you have done for yourself -- I mean not for yourself, what you've done for others, the things that you've done, and not for ridiculing people and things of that nature. That's what we do. That's what we do wrong.”
[Marlon Jackson, Michael’s brother – interviewed on “Piers Morgan Tonight”; source: http://transcripts.cnn.com]
“We first met about 1979 through Mayor Bradley of Los Angeles and also through [inaudible..]. Two different occasions. And the first time that I had a chance to talk to Michael, he says, “Now, you're a sculptor.” And I said ‘Yes’. “What type of sculpture?” I said “I build monuments.” And he goes, “Wow, I've never met a monument builder before.” And I said to him, I knew who Michael is, but I said “Well, what do you do, Michael?” And he says, “I love life”. I'll always remember that. He said, “I love life.” And I said “Wow, that's a great job. I love life, too.” And he says, “I'm an artist, too. And I like to draw things that inspire my life.”
“[In this collection we’re putting out] I have -- we have 98 pieces. Other people have some. And there's about -- maybe there's about 20 of those pieces I draw, he did artwork on the other side. I made the paper for Michael in the 1980’s, special paper, so if anybody got it they couldn't, you know, counterfeit it. And so he -- we ran -- he ran out of the paper. That's why he started doing artwork on the reverse side. […] He loved Abraham Lincoln. He loved freedom. He loved the whole aspect of people being free. Being able to create, you know, beautiful things to inspire people like he wanted to, you know, create his music.”
“His enthusiasm to succeed brought all the strength out in him. And he just wanted to create more. And he wanted to be in front of his fans again. You know. And he was enthusiastic. […] During the time that he was pretty much studying to do these (“This Is It”) concerts, I had very little contact with him. So the contact that I did have, it was upbeat and enthusiastic. He would call me early hours of the morning and leave me some fantastic messages. So I never knew that he ever had any problems. But I do know that over the years that, you know, he would trust people and he would not do any due diligence or sometimes his inner feelings would -- he wouldn't listen to them. And I think he had a lot of trust that he should have questioned. […] He loved his father (too). […] I think people should know that he respected his father. […] And he respected (his siblings). […]”
“He was misinterpreted by people who may have been jealous of his success. But also he loved animals. He loved nature. And children was -- had a special feeling in his heart. It was an inspiration for him.”
“Michael spent a good part of 25 years making this art. And it was like a private world for him. While a lot of the public thought that he may have been doing things that they thought he shouldn't be doing, he was actually creating art. And it was like a world for him to -- to retreat into, into this spiritual type of feeling where he would express his ideas. And he absolutely loved it, and it made him feel good. […] He would like -- he wanted to -- he thought that his fans would support his art. And by the sale of the art, he could support the Children's Hospital of Los Angeles. And we all went there and put some of Michael's art in the hospital when it was opened. And he was hoping to be there in 2007 or '08, after he came back from Bahrain. He wanted to put some of his art there, but they weren't finished with the hospital. So when it did get finished, we went there with Burt and Mary Sugarman. And so I was hoping that they would permanently put Michael's art in there, because it's a children's hospital. I thought they welcomed his art with open arms. […] He also wanted from the sale of his art to support not only children, but animals. And some of his music was in support of the world. He was a very warm person (…).”
[Brett-Livingstone Strong, architect, sculptor, painter – on “Piers Morgan Tonight”; source: http://transcripts.cnn.com]
“Michael loved art a lot. He -- he loved paintings, he loved water colors. He loved even the crayons. And he would always draw. And when he was even in school, he would draw pictures and they took one of his drawings and put it on the front of the yearbook. […] He taught himself. […] Just the talent that he had. And I can't say too much more about him, only his father -- his father was an artist, too. He loved to paint and draw. So I thought maybe he might have picked it up from him. But he had a natural talent for it, Michael did. […] Because when he was just a child, when we moved to Havenhurst, before we remodeled, it had a little house in the back and he took that little house and he made it out to -- of an art studio for himself. […] But sometimes when he's not doing anything, he would go and start painting. And I think that's just -- it's a way of him just relaxing.”
“[He loved the number 7.] Well, Michael was a seventh child. He -- his name had seven letters in it. He would always talk about that. And, you know, seven -- the number seven means completeness in the bible, it tells us. So (it’s like a lucky number) for him. […] He just had an obsession of chairs. The chairs that -- not just a plain chair, but chairs that you see had a lot of art in it. A lot of curves, a lot of other things like that. He would draw that. […] He looks sad (in the drawing of himself as a little boy in a corner). And he looks -- you know, I think it's because Michael always said he missed most of his childhood. And he loved to run and play. He loved children. And I think this is what this picture stands for. […] Michael always said he didn't have a childhood, but he enjoyed what he was doing.”
