Michael Jackson Was Generous To The Homeless

Source: Yahoo News/Bang Showbiz


Michael Jackson used to generously hand out hundreds of dollars to homeless people because he was one of the world’s “best people”.

The late pop legend – who amassed a huge fortune throughout his career – was keen to help those less fortunate then himself and would regularly pull over in his car and hand over whatever money he had in his wallet when he saw beggars on the street.

His mother Katherine Jackson told HELLO! magazine:

“What I love about Michael, he was such a humble person. I am not just saying it because he’s my son, but he was one of the best people. He’d seen somebody standing in the corner beginning and he’d stop the car and just give them all the money in his pocket $300 or $400 and sometimes more.”

Katherine thinks about her son – who died in June 2009 from acute Propofol intoxication at his home in Los Angeles – everyday and wishes he was still here to enjoy time with his family, especially his three children, son Prince, 16, daughter Paris, 15, and youngest son Blanket, 11.

The 82-year-old star – who, along with her grandson TJ, is guardian to Michael’s kids – said:

“Nothing can replace my son. There’s not a day goes by that I don’t think about him, when I don’t shed a tear. His life was snatched from his children – and he was all they had. He was a very good father, the best. He was a very good son too.”


Jon Jon Harreld On Michael

Source: The Michael Jackson World Network


Paula has recently interviewed Jon Jon Harreld who is one of the members from Californian based R&B group TROOP. Here is Paula’s interview.

Recently, I had the pleasure of speaking to Jon Jon Harreld one of the members of the R&B group TROOP (Total Respect Of Other People) who are from Pasadena, California.

TROOP has had huge success on the Billboard R&B charts with five Number One singles and ten Top Ten singles. They also have five albums of which three were certified gold and one certified platinum.

The group began in the late 1980’s after they had auditioned and won a televised talent contest ‘Puttin’ on the Hits’ that later attracted interest from record labels. They were signed to Atlantic Records and released their debut single ‘Mamacita’ from their self titled album in 1988. Following the release of their debut album came their second album ‘Attitude,’ which included their hit songs ‘Spread My Wings,’ coincidentally featuring Tommy O, Michael’s guitarist from ‘This Is It’ playing guitar on the song and their beautiful Jackson 5 cover of ‘All I Do Is Think Of You.’ Both songs went to Number One on the Billboard R&B charts and remained in the Top Ten on the charts for several weeks.

Three more albums followed, ‘Deepa,’ ‘A Lil’ Sumpin’ Sumpin’’ and ‘Mayday.’ They have also toured with artists such as Boyz II Men, Brian Knight, Keith Sweat, Silk, Mario and Jon B and have appeared on numerous TV shows including; ‘The Late Show with David Letterman,’ ‘Soul Train,’ ‘The Arsenio Hall Show,’ ‘Showtime at the Apollo’ and in the feature film ‘New Jack City’ as well as singing Acapella on the ‘New Jack City’ soundtrack with Queen Latifah and Levert. There has also been solo albums produced by some of the members as well as song writing by Steven Russell for artists such as Chris Brown with ‘Take You Down,’ Jordin Spark’s ‘Air’ and the Grammy award winning ‘Invisible’ for Jennifer Hudson.

What brings Jon Jon to us here today is that in addition to being a member of a hugely successful group, he is also a huge fan of Michael’s and a family friend. And in this interview, he has kindly agreed to share with us a little on his admiration for Michael and of how he has affected his career.

Paula: Hi Jon Jon. What an honour it is for me to be talking to you today. I am a huge TROOP fan you know and I know that TROOP and you are huge Michael Jackson fans and love the man dearly. You even covered one of the Jackson 5 songs ‘All I Do Is Think Of You’ in 1990, where it went to Number One on the US Billboard and R&B charts. A beautiful cover I must say. Not everyone can get away with singing a song that Michael sang, but you guys did it justice and took it right to the top! I don’t think I have heard another group do a cover of a Jackson 5 song so well. Can you tell us how that came about and what made you guys pick that song?

Jon Jon: The song was actually my idea. It’s been one of my favourites and a beautiful, beautiful, ballad that Michael sings amazingly. I knew that Steven Russell who has also been a Michael Jackson life long fan, would do the song justice and it would showcase his voice as the song did for Michael. I said to him “that when you sing it you will sing it like Michael,” well as close to Michael that anyone can. By the way, Steven also did a cover of ‘Rock With You’ as a tribute to Michael on his solo album ‘So Random’ in 2010. He thinks the world of Michael too. I always felt that choosing this song was a good idea, but I never ever dreamed that it would get to where it did!

Paula: Did you ever hear what Michael thought about your cover of ‘All I Do Is Think Of You’?

Jon Jon: Yes, Jackie and Jermaine told us that everyone in the family melted when they heard our cover. They said that after Michael heard the song, he called the whole family asking if they had heard it. Michael loved it! He was thrilled with our cover, as ‘All I Do Is Think Of You’ was one of his favourite songs out of all the songs he had recorded with the Jackson 5.

Paula: Michael has inspired and influenced many artists. I have noticed that you guys can dance! I mean watching your video to your song ‘Attitude’ I can definitely see the Michael influence and a whole lot of attitude for sure! Tell us a little about the dancing in the group.

Jon Jon: Absolutely! I mean Michael and The Jacksons are who really started it for us. We use to watch Michael and his brothers on TV and footage of their concerts on DVD’s for hours on end, studying their moves and every step they took. What they did on stage together and Michael in his solo years was magical. We wanted to capture that magic on stage as well. We wanted to let people know that it was more than just singing. We had to be able to put on a show just like Michael and his brothers did. We studied Michael as a solo artist and when he was with The Jacksons as well and we knew that, that is what we wanted to do as a group ourselves. We had to study hard to do that. That’s what you do as an Entertainer, you study the greats and Michael was and still is the greatest!

Paula: Do you have a favourite Michael Jackson song?

Jon Jon: Michael’s career in music spans a long long time. I have way too many favourite songs to name just one. I love them all!

Paula: I guess that was a hard one. I must admit it’s the same for me. Far too many favourites…What about his music though. Tell us how important Michael’s music has been to you?

Jon Jon: I used to watch and listen to him as a child. His music has always been important to me. His music changes how a person feels inside. You know you may be having a situation where you are maybe angry or upset about something, and the situation is going to be different once you’ve listened to Michael. I can put on one of Michael’s, or when he was with the Jacksons CD’s, and it instantly calms me down. That’s how important Michael’s music is to me! The music is so powerful, that he’s not gone! He will always live! The connection is so strong!

Paula: Can you recall a special memory of meeting Michael?

Jon Jon: Yes, I remember at one meeting, I think it was in 1989, where we were having a conversation and he was telling me how good the group was looking and how he loved what we do, saying; “Love all the dancing you do! You guys are awesome!” Having Michael say that to you as an entertainer yourself, it just doesn’t get any better than that!

Paula: What about Michael in concert? Is there a special one for you?

Jon Jon: I’d have to say going to a concert from the ‘Victory’ tour. As a member of a group myself, seeing Michael and his brothers do what they did on stage was just magic! For anyone that wanted to be in a musical group, you had to go and check out Michael and The Jacksons. That’s what we all strived for. I knew I wanted to do what they did way back then. Michael and his brothers at Dodger Stadium, incredible! Incredible! Not everyone can say that they saw Michael Jackson perform at a ‘Victory’ concert.

Paula: What about any special moments with Michael’s family or a time when they may have referenced Michael to you, that you would like to share?

Jon Jon: I was speaking to Tito’s son Taj one day and I remember his words; “You guys recorded our uncle’s song and made it number one!” He was referring to Michael and ‘All I Do Is Think Of You.’ That meant a lot to me. That was a special moment! He acknowledged Michael and us doing well with our cover of Michael’s song. You never know who’s watching you. Michael and his family watched TROOP. Another time was at the 4th Annual Soul Train Awards in 1990. We were there to present an award. At the after party there was a big long table full of cakes. Papa Joe went to the table and I walked over and introduced myself to him as Jon Jon from TROOP. “Come over and meet the family,” he said. So I walked over with him and met Michael’s family. Meeting Michael’s family was an experience I will never forget.

The only Jackson that I hadn’t met was Marlon, and I had the pleasure of meeting him last year at ‘The Greek.’ I was backstage with Michael’s brothers, when right at that moment they started singing ‘All I Do Is Think Of You’ in Acappella to me. Being in their presence and having The Jacksons sing their song to you, that you made Number One, now that’s just huge! There’s nothing bigger than that for me other than to have had Michael there to sing it to you to. They had noticed TROOP!

Paula: TROOP also has made a few appearances on Soul Train including your performance of ‘Mamacita’ in 1989 and then again in 1990 with ‘Spread My Wings’ and ‘I’m Not Souped.’ Performing on Soul Train, now that’s just huge in my books! So much great talent has gone through that show, including the greatest of them all, Michael. What did that feel like to be performing on the same show that Michael and so many other great names had performed on so many times?

Jon Jon: I remember watching the greats on Soul Train and remember being in the audience at the 1993 Annual Soul Train Awards and witnessing Michael, even when injured and from a chair, blow us away with his performance of ‘Remember The Time.’ But actually having the chance to be able to grace the same stage on Soul Train as Michael and so many other greats had, now that’s a blessing and an honour.

At one performance the Temptations were actually there with us that same night and they ‘handed us the torch,’ so to speak letting us know that they loved what we did and that it was our time now. I don’t think there is one group out there that hasn’t been inspired by the Temptations, including Michael and The Jacksons. I have heard Michael say that many times that they were an inspiration to him to. Performing on Soul Train and places like the Apollo that Michael and the Jacksons had also performed, a truly great feeling!

Paula: June the 25th, 2009, changed the music world forever and a very sad day for all Michael Jackson fans. I know that it would have affected you. Can you recall that day? Where you were and how you reacted?

Jon Jon: I was with a friend, Dillon Gorman, the son of the late Freddie Gorman, whom I have known for a long time. We were sitting outside in the car just talking and listening to music when we kept getting messages on our phones, one after the other, and I kept deleting one after the other as they came through. I just didn’t want to believe it. The messages kept coming when Dillon said “Let’s go inside and find out what’s happening.” We went inside and turned on the TV and it was chaos! On every channel! No one could see it coming and all I could think of was NOT Michael! Out of everyone, not Michael! It’s still rough to talk about.

Paula: Any final words that you would like to share with Michael’s fans?

Jon Jon: I would just like to tell the fans to show support for mum Katherine. Pray for her, a mother that has lost her son, and pray for Michael’s children for they have lost a father. They’ve gone through a rough time and still are. The children and the family need our prayers. Finally, remember Michael and what he stood for, for he wasn’t just the Greatest Entertainer, but a man with one of the most loving and caring hearts.

Paula: Thank you Jon Jon from me and MJWN. It’s been a real pleasure chatting with you and having you share your love for Michael with us. I know that he still means so much to you. I wish you and TROOP all the best and blessings in whatever venture you undertake next. I know that you are working on some solo projects at the moment including a new record that you are just doing the finishing touches on and I know that TROOP are also working on something new. Looking forward to hearing more from you and TROOP and who knows, maybe even another great cover of a Michael or Jackson 5 song.

Jon Jon: Thank you!

Watch TROOPS number one hit and cover of the Jackson 5 song ‘All I Do Is Think Of You’:

Watch an appearance of TROOP on Soul Train with their debut single ‘Mamacita’ on the same show that Michael thrilled us so many times:

Watch TROOP perform ‘Attitude’ where Michael’s influence is evident:


When George Harrison And Michael Jackson Squared Off On Radio

Source: Examiner


George Harrison and Michael Jackson once appeared together on a British radio show talking about their careers and commenting on recent releases.

The audio on the interview, from the radio show “Roundtable” and estimated to date from February, 1979, is bassy and at times muffled and almost impossible to understand. The two also seem to talk more individually to the host than interact with each other. But it’s fascinating to hear them together.

The show includes reviews of songs by the two guests from a diverse group of performers, including Eddie Money, Nicolette Larson, Van Morrison, Dave Edmunds, Cat Stevens, Manfred Mann’s Earth Band and Foreigner.

Harrison, who said he just had returned from Brazil, talks about many subjects during the hourlong show, including his yearlong layoff from music in 1977 and how he’d decided to come back and write music again. He also discusses his songwriting during the Beatles. The show mentions the upcoming release of the “George Harrison” album.

He also discusses the Rutles. “I love the Rutles,” he says, calling it “getting a way to get a laugh out of the Fab Four.” He said, “It was a way of liberating me from that whole thing.”

Jackson talks about his current tour in the UK and appearing on “Top of the Pops” the previous night.

As with most things Beatles, the show has circulated among collectors. The show has just resurfaced on YouTube. 


Charlie Tuna’s 4th Anniversary Tribute To Michael, Interview Audio Clips From 1973

Source: Charlie Tuna


14 year old Michael Jackson with Charlie Tuna in 1973, in Charlie’s Woodland Hills, California Studio, for Charlie’s first interview with Michael. Michael came alone that day with no entourage or publicity team, and notice the word “Love” on the front of his T-Shirt. That’s what Michael was all about from the beginning! Listen to a couple of clips of Charlie’s interview that day below:

Charlie with Michael Jackson – Clip 1

Charlie with Michael Jackson – Clip 2

Commodores with their 2010 tribute to Michael on the anniversary of his passing.


Charlie: “You like track? What are your events?”

Michael: “I don’t have any events. I just know I’m fast!” LOL! :)

The Day I Sang for Michael Jackson

Source:  Jewish Journal – By David Suissa (Published June 25, 2009)


“Sing me your favorite melody, David”, Michael Jackson said to me.

I was sitting alone with Michael in one of the many living rooms at his Neverland ranch in the summer of 2000, and we were talking about melodies.

I had come up to see him because we were planning to discuss him writing an article for our “Parents” issue of OLAM magazine. I spent a lot of time that summer hanging out with Rabbi Shmuley Boteach (going with him to the Sydney Olympics, among other things) who everyone knew was close to Michael.

Shmuley, the great schmoozer that he is, told me that Michael “really loved” OLAM magazine, and that he might be interested in writing an original piece for the “Parents” issue.

So off we went to Neverland, with, of course, my two young daughters, Tova and Shanni.

On the way up, I played some old Michael videos (“Thriller”) to give my daughters a little education on someone who a decade earlier had been the most famous person on the planet. When we got to the ranch, we had to sign special papers at the main gate, and agree to take no pictures.

That’s too bad, because I could have taken some great shots at the moment Michael met my daughters. Shanni’s first question for him—before even how are you? or nice to meet you—was: “Is it true that you have rollercoasters?”

One of Michael’s handlers took my daughters to see the rides and the elephants, while the grown-ups sat down to talk. Shimon Peres’s granddaughter, Mika Walden, who would soon be working at my ad agency, came along for support. We talked about OLAM magazine and the special issue on “Parents”, as well as other projects that Rabbi Shmuley was working on with Michael.

The issue for me was, how candid would Michael be if he wrote an OLAM article about his childhood? The last thing I wanted (OK, not the last thing) was a puff piece with just a famous name attached.

Thanks in large part to Shmuley’s help, Michael came through with an honest piece. He fessed up to the lack of love he felt growing up, especially from his hard-driving father. But in the sweet, enchanted tone that he was known for, he also wrote lovingly of the little moments—his father putting him up on a little pony or getting him his favorite glazed donuts—that marked him growing up.

The day the issue broke, we started getting calls from People magazine and TV news shows who wanted to know how we got Michael to write for OLAM. We had our fifteen minutes of fame, but we didn’t divulge anything that was not in the magazine. That was our deal with Michael.

Beyond the article he wrote, what I will remember most is the moment we spent alone in his living room. By then Shmuley had gone to another part of the house for a meeting with Michael’s manager, and there I was, completely alone with the King of Pop.

I decided that I wouldn’t waste this moment with mindless chatter. So I thought of something he might be interested in that I felt passionate about, and I dove right in.

“I have always been madly in love with melodies”, I told him. “The whole idea of a beautiful melody blows me away. How can a certain arrangement of notes have so much power over me?”

“There are certain melodies that I cannot imagine living without”, I continued.

“They’re like a part of me. I surrender to them.”

By now I was kvelling and I couldn’t control myself—but I meant every word. At that moment, Michael, in his sweet, hummingbird voice, looked at me and said, “Sing me your favorite melody, David.”

And I did. It was an ancient Sephardic melody that Moroccan Jews sing only on Yom Kippur. It is my all-time favorite melody. Growing up, I would often cry when I would hear it. It’s the melody that has done the most to keep my emotional connection to my faith and my people. Today, I “cheat” and sing it before doing the Hamotzeh on Shabbat.

He had caught me off-guard. It was the only thing I could thing of singing. In the song, the lyrics describe Abraham’s apparent sacrifice of his son Isaac. At one point, the son asks innocently where his father is taking him, oblivious to the biblical drama that is about to unfold.

I sang for no more than a minute.

I don’t remember what Michael said after I finished. All I remember is that while I was singing, his eyes were closed and he was smiling.


MICHAEL JACKSON: Memories Of My Childhood – By Michael Jackson

When I look back on my childhood, it is not an idyllic landscape of memories. My relationship with my father was strained, and my childhood was an emotionally difficult time for me. I began performing when I was five years old, and my father – a tough man – pushed my brothers and me hard, from the earliest age, to be the best performers we could be.Although we all worked hard to perform, he never really complimented me. If I did a great show, he would tell me it was a good show. And if I did an OK show, he didn’t say anything at all. He seemed intent, above all else, on making us a commercial success. And at that he was more than adept. My father was a managerial genius, and my brothers and I owe our professional success, in no small measure, to the forceful way he pushed us. He trained me as a showman, and under his guidance I couldn’t miss a step.

Those of you who are familiar with the Jackson Five know that since I began performing at that tender age I haven’t stopped dancing or singing. But while performing and making music undoubtedly remain among my greatest joys, when I was young I wanted more than anything else to be a typical little boy. I wanted to build tree houses, have water balloon fights and play hide-n-seek with my friends. But fate had it otherwise, and all I could do was envy the laughter and playtime that seemed to be going on all around me.

There was no respite from my professional life. But on Sundays I would go “Pioneering”, the term used for the missionary work that Jehovah’s Witnesses do. It was then that I was able to see the magic of other people’s childhood.

Since I was already a celebrity, I had to don a disguise of fat suit, wig, beard and glasses, and we would spend the day in the suburbs of Southern California, going door-to-door or making the rounds of shopping malls, distributing our Watchtower magazine. I loved to set foot in all those regular suburban houses and catch sight of the shag rugs and La-Z-Boy armchairs, kids playing Monopoly and grandmas babysitting and all those wonderful, ordinary and starry scenes of everyday life. Many, I know, would argue that these things are no big deal. But to me they were mesmerizing – because they symbolized, to me, a home life that I seemed to be missing.

My father was not openly affectionate with us, but he would show his love in different ways. I remember once when I was about four years old, we were at a little carnival and he picked me up and put me on a pony. It was a tiny gesture, probably something he forgot five minutes later. But because of that one moment, I have this special place in my heart for him. Because that’s how kids are, the little things mean so much to them and for me, that one moment meant everything. It was a gesture that showed his caring, and his love. I only experienced it that one time, but it made me feel really good, about him and the world.

And I have other memories too, of other gestures, however imperfect, that showed his love for us. When I was a kid, I had a real sweet tooth – we all did. I loved eating glazed doughnuts, and my father knew that. So every few weeks I would come downstairs in the morning and there on the kitchen counter was a bag of glazed doughnuts – no note, no explanation, just the doughnuts. It was like a fairy godmother had visited our kitchen. It was like Santa Claus. Sometimes, I would think about staying up late so I could see him leave them there, but as with Santa Claus, I didn’t want to ruin the magic, for fear that he would never do it again.

I think now that my father had to leave the doughnuts secretly at night so that no one would catch him with his guard down. He was scared of human emotion, he didn’t understand it, or know how to deal with it. But, he did know doughnuts.

And when I allow the floodgates to open up, there are other memories that come rushing back, memories of other tiny gestures, however imperfect, that showed that he did what he could.

With hindsight and maturity, I have come to see that even my father’s harshness was a kind of love. An imperfect love, sure, but love nonetheless. He pushed me because he loved me. He pushed me because he wanted me to have more than he EVER had, and he wanted my life to be better than his EVER was.

It has taken me a long time to realize this, but now I feel the resentments of my childhood are finally being put to rest. My bitterness has been replaced by blessing, and in place of my anger, I have found absolution. And with this knowledge, that my father loved his children, I have found peace.





MJJC Exclusive Q&A with Brad Sundberg – Read His Answers

Source: MJJC Community – By IVY

Brad Sundberg was technical director to Michael Jackson for nearly two decades. He recently announced a series of seminars to take place this June in New York called “In The Studio with Michael Jackson” ( thread here: http://www.mjjcommunity.com/forum/th…ichael-Jackson)

We reached out to Brad Sundberg to talk about Michael’s music as well as talk about his “”In The Studio With Michael Jackson” seminars. You can read his answers below. Also check the end of Q&A for information about seminars and how to get tickets to them.

MJJC: What exactly is the job of a technical director and what did this position entail, as you worked in this role on some of the MJ albums?

Brad Sundberg: There is the short answer and the long answer. The short answer is “be ready for anything.” The long answer would go something like this: My responsibility was to have whatever recording studio we worked in, anywhere in the world, be up to Michael Jackson quality. I worked very closely with Bruce Swedien (not just on MJ albums, but also Quincy Jones, Barbra Streisand, among others), and his attention to detail is second-to-none. Every microphone, every patch-point, every machine and device in the studio had to tested and (if possible) calibrated to perfection. It was not uncommon for this process alone to take 1-2 weeks before the projecting would even start. The funny thing is that so few production teams do this, yet it is a vital part of the reason our projects sounded so good.

Additionally, I would be involved in day-to-day recording, setting up microphones, headphones, booking studios, keeping tapes organized, getting Michael’s hot water ready for his vocals, transcribing Michael’s lyrics for the liner notes, even making coffee! With various production teams working on the same project, it made for long yet very rewarding days. The hard work and dedication was also very rewarding in that I was privileged to see and be a part of so much musical history being created.

MJJC: Were you a fan of Michael’s before you started working on his team back in the Captain EO days?

Brad Sundberg: As I kid growing up in Santa Cruz, CA in the 70s, I listened to a lot of music: Pink Floyd, Steely Dan, Led Zeppelin, Van Halen, etc., but I also loved dance music like Abba, The BeeGees, Gloria Gaynor, Blondie, Donna Summer and of course Michael Jackson. I found myself sort of “dissecting” songs as I listened to them, because I wanted to understand every sound, every reverb and effect. I played the “Thriller” album until it was scratched and worn out, so I bought another copy. The depth of sound blew me away, even before I understood recording. Yes, I was a fan.

MJJC: What are your top 3 favorite songs from Michael and why?

Brad Sundberg: That’s a tough one, but here goes:

1) Human Nature. I have always loved that song, and my friend Steve Porcaro knows it. We recorded a follow-up to it called “Someone Put Your Hand Out,” but it didn’t quite make the “Dangerous” album.

2) Smooth Criminal. The bass line, the groove, David Williams insane rhythm guitar, Jerry Hey’s horn section, Quincy directing this who’s-who of musicians and Michael front and center… it’s an amazing piece of work! I wish you could have been there.

3) Lady In My Life. It was never a single, but what a record. Speaking from a technical standpoint, it is like a 5-minute recording class. Every sound is pure and simple. From a musical standpoint, I am a huge fan of Rod Temperton. I have worked with Rod for years, and he is pure genius. Beautiful song.

4) I know, you only asked for 3, but I’m feeling generous. Streetwalker. This is the little engine that could. That song blew me away every time I heard it, but Quincy didn’t like it. I remember driving home from the studio one night after Michael recorded the lead vocal, and I was listening to it in my car, with the sunroof open at like 3 in the morning. I nearly blew the speakers out, singing along at the top of my lungs. It may not be the most well-crafted songwriting, but that groove grabs you and will not let you go.

It isn’t fair to have a list than doesn’t include Will You Be There, Who Is It, Earth Song, Stranger In Moscow, Billie Jean, Startin’ Something, She’s Out Of My Life, Jam, etc. I never was good at following the rules.

MJJC: You said Michael commissioned you to bring music to virtually every corner of Neverland. What kind of music was played on the grounds of Neverland? What types of music was on the playlists that Michael created for those particular areas of the ranch?

Brad Sundberg: I don’t want to give too much away, but there was one unbreakable rule at Neverland: Michael would not allow his music to be played, despite my protests. But he was the boss, so his vote was stronger than mine.

The grounds (around the lake, main house, guest houses, etc.) played a custom playlist of classical and Disney favorites. In the amusement park he selected songs by Janet, Yes and Joe Satriani. Seriously. Even some Van Halen and Led Zeppelin was selected on certain rides. In the horse area and petting zoo behind the amusement park we went with more traditional cowboy music. The trains also played primarily classical music.

MJJC: Of all the songs that you worked on with MJ in the studio, what was your favorite? Or what song had a creative process, from the demos to the finished song, that was impressive and just blew you away?

Brad Sundberg: Another tough one, because there are so many. I think I will go with Man In The Mirror. I was still learning my way around the studio, and it was an honor to be asked to sit in and watch, learn and help on the Bad album.

Man in the Mirror was such a big song, such a huge production we all knew it was unstoppable. I was able to see the initial track being recorded, the various musicians bringing their talents, the layers of vocal harmonies, the Andre Crouch choir, and finally the commanding lead vocals with Siedah and Michael. There was so much talent in Westlake Studio D during that time that it was mind-blowing. Bruce and Michael would play that song at full, and I mean full volume (118 db) to any guest that stopped by. People would be speechless, sometimes teary, when the final note rung out.
MJJC: Can you tell us in detail exactly how the demo process was? What would MJ say to you after playing his ideas and how involved were the rest of you besides MJ; did you just do everything he said or was it collaboration with him listening to your input ideas with the arrangements?

Brad Sundberg: There was no regular or exact way the demos came to be, but it was not uncommon for Michael to ask one of us to work with him after a session on a new song.

We would bring in a keyboard player/programmer (John Barnes, Michael Boddicker, Larry Williams, Rhett Lawrence, Brad Buxer) and Michael would sing the groove and rhythm tracks to us. The programmer would translate Michael’s request into the drum machine. The bass and melody line would be added. Usually we would record a scratch vocal, and some harmony vocals, just for reference. The whole process might take 3 or 4 hours, and the song was born. It was very collaborative, and many ideas were accepted and recorded. Not every idea was kept and used, but it was very much a group effort of kicking around ideas and trying them out.

MJJC: If you could describe the most difficult aspect on working as part of the production team on a Michael Jackson album – what would it be?

Brad Sundberg: SLEEP!!! The hours were rough, as I would typically be at the studio 2 hours before anyone else, and quite often 2-3 hours after everyone left. My day usually started around 9-10 am, and often lasted until 2 am, and I lived about 40 minutes from the studio. That’s not bad for a few days, but try it for 10 -14 months. Still, I honestly loved going to work. Once in the studio, the teams were great to work with. Good food, beautiful studios, great music, incredible talent – I didn’t have a lot to complain about.

MJJC: Which project during your time working with Michael, would you say has impacted your career the most?

Brad Sundberg: Dangerous. It was a transitional time for me. I was running my installation business BSUN Media Systems (which I really enjoy), and working in the studio at the same time. Quincy was not part of the project, which felt odd. The music industry and what the public was listening to was changing, so Michael used three production teams on the project, which was brilliant.

On a technical level, we were making and breaking all of the rules with more tracks, more studios, bigger mixes, etc. I think the song Jam was something like 160 tracks on 4-tape machines, which had to mixed on 2 consoles in 2 studios at the same time. It was nuts, but we made it happen. I suppose I would say it impacted my career (both in and out of the studio) in terms of not being afraid to try anything, and push for perfection all the time.

MJJC: Over the years, working on the albums from Bad to Blood on the Dance Floor, how did MJ mature or change? How did he improve?

Brad Sundberg: During Captain EO he was still almost a kid, just 5 years older than me. I can honestly say that his humor, his level of trust, his commitment to excellence, and his love of performing and creating didn’t change or diminish, if anything it blossomed with age. I think in the later albums he started experimenting with songs and sounds like Morphine and Ghosts. Darker themes, but great grooves.

MJJC: How did MJ work in the album selection stages, how did he choose the songs for his albums? Do you have some inside info about what and why the songs we know got chosen and not the ones that weren’t? And are there any good examples of songs that almost made the cut on any album that we haven`t heard that you thought could have been a super hit today?

Brad Sundberg: The infamous cork board!! On every album I recall, he would have a cork-board on an easel in his lounge/office. Every song title was written on a 3 x 5 index card, and they would be tacked to the board, in order of strongest to weakest. These would move around on the board as new parts were added, new songs recorded, etc. Generally, depending on the project, this was Quincy/Michael/Bruce driven. Once the 15 or songs would be chosen, the board was used more for song-order on the album.

As for songs that almost made it: My personal favorites were Streetwalker, Someone Put Your Hand Out, and Monkey Business.

MJJC: Do you remember any of Michael’s songs that remain unreleased to this day and if yes, which ones are your favorites? Can you tell us a little about these unreleased songs?

Brad Sundberg: Sorry – I know many songs, but I am going to pass on that one.

MJJC: How good was Michael at operating the buttons and stuff in the studio, would he get more into that after you worked with him for some years?

Brad Sundberg: Michael was not technical at all. Zero! He might nudge a fader now and then, but he was not adjusting EQs or reverb settings. That said, I do think the studio was so comfortable for him, almost like going home. It was very safe and a place he could just work, laugh and be himself.

MJJC: How many instruments could MJ really play? Which instruments were those and how good was he? (Honestly)

Brad Sundberg: He could play melodies on a keyboard, but I wouldn’t call him a great player. Keep in mind when you have Greg Phillinganes and Randy Kerber on speed-dial, you don’t really need much more. Before my time he played the bottle-sound percussion on “Don’t Stop.” Michael’s instrument was his voice – we had plenty of talent to handle everything else.

MJJC: What did your tour prep for MJ’s tours consist of?

Brad Sundberg: Tour prep was the time after the album was released (or in pressing), and the band was in rehearsals. Essentially we had to re-work the songs to make them easier for Michael to sing and perform them show after show. This is something I go into considerable detail discussing in my seminars.

MJJC: Please tell us more about “Keep the Faith” and how you had to scrap the original version and re-record a new version in an all-night session?

Brad Sundberg: Sorry I need to pass on that one for now, as it is one that I dig into in the seminar. I can’t give too much away! : )
MJJC: We would love to hear a story based on personal experience working with MJ. What is one of your most memorable?

Brad Sundberg: He was remarkably curious, and loved my daughters. When my daughter Amanda was just a toddler, my wife Debbie would bring her into the studio (during Dangerous) so we could see each other once in a while. Michael would be on the floor with Amanda, on her blanket, playing with toys and characters. He would say, “She’s in her own little world isn’t she?”

Another time we delivered one of the trains to the ranch. I had been installing a huge music system on the train, so it would be ready when Michael first saw it. He was beyond excited, laughing and smiling as we got it fired up. Deb and Amanda were at the ranch that day, and he held Amanda’s hand as the train made its inaugural circle around the ranch. He could not stop smiling.

MJJC: What is the fondest memory that you have of Michael (as a human being, not as an artist?)

Brad Sundberg: Make-A-Wish Foundation. When Neverland was ready for guests, we would start seeing guests from all over the world, who wanted to spend time with Michael. Many of these young guests were part of the Make-A-Wish program, and they were gravely ill. For Michael to take them on a tour a ranch, let them touch a giraffe or ride on the Ferris Wheel goes way beyond what many people are willing to do. This was their final wish, and he was making it happen. I remember their faces, their grateful parents, and knowing that there would be immeasurable grief in their future. Michael was giving of his time, which was a huge gift.

MJJC: Did Michael play some pranks on you? Any funny story that you can tell us?

Brad Sundberg: It isn’t really a prank, but there is a funny memory I sometimes share. I have zero dance skills, yet I love dance music. It was very common for us to be working on a song like The Way You Make Me Feel, Jam, Bad, Streetwalker, etc., and I would be doing a head-bob to the beat. Michael would burst out laughing, saying “Brad is groovin’!,” I couldn’t’ help it… the music was so strong! This was part of the reason he started calling me “Really Really Brad.” I loved his teasing, because he was so good-natured and light-hearted.

MJJC: In your memoir you say, “I could write page after page of simple acts of kindness I have seen firsthand.” Can you remember a few? It’s always warms fans’ hearts to hear such stories.

Brad Sundberg: I already mentioned the Make-A-Wish visits on the ranch, but we also had visits in the studio from his friends and fans. We had some fans outside of the studio in New York during HIStory, and he brought them in a for a tour and some autographs. During the recording of a kid’s choir in New York, he had me dress as Santa and we gave them all Christmas gifts. When one of our assistant engineers was going in major surgery, we had a huge family dinner in the studio in his honor, and Michael showered him with gifts and movies. But again, he did these things in person, which made it all the more meaningful.

MJJC: How did Michael change over the years, according to your impression? (I don’t mean physically, or his alleged “eccentricities”. I mean in your personal communication with him what kind of changes in his character did you feel?)

Brad Sundberg: I was not his best friend, but I like to think I was a trusted friend. During those years I did not see any change in his character, in his child-like love of music, movies, fantasy, architecture, paintings, games, laughter, nature, etc. I don’t remember a single time of him walking into the studio or seeing him at the ranch or on stage at Radio City Music Hall where he didn’t greet me with a hug. The Michael I knew didn’t change, even as the world did.

MJJC: What has inspired you to come forward and share your experiences working with Michael, with his fans?

Brad Sundberg: After Michael died, I read an article in a magazine about how crazy it was working with Michael: Chimps and Elephant-Man bones and snakes and so on. I didn’t know the author, nor had he ever been to the studio or the ranch. It was always un-named sources and tabloid vomit. I got tired of the press and people who wanted to make a quick buck saying and writing whatever they wanted, with no shred of truth behind their words. I wrote a few articles about my years with Michael, and they were well-received.

A group of fans in Paris approached me and asked me to put together a seminar and really explore our years in the studio and at the ranch. I began writing a book (currently in the works), which tries to recap a story that took 18 years to live. Being totally honest, I want to try to document what it was like to work with one of the most unique entertainers in modern history. No speculation, no deep theories, just an introduction to someone I had great respect for and considered a friend. Yes, it might be for the fans, but it is also for my kids, and maybe Michael’s kids. I want them to know what it was like to be there, and to be part of such an amazing journey.

MJJC: What can fans hope to walk away with from your “In the Studio with Michael Jackson” seminars? What will be the highlights of the seminars in NYC and in Paris?

Brad Sundberg: I am hoping the above answers give you a clue. I was part of something very special. I wasn’t special, I was just part of an amazing team, at an amazing time. No two seminars are exactly alike. New memories surface, new stories are told. I hope when someone leaves the room after the seminar, they feel as though I have introduced them to a friend.

MJJC: Michael has fans in everywhere and unfortunately despite the desire to attend, many fans will not be able going to seminar because of the distance, are there plans to share the content in a book or do other seminars at different locations around the world?

Brad Sundberg: Yes, and yes! The book is in the works, but the crazy thing is that the seminars actually help bring those memories back into focus, so I want to do a few more before the book is finished. We are offering seminars in New York and Paris this year, with groups in Germany, Norway and the UK also expressing great interest. I hope to have a really cool one in LA in January, at Westlake, where it all started.

MJJC: Do you have anything you want to say to the members of MJJCommunity or Michael Jackson fans in general?