“[…] All these terrible things they laid on Michael, he didn't do these things. But it's just there are wicked people out there and they accuse you of them. But – […] My gosh. […] Oh, my gosh. It almost destroyed me in a way. You know when I say it just hurt. Because I know Michael didn't do those terrible things. But then there are so many wicked people. Why are they doing this to him? […] I've talked to him about it. I never told him to stop having children around. But he did stop having a lot -- most of the children that were around Michael was his own relatives. And I can remember that my sister-in-law, she walked into the store and she saw this -- one of these tabloids. And they had something ugly to say in them in the headlines. And she just went berserk. She said those are my grandchildren, they're Michael's cousins. Why are they saying this about him?”
“You know what, I think a lot of that was exaggerated about the different things that he was taking. Because I've been to my son's house unannounced. And I've been there announced. I have never seen him in that way. I know he was taking painkillers, because he got burnt on top of his head. Very painful. But all this other stuff they added to it, I don't know if that was the truth or not. But I don't think that had anything to do with the way he died. […] I don't know. All I know is they used propofol, and they shouldn't have used it. They were using the wrong setting. That's all I know and that's what caused his death. […] You know what? I can't even describe the way I feel about him (Conrad Murray). He did a terrible thing, and it might have been others involved. I don't know that, but I feel that. You know what, I'd rather not answer that question. The only thing he did for a person's life, four years in jail is not enough. I'll never see my son again. But he can get out and he'll enjoy his children. But – […] He trusted everybody. […] Every morning, all through the day, I think about Michael. If I wake up through the night, my mind is there. […] I just miss him. But being a Christian and believing in the Resurrection, I feel that I'll see him again. I'm sorry. […] [I was concerned about him.] Oh, yes. Oh, yes. Because when they told me that he had 50 shows going on, I was concerned about those shows. I thought it was a little bit too much because Michael hadn't been on stage for about 10 years. You know? And I called him. And I told him because the way they had it structured, they said every other night that he would be working. On a night, off a night, on a night, off a night. And he was -- he was used to working at least once or twice a week. And I just kept calling him telling him they had to change that schedule because that was -- I didn't like the way it was going. I thought it was a little bit too much for him. [He listened to me.] Oh, yes. […] Yes, I do (feel that there were bad people around him). […] I just don't want to answer those questions right now. But I do feel that it was. They didn't care about him. All they cared about was money.”
“(Michael’s children)'re getting along very well. […] They're in school, and the two oldest children go to private school. The youngest doesn't want to leave home yet, so he take -- we have a tutor, a teacher there for him - excuse me - in school. And the oldest, Prince, the oldest boy is such a great student. His grades are so good. They're A-pluses. […] Yes, I do (see Michael’s spirit in them). I do. […] Well, I'm pleased and I'm concerned at the same time (about Paris becoming an actress), because I didn't -- I don't think that Michael would wanted her to be out there this soon. […] You know, I don't think that they act like normal children. They play, they have good time. But I don't think they'll ever forget. I don't think so. But they're doing quite well. Very well.”
“I know he'll be remembered as the artist he was. But a lot of people misunderstood him. They didn't know Michael loved life. He loved people. And he gave so much to charity. And he always loved to give to the people that didn't have, even since he was a little kid about six or seven years old. As I always tell the story about he was laying on the floor watching TV, and remember when the little black kids had flies around their mouths and all and he would start crying. And he was telling me -- he said, ‘Mommy, one day, I'm going to do something about this.’ […] Starving young children with the big bellies. And he's always gave -- he's always been giving to charities and things like that. And he gave more than people knew. […] The things that were coming out, the things that media -- and most people believe what they hear and what they read. These were all terrible lies. […] Like they were saying he was molesting young boys and other things that he was doing, that he might have been on painkillers, things like that. But as far as them trying to make him out to be a terrible person, he was not that. […] No way. No way could Michael have done that. He would always tell me that the things he loved most was children. He would rather slit his own wrists than to hurt a child. And we would sit and talk about that. And he said “People want to make out for me to be this terrible person.”
“You know, Michael - he was one of my younger children. And his brothers had children. So he grew up also with them. He grew up playing all the time. He grew into an adult, and the kids would come over and he'd still play hide and go seek with them and everything. And he did Neverland, he did it for children. And also I imagine he did it for himself because he didn't get a chance to go to those theme parks like other children did. And he would have bus loads of children, school classes, children that -- even in his theater he had two beds, two hospital beds and he would have the sick children to come and watch movies and rides and things like that. And the children that was (sic) bedridden, he made sure that he had a place for them, so they can see the movies or have shows on the stage and all of that. […] I was like Michael, I guess. He didn't act like it. He didn't act like he was the most famous person in the world. He didn't act like -- he was just a down to Earth person. He's very, very mild tempered.”
“I talked to him at least twice a month and sometimes more. […] Yes, (we had a close relationship). […] Yes, he did (confide in me). […] (And) Michael seemed happy. […] He found a lot of joy in his children and in his -- some of his nephews and nieces that he was very close to.”
“Michael was a perfectionist. Whatever he did, he wanted to be the best. He was the first one to have so many number one hits on his album. Because, you remember, albums used to be where you only had one hit or two hits and the rest of them would be album songs. […] He told me -- he said, ‘I don't believe in album songs. I believe every song should be a great song.’ […] Yes, he played most of the things he had. He played for me. […] “Man In The Mirror” (was my favorite). […] That's one of my favorites. And I like the "Earth Song." […] Well, it was a message of greatness. A lot of his songs had messages, but I think (“Man In The Mirror”) was the best of them. [...]"
[Katherine Jackson - on “Piers Morgan Tonight”; source: http://transcripts.cnn.com]
“Before the trial, I had great respect for Michael Jackson as an artist and enjoyed his music. However, as I learned more about him and his life, I came to really enjoy two songs in particular: “Human Nature” and “Earth Song”. […] When I first learned of Michael Jackson’s death, I was in shock. My first thoughts centered on his relative youth, and the tragic loss for his children and other loved ones. At the time, I did not give any thought to any potential criminal prosecution. […] Prior to the trial, my perception of Michael Jackson was simply that he was a very gifted artist and, although I was aware of various media accounts regarding his personal life, I do not typically follow that type of reporting. Now that I have learned so much more about him as a person, I have come away with great admiration for him as a loving and dedicated father to his children.”
“I will say that I was always reluctant to call any of Michael’s children to testify at the trial and any media reports stating differently were based on pure speculation. My feeling was that the children had already had to experience enough trauma and I did not want to compound that by having them endure testifying in such a highly publicized setting about such an emotional and painful experience.”
“Fan sites, blogs and other social media did not play a large role in my preparation. Although I was aware of some of these sites, I tried to approach this case as I would any other - by being as prepared and knowledgeable as possible in regard to the evidence and the law. Toward that goal, I tried to avoid distractions that would take time away from my goal.”
“I have not been able to come up with any reason why Conrad Murray would have made and saved that voice recording other than, as Judge Pastor stated, it was to serve as an insurance policy that Conrad Murray could one day use against Michael Jackson. […] After I had thoroughly reviewed the evidence in this case, I was astounded by the complete lack of competent medical care provided to Michael Jackson by the defendant. I also believed the defendant was guilty of gross negligence. However, I never allow myself to get confident in a particular outcome. I always work until the very end, because if the case is not presented well to the jury, justice will not prevail, no matter how confident the advocate may be. […] There were two people in the room during the night of June 25, 2009. One was Conrad Murray, a medical doctor who is supposed to heal and care for people, and one was Michael Jackson. Michael Jackson put his life into the hands of Conrad Murray and Conrad Murray abandoned him. I do not believe Conrad Murray was wrongfully convicted (…).”
“Considering the great deal of emotion involved in the trial, I feel the Michael Jackson fans conducted themselves very well. They were respectful of the process and patiently waited for justice to be served. I admired their dedication and loyalty to Michael Jackson and to the extent possible, I hope the trial gave them some level of closure.”
[David Walgren, Deputy District Attorney – interviewed by MJJC; source: www.mjjcommunity.com]
“[…] It was something we were just religiously so devoted to, Michael and I, growing up. Nothing could really break us from that. It's something people just couldn't understand. They'd say, 'Why are you guys so religious? But yet you're in show business. Don't you want to go out and do this and that?' But we remained steadfast. We just loved reading the Bible and things of that nature. When we were in school, we'd sit out on the lawn, and everybody would play basketball, and Michael and I would read the Bible. We'd put a blanket down and sit down and read the Bible. We're spiritual in that sense, but anything else as far as psychic abilities, no. […] What I went through, it was just horrific, it was just awful. And just to know that I was free -- he was very happy to know I was eventually free. He had warned me by saying, 'If you don't get out of there, [Gordon] is going to kill you.' He knew so much about this individual, that I tried my hardest to get away but I wasn't able to, because there was so much turbulence in my relationship that I wasn't privy to or allowed to say, and couldn't do anything about it at that time. […]”
[LaToya Jackson; source: http://blogs.laweekly.com]
“When Michael Jackson died three years ago today, among the many songs in his catalog injected with new significance was the 1991 ballad, "Gone Too Soon." Performed by Usher at Jackson's memorial service, the track had fascinated Jackson for years before he recorded it - and was finally put to tape following tragic circumstances. Here's the story behind the song, which has been revived time and again for times of public mourning.