Brad Sundberg: Michael truly loved his fans. There is no tribute show or seminar or movie that can replace the talent that he was born with. I was blessed to have known him, and I cherish the memories of watching him practice a circular moonwalk in the studio, or singing scales with Seth, or watching him from the wings on stage in front of 100,000 screaming fans. I can hear his laughter as if he were sitting across the room from me. He was a professional, a perfectionist, an entertainer, a singer, a dancer, a dad and a friend. I miss him, and I know you do also. Thanks for letting me share a few memories with you.



In The Studio With Michael Jackson Overview and Ticket Information

New York – June 29th, 2013 – Smash Studios – Tickets: https://inthestudiowithmichaeljackso…ichael-jackson

Paris – October 12 2013 – The American Center of Arts – Tickets : http://www.musicfirst.fr/

Tickets for Paris Seminars

My name is Brad Sundberg, and I first met Michael Jackson during the recording of Captain Eo, in 1985, at Westlake Studios in Los Angeles. I was asked to join Michael’s team as an engineer the following year for the production of the “BAD” album in 1986. Then came the tour (I worked with Michael and the band to restructure the new songs for live performance), the dance mixes, the short films, and so on. Next came “Dangerous”, Michael’s first project without Quincy Jones. Another year in the studio, another tour, more remixes and short films. Then came “HIStory,” which we recorded in New York. We were at the worldfamous Hit Factory for nearly a year, followed by tour prep for the “HIStory” tour. Along the way many of the songs for “Blood On The Dancefloor” were recorded and mixed.

When Michael sang “Man In The Mirror,” I was there. When Michael sang vocal warm-ups before a session, I was there. From setting up the vocal microphone and headphones to making sure the water was hot enough for Michael’s favorite drink, much of was handled by me. I didn’t hear stories or rumors or interview people about working with Michael, I was simply there, doing my job. (Michael even gave me the nick-name, “Really, really Brad” in the credits of the “BAD”album.) It was an honor and a priceless education to be part of his studio team.

When Michael bought Neverland Valley Ranch and wanted to turn it into his amazing home, he brought me up to start designing music and video systems to make it magical. He would call me on the phone at all hours and describe a new ride or idea that he had: The petting zoo, the trains, the outdoor theater, music around the lake, music on the stagecoach, on and on. He loved that ranch, and it always made me happy when he would get excited about my work. I wasn’t his best friend or confidant; I just had an enormous respect for Michael, his music and his love of people. I can honestly say I have never known anyone like him.

In The Studio With Michael Jackson is a seminar I put together to give you a chance to hear what it was like in the studio, how we created many of the songs, and be free to ask questions. There will be music… a lot of music. You will hear how some songs went from a demo to a finished product. You will hear Michael talking to his producers, and see video and photos from our studio days.

If you are fan of Michael Jackson and are curious about what it was like to work with him in the recording studio with the best professionals in the business, you will enjoy this seminar. If you appreciate the amazing sounds and layers that you hear in his albums, you will enjoy this seminar. If you are curious about what it was like to work with one of the most creative forces in the entertainment industry, yet also one of the kindest men I have ever known, you will enjoy this seminar.

I invite you to spend a day with me and hear the music and the stories of what it was like to work with a friend of mine. His name is Michael Jackson, and I hope you will join us.

Brad Sundberg

For booking information please contact me via the Facebook page.


Cirque du Soleil’s new ‘Michael Jackson One’ at Mandalay Bay: Q+A With Director Jamie King

Source: Las Vegas Sun – Robin Leach


March Anthoney/Jaime King

It’s about three months until the first preview of “Michael Jackson One” at Mandalay Bay, and Cirque du Soleil has already sold $500,000 in tickets the first few hours of the spectacle going on sale over the weekend exclusively to insider Michael Jackson and MGM Resorts club members. General tickets go on sale March 7.

“It’s going to be a blockbuster. That’s a staggering first-day sale,” I was told. In fact, it will be another 37 days — June 29 — until the monstrous production has its world premiere in the converted Mandalay Bay theater formerly home to Disney’s “The Lion King.”

Meantime, the touring “Immortal” show that also debuted at Mandalay Bay continues its global journey breaking records and winning awards, with box office sellouts in Europe as it heads to South America and Asia and plans for repeat cities in the U.S., keeping it on the road until at least the end of 2014.

The Jackson juggernaut continues — and now the second show. The “One” cast moved into their new Mandalay Bay theater last Monday and showcased a hint of the ambitious project when the name “One” was revealed last week.

Director Jamie King says that it’s one of the longest pre-production schedules in Cirque’s history, if not the longest. The casting and Montreal training — particularly of acrobatics never seen before in any production — began in October.

“We are literally just in technical rehearsals now. I just spent the last four months living in Montreal in production rehearsals. Now we are in tech rehearsals here for the next few weeks, and then we go into all production rehearsals here. It’s a long run before the premiere,” Jamie told me. “Starting in March, I am here every day. It needs to be a long set of work. It’s ambitious, but for a great show, you need to have that much work put into it.”

Additionally, I’ve learned that Cirque founder Guy Laliberte will be here in March and April adding his masterful input. Officially, we’re told: “ ‘One’ will be a state-of-the-art visual and audio experience creating a theatrical evocation of Michael’s creative genius. Guided and inspired by his music, four misfits set out on a transformative adventure. By journey’s end, they will personify Michael’s agility, courage, playfulness and love.

“Michael believed that all people are unique and equal regardless of race or culture. His message was one of unity, harmony and hope for a better world. At once evocative and enigmatic, the name ‘Michael Jackson One’ also presents a paradox: Michael was a multifaceted artist who strove to fuse together various musical styles and art forms. It is a fitting title for a unifying journey into the world of The King of Pop, the genius, the visionary, the One.”

Here is my conversation with Jamie:

Robin Leach: When you say interactive, do you mean the experience is around you, in front of you and above you?

Jamie King: Yes. I am not going to say it is unlike any theater we have seen before, but certainly what we are doing, our intention is to immerse the audience in the energy of our show, which is Michael’s energy and spirit. We want to make sure that they see and feel our costumes, see and feel the energy of our performers and acrobats just as you saw here today.

R.L.: So the cast will leave the stage?

J.K.: Absolutely. They will leave the stage and integrate into the audience above you and around you, on the sides of you.

R.L.: You also were the director of “Michael Jackson Immortal,” so how tough was it to do a show different from a show you have already done? It has got to be the toughest.

J.K.: I think at first the idea of it made me a bit nervous; I felt the challenge of it. I was so excited about another opportunity and knowing that it would be different because I know how to do a rock show. That was really what ‘Immortal’ was meant to be — a rock/Cirque interpretation, arenas I get that — but a theater show, to be able to do that, is really a dream for me. It already is a different show because it is in a theater, and once I got my head around that, a smaller, more intimate venue, it can be much more immersive.

The bigger challenge was the music. If I have to use the same songs because you know it is Michael’s hits, we want to make sure the fans in the audience feel Michael’s hits. I had those in ‘Immortal,’ so it was about making them different. How do I show them in a different way?

R.L.: Which is my next question. “One” presumably is based on the No. 1 hits that he had. Did he have enough hits to fill the show?

J.K.: It is Michael Jackson, of course, come on! I didn’t start by counting Michael’s No. 1’s. I took his No. 1’s and then I inserted them in the show, but then I needed the story because we are doing a theatrical show this time around. There is much more story, it is much more story driven and fairytale-like, so because of that, I needed certain songs that weren’t No. 1’s at times for segues and interstitial moments to tell the story.

R.L.: Where does the storyline start? How old is he, and where does it finish?

J.K.: It is in no way a chronological biopic story of Michael Jackson. It is a complete new fairytale in a Cirque way. We have created a new story, something that people may or may not get all the way, but we certainly do. And we think it is a great fairytale and journey to go on using Michael’s music.

R.L.: The theater was built to your specs because of what you are doing on an interactive basis? Unlike anything we’ve seen before?

J.K.: Yes, for sure. It is immersive, and you will see with the visuals alone. They really wrap around in a way that is unlike any theater that I have ever seen. Call it the visuals wraparound theater.

R.L.: Did you get to spend all the money you wanted, or did you go over budget?

J.K.: Do we ever get to spend all the money we want? Come on now! (Laughs) Do I ever go over budget? I feel like these are all questions that you could answer. You know my history. I tend to go over budget; ask Madonna!

R.L.: Is this the best show to date that you have done?

J.K.: It is the most inspiring to me at the moment. It is something that is not completely finished yet, so I can’t say, to date, because it is not done.

However, as you’ll read in our interviews this week, Daniel Lamarre, Cirque’s president, and John Branca, Michael Jackson’s estate lawyer and executor, certainly believe that “One” is already the best show to date.

Read more: http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/2013/feb/25/michael-jackson-one-mandalay-bay-director-jamie-ki/#ixzz2LxOXH2WY

Pete Bennett Tribute: I Rocked the World and Made It Glow / Bonus Story Exclusive: Click On Link Following Story To Read Pete’s 2003 Article About Michael Being Taken Advantage Of, His Innocence Of Being Accused And His Attraction To Beautiful Women

Source: Salem-News.com – By Tim King

He brought us the Beatles, Rolling Stones, The Who and so many more. Pete Bennett left us when we were not ready, this video tribute tells his story.

(SACRAMENTO, CA) – It was a shock to learn in November of last year, that the legendary rock promoter Pete Bennett had passed away. He was called the “Number 1 Promotion Man” by Billboard magazine and was a close friend to the world’s biggest stars, bar none.

Bonnie King interviews Pete Bennett in
2008, Portland, Oregon.

I really felt honored to work on this tribute with Agron Belica. I believe it captures the man through a series of interviews from Salem-News.com and other sources and shows him with many of the stars he became famous for promoting, people like Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, The Who, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Jackson 5, Richard Burton, Donald Trump, Elizabeth Taylor and Kid Rock.

I could keep going and I would not run out of names any time soon. Pete handled Eric Clapton, Nat King Cole, Aerosmith… in fact he would tell the story about saving Eric Clapton’s life after an overdose, which took place just before he was to go on stage.

There is another story about Pete dragging Rolling Stones founding member Brian Jones out of a roadside restaurant backward, with a hamburger in his hand, because it was time to get on the bus in order to make it to the next show.


Pete and his gold records!


Pete also boosted the careers of actresses and models like Brooke Shields, Cheryl Ladd, and Claudia Schiffer.

He was too young to go, and Pete’s unexpected departure left many broken hearts around the world. On that day came the end of a legacy that shaped modern culture. Few people from the entertainment industry had more of an impact on this world than this incredible man, Pete Bennett.

I really like the way this video tells the story of Pete and the people that he helped achieve world stardom. Agron did an incredible job in bringing it together and it was all done for the sake of memorializing Pete, who was there for us when we reached out to him.

Bonnie King had the pleasure of interviewing Pete at length about his lifetime achievements and every story he told was amazing and riveting, they always had something to do with superstars and places and events that stand out in history.


Pete and Paul Petock

Bonnie and Pete’s casting

I was able to interview Pete at length about the loss of his longtime friend Michael Jackson, that was an enlightening day and parts of it are included in this video.

The person behind Pete having become a friend of Salem-News.com, is a producer, Paul Petock, who had a long term relationship with Pete and was one of his biggest advocates. We greatly appreciate Paul’s help in so many areas, including several of the wonderful images of Pete. Others were provided by Pete himself.

Finally, it is sad that so little has been done to recognize the life of Pete Bennett. He was so connected, there are simply no words. One day when we spoke he had just hung up after talking to Paul McCartney about a tour Paul wanted Pete to accompany him on. Pete had decided to pass. As I recall, the tour was going to Israel.

Pete Bennett was a shining light in this world, he worked with the heaviest and biggest names and lived a life that few people can even imagine. His presence remains in so many ways, and the light still shines and always will, even if it was greatly diminished on the 22nd of November 2013, when our friend Pete went to join John, and Michael, and George, and Frank, and Elvis, and Brian, and a long list of others who checked out before him.

Video production by Tim King & Agron Belica

Mr. Bennett mentions Michael briefly at the end at around 9:16

Read more: http://www.ctpost.com/local/article/Pete-Bennett-legendary-music-promoter-dies-at-77-4071727.php#ixzz2J5WLFtep



Pete’s Comments About Michael Being Taken Advantage Of, His Innocence Of Being Accused And His Attraction To Beautiful Women (Date: 11/23/2003)

Source: Pete Bennett.com/ Trentonian- By L.A. Parker – Staff Writer

Click here to read: http://www.petebennett.com/press/trentonian.htm

Administrator’s Note: In 1975, when Michael and his brothers were looking to leave Motown, Mr. Bennett orchestrated a deal to bring the Jacksons to Epic Records. There were more video interviews about Pete discussing what Michael was really like, but they shut down by You Tube due to ‘copyright issues.’   http://salem-news.com/articles/january252013/pete-bennett-tk-ab.php?  Source: The Pete Bennett Show http://www.petebennettshow.com/  Cutie Pie ♥



Forget VHS: How Vevo CEO Rio Caraeff Has Updated Michael Jackson’s Distribution Model

Vevo CEO Rio Caraeff’s dad took that famous photo of Jimi Hendrix lighting his guitar on fire at the Monterey Pop Festival. So, yeah, he knows a thing or two about the visual component to music.

Source: FAST Company

In just a few short months since Korean pop-sensation PSY launched his epic “Gangnam Style” music video online, it’s rocketed to 827 million views to become the most watched video ever on YouTube. But PSY’s success can’t all be chalked up to the video’s explosive visuals and addictive horse-trot dancing. Modern access to music videos–via YouTube, Xbox, iPhone–has given artists like PSY unprecedented distribution opportunities online.

One of the leading drivers of that music distribution is Vevo, which is often referred to as the Hulu for music videos. The service, which is available on platforms ranging from iPads to Google TV, is rapidly becoming a significant source of revenue for artists and labels, which are looking to capitalize on music videos like they never could before in the age of MTV. In September, Vevo became the most popular channel on YouTube, and earlier this month, CEO Rio Caraeff launched the service overseas, where it’s now available in Spain, Italy, and France.

FAST COMPANY: Have you always loved music videos?

Photo: Rio Caraeff

RIO CARAEFF: I grew up on MTV living in New York in the 1980s. I remember watching The Box; I remember later watching Martha Quinn and Pop-Up Video and TRL. In the 1980s, the one video that’s burned into my cerebral cortex from such an early age was probably “Sledgehammer” by Peter Gabriel. Later, in the mid-1990s, I had started a special-effects company, and we did a lot of work for music videos, TV commercials, and some feature films. One of my favorite videos of all time was one I worked on then with Michael and Jacket Jackson called “Scream,” which took place in outer space on very fun sci-fi sets.

Why the interest in the visual component of music?

For me, pairing music and pictures or video is really an evolution of the album cover. My father was a photographer and art director. He produced over 500 album covers in the 1960s and 1970s. So I grew up in that era of beautiful photographs and the big, physical gatefold LPs. Pairing artwork and music was really a part of the experience. Music was not just something you listened to. And over time, I think video has become another way that you experience music, not unlike how it used to be that you’d buy an album, unfold it, and listen to it while you looked at all the pictures. Pairing videos with music is just another way of pairing 30 pictures-per-second with music.

What’s your favorite album cover?

Photo by Ed Caraeff

My father’s most famous photo was of Jimi Hendrix lighting his guitar on fire at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967. But he did every Steely Dan album, every Elton John album, every Van Morrison album, and others like Marvin Gaye and Jim Morrison. The most iconic album cover for me was Steely Dan’s album “The Royal Scam.” I love the fusion of photography and illustration–there’s something fantastical and surreal about it. It adds something to the music–it’s not just a photo of the band.

You’ve worked in the music industry for a long time. Tell me about your first gig at Capitol Records.

It was my first job at a record label. There was no ethernet, Wi-Fi, or Internet access in the Capitol Records tower at that time. I think I just made up a title, which at the time might’ve been New Media Architect or something pretentious like that. My job involved everything from building websites for artists like Paul McCartney and Radiohead, to setting up the email system to handing UNIX administration and our servers. I think the most innovative thing we did at the time was sell the first digital download, which was Duran Duran’s “Electric Barbarella.” The Wall Street Journal cited that as the first digital download sold by a major label before iTunes.

It sounds a bit antiquated now.

Well, I remember in the mid-1990s building one of the first artist websites out there–certainly the one with the largest budget at the time–for Michael Jackson. This was before I worked at Capitol. His double album was called “HIStory” and I remember building it all and having access to his company’s archives–all his photos and videos. We built this great website and I remember sitting there with my partner and saying, ‘Okay, we’re done. Should we just launch it?’ I remember him saying, ‘Well, we should probably show it to them to get their approval.’

Okay, but how do we show it to them? Cause they didn’t have Internet access. So we called them up and they told us to make a video tape of it, and messenger it to them. So we sat there trying to figure out how to do that, and ultimately, I had to surf the site while my partner stood over my shoulder with the camera video taping the screen. Then we made a bunch of VHS copies and messengered them to Epic Records and Michael Jackson’s people. It took a while to get the approval. But yes, there was a time when you’d video tape websites and send them around for approval.

What is Vevo working on currently?

Right now, we’re continuing to expand the footprint of distribution and embed Vevo in as many places as possible. So how do we get Vevo on Amazon? On every TiVo box? How do we get them into this particular carrier and this particular platform in this country?

Before Vevo there were no HD videos. There were no videos available on smartphones or tablets. There were thousands of low-quality copies all over YouTube that created a really muddy environment–the signal-to-noise ratio was out of alignment. We really wanted to improve the quality of the experience by creating our brand on our own site that stood for high-quality video, but we also wanted to put those videos on YouTube and Xbox and Yahoo and smartphones and tablets.

Are there lots of music lovers like you working at Vevo?

Certainly everyone is always watching music videos or listening to music. We actually just moved into our new offices in New York, and we have an open-floor plan. It’s been an interesting experiment to see how it’d work–there are a lot more headphones. Not everybody can be playing music really loud at every cube simultaneously.