It was past midnight on a Sunday when the phone rang at the Kohan home. "Sorry, did I wake you up?", a voice whispered on the other line. "Is Buzzie there?"
It was Michael Jackson, who, at the moment, was riding one of the biggest waves of success popular music had ever seen. That month (February, 1983) Jackson was featured on the cover of Rolling Stone; "Beat It" joined "Billie Jean" at the top of the charts; his videos played in a loop on MTV; (…)
"Buzzie" was Buz Kohan, renowned television producer and writer (best known for his work on award shows and variety shows, including the Motown 25 special). Jackson first met him when the singer was just 12 years old. Buz lived nearby in Encino on beautiful Beaumont Street. He was a well-known veteran in the entertainment industry, and the two became good friends. Jackson would ask Buz endless questions about legendary figures like Bing Crosby, Gene Kelly, Sammy Davis and Fred Astaire - the "greats," as he called them. They later worked closely in Las Vegas for the Jackson family's variety show.
"We oughta write some songs together," a teenage Jackson suggested one day. They began co-writing soon after and their collaborations, which included songs like "Scared of the Moon" and "You Were There," continued over the next two decades. Dionne Warwick had sang "Gone Too Soon" during a TV tribute to performers who died early. Watching it, Jackson wept.
Buz's wife, Rhea, had grown accustomed to Jackson's late night calls. "Just a second," she said, passing the phone to her husband. Jackson was calling that night about a particular song. Earlier that evening, he had watched Dionne Warwick (a good friend) perform a tribute on the TV special, "Here's Television Entertainment." It was dedicated to many performers whose lives had been cut short too soon - John Lennon, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and Sam Cooke, among others - but its poignancy was especially felt due to the death of Karen Carpenter just days earlier at the age of 32.
"Certain singers carry with them the energy of their time," Warwick had said. "They become symbols or signposts. They're reminders of our frailties and need to communicate... [Tonight] we are left with unanswered questions that are asked when any great talent is consumed before its time: Why? What if? And what might have been?"
Warwick proceeded to sing a moving rendition of a song co-written by Buz Kohan and Larry Grossman. It was called "Gone Too Soon."
Jackson said he wept as he watched. He had grown up with the music of the Carpenters. Their songs were part of his DNA. But that song - there was something deeper about it that he connected to.
That night, Jackson told Buz he felt he had to record it some day. "It's yours when you want it," Buz said. In the ensuing months, however, other projects took precedent, including the music videos for "Beat It" and "Thriller." Every now and then, "Gone Too Soon" re-appeared as a tribute number at charity events or ceremonies. In addition to Dionne Warwick's performance, it was later sung by Patti Labelle and Donna Summer. But it was never recorded in a studio.
Years later, in 1990, Buz and Jackson were talking on the phone when Jackson brought up a young boy he had befriended named Ryan White. "He's not gonna live forever," Jackson said. "I wanna do something special for him." Ryan had become the national face of AIDS at a time when the disease was still severely misunderstood, stigmatized, and feared.
An ordinary kid from Kokomo, Indiana, Ryan contracted the AIDS virus through a tainted blood transfusion (Ryan was a hemophiliac). He was then shunned, taunted, bullied, and threatened with violence by his classmates and community. Fellow students called him a "queer" and treated him like a leper. […] Neighbors on his paper route cancelled their subscriptions. Eventually, he was forced out of his middle school.
When he heard the story, Jackson reached out to Ryan to offer friendship and support. They quickly became close. Both were so accustomed to feeling different, they said, it was a relief just to feel "normal" for a few hours in each other's company. Over the ensuing months, they talked on the phone often. Ryan was a remarkably thoughtful, eloquent, and mature teenager. He understood he was hated and feared by many; he understood he had been thrust into a very public role; and he understood he would die soon.