But I think there’s a level of self-selection in our industry. I wouldn’t hire someone who doesn’t love music. And I wouldn’t hire someone who sees no difference between working at our company or working at a insurance company. You have to be passionate and excited about music to work here.


Michael Jackson’s Dresser on Designing for the ‘King of Pop’

Source: The Wrap

Getty Images

When Michael Jackson was laid to rest in 2009, he was adorned in some of the striking, decorative clothing that the “King of Pop” was famous for wearing during his performances, along with a pair of simple Florsheim dance shoes.

Jackson was dressed for his burial, as he had been for almost 25 years, by Michael Bush, the designer who, along with the late Dennis Tompkins, was responsible for creating many of the King of Pop’s most iconic outfits.

A selection of the costumes the pair created are on display in Los Angeles until Nov. 30 at Julien’s Auctions in Beverly Hills.

Tompkins and Bush (right) created between 900 and 1,200 pieces for Jackson, including a solid rhinestone bedspread for his ranch that weighed 73 pounds. Some 475 pieces from the pair’s collection of clothing for Jackson will be auctioned at Julien’s on Dec. 2.

The designers first worked with Jackson on the set of “Captain EO” for Disney in 1985. The pieces they created for Jackson are documented in Bush’s book, “The King of Style: Dressing Michael Jackson,” published on Nov. 6.

This is the first book on the artist’s wardrobe, which is almost as beloved as his music and dance moves. Bush will embark on a U.S. book tour in December, taking many creations with him.

“When I was waiting to go on the ‘Today’ show last week, [Homeland Security secretary] Janet Napolitano walked past me backstage and saw the costumes I had with me and said, ‘That’s Michael Jackson, 1986. That’s Michael Jackson, 1990.’ It was amazing,” Bush told TheWrap.

Included in the book and on display at Julien’s are some of the late pop star’s best-loved outfits, including the “Beat It” jacket — a red zipper-front jacket — from Jackson’s Dangerous Tour, which may fetch between $50,000 and $75,000 at auction.

Also up for sale is the “HIStory Teaser” jacket (right) created to promote his 1995 album. The black wool jacket is embellished with silver studs and braided metal epaulets. It will be auctioned for an estimated $50,000 to $75,000.

Jackson’s “Bad” tour jacket, a black stretch gabardine, zip-front jacket embellished with leather buckle straps, is being auctioned for $80,000 and $120,000.

The singer’s black cashmere hussars jacket, with red armbands and cuffs and covered in black braided rope is for sale for an estimated $40,000 to $60,000. Jackson wore it to the White House in 1990 when he was honored by President George H.W. Bush as Entertainer of the Decade.

Then there is his fantasy glove, a white spandex glove covered in alternating rows of Swarovski Loch Rosen and square iridescent crystals, which is being auctioned for $15,000 to $20,000.

“Many museums have shown an interest in these pieces, which is a good thing because some of them are starting to fade and tear,” said Bush, who kept the famous “Bad” tour jacket under his bed in a cardboard box for 20 years.

The pop star had given many of the costumes back to Bush for inclusion in the book, which he has been planning for two decades. “Michael was so generous,” he said. “He would give you something if you said you liked it.”

Although Bush said it has been hard to part with clothes from the man he described as his best friend, he has decided to sell most of the objects, with a portion of the proceeds going to charities.

Bush found the process of designing with Jackson to be amusing. “We would sit at a table with some paper. He had a pencil, and I had a pencil with erasers. He would draw something, and I would say that I don’t want to make that. And then I would draw something, and he would say I am not going to wear that. It was like two kids with crayons, seeing who could mess up the other one’s drawing better than the other one could,” he said.

Although they were not the first ones to dress Jackson in his favorite military-inspired look, the duo created many of Jackson’s embellished military-style jackets now up for auction. One is even covered in cutlery.

“Michael’s mentality was, ‘I am going to sing the beat and you have to help me show the beat,’” said Bush.

“Michael’s basic mentality was I am not a model, I am a dancer,” said Bush. “But he also understood show time. He didn’t care less what he wore otherwise. If he came in here in his personal clothes, you wouldn’t know it was Michael Jackson. He would wear oversized shirts, trousers, stepped down shoes. But he understood when he stood out in public that people wanted to see a show.”

Bush said Jackson slept in Nordstrom over-the-counter pajamas. But for his final outfit, he was dressed in a copy of the pearl jacket he wore when his sister Janet handed him a Grammy in 1994.

He was also dressed in black Levis encrusted in black seed beads, as well as Lucite shin guards that Jackson was supposed to wear for the opening number of “This Is It,” the tour he was rehearsing for when he died, as well as an 18-karat gold-plated champion belt adored with semi-precious stones and a pair of his sunglasses.

Tompkins and Bush designed the outfit, and Bush had to dress him one last time.

“I didn’t know if I could do it,” he said. “But LaToya said ‘you know what he would pick out.’ Dennis said, ‘let’s put him in his favorite jacket.’ We called the family, and no one knew where it was. I had one question: In public he wore his personal appearance shoes. Which shoes should he wear? LaToya said, ‘Oh my God. No. My brother has to go out of the world dancing.’”


Michael Jackson: ‘Magic Is Easy If You Put Your Heart Into It’ – A Classic Interview From The Vaults

Thriller is 30 years old this month – and here’s an insight into the world of Michael Jackson as his career exploded, from Creem magazine, courtesy of Rock’s Backpages, the world’s leading archive of vintage music journalism.

Source: - By Sylvie Simmons

‘Labels are like racism’ … Michael Jackson in 1983. Photograph: Eugene Adebari/Rex Features

Downtown, between the Pacific American Fish Co and the Hotel St Agnes Hospitality Kitchen, there’s an alley. Cars block each end, no escape. And silhouetted in the car headlights, two rival LA gangs are swaggering towards each other. A couple of people pop their heads out of the hotel window, mutter something incomprehensible and go back to sleep. Down below in the smoke, the gangs are getting closer.

Then out of the corner of your eye you spot a lot of people standing around with cameras. What’s this? Have they started putting the Pacific American Fish Co on those maps they give Japanese tourists? You know, Disneyland, Marineland, Gangland? Then you notice the movie cameras half hidden in the smoke. Ah, I’ve got it. A sequence for That’s Incredible, right? “OK, Skip, you’re going to tell us about real people who beat the shit out of each other EVERY DAY!” I can see them now, micing up the bodies, tapping them with rubber sticks for the soundcheck – “Hey Joe, a little more middle on the ribs please! we’re getting awful feedback on those kneebones …”

I wouldn’t want to mess with this bunch. Those gangs look mean. Those Crips, the ones with the blue bandanas, look really mean, slapping their fists in their hands and scowling and getting closer and – “CUT! OK, back to your places. Excuse me? EXCUSE ME? Thugs on the left? You sir, a teeeeeensy bit more knuckle-cracking. Perfect. ACTION!” – someone switches on a tape machine and a bit of Beat It blares out into the night. A woman bawls something rude off a balcony. The man with the Jordache look and a can of instant atmosphere ignores it and puffs some more into the alley. The gangs start swaggering towards each other once again.

“Magic,” says Michael Jackson, who talks a lot about magic, “is easy if you put your heart into it.”

There can’t be that many things much more magic than standing around in downtown LA in the middle of the night watching marauding hordes stand to attention when someone with a fruity English accent gives the command.
This particular bit of sorcery will, by the time you read this, be the video for Michael Jackson’s new single. You know, the one with the Eddie Van Halen guitar on it. The follow-up to the one about paternity suits. This one’s about machismo; so’s the video. Michael wakes up in some sleazy downtown bedroom in a cold sweat; he’s had a dream about the upcoming punch-up and has to go stop it. He leaps out of bed, seriously endangering the lives of a whole family of cockroaches, and heads downtown to the Empty Food Warehouse for the grand finale.

Which is where we’re heading now: the film crew, the Japanese tourists, the Fruity English accents, the Rival Gangs and the Stars. Everyone’s there; even the cockroaches. Someone’s escorting us through the cardboard boxes and the cartons and explaining how Michael’s going to meet up with the gangs right here for some killer choreography – “It’s difficult to look at cartons and be creative” – and it looked great in rehearsal. Apocalypse Now between the liquid shortening and stuffed Spanish olives.

But first they’ve got to shoot the gangs leaping out from behind the boxes looking mean. They do this several million times, the gangs (favoured fashion for punch-ups: black shades, tennis shoes, bandannas, woolly hats) looking meaner by the take. Just as they’re getting it right, they have to stop filming while a freight train comes through. Time for a tea break. They’ve got tables filled with food outside (favoured gangland food: fruit salad, soft drinks – after all, the video’s being done by the people who did the Dr Pepper commercials) and beverages. Gives a whole new meaning to “coffee mug”. The gangs queue up in neat little lines and chat over the buffet. Nice civilised folks; one of them told me he was only a temporary member; he really wants to be an actor; another one swore they were the real thing, showed me scars and reckoned they were paid more tonight as extras than in a good night’s street crime.
Back in the warehouse they’re doing the choreographed fight sequence. The real gang members stand on the edges while a dozen or so imitation gang members – professional dancers – dance and wave knives. It looks perfect first time, but they make them do it again and again.

All this time, a thin, long-fingered man in a brown leather jacket too big for him is sipping orange juice, gazing wide-eyed and curious at the dancers and the monitors, nodding his head soberly in time to the music, his foot on automatic tap. Michael Jackson looks fascinated by the whole thing. It’s three in the morning before he gets his go. He’s to come in, break up the fight and lead them dancing out of a warehouse. Pied Piper meets Peter Pan.

Dawn was breaking by the time they finished; Michael Jackson wasn’t. He’s brilliant. Where the man gets his energy from no one knows. It’s certainly not drugs – he doesn’t touch them and rarely drinks. It’s certainly not raw meat – Michael’s a strict vegetarian and wouldn’t eat at all, given an alternative; he fasts and dances every Sunday and manages to live to start another week.

Whatever, Michael Jackson manages to do more in a week than most manage in a decade. In the time it took Supertramp to get the right piano sound, Michael sang harmonies with Donna Summer, backing vocals with Joe “King” Carrasco (happened to be on the next studio at the time and was happy to oblige, once he translated it from Texan), wrote and produced Muscles for Diana Ross, wrote and sang The Girl Is Mine with Paul McCartney, and did a song for a narrated ET album, gathered together everyone from Vincent Price to Eddie Van Halen (“Eddie was a great choice, because he’s brilliant”) to help out with his solo album, and still had time for his pet llama, snake and parrots.

Just back from England (a couple more tunes with Macca, whom he met at a Hollywood cocktail party at silent comedian Harold Lloyd’s place and swapped phone numbers: “I love Paul, Linda and family very much.”), he’s already planning projects with Gladys Knight, Jane Fonda, Barbra Streisand, Katherine Hepburn, and – let’s stick with the girls! – Freddie Mercury of Queen, his old pal. Not to mention working on a film with Steven Spielberg (“a futuristic fantasy with music”) and an album with the Jacksons. Remember the Jacksons? Michael’s been their singer and choreographer ever since his dad Joe – one-time head of a Chuck Berry cover band in Indiana, the Falcons – noticed the five-year-old’s nifty James Brown impersonations. I mean, Michael was 11 years old when he had his first No 1 single!

It’s a mystery to Michael, too. “Magic.” The songs, ideas, energy come from God, he reckons – the man’s a devoted Jehovah’s Witness, He’ll just wake up in the night and there they are. Several more million sellers. His first solo album, Off the Wall, sold seven million copies. Thriller’s not exactly ready for the cutout bins yet. The first act in history, no less, to top the pop and R&B singles and albums charts all at the same time.

We didn’t get to talk at the video. The Man at Epic threatened me with all sorts of violence if I approached Jackson during the shooting, and with those Crips backing him up, who’s arguing? Seems during an earlier take a pressperson said something to Michael that gave him a fit of giggles (Oh No! Not the Freddie Mercury jokes, please!) and gave the film crew a very expensive break. But he did say he’d pass on a questionnaire to the man at an opportune moment.

And we did get to talk last year, in a three-storey condo in the San Fernando Valley – where Michael was and still is, staying while they rebuild his family house five miles down the road – filled with books, plants, art-work, animals, organic juices and various nephews and cousins and siblings of the Jackson family. La Toya was there in a cowboy hat. Little sister Janet was there to parrot my questions to Michael in a simpatico accent. Oh, I forgot, and there was a record collection ranging from Smokey Robinson (the first record Michael ever bought was Mickey’s Monkey) to Macca, with stops at funk, new wave, classical and just about anything else. Hmm. The Jackson influences, eh?

“James Brown, Ray Charles, Jackie Wilson, Chuck Berry and Little Richard – I think they had strong influences on a lot of people, because these were the guys who really got rock’n’roll going. I like to start with the origin of things, because once it gets along it changes. It’s so interesting to see how it really was in the beginning.”

Michael’s got a tiny, otherworldly voice. You’ve heard him described as childlike and angelic. You will again. He’s painfully shy, stares at his hands, his shoes, his sister, anywhere where he can forget there’s an interviewer around.
He goes on: “I like to do that with art also. I love art. Whenever we go to Paris I rush to the Louvre. I just never get enough of it! I go to all the museums around the world. I love art. I love it too much, because I end up buying everything and you become addicted. You see a piece you like and you say, ‘Oh God, I’ve got to have this …’

“I love classical music. I’ve got so many different compositions. I guess when I was real small in kindergarten and hearing Peter And The Wolf and stuff – I still listen to that stuff, it’s great, and Boston Pops and Debussy, Mozart, I buy all that stuff. I’m a big classical fan. We’ve been influenced by all kinds of different music – classical, R&B, folk, funk – and I guess all those ingredients combine to create what we have now.

“I wouldn’t be happy doing just one kind of music or label ourselves. I like doing something for everybody… I don’t like our music to be labeled. Labels are like … racism.”

A good enough reason for swinging from Streisand to Freddie Mercury, not wanting to become the figurehead of just one group of people. How does he choose who he works with? Anybody who asks?

“I choose by feeling and instinct,” is Michael’s questionnaire answer. What does he get out of them? “I feel it would be … magic.” Then again, you’ve got to keep in mind the man lives for his work.

“My career is mainly what I think about … There’s been so many other things, they come in all the time. It’s just hard to juggle your responsibilities around – my music here, my solo career, my movies there, TV and everything else.”

Is that what makes you happy, just working?

“Yes. That’s what I’m here for, really. It’s like Michelangelo or Leonardo da Vinci.” His voice trails off; he looks torn between sounding immodest and telling the truth, which, as he sees it, is that talent comes from God anyway, so don’t go patting him on the back. “Still, today, we can see their work and be inspired by it.”

So as long as there’s stereos, Michael Jackson lives, then?

“Yes. I’d like to just keep going and inspire people and try new things that haven’t been done.”

To what extent has his belief in divinity influenced his life?

“I believe in God. We all do. We like to be straight, don’t go crazy or anything. Not to the point of losing our perspective on life, of what you are and who you are. A lot of entertainers, they make money and they spend the rest of their life celebrating that one goal they reached, and with that celebration comes the drugs and the liquor and the alcohol. And then they try to straighten up and they say, ‘Who am I? Where am I? What happened?’ And they lost themselves, and they’re broken. You have to be careful and have some kind of discipline.”

Is he a very self-disciplined person?

“I’m not an angel, I know. I’m not like a Mormon or an Osmond or something where everything’s straight. That can be silly sometimes. It goes too far.”

It must be hard being an angel when you’re acknowledged as one of the sexiest performers around, have girls camping in your backyard and the like.

“I wouldn’t say I was sexy! But I guess that’s fine if that’s what they say. I like that in concert. That’s neat.”

What isn’t neat is: “Like, you run into a bunch of girls, which I do all the time, you’ll drive outside and there’ll be all these girls standing on the corner and they’ll start bursting into screaming and jumping up and down and I’ll just sink into my seat. That happens all the time … Everyone knew where we lived before, because it was on the ‘Map To The Stars’ Homes’, and they’d come round with cameras and sleeping bags and jump the fence and sleep in the yard and come in the house – we found people everywhere. It gets crazy. Even with 24-hour guards they find a way to slip in. One day my brother woke up and saw this girl standing over him in his bedroom. This one lady, who’s 30 and she’s crazy, and she said Jesus sent her there, and she’s got to me … People hitch-hike and come to the house and say they want to sleep with us, stay with us, and it usually ends up that one of the neighbors takes them in. We don’t let them stay. We don’t know them.”

More tales of crazy fans. One girl who tried to blow them up; another who screams at him in supermarkets. Must get a bit tough knowing who’s your friend, sometimes.

“It does become difficult certain times. It’s hard to tell, and sometimes I get it wrong. Just the force of feeling, or if a person’s just nice without knowing who you are.”

Lonely at the top?

“We know lots and lots of people because we have such a big family. But [I've got] maybe two, three good friends.”

Things weren’t much different though when he was growing up in Gary, Indiana. He remembers “a huge baseball pitch at the back of where I lived, and children playing and eating popcorn and everything,” and not being allowed to join in, but still reckons “I didn’t really feel left out. We got a lot in exchange for not playing baseball in the summer. My father was always very protective of us, taking care of business and everything.

“We went to school, but I guess we were even different then, because everyone in the neighborhood knew about us. We’d win every talent show and our house was loaded with trophies. We always had money and we could always buy things the other kids couldn’t, like extra candy and extra bubblegum – our pockets were always loaded and we’d be passing out candy. That made us popular! But most of our life we had private schooling. I only went to one public school in my life. I tried to go to another one here, but it didn’t work, because we’d be in our class and a bunch of fans would break into the classroom, or we’d come out of school and there’d be a bunch of kids waiting to take pictures and stuff like that. We stayed at that school a week. One week! That was all we could take. The rest was private school with other entertainment kids or stars’ kids, where you wouldn’t have to be hassled.”

But spending your life almost exclusively with your brothers and sisters – don’t you get on each other’s nerves? Doesn’t it get claustrophobic?

“Honestly, it doesn’t, and I’m not just saying that to be polite. Thank God it doesn’t.”