Jackson remembered one night listening to Ryan White at his dining room table telling his mom how to bury him. "He said, 'Mom, when I die, don't put me in a suit and tie," Jackson recalled in an interview with Shmuley Boteach. "I don't want to be in a suit and tie. Put me in OshKosh jeans and a T-shirt.' I said, 'I have to use the bathroom,' and I ran to the bathroom and cried my eyes out, hearing this little boy tell his mother how to bury him."
Jackson knew he couldn't change Ryan's fate, but he hoped to give him some escapism and joy before his time was up. White and his family made several trips to Neverland Ranch, where they rode four wheelers, ate pizza, and watched a private screening of Indiana Jones: The Last Crusade. "Those trips to California kept me going," Ryan said.
Jackson later bought Ryan a red Mustang convertible, his dream car, for his birthday. Just months later, however, on April 8, 1990, Ryan died.
The next day, Jackson arrived in Indiana. He sat in Ryan's empty room for hours, looking at his souvenirs, clothes, and pictures. "I don't understand when a child dies," Jackson later said. "I really don't." Ryan's mother, Jeane, offered to let Jackson have whatever he wanted as a keepsake, but he told her just to keep everything in his room as it was.
In the front yard was the red Mustang Jackson had given Ryan, covered with flowers from well-wishers. Ryan's sister, Andrea, got in the car with Jackson. When he turned it on, "Man in the Mirror" began to play. It was the last song Ryan had listened to.
When Buz Kohan heard of Ryan's death, he had archivist Paul Seurrat (who compiled and catalogued videos for Jackson) put together footage of Jackson and Ryan together along with Dionne Warwick's rendition of "Gone Too Soon."
Jackson called Buz soon after. "It's perfect," he said. "I love it." Jackson had promised Ryan he could be in his next music video, but they ran out of time. This was it, Jackson thought. He would create a video and song dedicated to Ryan and his cause. “I want the world to know who you are”, he pledged.
"There's one thing though," Jackson told Buz. "I don't do covers. Has anyone recorded it?"
"Nope," Buzz said. "It's been sung, but not recorded. My people have a word for this. Bashert. It was meant to be. It's been waiting for you."
Months later, Buzz was there in the studio at Ocean Way when Jackson recorded the song. As usual, Jackson sang in the dark to fully immerse himself. Sitting by engineer Bruce Swedien at the control desk, Buz got goosebumps as he listened. The lyrics were about the beauty, transience, and fragility of life. The words could easily devolve into cliché and sentimentality in the hands of an ordinary performer, but Jackson was no ordinary performer. "He put his soul into it," recalls Buz. "There was no exaggeration or affect. It was real emotion."
"Gone Too Soon" was track No. 13 of 14 on the Dangerous album. It was released as a single on World AIDS Day, December 1, 1993. Jackson also performed the song at President Bill Clinton's inaugural gala to further educate the world about Ryan White and garner political support and funding for AIDS research. Before singing, Jackson spoke to the audience directly:
“I would like to take a moment from this very public ceremony to speak of something very personal. It concerns a dear friend of mine who is no longer with us. His name is Ryan White. He was a hemophiliac who was diagnosed with the AIDS virus when he was eleven. He died shortly after turning 18, the very time most young people are beginning to explore life's wonderful possibilities. My friend Ryan was a very bright, very brave, and very normal young man who never wanted to be a symbol or a spokesperson for a deadly disease. Over the years, I've shared many silly, happy, and painful moments with Ryan and I was with him at the end of his brief, but eventful journey. Ryan is gone, and just as anyone who has lost a loved one to AIDS, I miss him deeply and constantly. He is gone, but I want his life to have meaning beyond his passing.”
"Gone Too Soon" was given new relevance on June 25, 2009 when Jackson died unexpectedly in his home in Los Angeles. He was 50 years old. Three years later, the words he once animated with his inimitable voice and spirit, still resonate. Chances are, it'll be sung again.”
[Joseph Vogel, author of “Man in the Music: The Creative Life and Work of Michael Jackson”; source: http://www.theatlantic.com]
"The most important thing I have to say about Michael Jackson is that he was an incredibly enlightened, super-intelligent guy who changed the standard for entertainment. […] He was always just something completely special. […] He definitely worked out his own vernacular in fashion. He never wore anything by mistake and was literally making a statement every time he got dressed. Could I decode it or decipher it? No, I couldn’t. The thing is, he didn’t do things on a whim. Everything he wore and everything he did was calculated – he knew the reaction he would get and was making intricate statements with it all. I couldn’t tell you what he was thinking. In this image, for example, where he’s boarding a plane in 1988, during the Bad era – which was another amazing time for his style – he’s wearing Ray-Ban Wayfarers and a military jacket. I can tell you that there would have been some complex thought behind it, and that he would have had a statement in mind, but I don’t have the audacity to try and tell you what that is. We just have to walk away knowing that he was a super iconic figure in entertainment, and one that was inimitable.