Not even when they’re out on the road together?

“No. We’re so silly when we’re on the road, and we just get sillier. We play games, we throw things at each other, we do all kinds of silly things. It seems like when you’re under pressure you find some kind of escapism to make up for that – because the road is a lot of tensions: work, interviews, fans grabbing you, everybody wants a piece of you, you’re always busy, the phones ringing all night with fans calling you, so you put the phone under the mattress, then the fans knock at the door screaming, you can’t even get out of the room without them following you. You feel that all around you. It’s like you’re in a goldfish bowl and they’re always watching you.”

How do you get away from the madness?

“I go to museums and learn and study. I don’t do sports – it’s dangerous. There’s a lot of money being counted on, and we don’t want to risk anything. My brother hurt his leg in a basketball game and we had to cancel the concert, and just because of him having an hour of fun, thousands of people missed the show, and we were being sued left and right because of a game. I don’t think it’s worth it … I try to be real careful.”

Even about talking to the press. Another reason he hates interviews is a fear of being misquoted. Magazines, he reckons, “can be so stupid sometimes that I want to choke them! Like I say things and they turn it all around. I could kill them sometimes. Once I made a quote – I care about starvation and I love children and I want to do something about the future. And I said, ‘One day I’d love to go to India and see the starving children and really see what it feels like.’ And they wrote that Michael Jackson gets a kick out of seeing children starve, so you can see what kind of person he is!

“Ryan O’Neal sent her a tarantula spider one time,” he grins of the author. “That was good!”

It’s probably the nearest thing to a mean statement the man’s made. You wonder how someone so sweet and shy and childlike gets to be such a demon onstage.

“I just do it, really. The sex thing is kind of spontaneous. It really creates itself, I think.”

So you don’t practice being sexy in front of the mirror?

“No! Once the music plays, it creates me. The instruments move me, through me, they control me. Sometimes I’m uncontrollable and it just happens – boom, boom, boom! – once it gets inside you.”

That doesn’t mean that outside forces get the blame if anything goes wrong. Michael has complete control over every aspect of his career. And he criticises his own efforts more than anyone else’s.

“I’m never satisfied with what I do. I always think I can do it a lot better. I think,” he considers, “it’s good to be like that.”

Anyway, as we told you already he’s going to be working on a film with Steven Spielberg.

“I love Steven,” says Michael in the questionnaire “Just 10 minutes before writing this, Steven called me. He bought me a present! I can’t really tell you anything about the project. I will say Steven is my favorite director, and that he’s looked long and hard for the right property.”

I just heard that Francis Ford Coppola wants to do Peter Pan with him as the lead. And we at Creem haven’t seen such a blatant bit of typecasting since Sly Stone made his fortune playing mindless beefcake.

At 24, doesn’t it get on his nerves being referred to as a “child”?

“I don’t mind. I feel I’m Peter Pan as well as Methuselah, and a child. I love children so much. Thank God for children. They save me every time!”

But how about a film of his own life, then? Will we ever get to see a film of Michael Jackson’s magical life?

“No. I’d hate to play my own life story,” he grimaces. “I haven’t lived it yet! I’ll let someone else do it.”


Such a doll baby! I love you Michael! Cutie ♥

An Interview with Weldon McDougal III Author Of The Michael Jackson Scrapbook: The Early Days Of The Jackson Five

Source: J5 Collector – By Scoop Newsworthy

1) What was your role at Motown?
My role at Motown was pretty spread out. When I got there there was only one other promotions man. I took care of the East Coast. The gentleman at Motown, who thought I was fabulous, was Irv Beagle. He asked me to work Boston, New York, Jersey, and Washington, D.C. It was me and a guy named Eddie Biscoe, he was a fabulous guy! He knew everything about all the artists, he lived and breathed Motown. He encouraged me. I felt the same spirit he did and we went out there and promoted records.

2) Where did you first meet The Jackson 5?
I first met the Jackson 5 at the High Chaparral; it’s a night club in Chicago. They were there to do a talent show. At the High Chaparral, whoever won the talent show would get a paid salary to work on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I was there to see who would be the winner that week. And the winner of that week was the Jackson 5. I was introduced to Joe Jackson as the Motown promotions man and he told me “Hey man we wanna be on Motown” and I said, “Man, that ain’t what I do. I promote records.” I didn’t want to discourage him — I just didn’t want to misrepresent myself with people and tell them that I could get them on Motown.

At that time, I had never gotten anyone on Motown and I never thought of it. My job was to promote records and that was hard enough. When I saw Michael and the guys, I told them that Bobby Taylor, who was a guy I hung out with, got a production deal with Motown. He could produce anybody and they [Motown] would at least listen to the records he produced. Bobby Taylor and The Vancouvers were the headliner for that weekend at the High Chaparral. I told the guys “When you come in on Friday, you’ll see Bobby Taylor and he might be interested in you guys.” I saw Bobby the next day and told him how good I thought they were and they were interested in being on Motown. Bobby said he would see what he could do with them and the rest is history.

3) To end all speculation, Weldon, you were the one that opened the gates getting The Jackson 5 on Motown?
That’s true.

4) How easy or challenging was it promoting their first Motown single, “I Want You Back”?
Well, part of my job was to personally introduce the artists to the disc jockeys. I came up with an idea to help push them along by doing a five city tour. I was laughed at. There was no money to send them on a five city tour, which included the guys, their father, and their road manager who was their uncle. The people didn’t accept the record at first.

Over the next couple of months in another meeting it was decided that The Jackson 5 would become Diana Ross’s protégés. She would put her name to them since she was #1 at the time. I’ll never forget we made a postcard advertisement and I’d give them out when I would promote the record. It helped a little bit, but not much. The challenge had nothing to do with The Jackson 5, it was Motown. We had Stevie Wonder, The Supremes, Marvin Gaye, The Four Tops, The Temptations, so many artists on the charts already. The average record list at a radio station was 40 records. If we had ten records, we had a little too many because there were other record companies as well. We were fortunate to have that many hits. Anytime a new artist comes in, they (radio stations) weren’t always ready to jump on them.

Now you may wonder how The Jackson 5 really made it. They really made it when they went on the Ed Sullivan Show. The day after the show, I got so many calls asking me for a copy of “I Want You Back” so the radio stations could play it. Ed Sullivan’s show had a great audience, black and white kids saw the show, and even the pop stations called me for the record.

5) Berry Gordy had a goal in making the first four Jackson 5 singles #1. How did all of that happen?
Bobby Taylor was recording them, and he recorded a lot of songs that he felt were ideal for the group. When Berry Gordy finally saw them, he decided to produce them in the way he felt they could sell records. So “I Want You Back” is the song that Berry Gordy and The Corporation came up with, along with the term “bubble gum soul.” Berry was a busy guy, he worked closely with The Supremes and he would attend a lot of their gigs. So, as I mentioned, “I Want You Back” didn’t start out like a gangbuster, it trickled in there. But after The Ed Sullivan Show, the rest of it was easy to an extent because everyone was waiting for the next Jackson 5 record. So for the next 3, there it was!

6) Do you remember attending your very first Jackson 5 concert?
The first one I remember was at the Cow Palace in San Francisco. Then they started doing big venues. It was a sellout house!

7) How would you describe The Jackson 5?
The Jackson 5 was a big group, the fans loved them all! I don’t believe the fans liked one more than the other. Now the teenage girls had certain ones that they wanted to marry, which made it hard for Michael and Marlon to get that type of reaction because they were so young. I’ll give you an example. When they would have guests come up to the room and speak to The Jackson 5, the guests always wanted to go in Jackie and Jermaine’s room. They would be having popcorn or whatever they were doing, nothing risqué. I remember Michael would be going down to their rooms knocking on the door trying to get in himself. He was the little brother and wasn’t hanging out with his older brothers all the time.

8) Many fans know that you have a book called The Michael Jackson Scrapbook, which contains some of the very best candid photos, how did you start taking photos of the Jackson 5?
That came about because of Michael and Tito mainly. They both bought Nikon cameras. Michael always wanted me to use his camera and take photos of whatever he was doing. We were in Cincinnati at the World Series where they sang the National Anthem and there was strict security on the field. I had Tito, Jermaine and Michael’s camera and started taking pictures of them singing. There was a guy that worked for the press that wanted buy a roll of film for $50. The first guy I ran into was Tito and I told him about the guy wanting to buy the roll of film, Tito said no problem. We split the money. Tito felt really good about making the $25 even though he was making money all the time. I’ll never forget when we were leaving Cincinnati the next day — the front page of the newspaper had a picture of The Jackson 5 that I took. Crystal clear! It was done very well! After that, I bought my own camera and started taking my own pictures of them on the fly all the time.

9) In the early years, the Jackson 5 eventually caught the attention of mainstream publications like 16 magazine, Fave, and Tiger Beat. How did The Jackson 5 start a relationship with Right On! magazine?
I used to go out with one of the secretaries of Laufer Publications. Mr. Laufer told me he was going to start a magazine just for The Jackson 5. I didn’t believe it and next thing you know, the first issue had nothing but The Jackson 5 in it. At the time, I thought it would only be one or two issues, but it went on for many years.

10) Weldon, there is a photo of Michael wearing a very unique hat in your book The Michael Jackson Scrapbook, what’s the story behind that odd looking hat?
I was in Brazil and there was a guy that was the number 1 entertainer at the time and he dressed like a clown. I went to his show, it was wild and at times there would be watermelons thrown in the audience. So I was introduced to the guy and he said, “I hear you used to work with Michael Jackson”, I said “Yeah”. He took his hat off and said “Next time you see Michael Jackson, tell him I said hi and I want him to have this hat.” Michael came to my house in Philly since he was nearby in New York. He looked at my record collection and saw the hat. I told him a guy gave it to me for you, and he tried it on and I took photos of him in the hat. When Michael left my house, he left the hat.

11) Is there any song by The Jackson 5 that is special to you?
Each song that they came out with is special to me, but I’m not a fan of which song is better than the other. I will say “Got To Be There” always rings out when I think of Michael Jackson. That record was easy to promote, they were on a roll, they became hotter than The Temptations, The Four Tops, Stevie Wonder, and Marvin Gaye. People were ready for them! I remember the disc jockeys would be waiting for the next Jackson 5 record and people would be glued to the radio waiting to hear the new single.

12) Did you ever get a chance to watch the Jackson 5 recording sessions?
Yes, several of them. To be honest, I’m also a record producer; I produced “Yes I’m Ready” by Barbara Mason and if you are producing a record it’s exciting. If you are just standing around and watching it’s boring.

13) What is next for Weldon McDougal III?
On July 4th I went to London and participated in a special that will come out in August or September, called The Real Story of Michael Jackson. Most of the things we’ve discussed today are going to be in that TV special. I provided them with pictures from The Michael Jackson Scrapbook, so the fans will be able to see those photos if they don’t have the book. The guy that is doing the show is David Gest.

A funny story…David told me that he went to Michael’s house and Michael showed him The Michael Jackson Scrapbook and Michael wouldn’t let him touch it, he thumbed through the pages himself and he didn’t want anyone to mess up his book. That was exciting putting together that book and I saw the book for sale the first time at a train station coming home from New York. I still have a copy of my own book and it’s kind of beat up.

Adam Worthy (Scoop Newsworthy) has been a Jackson 5 fan since 1981 when he first saw the Jacksons on TV at age four, and he has been a collector since 1991. He loves to listen to music, dissect music, make music, and spend time with his wife and children. 


Executor Is Cool Under Pressure (Excerpt)

Source: WTOP News

FILE – In this 1987 file photo originally released by John Branca, attorney John Branca, left, and Michael Jackson are shown at Branca’s wedding in Beverly Hills, Calif. Branca, and his co-executor, John McClain, have been successfully pursuing projects to pay off a mountain of debt left by the superstar, to assure the financial future of his three children and to guarantee that Jackson’s music will live forever. (AP Photo/ Courtesy of John Branca, File)

John Branca, who holds the purse strings of the estate, is a calm center of the storm.

As co-executor of Jackson’s will, he chooses to ignore the erupting dramas and personal attacks and keeps his eye on the future, which he says belongs to Jackson’s mother and children and to the pop star’s musical legacy.

He and co-executor John McClain have been successfully pursuing projects to pay off a mountain of debt left by the superstar, to assure the financial future of his three children and to guarantee that Jackson’s music will live forever.

“When Michael Jackson died, he was near bankruptcy,” said Branca, suggesting the future for his three young children was uncertain. “Now we know the kids will be OK.”

Branca sat down recently with The Associated Press to discuss the current state of the Jackson estate and projects to preserve Jackson’s image as the King of Pop.

Secure in his knowledge that all four of Jackson’s wills named him as executor, Branca continues to make deals for the Jackson estate that are generating millions in revenue. This week, they announced an agreement with Sony/ATV Music Publishing to administer Jackson’s Mijac Music catalog, which includes such hits as “Beat It” and “Billie Jean.” The deal is expected to generate enough revenues to pay off a remaining $5 million loan by year’s end.

Since his death on June 25, 2009, Branca said Jackson’s personal debt of $200 million has been paid off and another $300 million tied to his ownership of Sony and ATV catalogs has been renegotiated.

“Michael had a will and a trust and that’s what we follow,” he said.

The estate pays Mrs. Jackson $70,000 a month for the children’s support, pays the rent on their mansion in Calabasas, and is picking up bills for other expenses including renovation of their Encino home.

Brimming with excitement, Branca spoke of upcoming ventures he thinks would have delighted Jackson, especially a permanent Jackson-themed extravaganza on the Las Vegas Strip. It comes on the heels of the Cirque du Soleil Jackson tribute show, “Immortal: The World Tour.”

“The Lion King” theater at the Mandalay Bay Hotel is being rebuilt to house the still untitled show, also a Cirque du Soleil production, which is set to open May 23, 2013.

“It will be highly theatrical and completely different from the arena show, which was more of a concert,” Branca said. “We will have the opportunity to create something special and ground-breaking.”

Declining to reveal all of the technical wizardry planned, he said, “We’ve got all kinds of tricks up our sleeves.”

Every seat will have its own speakers, while the walls and ceiling will be used to create “a totally immersive experience for the audience,” he said.

Unlike the touring show, there will be no live band and all music will come from remixes of Jackson’s recordings.

Branca and co-executor McClain, a reclusive recording executive, say they understand Jackson;s’s desires to take care of his mother and children; Prince, Paris and Blanket financially and keep his music alive.

“We feel Michael entrusted us with his legacy and with the future of his mother and children,” Branca said. “We’re honored and proud and passionate about celebrating Michael. It’s a labor of love for us. We love Michael.”

Branca met Jackson in 1980 when both were just starting out and their success story was legendary. But there were rocky periods. During more than two decades together they had two three-year periods of estrangement over business disagreements. 

Branca was rehired by Jackson a month before he died, with instructions to draft an agenda for future business deals. Branca presented the plan a week before Jackson died and it has been the roadmap for the estate’s posthumous enterprises.

In addition to the new Las Vegas show, a new album and a concert DVD will be released soon celebrating the 25th anniversary of Jackson’s “BAD” album. And a two-hour documentary by acclaimed filmmaker Spike Lee on the making of “BAD” will show at the Toronto and Venice film festivals next month.

The anniversary promotions include a deal with Pepsi to put silhouettes of Jackson on a billion cans of soda in 20 countries.

Administrator’s Note: I have only included the parts of the article that deal directly with the financial progress of the estate, not controversy.

Another Michael Bush Interview

Dressing the King of Pop: Designer Unveils Book

Jackson’s fashion concept: To reflect his individuality

Source: Detroit News

Michael Jackson’s costumer, Michael Bush, in a Los Angeles warehouse filled with his creations. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Los Angeles — The zipper-covered “Beat It” jacket. The military-inspired coats with their epaulets, crests and insignias. And, of course, that glittery glove.

Michael Jackson’s fashion sense was as singular as his musical style and dance moves. Millions imitated his pegged pants and penny loafers, a fedora cocked just so.

Jackson’s longtime costumer reveals the secrets behind the King of Pop’s meticulously crafted, regal rock-star look — and an intimate glimpse into the man himself — in a colorful new book, “The King of Style: Dressing Michael Jackson.”

“When you worked with him, you couldn’t wait to get there and you didn’t want to leave when you got done,” said author/costume designer Michael Bush, who with his late partner, Dennis Tompkins, dressed Jackson for more than a generation. “It was hard to imagine anyone that projected fashion and style any better.”

What most people don’t know about Jackson, Bush said, is he was a joker — a playful prankster who loved to laugh and often teased those closest to him the most.

Bush, who met Jackson for the first time in 1983, when both men were 25, learned his craft from his mom and grandmother, who made wedding gowns, prom dresses and quilts.

“Michael’s concept was, ‘I want the fashion designers in the world, the big conglomerates, I want them to copy me,’” Bush said in an interview at a warehouse in Los Angeles, racks of glittery history behind him. “I don’t want to wear what’s out there. I want to push my individuality, and being that my music is me, my look should be me.”

Jackson’s stage costumes were designed to display his dance moves, so Bush and Tompkins, who died last December, were treated to regular private dance recitals to inform their work. Jackson danced five or six hours a day, whether he was on tour or not, Bush said. “He traveled with a hardwood floor in a road case.”

All that dancing, such as during the 1987 “Bad” world tour, meant Jackson could drop so much weight during a concert that the costumes for his closing numbers had to be smaller than the ones for the show openers.

“Michael was usually a 28-inch waist, but by the midpoint of the show, when he was ready to perform his magic act of choice, right before ‘Beat It,’ he’d already lost five pounds of water, and his waist dropped to 27 and a quarter,” Bush writes in “The King of Style.”

“If we didn’t have clothes hanging on the rack in the right order that were getting progressively smaller, we’d risk him putting on a pair of pants that would fall to his ankles with each rhythmic move of his body. And there is no magic in that!”

The King of Pop preferred China silk, silk charmeuse and stretchy fabrics. “Spandex made Michael feel sleek and secure and worked for his dance style,” Bush writes.