[Pharrell Williams, rapper, singer, record producer, composer, and fashion designer; excerpts from Ray-Ban's book 'Untold Stories: Legends': source: www.dazeddigital.com]
"Back in the 1980’s, when my business partner and I were trying to acquire the ATV music catalogue, which [included] the Beatles catalogue, Michael promised the seller that he would perform a free concert for the seller's favorite charity in Perth, Australia. Needless to say, Michael won the bid -- neither my partner, nor I could moonwalk."
“Three (memorable) moments: In the late `90’s, five minutes before he went on at Wembley Stadium, seeing him in a small sidestage dressing room, in front of a mirror with light bulbs round it. It was a classic vaudeville image, which was poignant as Michael was the ultimate 'entertainer'! Then, sitting next to him when he played us backing tracks from the "HIStory" album at a meeting in L.A.. We were expecting to hear vocals on the tracks, but he sung along instead! [Lastly], seeing him in February this year in L.A. at an intimate disc presentation where he seemed happy and was singing along to “Single Ladies!'"
"Late last year, I was invited to the now sadly famous house in Bel Air to meet with Michael, as I was aware of plans for his return to live performance and discussions about the tour, as well as potential new recordings. We both wanted to explore the possibilities of presenting Michael's first live appearance in many years on the Grammy stage - a unique and unequalled platform for one of the true musical geniuses of our time and an appropriate setting for such a historic event. (…) I can vividly remember his warmth and welcoming demeanor, his razor-like focus and attention to what was clearly an important topic and agenda for all of us, and his engaging, yet serious analysis of the pros and cons of the opportunities. While at the time, and in subsequent discussions, we mutually determined that the 51st Grammy Awards telecast was not the right moment for such a performance, he could not have been more gracious or generous with his time and interest. And of special note was the joy and enthusiasm with which he talked about his children - clearly his favorite and most heartfelt subject."
"Michael performed a medley of "Man In The Mirror" and "The Way You Make Me Feel" at the 30th Grammy Awards at Radio City in New York in 1988. Following his rehearsal, he called me and asked if I would bring Walter Miller, our director, over to his hotel to go over `a few shots' from the tape I had given him. It was the night before the show, but after our last rehearsal, we went over to the Helmsley Palace and found ourselves in this amazing duplex suite with views of all of lower Manhattan, alone with Michael and his choreographer, Vince Patterson. Michael had only a few shot changes and, after some small talk about having a great performance the next night on the show, Walter and I left with Vince. But just before Vince left, Michael whispered something to him and I saw Vince give him something. On the way down in the elevator, I asked Vince what Michael had said. Vince told us that he had given him this wooden microphone that Michael liked to rehearse with, and that Michael would probably stand in front of the full-length mirror that he had propped up against one window in the corner of the suite and rehearse most of the night, fine tuning his steps. The thought of this man, nominated for several Grammys, alone against the skyline of the city, rehearsing on a night when most of his fellow nominees were out celebrating, has never left me over the number of times we've worked together. Getting it right, getting it perfect, was more important than anything else."
"He came to my house in Woodbury, N.Y. with his whole family to meet my family in 1976. He was 16, and my kids got to spend time with him all day. Michael and I sat and watched `Lady Sings the Blues' together and talked about what he wanted to accomplish. He always had the Jacksons in mind and he cared for his brothers and sisters, but he wanted to be an artist on his own. He was starting to become independent."
"I remember the press conference we had at Epic the day the Jacksons signed with us. Everyone thought Ron Alexenburg [then president of Epic Records] was crazy to sign them because people considered them to be kind of over. But Ron knew that they, especially Michael, were about more than just singles and could make hit albums. Michael was like a kid, but he was so determined. He knew when the Osmonds were getting magazine covers and he wasn't. And he hated it."
"I got a phone call from L.A. at 4 in the afternoon in the spring of 1984 saying, `You've got to be out here by 11 tonight because Michael is canceling the 'Victory' tour and you're the only one he'll listen to. There had been an incredible amount of skepticism and negative publicity surrounding the tour, and Michael explained that he was actually postponing it because his brother Jackie had a bone chip in his knee, and Jackie was the best dancer and choreographer he'd ever seen in his life. But Michael had a quality of wonder and amazement beyond any human being I've ever met and he wanted to give his audience the same gift of surprise and astonishment - and it wouldn't be there without Brother Jackie. I had to tell him that postponing the tour would destroy his ability to share that gift. Because his life was dedicated to doing things for his audience: That's what he lived for. He thought of them first, and they were everything for him."