Then there were the military jackets, the rhinestone-encrusted interpretations of British war uniforms like the one Jackson wore at the 1984 Grammy Awards, when he raked in a record eight awards for “Thriller.”

Jackson had a childlike fascination with rhinestones, Bush said.

“He’d take the rhinestones from me,” Bush writes, “and delicately move them around with his fingertips and whisper… ‘Can you imagine being a pirate opening a treasure chest? And seeing all the glitter inside? What a fascinating life, to be a pirate like that.’”

Bush and Tompkins worked with Jackson until the pop star’s death in June 2009. Though they weren’t in charge of the costumes for the ill-fated “This Is It” comeback tour, they created ensembles for seven songs, including a reprise of his “Billie Jean” outfit with its loafers and spangled socks. There was also a burgundy and gold monogrammed top with a Chinese collar and bell sleeves, and a pair of black bedazzled shin guards.

Bush declined to share any details about Jackson’s health or demeanor in his final days. He did say, though, that the King of Pop had always hoped his costumes would be celebrated in books and museums, and Bush is humbled by making that dream a reality.

The costumer will exhibit some of Jackson’s performance outfits in South America, Europe and Asia before releasing his book on Oct. 30. Many of the costumes will be sold at auction in December, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting the Recording Academy’s MusiCares charity.

From The Detroit News: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20120822/ENT05/208220323#ixzz24IthssNO

Double Articles: Tom Bahler’s Soulful Memories With Michael Jackson / Memories With The ‘Groove King’: John Bähler Remembers Michael Jackson

Written By Christina Chaffin – Freelance Writer

Michael Jackson

DAYTON, Ohio – Electrifying sell-out crowds, with distinguished vocals and mind-blowing dance routines is one way fans remember Michael Jackson. For Tom Bahler, memories of Jackson are meaningful, filled with harmonies, laughter and Motown soul.

As a songwriter, studio singer, arranger and producer, Bahler has worked with a variety of artists, including the Temptations, Barbara Streisand, Elvis Presley and Smokey Robinson. Among his list of seasoned performers is Michael Jackson, dating back to the early 1970s. “Back in the day when I first met Michael, he was warm, and at the same time, inside of himself,” Bahler said. “He knew there was a fire inside of himself.”

Bahler, along with his brother John Bahler began working at Motown Records in 1972. They were given multiple tasks, including background singing and vocal arranging. Together, they worked with the Jackson 5. “We use to start [around] 4:30 p.m., after school [let out,]” Tom said. “They’d arrive in a limousine from school and go straight into the studio.”

Motown Records

According to Tom, he and John treasure their memories at Motown because of the music. “It was a wonderful chapter in our lives,” he said. “It was the greatest experience ever. I think it was spiritually fulfilling.”

Tom reminisces about Jackson and considers his memories to be priceless. He said it’s hard to pinpoint specific memories because there are many, but said he will never forget what Jackson did one day in Motown’s studio. “Being the youngest of the Jackson 5, everybody was always telling Michael where to stand,” he said. “It wasn’t because he was ‘Michael Jackson,’ but because he was the youngest. One day, Michael walked over and leaned against a piano and just started singing. I was thinking, ‘A kid this young with this much soul.’ It was just extraordinary.”

In 1973, Tom began working with Quincy Jones. (He arranged Jones’ album “Body Heat.”) The two became fast friends and enjoyed working together. At the same time, Tom and John continued working with a variety of artists, including the Jackson 5. Jones knew who the group was, but never worked with them musically.

Both Tom and Jones remained busy with music-related projects, but stayed connected. In 1977, Jones began directing the 1978-released film “The Wiz.” Tom worked behind the cameras as the film’s vocal arranger. The cast featured a star-studded lineup, including Diana Ross as “Dorothy,” Nipsey Russell as the “Tin Man,” Ted Ross as the “Cowardly Lion,” Lena Horn as “Glinda the Good Witch,” Richard Pryor as “The Wiz” and Jackson as the “Scarecrow.” “When we did ‘The Wiz’ I knew Michael, but Quincy was [just getting better acquainted with him,]” Tom said. “It was fun seeing that relationship grow. It shows you what can happen when you have the right combination of mind and spirit.”

The same year, 1977, Tom wrote a ballad describing emotional heartbreak, detailing what was currently going on in his life. The song was called “She’s Out of My Life.” “I was going with a wonderful woman and woke up with her, and she wanted to get married, and I wasn’t ready,” he said. “These thoughts were going through my mind on the freeway one night. I said [to myself,] ‘Hey man, you made a choice. Face it. She’s out of your life.’ I was like ‘Wow’ at what I was thinking. By the time I got home, the song was written in 13 minutes.”

Tom’s ballad is featured on Jackson’s 1979 solo album Off the Wall. According to him, Jackson wasn’t his original choice to sing the track. “But [Michael] understood drama,” he said. Jackson was moved by the song and tearful toward the end of every recording he made. Tom said Jones had Jackson record the song 12 times before deciding to keep the emotional ending. The version released on Off the Wall is the first recording Jackson made. “When he sang ‘She’s Out of My Life,” he cried,” Tom said. “People don’t hear how he apologized at the end of every take. I asked Michael on a break if he was alright. I said, ‘Hey man, sorry if I hit a chord.’ [Michael] said, ‘No man, I was just getting into the lyrics.”

Michael Jackson

Throughout his career, Tom and John remained connected with Jackson, becoming his vocal arrangers. “Any time he’d do something on voices, he’d call us,” Tom said. “Michael was great. He was always open [to our comments.] But at the same time, he was an incredible singer.”

Tom said he can’t remember every song he worked on with Jackson while at Motown, but said he has beautiful memories, filled with “funny moments.” “There were so many songs, that if I hear them, then I can remember them,” he said. Still, one song stands out in his mind: Jackson’s version of “Rockin’ Robin.” Tom remembers helping him practice his vocals for the song. Another reason the track is important to him is because of a memory he has with Jackson years later. “John and I met with Michael at Neverland Ranch, and when he came into the room and sat down, John and I got on each side of him and started singing, ‘Tweedly-deedly-dee. Tweedly-deedly-dee.’ [Michael] was a fun guy. He had such a bright spirit.”

Memories of music fill Tom’s head when thinking of Jackson, and are close to his heart. “Michael was an amazing spirit and had a real gift for singing,” he said. “Everything he did, I found to be unique, funky, hip and tasteful. He was one of the greatest entertainers I’ve ever encountered and I’ll never forget him.”


Memories With The ‘Groove King’: John Bähler Remembers Michael Jackson

Written By: Christina Chaffin – Freelance Writer

2-31.jpg“The one thing I try to impress upon people is that Michael was the epitome of love. He was the most loving, kind human being I have ever met in my entire life.”
– John Bähler (May 31, 2011)

DAYTON, Ohio – John Bähler is a composer, producer, songwriter and arranger. He and his brother Tom Bähler have been surrounded by music for most of their life. John said he’s felt blessed to work with multiple artists throughout the years, but according to him, one person who will always stand out is Michael Jackson.

In 1972, John and Tom joined Motown Records as a team of arrangers. The Bählers worked with multiple groups at Motown, and among their musical list was the Jackson 5, [Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, Marlon and Michael]. “The Jacksons were the sweetest, quietest, humblest people I have ever met in my entire life,” he said. “The boys in the group were all quiet, but once they hit the stage, it was like flipping on a switch.” Despite their quiet personalities, John said they were a group of professionals, but remembers a time when they struggled to master a song arrangement.

“I can’t remember what song we were doing, but the arrangement wasn’t easy to sing,” he said. “When it came time to record the song, the producer said I can’t sing on the track with the group. So, I went into the back and turned on a figure-8 microphone. Only the boys, engineer and myself knew I was singing on the record.”

John said he treasured his time with the group and always looked forward to working with them, and said he had great side-conversations with them. One of his memories involves a conversation with Michael around the age of 13. John said Michael approached him and asked him, “[Do] you know who the best dancer of the group is? Jackie. Jackie’s the best dancer.” John said when he asked him why Jackie doesn’t move toward the front to dance, Michael said, “He’s shy, so he makes me do it.” Michael then told John that Jackie choreographed a lot of the group’s dance routines while living in Gary, Ind.

Despite the Jackson 5 ending their Motown career in 1975, Michael, John and Tom remained close. John said a solid factor to their friendship was the fact that he and Tom treated Michael like a “normal human being.” Throughout their years of working together, John said he was able to see a side of Michael that many knew of, but had never experienced first-hand. He said he was able to witness Michael create a melody and watch it evolve into a song over time.

John said he nicknamed Michael the “Groove King,” because, “He came up with the most incredible grooves. He’d call me and we would go into the studio and do songs. He’d play one and it would walk you out of the room.” According to John, Michael enjoyed creating infectious rhythms, but loved writing a wide variety of songs. He said Michael noted “Heal the World” as one of his favorite tracks. Knowing how highly Michael thought of the song, John said he takes pride in the fact that he wrote the vocal arrangement and directed the choir.


Michael’s song “Heal the World” – the seventh song off his 1991 album Dangerous – was originally titled “Feed the World.” Keyboardist David Paich first presented the song idea to John over the phone. John said he then went to Paich’s home and recorded the chart arrangement. Though the song wasn’t finished, he said Michael heard some of it and called him saying, “I did it again. I fell on my knees and wept.”

When finalizing the arrangement and choir of the song, John said Michael was suppose to be present, but was sick with a cold and unavailable. According to John, they recorded the finished piece to play to Michael over the phone. “He flipped,” John said. “[Michael] was in tears.” John said without working on it every day, writing, arranging and finalizing the song took 6-7 months. He said from the time the song was originally titled “Feed the World,” and then later changed to “Heal the World,” several demos were recorded.

While thinking back through the years he spent in recording studios with him, John said Michael always looked up to him and saw him as a great singer and arranger. However, he said one of his favorite humorous times in the studio is when Michael heard him make a mistake. “I never put two headphones on when recording because the professionals have to hear themselves sing live,” he said. “While [recording] parts of a song with Michael, I put both of my headphones on. All of the sudden, we heard this ugly vocal part. I took my headphones off and Michael yelled while laughing, ‘It was you. I can’t believe it was you.’ He couldn’t believe he had actually heard me sounding rotten.”

John said he considers his time spent with Michael as years he will never forget. According to him, he and Michael were always close. John said he remembers Michael calling him and Tom a lot while the Jackson 5 were touring. “He’d be so quiet on the phone, but loved talking,” John said.


According to John, he and Tom miss Michael and their friendship, but said he holds on to the qualities that made Michael unique. According to John, Michael’s sense of humor and quality of love stayed in him throughout the years. When asked what he wants everyone to remember about Michael, John said, “He had a great sense of humor. He was a kidder who loved being kidded.” In addition to Michael’s humor, John said, “He was the epitome of love. I don’t know of anyone I have ever met who has loved more than Michael.”

The one aspect John said he will never forget is, “When Michael said ‘I love you,’ you felt it. He was that way his entire life.”

Christina Chaffin

– About the Author:

As a freelance writer based in Dayton, Ohio, I have published over 20 articles for a small newspaper in the Midwest. I have spent time covering multiple topics including the economy and entertainment. However, my passion revolves around writing artist profiles, album reviews and anything else music-related. To get in touch, e-mail cmchaffin@gmail.com.


Sister To Sister Magazine, September 2009 Raymone Bain Talks About Life With Michael Jackson

Source: s2s Magazine – by Jamie Foster Brown

Hey S2S family, I have a special treat for you this issue, although it’s something I wish we were not writing about because the loss of Michael Jackson is still reverberating with such pain. Millions still mourn him but few had the chance to know him like my friend Raymone Bain, who was his publicist and, eventually, general manager for seven years. She was with him during his darkest time—five horror-filled months in court when he stood accused of molesting a little boy. Ridiculed yet revered. Scorned. Adored. He showed us changing faces, not only in color but also by deeds, as life beat him up and at the same time regarded him like a saint.

Nothing was simple about this man. He was complex, creative, talented, kind, shrewd, wealthy, mysterious—he was exonerated in the courtroom, but so many refused to let him be. That trial took a toll on him and he fled for months to Bahrain, Ireland and even Virginia, finally returning to California, where he eventually died. But he never returned to his beloved Neverland, a fairytale place that was searched and violated by the police, press and the public, all in the name of the trial.

I was with Raymone when Michael first hired her. She dived right into fighting off those who hated that she had attained such a privileged position with him and those who believed he had been intimate with little boys. Who the heck was this Black woman Michael had chosen to be his mouthpiece? He’d chosen someone who fights for her clients—someone the great political strategist Hamilton Jordan had taught to be extremely loyal. She’s a lioness. She’s fought for Babyface, Serena Williams, Washington’s two-time mayor Marion Barry, Boyz II Men and boxing champion Macho Camacho. Would you believe she even won a battle with Don King—a battle that included chairs and water being thrown across the room?! Would you believe she worked as part of the Jimmy Carter White House when she was in her 20s? She graduated from Spelman College and got a law degree from Georgetown University. Smart.

During Michael’s trial, Raymone had a helluva time with the 3,000 members of the worldwide press, who all wanted a piece of Michael. At the same time, she was battling lawyers, assistants, some family members, etc., who just didn’t want her there. I’ve never seen Raymone waver. I’ve seen her take Mike Tyson-strength punches from those who opposed her, yet she still bounced right back up, ready for another round.

As we prepared for this interview, Raymone was tremendously sad. Shortly before her friend and boss Michael Jackson passed away, she had to sue him because he didn’t honor some of the contracts he had with her. Today, we believe that all was not right with him in the end, but she misses him. They were like fighting cousins, close with mutual respect. Raymone was even invited to sit with the Jackson family during Michael’s memorial service. I got a chance to be around them both while in Japan for about six days. Now I have the privilege of sharing with you my long friendship with Raymone and a riveting dose of her relationship with Michael before he ascended to heaven.

Now let’s catch Raymone telling me and S2S editor Sabrina Parker how it all started


Raymone: I remember that I went down to Georgia with Muhammad Ali and took him over to meet Jimmy Carter. As the meeting was ending, Jimmy Carter pulled me aside and said, “Do you know Michael Jackson? I would love to work with him. He’s doing so many amazing things.” So I got back and I called Bob Jones, who made it happen. And they had the press conference and it was the “Heal the World …” whatever.

[In those days,] I didn’t really have any interaction with Michael, but we had this history. I was on a number of boards and commissions; we would have fundraisers and I would always call Bob Jones: “Can you send a fedora? Can you send me something else?” which he did and that helped raise money for the Boarder Babies and all of these charities

Sabrina: Who was Bob Jones to Michael?
Raymone: He was, at the time, his publicist. That was many years ago. So, back in 2003, Oracene [Venus and Serena Williams’s mom] said they would love to [meet Michael Jackson]. So somebody told me to call Evvy Tavasci.

Sabrina: Who was she?
Raymone: His executive assistant, at the time. And so I said, “Venus and Serena Williams would love to meet Michael and I want to do something special for them: Can I bring ’em out to meet him? And I want it to be a surprise.” She said, “Michael would love to meet them. He admires them a lot.”

So I told them I had a surprise, but I had to tell what the surprise was to [Venus and Serena’s sisters] Isha, Yetunde and Lyndrea and [their parents] Oracene and Richard.

Jamie: Did they all go?
Raymone: Yetunde and her kids, Lyndrea and Isha went. So, I had to plan all of this during a tennis tournament. Then Venus had a press conference that same day we’d decided to do that. And they were asking me, “Well, where are we going?” “I can’t tell ya!”

So we’re on the 405 going north. So Serena says, “Wait just a minute; we’ve been driving forever. And Venus says, “Where are we going for the surprise? I’ll be surprised—just tell me.”

So Isha and everybody was like, “We can’t tell ya.” It was great to have partners in crime. So we’re driving and driving. Finally, Serena says “Listen, I’m getting tired. So either we’re going to pull over and I’m getting out of this car or we turn it around or you’re going to tell me where we’re going.” So I say, “Let’s go and get a cheeseburger or something.” So we stop there and get something at In-N-Out Burger.

Finally, Serena says, “You know what? I have had enough. I’m going no further. You are either going to tell me where we’re going or I’m turning around.” To be honest with you, they were so sweet, because most people wouldn’t have been driving for an hour, like, “Where are we going here?”

So I said, “I understand that you guys wanted to meet Michael Jackson.” “What! Don’t tell me that’s where we’re going! Don’t tell me!” So then I think we stopped somewhere and got a Michael Jackson CD. We either got a CD or didn’t have one, but they sang Michael Jackson tunes all the way to Los Olivos.

So we get there and we walk in. He comes out, and Serena literally has to lean on my shoulders.

Jamie: [laughs] With her tall self!
Raymone: And Venus! He comes out and says hello. I don’t think anybody said hello but me. I think I pinched Serena and she said hello. Then he took us personally on a tour of everything. We walked around and he had a wonderful dinner for us. Serena and I were the most talkative; everybody else was quiet.

Yetunde’s kids were there and they played with Prince and Paris. Blanket was only about 4 or 5 months old at the time. We met Grace [former nanny to Michael’s kids], who is wonderful, classy and well learned—just wonderful.

So Michael was talking as he would take us around. And everybody else was just quiet, but Serena and I broke out of our shyness because we’re so talkative. We were just chatting, chatting, chatting.

So Serena said, “I don’t see any gloves or jackets.” I said, “I don’t either.” So she says, “Well, do you think it would be gauche to ask him?” And I said, “Now that we’re all the way out here in Neverland, we might as well ask.” She says, “Well, you gonna ask him?” I said, “Nah, you ask him.” Now everybody else is being quiet; they don’t know that the two of us are plotting.

So Michael says, “What?” Serena and I were just laughing and giggling and whispering. So Michael says, “What’s wrong?” So we say, “Listen, we don’t see a lot of your awards or your jackets or your gloves around. We’d like to see ’em.” Serena asks, “Why don’t you have them here?” And he says, “Well, I don’t want my children to get caught up into who I am and what I do.” Which immediately struck me as being just fantastic.

And they are fabulous kids. So he says, “Oh, you’d like to see ’em? Well, what do you want to see?” “Well, the jackets, the gloves, the shoes, the hats, the awards.”

So he took us up to his bedroom and took us in the closet. And Serena and I tried on, I think, every jacket in the closet. We were like, “Oh no, is it alright?” And he said, “Go on, you can.”

He was the most wonderful, gracious… Serena says, “I wonder will he give us one?” I said, “No, that might be a little bit too gauche.” But they were heavy. They must’ve weighed 30 pounds! You pick one up, I mean you gotta really expect it; the weight of the jackets was so heavy.

They ask him how he dances in the jackets since they are so heavy & he laughs and says he rehearses. He drives them in his blue Rolls Royce to another part of the house (I think to see the trophies). Raymone and Serena were whispering among themselves; because they weren’t sure if Michael knew how to drive. Plus it was very dark. He laughed and told them ‘yeah, I know how to drive.’ They were there as late as 3 am and Michael asked them if they wanted to stay over.

Raymone says the next morning Serena called her because it was on TV that Michael was going to court. They couldn’t believe they had kept him up and he had to go to court the next day. Serena said something like: ‘I can’t believe that’s him because the Michael she had met last night was handsome’

Raymone said his greatest legacy will be his children. She says that Michael told her that Blanket was so independent and she told him that Blanket would be a politician. Raymone says she told Mike that Paris could be a model, but Mike didn’t say anything in reply. She says Mike told Blanket to get ready b/c they were going to Japan. Blanket said no he didn’t want to go. A bit later on, Raymone was like where’s Blanket? Mike said in the closet. Raymone said Blanket told her he was hiding in the closet because he didn’t want to go.





What Would Michael Jackson Have Done With His Comeback Show This is It?

Source: Philly.com – Jonathan Takiff

FIFTY SOLD-OUT London arena shows were already in the bank. So what would Michael Jackson have done next with his big career comeback show, “This Is It,” had his life not ended? (edited)

“Kuala Lumpur was to be the next stop,” said Travis Payne, then working on the show’s choreography with its?”brilliant” star and director Kenny Ortega. “Michael wanted to revolutionize the way tours were being done. He was always thinking like a great producer, too. He was telling us we needed to design a way to maximize the audience that could see him with less travel time for him and the company. So he proposed setting up the show for two or three months in a single location, make that a portal, as opposed to being on a plane, jumping from city to city, twice a week.”

And why Kuala Lumpur, the most populous city in Malaysia, and other locations on Jackson’s portal wish list in India and the Republic of Sri Lanka?

“Just as he did on the HIStory tour, when we went to Northern Africa, the idea was to set up in a region that was struggling and could really benefit economically from having us there. Everything Michael did came from a place of love and the commitment to do good. That’s the way he was with us working on the show – you felt like you were being nurtured, constantly stimulated and encouraged to come up with the best ideas in a collective situation.

“And that’s where his art was coming from,” added Payne. “His concept was not just to make a great song you could dance to. His way was to reel you in and get your attention, so then you’d get the deep message. That was the science to it. That’s why his music transcended generations, appealed to little children, older people, everyone. And hopefully, people who see the Cirque show are now feeling all that, too. That was our intent.”

Read more: http://www.philly.com/philly/columnists/jonathan_takiff/20120406_What_would_Michael_have_done_with_Cirque_.html#ixzz1rJw5HNy8
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Inside Cirque Du Soliel’s Michael Jackson Tribute with St. Louis Trumpeter Keyon Harrold

Source: Riverfront Times – By Dean C. Minderman

Courtesy of Cirque Du Soleil

Trumpeter Keyon Harrold has spent much of his professional life in the relatively laid-back atmosphere of jazz clubs and recording studios. But when the St. Louis native performs in his hometown this week, he’ll be in the middle of a circus – literally. That’s because Harrold is part of the live band for “Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour,” the tribute to the late singer produced by Cirque du Soleil that’s playing the Scottrade Center (1401 Clark Avenue, 314-241-1888) on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Sure, Harrold has been part of major tours before, as a musician-for-hire backing up prominent R&B and hip-hop stars such as Maxwell, Jay-Z, and Erykah Badu. But with a cast of 65 performers, including twelve musicians, and 38 semi-trucks filled with lighting and sound gear, video projection and special effects equipment, staging and scenery, the “Immortal” tour is another level of “big” entirely. “It’s just massive,” says Harrold. “It’s one of those incredibly big productions that Cirque is known for.”

Harrold was hired for the show last year by musical director Greg Phillinganes, the veteran keyboardist whose extensive list of credits includes work with Stevie Wonder, Eric Clapton and Quincy Jones as well as Jackson himself, for whom he served as musical director for tours supporting the albums Bad and Dangerous. “I had met him one time before, during the Grammys or the BET awards. He saw me playing with Maxwell, called around and reached out to me, and asked me did I want to join the circus,” says Harrold, who immediately signed on. “Working with Michael was the next thing I wanted to do, but unfortunately, he passed away. So this was like a no-brainer.”

After a month of music-only rehearsals, “we rehearsed for three months with the dancers and choreographers. Cirque usually does a minimum of eight months of rehearsal. We did it in like five, which is crazy,” says Harrold.

The song list for the show includes more than 30 of Jackson’s tunes, with new arrangements built around digital playback of his original vocals and locked to a click track to ensure consistent timing to go with all the lighting cues, video projections and other visual elements. “Kevin Antunes (keyboardist and former musical director for New Kids On The Block, Mark Wahlberg, Britney Spears, Nsync and Justin Timberlake) is the guy who mashed up all the arrangements,” says Harrold. “He had total access to all of the masters.”

Hearing Jackson’s famous vocal tracks isolated and in close detail proved revealing for the musicians, he says. “Fortunately, we got a chance to really hear some of that stuff broken down, to hear Michael’s inflections and all the stuff he had going on under his leads.” Meanwhile, the inclusion of musicians who worked with Jackson, such as Phillinganes and drummer Jonathan Moffett, who played with him for 30 years, has helped keep the sound authentic. “You know you’re getting the right stuff coming from the music director,” says Harrold. “You’re getting a direct lineage, which makes a huge difference.”

During the show, Harrold and the rest of the band are on a platform suspended high above the back of the stage. “They call it ‘the barbecue deck,’ he explains with a chuckle, because “that’s where the party is.” However, since “Immortal” is much more akin to a highly structured Broadway show than a spontaneous jazz concert, the musicians’ solo spots are brief. “Certain people get a chance to burn just a little bit,” says Harrold. “I get just a taste on ‘Human Nature,’” (incidentally, a song also once recorded by another trumpeter from St. Louis: Miles Davis).

Despite their impressive collective credits, the band members are fine with keeping the attention on the show’s subject, Harrold said. “This whole production is about Michael, and everybody here knows that. Everybody has the discipline to appreciate what that is – they’re cats who know what it is to focus, and respect the music for what it is, classic music that’s still totally living.”



Jermaine Jackson On Michael, Their Childhood, His Brothers Death – Nightline Interview Tonight at 11:30PM Eastern Time

Source: ABC Nightline


Sept. 13, 2011
In his new memoir “You Are Not Alone: Michael, Through a Brother’s Eyes” Jermaine Jackson reveals details about the life of his late brother Michael Jackson, including the fact that the he planned to secretly smuggle the international pop star to the Middle East were he to be convicted in his 2005 sexual abuse trial.

Unseen since his brother’s 2009 funeral, where he sang Michael’s favorite song, “Smile,” Jermaine Jackson revealed several elements of the book with “Good Morning America,” explaining the relationship he and Michael had with their father, how Michael withdrew from the reach of his family at the height of his solo career and the plan to help him flee a prison sentence.

“We would have gone to the Middle East, to Bahrain, to Saudi,” Jermaine said of the plan to get his accused brother out of the United States, adding that he was not afraid of the hefty prison sentence associated with aiding a fugitive, because “they wouldn’t have caught me.”

Michael Jackson was indicted for 14 counts relating to the molesting a minor by a grand jury in 2004. He denied all charges against him, claiming that the family of alleged 13-year-old victim was trying to extort him. In 2005 Michael was acquitted of all charges.

Watch more of Jermaine’s interview on “Nightline” tonight at 11:35 p.m. ET

Jermaine stated that although his brother knew nothing of the escape plan, he’d have “done it in a heartbeat” because “why should he go to jail for something he didn’t do?”

Click here to read an excerpt from “You Are Not Alone: Michael, Through a Brother’s Eyes”

Michael, Jermaine and ‘Joseph’

While speaking with ABC News, Jermaine also discussed the complex relationship that he and Michael had with Joe Jackson, their disciplinarian father who managed the career of the young Jackson 5. In his new book Jermaine Jackson delves further into the feelings that his brother had about their father.

The two brothers would discuss the possibility of their father’s death, and Jermaine revealed that Michael was unsure if he’d be able to cry when the time eventually came.

“He said he don’t know if he would or he wouldn’t,” Jermaine told ABC News.

Jermaine recalled the fear he felt hearing the screams of Michael, his younger brother by four years, the first time he was hit by his father with a switch. He also shared his own conflicted feelings about his father’s actions.

“[I was] not so much petrified but — but just the excitement of him not understanding what it — what it means,” Jermaine said. “He wanted to show us, ‘I care about you. Even if I have to whip your butt, I care about you.’

“We wouldn’t want to be raised any other way, with the way he raised us. It’s hard raising nine kids, bringing them from Indiana out here … that was his whole thing, to wanting to keep his family together. And if he didn’t do anything else, he brought us out, he taught us everything we knew about becoming what we became,” he said.

Crying, Jermaine acknowledged the memory made him sad.

“He gets a bad rap and he has feelings,” he said of his father. “He’s very tough, very tough. I’ve never seen him cry…”

Brother’s Goodbye

In 1984 the brothers embarked across the U.S. and Canada on the Victory Tour, the Jacksons final concerts together. Afterwards, Jermaine said, he had very little contact with Michael for eight years. He says that his calls and letters to his little brother received no response.

“It’s not that he didn’t want to see me,” Jermaine said, but acknowledged that his brother lived a very different life, and didn’t carry a cell phone.

“Can you imagine him having a phone? It’s like the president having a cell phone…,” he said.

“This Is It” was set to be Michael’s first solo tour in 13 years, and his hotly anticipated 2009 comeback. He was gearing up for a 50-night run at London’s 02 Arena when he unexpectedly died at his Los Angeles home after being administered a lethal dose of propofol, a powerful intravenous sedative.

The pop star’s personal physician, Dr. Conrad Murray, is accused of killing Jackson by allegedly administering an overdose of intravenous and prescription drugs. His attorneys have denied he did anything to cause Jackson’s death. Jury selection for Murray’s involuntary manslaughter trial is now underway.

Jermaine Jackson blamed Murray and the drug for his brother’s death, which he heard of by telephone on June 25, 2009.

“And to hear my mother say, ‘he’s dead,’ to hear her say this, I lost it. It couldn’t be. It couldn’t be …,” he said. “But when my mother said, ‘he’s dead,’ I knew,” he said.

For Jermaine, the brotherly love that the two had never wavered. In 2009 he was able to have one final look at the little brother he loved, on his deathbed.

“And there he was, laying there,” he told ABC News. “And La Toya was there before us. And he was lifeless. I touched his forehead, his face. And it was still soft. And I kissed him. And I pulled back his eyeballs to look in his eyes. And I just told him how much I love him and, ‘I’m gonna miss you so much.’”

Walking through the Jackson family compound, Jermaine describes his feeling for Michael today.

“I find myself saying, Michael, you’re supposed to be here,” he said. “You have so many more years left on your life.”

Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Michael, Janet And LaToya: Mother Of Jackson Family Tells All – Excerpt From Katherine Jackson’s “My Family, The Jacksons” – Ebony Cover Story October 1991

By Katherine Jackson

LATOYA nude in Playboy?

I was shocked when I heard the rumor. My daughter may have been different from her eight brothers and sisters in some ways – she was the moodiest of my kids, for example – but in terms of her dress and manners, she’d been so conservative that she’d once dropped a friend who had begun wearing low-cut tops and skirts with slits in them. “She looks disgusting, like a hooker,” LaToya remarked at the time. “I don’t want any part of her.”

But the longer I thought about the Playboy rumor, the more I feared that it was true. The LaToya I saw in early 1989 was not the LaToya I thought I knew.

I couldn’t help but recall her 1988 engagement at Trump Plaza in Atlantic City, when she danced for the first time ever in a sexy, suggestive way. Watching her from the audience, I was surprised and, I admit, a little taken aback.

“Jack told me that I had to change my image if I want to make it in the business,” LaToya said when I questioned her about her new show.

“Jack” was Jack Gordon, her smooth-talking manager. Her transformation had begun at the same time that he entered her life in 1987 with an offer for her to host a music video show that he had in the works. At the time LaToya was a confirmed homebody and mama’s girl…

She was the kind of little girl who a grandmother would love… When you’d clean her up, LaToya would sit on the couch like a little lady…

Janet by contrast, was a tomboy. By the age of 2 she had the nickname “squirrel” because she loved to climb on the furniture and on the boys’ bunkbeds…

Janet had been on the plump side for years. Michael, who can be a merciless teaser, had nicknamed her “Dunk” – for donkey.

I had a hard time getting Janet to wear dresses to kindergarden; she always wanted to wear jeans. To this day, she dresses like a tomboy. She’ll show up at the house in army boots, blue jeans with patches in them, an oversized T-shirt and her hair stuffed in a cap.

“Janet,” I’ll say, “wear some earrings or put on some lipstick. People are going to mistake you for a guy…”

[Jack] Gordon’s music video show never materialized, but he remained on the scene, showering LaToya with flowers and gifts.

Gordon begged my husband, Joe, LaToya’s manager, to allow him to co-manage her; he claimed that he had ideas for how to revitalize her stalled recording career. He kept pestering Joe until Joe finally asked LaToya, “Is this what you want?” She said it was, so her father agreed to share management responsibilities with Gordon.

The next thing I knew, Gordon had my homebody of a daughter traveling the world. No sooner would they return from business in Japan than she’d announce, “Oh, I have a photo shoot to do in Austria,” and she and Gordon would be on the next flight out of Los Angeles. While a part of me was happy that she was getting out into the world at long last and meeting new people, her turnabout was so sudden and dramatic that it left me confused.

It wasn’t until later, when I saw Jack Gordon for what he was … that I understood his strategy in booking LaToya in far-flung corners of the globe. He was attempting to distance my naive, trusting daughter from her family, literally and figuratively, so that he could become the dominating influence in her life.

The public learned just how successful Gordon had been in tearing LaToya away from the family when, in March of 1988, People magazine reported that LaToya had moved to New York City with Gordon and cut her professional ties with Joe. “Jack’s a salesman,” LaToya was quoted as saying. “He throws a good pitch and he delivers. Anyway he’s doing better than my father.” Adding a sensational touch was Jack Gordon’s own parting “pitch” to Joe: “I love Joe like poison.”

Even though LaToya continued to talk to me almost daily on the telephone, our relationship deteriorated also. It seemed like LaToya had been taking lessons in the Big Lie from Gordon.

I had raised my children to always tell the truth, so I was disappointed in her for indignantly denying to me that she had decided to write a competing, “tell-all” book about the Jackson family, even after I heard that Gordon had taken her around from publisher to publisher in New York.

“No, mother, I’m not doing a book; I don’t know how these rumors get started,” she said again a few weeks later, after I learned that she had signed a book deal for more money that my son Michael had received for his autobiography, Moonwalk

This exchange was repeated several more times after I was informed of “ugly family secrets” that Jack Gordon had circulated, including the Biggest Lie of them all: that LaToya had been molested by Joe when she was 8 years old. When I confronted Gordon about this outrageous charge he claimed that Rebbie, not LaToya, had told him.

“That’s not true!” Rebbie gasped when I checked with her. Michael was furious. “Mother,” he exclaimed, “how can he lie like that!” The obvious answer: so Jack Gordon could create interest in LaToya’s book, and make more money for himself.

LaToya never did admit to me that she was writing a book. I had to read about it in a newspaper in early 1989. “Michael’s book is nice but very light,” she was quoted as saying. “There will be a lot of things in my book that weren’t in his.”

LaToya denied to me that she had disrobed for a Playboy photographer as emphatically as she had denied that she was writing a book. I’m sad to say that, once again, I learned the truth from the media. In her interviews promoting her nude spread, LaToya defended her actions: “I have to live my life for LaToya and not for my family.”

I was personally so embarrassed that there were moments when I said to myself, “I wish I was on another planet.” I felt like cringing when I went out in public, afraid that someone would recognize me and ask me about LaToya.

Shortly after the Playboy issue with her face on the cover hit the newstands, LaToya appeared on “Donahue.”

“My parents laid down certain rules, and one of those rules, of course, was you were not to leave home unless you were married,” she claimed. She didn’t mention the fact that our “rule” was never enforced, and that Michael Marlon, Randy and Janet had moved out before her as single people.

Needless to say, rescuing my daughter from Gordon had been the family’s aim ever since she had moved to New York with him. But nothing I nor her brothers and sisters could say could persuade her to return home to us.

Mixed in with my rage at Jack Gordon was a feeling of guilt. “Maybe I sheltered my children too much,” I’ve thought many times since, “and not educated them enough about the sharks out there waiting to take advantage of them….”

Even as the media was covering LaToya’s rebellion, it was still feasting on rumors about Michael’s private life, reports of Jackson “sibling jealousy” and tales about how Joe and I are alienated from most of our kids.

“What a sorry family these Jacksons have become,” I imagine people are saying today. “They couldn’t handle their rags-to-riches success.” If I depended on the press for all of my information on my family, I’d come to the same conclusion.

But I’m able to see our story with a perspective that is lacking in an Entertainment Tonight sound bite, or an error-filled article in one of the tabloids.