"During the marketing of the "Bad" album, Epic and MTV created a contest whereby the winners would visit a `set' in the desert near Palm Springs which included many of Michael's animals from Neverland [Ranch]. I took my daughter Nicole, then 4, to that wild, crazy set. Sitting in a big tent with many tables, Michael asked me to bring her over to him. He sat with her for some time, talked and laughed with her and then gave her a fluffy pink toy bunny rabbit. She loved that rabbit and was Michael's great fan from there on in. Michael was so very kind to her."
"I first met Michael when he was a child, at the Tokyo Music Festival. I'd joked about wanting his tux when he outgrew it. The last time we spoke [at a social occasion], he seemed to be isolated by his celebrity; he graciously listened as an endless stream of guests made their way to his table to display their love or satisfy their curiosity. He made me think of 'The Little Prince' and of Salvador Dali, a rare mix of gentle spirit and exotic flair."
“I was at Record One studio in Sherman Oaks writing a song with Michael and Siedah Garrett. We called it "Keep The Faith", and it has a gospel strain to it. I played my best approximation of gospel piano and Michael and Siedah were improvising over either shoulder - Michael was dancing, stomping, jumping. It was exhilarating and in the spirit of the song - we were all feeling it. He had the capacity to lose himself in the music completely, dancer disappearing in the dance."
"I remember first meeting Michael in the planning preceding his first European tour as a solo artist in 1988. The tour opened at the Olympic Stadium in Rome and there were nearly 1,000 press people there to cover the event. Planning began in 1987 and in early 1988 I flew to St. Louis to meet with Michael and his manager Frank DiLeo, to run through plans for the event. While sitting in the lobby waiting for my meeting to begin, I recall looking across and seeing Bubbles sitting opposite me in an armchair. After a moment or so, I couldn't help but reflect that the chimp was at least as well dressed as I was! On a completely different note, I recall working with Michael around his  Brit Awards performance at Earl's Court arena where he performed "Earth Song." At the time, I was the chairman of the show on behalf of the BPI [the British Phonography Industry trade group]. It was a massive production, as always with Michael. His professionalism and attention to detail were second to none. I recall that after the show, he was so concerned with how the footage would look, that he was constantly on the phone to the director, David Mallet, in the edit suite with questions and comments. At about 4 a.m., David finally said to Michael, `Why don't you just come to the edit suite, we've got a room you can use, and you can review the footage.' And of course, when I got to the edit suite at about 9 a.m. the next morning, Michael was still there checking every detail and camera angle."
"During my 27 years in the music business, I often experienced that even successful stars hardly ever rehearsed for TV performances or were unwilling to do so. But Michael was completely different. For the German TV show ‘Wetten Dass...?", (1995) he had to perform two songs - a very impressively-choreographed "Scream" with 15 dancers then "Earth Song" with a German choir. He rehearsed for two-and-a-half hours and after each take, he discussed the results with the director then continued with the rehearsal. In the evening, at the end of the rehearsal, the director asked: `Michael, do you want another rehearsal tomorrow?' Michael smiled and answered: `We ALL should have another rehearsal!'"
"After his successful  appearance on the German TV show "Wetten Dass...?", he spontaneously invited all the Sony Music employees present for a visit with their children to the leisure park `Phantasialand' (…) near Cologne. He wanted to thank us for the great job we had done."
"With all due to respect to Terrence Malick -- he is one of my favorite directors -- he is quiet and almost shy. As is Michael. So [the day in 1998 they met at the Fox studio] I stood with the two of them trying to have them make conversation with each other, the fabulous director and the global super star. Both were slightly awkward and I was kind of `Hey, how about the Dodgers!' trying to get a conversation going." "The most memorable part of that afternoon [when Lurham met Jackson and his youngest son, Prince, at the Beverly Hills Hotel] was, at one point, Prince sneezed. And Michael turned to Prince and said to him very beautifully and paternally, `We cover our noses when we sneeze.' And you know, in any other meeting it would be something you forget, but when it's Michael Jackson and the 2-and-a-half or 3-year-old Prince and Baz Luhrmann, I just say I was so glad to be a fly on the wall. They are just two tiny intersections with one of the biggest stars in the world."
"I produced "One Day in Your Life," his first number 1 hit in the U.K. He sang it a certain way and I wanted it a different way. And we went back and forth a few times on it. I said, `Sing it the way I want you to sing it, and then we'll do another recording with your way.' And he said, “You're gonna like my way better.” So I had it in the car listening to it, and before I got home, I realized he was right. I called him up and said, "Hey Mike, it's Samm...," and before I said anything, he goes "I told you you'd like mine better."
“I was blessed with the opportunity to speak to Michael on the phone and have a creative conversation with him about music and things he wanted from me. All I could tell him was how honored I was to have this conversation. And he just kept telling me, `Bless you, bless you.' It just showed me no matter what, always be humble and be grateful of someone's praises to you."
"I remember he was super professional. […] It was like when you put your car in neutral, and then the minute he went onstage it went on. All artists have that, but I've never seen that transformation to that degree. It was truly unbelievable. He was very friendly, very sweet, very professional. They were already huge, but he still hadn't drawn into his Michael Jackson persona. I was 25 at the time and he was 19, and I remember he even taught me a dance step. We were shooting a TV show in and he did this step and I said, 'How in the hell did you do that!' And he said, 'Let me show you.' […]”
"I remember him as an extraordinary professional who was a musical genius, but who had tremendous sensibility and generosity. He showed concern for what happened in the country, with the poverty, the children in the street. He was someone who was conscious of the people. I was struck by the way he behaved the two weeks he spent here and by how happy he was. For example, he requested a camping tent to be placed in his suite. We visited a toy factory once. And one of his fans got hit by a car. The next day, he insisted on going to the hospital to see how this person was doing."
"I worked at the famous Tower Records on the Sunset Strip when I was a teenager circa 1987, the year 'Bad' was released. Michael used to come through all the time. The store's management would allow him in after hours so he could shop freely without getting mauled. One time Michael showed up about half an hour before closing. He arrived in disguise, one that consisted of a grubby flannel shirt, corduroy pants that came up to his calves, a bad wig and glasses with a fake rubber nose attached (think Groucho Marx novelty glasses). Michael also had Emmanuel Lewis in tow (aka 'Webster'). Needless to say, this wasn't a very good disguise. Several customers recognized Michael instantly and a few of us store employees had to run interference in order to avoid a mob scene. When the store did finally close, Michael was kind enough to sign albums for all of us. He was incredibly nice and completely selfless with his personal time. That said, Michael never took his disguise off, which made the entire experience all that much more surreal. Michael set the bar for pop stardom, one that's likely to remain for all time. And yet, his connection with his fans was deeply personal."
"I was fortunate enough to work with Michael early in my career. He was an incredible artist. Talented beyond your wildest dreams. Extremely generous, and a hard worker. I actually went from a staff assistant at the Hit Factory in New York City to freelance engineer under [Bruce] Swedien. One morning, MJ came in with a new song he had written overnight. We called in a guitar player, and Michael sang every note of every chord to him. "Here's the first chord first note, second note, third note. Here's the second chord first note, second note, third note," etc. We then witnessed him giving the most heartfelt and profound vocal performance, live in the control room through an SM57. I was in the room with Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis while they recorded the background vocals for "Scream" with M.J. and Janet. The two of them singing together was amazing. Super tight, no bad notes. One part after another. When they took a break they sang the show tunes they used to sing as kids. Again, perfect harmony. M.J. refused to sing the "stop f*ckin' with me part" because he would NOT curse. One day, we just all sat in the studio listening to his catalog with him for inspiration. He loved the process, he loved the work."
"I am a former writer, producer, engineer for Motown Records. I had the honor of working with Michael and Jermaine Jackson while they were contracted to the label during the early 70's both in Detroit and Los Angeles. I wrote and produced a song on Michael alone entitled `Label Me Love' and to my knowledge it has never been released to date. Michael himself was an enormous talent as a kid not yet in his teens, and I say this because the song I recorded with him I found to be in a tad too high a key. Initially, Mike had a problem adjusting his voice to the track, [but he] figured a way to sing the lead without any changes to the key or the overall track. I was amazed at his natural ability to make it work, regardless of the circumstance. The last time I had any contact with Mike was when my daughter Nicci got an offer from his MJJ Records label to do a record deal. When she called to tell me about Mike's offer, I felt she would get a real opportunity at getting a shot and I approved her decision to sign the girl group she called Brownstone to MJJ Records. Nicci was the lead singer and in the first group Mike signed to his label. With the grace of God, they received a platinum album on their first album release and gold Record on the 2nd and final release. […]."