For the record, Michael doesn’t own and has never slept in a hyperbaric chamber. He lay down in one once, just to see what it felt like, during a visit to the Michael Jackson Burn Center. A photographer took his picture, and the picture got out.

As for the Elephant Man’s bones, I have no idea whether or not [Frank] Dileo [Michael's former manager] made an attempt on Michael’s behalf to buy them. If he did so, he did so in jest. And if by some miracle the London medical center that owns the bones agreed to sell them, Michael knows I wouldn’t let him in the house with them.

The most tired rumor of all was the rumor that Michael was gay.

All I can say is, Michael is not gay. First of all, the Bible speaks against homosexuality, and he’s very religious. Secondly, he intends to settle down and get married one day. We’ve talked about it. And he will.

I wish he did have that special someone to share his life with right now; his life would be richer. I think that, deep down, he does, too.

When Michael was younger he joked that “when the love bug bites me that’s who I’m going to marry.” By 1989 he was telling me, “When I marry a woman she’s going to have a lot of money herself. That’s the only way I’ll know for sure that she’s not marrying me for my money.”

And yet, Michael seems happy. Even though he knows that he will never be able to live a “normal” life, he seems comfortable with his fame. I believe that when he’s good and ready to get married, he’ll do it, despite the inevitable press uproar.

While I firmly believe that a good marriage promotes happiness, the surest path to inner peace and fulfillment, I believe, is through religion. This is why I also wish that my children will draw closer to Jehovah.

I’m not worried about Rebbie. As she says, “The most important thing in my life is my relationship with the Creator, Jehovah God.”

Dee Dee, Tito’s wife, has also shown a strong interest in studying.

But Randy and Janet attend Kingdom Hall only occasionally, and Jermaine, Jackie, Tito and LaToya not at all, even though LaToya was baptized a Witness several years ago. Marlon and Carol attend a Catholic church.

Then there is Michael’s unique situation: In 1987, he left the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

There was strong opposition to his “Thriller” video on the part of some Witnesses. Perhaps the controversy figured into his decision to leave.

But I don’t know that for a fact because I didn’t talk to him about what he’d done. I couldn’t. Witnesses do not discuss spiritual matters with a person who has disassociated himself from the Witnesses, including family members.

But I want to stress that, contrary to published reports, I was not required to “shun” my son. Our relationship is as loving today as it was when he was a Witness. I just can’t ask him, “Why, Michael?”

Two more wishes:

I wish for a reunited Jacksons. I wish that Michael and Marlon would consider rejoining the group, if only on a part-time basis. For old-time’s sake. For my sake.

And I dream of a reunited Jackson family.

As much as LaToya hurt the family … I long for her reconciliation with us. The Jackson family is not whole without her.

PHOTO : At a family reunion in 1989, Katherine Jackson (seated center, yellow jacket) and her husband Joseph are surrounded by seven of their nine children, including Janet and Michael who flank their parents, and 11 of their grandchildren. Of the famous Jackson siblings, only Marlon and LaToya did not attend the reunion. LaToya (at right), whose nude spread in Playboy magazine and threats to write a tell-all book have shocked and disappointed her family, is estranged from her parents and siblings.

PHOTO : Jack Gordon (at left with LaToya) did more than take over LaToya’s career when he became her manager, Katherine Jackson says. He moved LaToya far from her family “so he could become the dominating influence in her life,” Mrs. Jackson says. Yet, she says her relationship with her two superstar children, Janet and Michael (below), is as warm and loving as ever. Still, she gently chides Janet for “dressing like a tomboy,” and she wishes that Michael, a former Jehovah’s Witness, would return to the faith.

PHOTO : In happier times (above), the Jackson sisters (l. to r.) – Janet, Rebbie and LaToya – form a loving portrait with their mother. In the mid 1970s (right), Katherine Jackson began encouraging her daughters (clockwise from top) – LaToya, Rebbie and Janet – to try performing. “I didn’t like the idea of some of my kids making a lot of money while the others weren’t making anything,” she says.

PHOTO : Rebbie and Katherine Jackson (above) ventured back to the family’s former home in Gary, Ind., in 1987 to look over the old neighborhood and reminisce with old friends. At left, Mrs. Jackson and former neighbor, Marie Gunn, share a laugh. “Being treated differently by old friends and neighbors was only one of the adjustments that the boys and Joe and I had to make after the Jackson Five became famous,” she says.

COPYRIGHT 1990 Johnson Publishing Co.

Michael In The Mirror – USA Today Interview (Excerpt) – December 14, 2001

By Edna Gunderson

Q: How do you respond to inaccurate articles about you?

A: I don’t pay any attention. The fans know the tabloid garbage is crap. They always say to me, “Let’s have a tabloid-burning.” It’s terrible to try to assassinate one’s character. I’ve had people come to me, and after meeting me, they start crying. I say, “Why are you crying?” They say, “Because I thought you would be stuck up, but you’re the nicest person.” I say, “Who gave you this judgment?” They tell me they read it. I tell them, “Don’t you believe what you read.”

Q: Do these rumors persist because you don’t refute them?

A: No. I’ve done so much in the past. I did the most watched TV interview in history with Oprah Winfrey (in 1993). But (the media) tend to want to twist what you say and judge you. I want to keep it on the music and the art. I think about some of my favorite people who ever lived. If I could stand face to face with Walt Disney or Michelangelo, would I care what they do in their private life? I want to know about their art. I’m a fan.

Q: How do you shield yourself from being hurt by criticism?

A: Expecting it, knowing it’s going to happen and being invincible, being what I was always taught to be. You stand strong with an iron fist, no matter what the situation.”

Q: Critics refer to you as the self-proclaimed King of Pop. Did you choose that title?

A: I never self-proclaimed myself to be anything. If I called up Elizabeth Taylor right now, she would tell you that she coined the phrase. She was introducing me, I think at the American Music Awards, and said in her own words – it wasn’t in the script – “I’m a personal fan, and in my opinion he is the king of pop, rock and soul.” Then the press started saying “King of Pop” and the fans started. This self-proclaimed garbage, I don’t know who said that.

Q: The New York concerts marked your first U.S. shows in 12 years. Were you nervous?

A: No. It was an honor to be back with my brothers again. The producer wanted a cavalcade of luminaries from different fields of endeavor. It was a great honor to have them salute me. It was heartwarming, a happy, fun occasion.

Q: Would you consider another tour with your brothers?

A: I don’t think so. I would definitely do an album with them, but not a tour. They would love to tour. But I want to move on to other things. Physically, touring takes a lot out of you. When I’m on stage, it’s like a two-hour marathon. I weigh myself before and after each show, and I lose a good 10 pounds. Sweat is all over the stage. Then you get to your hotel and your adrenaline is at its zenith and you can’t fall asleep. And you’ve got a show the next day. It’s tough.

Q: If you don’t tour, how will you satisfy public demand as well as your need to perform?

A: I want to direct a special on myself and do songs that touch me. I want something more intimate, from the soul and heart, with just one spotlight.

Q: How did you react when Invincible topped the chart here and in a dozen countries?

A: It was a lovely feeling. I cried happy tears to see all the love.

Q: Invincible was several years in the making. Does your perfectionism slow the process?

A: It did take a while because I’m never happy with the songs. I’ll write a bunch of songs, throw them out, write some more. People say, “Are you crazy? That’s got to go on the album.” But I’ll say, “Is it better than this other one?” You only get 75 minutes on a CD, and we push it to the limit.

Q: Did you approach Invincible with a single theme in mind?

A: I never think about themes. I let the music create itself. I like it to be a potpourri of all kinds of sounds, all kinds of colors, something for everybody, from the farmer in Ireland to the lady who scrubs toilets in Harlem.

Q: Has it become easier to write songs over time?

A: It’s the most effortless thing in the world because you don’t do anything. I hate to say it like that, but it’s the truth. The heavens drop it right into your lap, in its totality. The real gems come that way. You can sit at the piano and say, “OK, I’m going to write the greatest song ever written,” and nothing. But you can be walking down the street or showering or playing and, boom, it hits you in the head. I’ve written so many like that. I’m playing a pinball machine, and I have to run upstairs and get my little tape recorder and start dictating. I hear everything in its totality, what the strings are going to do, what the bass is going to do, the harpsichord, everything.

Q: Is it difficult translating that sound to tape?

A: That’s what’s frustrating. In my head, it’s completed, but I have to transplant that to tape. It’s like (Alfred) Hitchcock said, “The movie’s finished.” But he still has to start directing it. The song is the same. You see it in its entirety and then you execute it.

Q: After such a long absence, did you have doubts about your current relevance?

A: Never. I have confidence in my abilities. I have real perseverance. Nothing can stop me when I put my mind to it.

Q: After Sept. 11, you wrote a benefit song, What More Can I Give? What’s the status?

A: It’s not finished. We’re adding artists, and I’m getting myself satisfied with the instrumentation.

Q: Is it your belief that music is a tool for healing?

A: It’s a mantra that soothes the soul. It’s therapeutic. It’s something our body has to have, like food. It’s very important to understand the power of music. Whether you’re in an elevator or a department store, music affects the way you shop, the way you treat your neighbor.

(Prince hands Jackson a drawing. “I appreciate it,” Jackson says. “Do you have to go to the bathroom?” Prince: “No.”)

Q: Invincible hasn’t enjoyed record-breaking sales. Does Thriller cast too big a shadow?

A: Absolutely. It is tough because you’re competing against yourself. Invincible is just as good or better than Thriller, in my true, humble opinion. It has more to offer. Music is what lives and lasts. Invincible has been a great success. When The Nutcracker Suite was first introduced to the world, it totally bombed. What’s important is how the story ends.

(Prince surfaces again with another picture. “What did you promise me?” Jackson asks. “To be quiet?” Prince responds, then retreats.)

Q: How has fatherhood changed you?

A: In a huge way. You have to value your time differently, no doubt about it. It’s your responsibility to make sure they’re taken care of and raised properly with good manners. But I refuse to let any of it get in the way of the music or the dance or the performing. I have to play two different roles. I always wanted to have a big family, ever since I was in school. I was always telling my father I would outdo him. He had 10 children. I would love to have like 11 or 12 myself.

Q: What have you taught your children?

A: I try to make sure they’re respectful and honorable and kind to everybody. I tell them, no matter what they do, work hard at it. What you want to do for a lifetime, be the best at it.

(Prince is staring. “Stop looking at me,” Jackson says, smiling.)

Q: And what have your kids taught you?

A: A lot. (Parenthood) reminds you to do what the Bible has always told us. When the Apostles were arguing among themselves over who was the greatest in Jesus’ eyes, he said, “None of you,” and called over a little boy and said, “until you humble yourself like this child.” It reminds you to be kind and humble and to see things through the eyes of children with a childlike wonderment. I still have that. I’m still fascinated by clouds and the sunset. I was making wishes on the rainbow yesterday. I saw the meteor shower. I made a wish every time I saw a shooting star.

Q: What are your wishes?

A: Peace and love for the children. (Prince returns, gazing intently. “Stop that,” says Jackson, gently turning the boy’s head away. “Can you be still?”)

Q: You’ve said you plan to home-school your kids. Given your fame, how can you provide a normal life for them?

A: You do the best you can. You don’t isolate them from other children. There will be other kids at the school (on his property). I let them go out in the world. But they can’t always go with me. We get mobbed and attacked. When we were in Africa, Prince saw a mob attack in a huge shopping mall. People broke so much stuff, running and screaming. My biggest fear is that fans will hurt themselves, and they do. I’ve seen glass break, blood, ambulances.

Q: Are you resentful that stardom stole your childhood?

A: Yeah. It’s not anger, it’s pain. People see me at an amusement park or with other kids having fun, and they don’t stop and think, “He never had that chance when he was little.” I never had the chance to do the fun things kids do: sleepovers, parties, trick-or-treat. There was no Christmas, no holiday celebrating. So now you try to compensate for some of that loss.

Q: Have you made peace with your father?

A: It’s much better. My father is a much nicer person now. I think he realizes his children are everything. Without your family, you have nothing. He’s a nice human being. At one time, we’d be horrified if he just showed up. We were scared to death. He turned out really well. I wish it wasn’t so late.

Q: Did music offer an escape from childhood worries?

A: Of course. We sang constantly in the house. We sang group harmony while washing dishes. We’d make up songs as we worked. That’s what makes greatness. You have to have that tragedy, that pain to pull from. That’s what makes a clown great. You can see he’s hurting behind the masquerade. He’s something else externally. Chaplin did that so beautifully, better than anyone. I can play off those moments, too. I’ve been through the fire many times.

(Prince is back. He leans against the chair to gawk at the king of pops. “Stop looking at me,” Jackson implores, clearly unnerved by the tyke’s scrutiny. “You’re not making this easy.” Both of them chuckle, and Jackson warns teasingly, “You may not get that piece of candy.”)

Q: Do your religious beliefs ever conflict with the sexy nature of your music or dancing?

A: No. I sing about things that are loving, and if people interpret it as sexy, that’s up to them. I never use bad words like some of the rappers. I love and respect their work, but I think I have too much respect for parents and mothers and elderly people. If I did a song with bad words and saw an older lady in the audience, I’d cringe.

Q: But what about your trademark crotch-grabbing moves?

A: I started doing that with Bad. Martin Scorsese directed that short film in the subways of New York. I let the music tell me what to do. I remember him saying, “That was a great take! I want you to see it.” So we pushed playback, and I went aaaah! I didn’t realize I was doing that. But then everyone else started doing that, and Madonna, too. But it’s not sexual at all.

Q: How are you spending your free time these days?

A: I like to do silly things – water-balloon fights, pie fights, egg fights. (Turning to Prince) You got a good one coming! I don’t think I’ll ever grow out of that. At my house, I built a water-balloon fort with two sides, a red team and a blue team. We have cannons that shoot water 60 feet and slingshots that shoot the balloons. We got bridges and places to hide. I just love it. Q: After 38 years in show business, fans still mob you. Are you immune to adulation?

A: It’s always a good feeling. I never take it for granted. I’m never puffed up with pride or think I’m better than the next-door neighbor. To be loved is a wonderful thing. That is the main reason I do this. I feel compelled to do it, to give people some sense of escapism, a treat to the eye and the ear. I think it’s the reason I’m here.

Q: Why do you think people are jealous?

A: If you look back in history, it’s the same with anybody who’s achieved wonderful things. I know the Disney family well, and Walt’s daughters used to tell me it was difficult when they were in school. Kids would say, “I hate Walt Disney. He’s not even funny. We don’t watch him.” Charlie Chaplin’s kids, who I know well, had to take their children out of school. They were being teased: “You’re grandfather is stupid. He’s not funny. We don’t like him.” He was a genius! So you have to deal with this jealousy. They think they’re hurting you. Nothing could hurt me. The bigger the star, the larger the target. At least they’re talking. When they stop talking, you have to worry.

Q: How did you gear up for the physical demands of your special concerts (which aired as a two-hour CBS special)? Do you exercise?

A: I hate exercise. I hate it so much. The only thing I do is dance. That’s an exercise. That’s why I like some of the karate stuff or kung fu. It’s all a dance. But sit-ups? I hate it.

Q: Were you intimidated by any of the other superstars on the bill?

A: No. I enjoy watching performers. It’s all school for me. I never stop learning. It was really inspiring.

Q: Are you more enamored with modern music or vintage stuff?

A: I like the earlier stuff. It’s more melodically conscious. Today people rely on a beat or a rhythm, which is nice, but I said this time and time again, melody will always be king. You have to hum it.

Q: You’ve teamed with a huge variety of musicians. What attracts you to a particular collaborator?

A: If I see some potential in their ability as an artist or musician, I’ll give them a hook or a line or a phrase and see how they play it or execute it. Sometimes we go all day and it’s still not right.

Q: Did you learn that lesson from your parents?

A: Our parents taught us to always be respectful and, no matter what you do, to give it everything you have. Be the best, not the second best.

Q: You are often purused by mobs of fans. Are you ever scared for your own safety?

A: Never ever. I know exactly what to do when it gets really rough, how to just play them. As long as they can see you, they’re crazy, but you can put yourself in the eye of the hurricane. If you duck and they can’t see you, they calm down.

Q: Your inner circle seems to consist of very young friends or much older ones. What connects you to people like Marlon Brando or Elizabeth Taylor?

A: We’ve had the same lives. They grew up in show business. We look at each other, and it’s like looking in a mirror. Elizabeth has this little girl inside of her who never had a childhood. She was on the set every day. She loves playing with a new gadget or toy, and she’s totally awe-inspired by it. She’s a wonderful human being. So is Brando.

Q: What happened to your plans to build theme parks in Europe and Africa?

A: We’re still working on a couple projects. I can’t say right now where. I love theme parks. I love seeing children coming together, having a good time with their parents. It’s not like it used to be, when you put your kids on the merry-go-round and sat on the bench eating peanuts. Now you enjoy it with them. It builds a unity to the family.

For the complete article click here: http://www.usatoday.com/life/music/news/2009-06-26-mj-archive_N.htm

Note: Pictures were added to the article for enhancement by blog administrator.

Debbie Allen & Verdine White Share Music And Memories On Michael Jackson

Source: The Wave 94.7

All week long, Pat & Kim are celebrating the life and legend of Michael Jackson in honor of what would have been his 53rd birthday on August 29th. A few celebrities shared their heartfelt stories and memories of what the King of Pop meant to them.

Sharing their fond memories of Michael is famed choreographer Debbie Allen and Earth, Wind & Fire bassist Verdine White, who tell us their favorite stories about the King of Pop. Plus Marcus Miller weighs in on MJ!

Marcus Miller remembers singing a Michael Jackson song for his talent show and him being the reason he plays music!  Debbie Allen shared MJ’s passion for dance and remembers Michael coming over to learn new moves and styles to better perfect his art.  Earth, Wind & Fire’s bassist Verdine White lists some of his favorite Michael Jackson songs from his career.


For the actual audio interviews, please go to this link: http://947thewave.radio.com/2011/08/31/debbie-allen-verdine-white-share-music-and-memories-on-michael-jackson/