Flashback: Billy Gilman Performs Pitch-Perfect Cover of Michael Jackson’s ‘Ben’

Sources: Rolling Stone – By Stephen Betts | Edited By – All Things Michael

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At 13 years old, half the age he is today, Billy Gilman took the stage at New York’s Madison Square Garden to participate in Michael Jackson’s 30th Anniversary Concert. Taped on September 7 and 10, 2001, the special tribute to the King of Pop also featured Whitney Houston, Usher, Britney Spears, N Sync, and many others, performing songs made famous by Jackson, who also appeared and performed with his brothers during the network special.

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For his part, Gilman sang a poignant version of Jackson’s first ever solo Number One hit, “Ben,” the title tune from the movie of the same name. A 1972 horror film about the friendship between a lonely boy and a rat may have been unlikely source material for such an affecting ballad, but Jackson’s age at the time he recorded it (13) made it work, as did Gilman’s delicate approach and youthful lack of pretension. Also in his favor was that his voice had yet to suffer the indignities of puberty. Jackson’s version of the song earned a Golden Globe award but lost the Oscar for Best Original Song to “The Morning After.”

After the terrorist attacks of September 11th, which happened just hours after the second of the two tribute concerts, Gilman was among the special guests invited to perform on the Jackson-penned single, “What More Can I Give,” which was also to include Reba McEntire, Celine Dion, Beyonce and several others. Release of the charity single to benefit 9/11 was mired in legal issues, although Gilman and Jackson were among performers at a benefit concert in Washington, D.C., the following month. Jackson also reportedly continued to advise Gilman in his career for the next several years.

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Flashback Friday: Where Were You When “Thriller” Premiered?

Sources: Lanchaster Online – By Claudia Esbenshade | Edited By – All Things Michael

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Think about it. Can you remember where you were the first time you saw Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video? On its Dec. 2, 1983 debut, many of us were crowded around our TV sets tuned into MTV as it was the first network to premiere the 13-minute video. However, some lucky Los Angeles movie-goers had the chance to see it before the world because it was premiered before Disney’s “Fantasia” at a theater in LA on Nov. 21, 1983.

According to theguardian.com, the video needed a week-long theatrical release to be eligible for the Oscars. Despite its popularity, it didn’t get a nomination.

The video was ground-breaking in that it was the first production/theatrical video to be done and set the bar higher for artists in the video world. It made zombies cool before there was “Walking Dead.” And they were dancing zombies.

The official YouTube video has more than 207 million hits.

It is one of the most popular dances to be done for weddings, flash mobs, parties and Halloween events.

In August 2009, 13,597 people performed the Thriller zombie dance together at an event organized by the Instituto de la Juventud del Gobierno del Distrito Federal at the Monumento a la Revolución, Mexico City.

The “Thriller” video, directed by John Landis, has won a Grammy for Best Long Form Video and three MTV awards, was also selected by MTV in 1999 as the greatest video ever made and, in 2009, the Library of Congress selected “Michael Jackson’s Thriller” for the National Film Registry, the first such honor for a music video.

The red jacket, made by Landis’ wife, became a fashion staple.

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And who can not read these lines without hearing Vincent Price’s voice?

Prisoners do it.

And baseball teams and fans too.

And here are the moves, just in case you don’t already know them.

What are your “Thriller” memories?

 

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Kenny Loggins Talks About His Colloboration With Michael Jackson

Sources: Ultimate Classic Rock – By Jeff  Giles| Edited By – All Things Michael

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In a recent interview, singer Kenny Loggins shares memories of his the “Keep The Fire” album released 35 years ago.  He also shared a story about his musical collaboration with Michael Jackson for the single, “Who’s Right, Who’s Wrong” and how he wishes that he had used Michael’s talents for a better song.

“I’ve been a natural collaborator most of my career. Certainly starting with Jimmy Messina, and as I became more and more comfortable and confident in a collaboration scenario, I started doing it more and more,” he points out. “When it really started opening up for me was collaborating initially with David Foster on a lot of ‘Celebrate Me Home’ and then with Mike McDonald once we met with ‘What a Fool Believes.’ But then I started collaborating a lot, that’s when Richard Page came along, and Stephen Bishop, and other artists I started writing with … I started out writing everything alone, and then gradually I started collaborating — what I discovered was that I got other perspectives that I never would have gotten.”

At this point, Loggins also had enough stature to attract a number of high-profile guests, including sax player Michael Brecker, Little Feat guitarist Fred Tackett, and — adding background vocals to the song ‘Who’s Right, Who’s Wrong’ — none other than Michael Jackson

“I was at a benefit that Michael was at, and I asked him if he would like to sing on the record. He said yeah — I think he had just finished ‘Off the Wall’ and I just got lucky. He was available, he wanted to do it, he was a fan,” recalls Loggins. “Had I really thought it through, I should have probably recorded something up-tempo with him. I kick myself and think that was a waste of his talent. Great tune and everything, but just not the right tune for Michael Jackson to be singing on.”

Still, Loggins did manage to get some genuine Jackson on the track. “He was a total sweetheart and was willing to go in any direction. I remember at one point I said, ‘Put more of your ‘thing’ on it, it feels a little too stiff.’ And he said, ‘You mean you want it stinky?’ ‘Yeah! I want it stinky.’ So he put more juice on it.”

Loggins would slacken his pace over the next decade, completing an album every three years instead of maintaining the annual release schedule he’d maintained since the first Loggins & Messina LP, but his solo career only got bigger during the ’80s — partly as a result of the extensive soundtrack work he did for hit films like ‘Caddyshack,’ ‘Footloose’ and ‘Top Gun,’ all of which afforded him major hit singles that continue to be a big part of his image today.

It all had to have been a blur for the guy at the center of it all, which is probably why he sounded somewhat bemused by the prospect of ‘Keep the Fire’ celebrating a milestone anniversary. Asked for his thoughts looking back on the album now, he can only say, “I can’t believe it’s been 35 years.”

 

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Elizabeth Taylor And Michael Jackson at Her Final Wedding: Never Before Seen Photos

Sources: People – By K.C. BAKER | All Thing Michael

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It was the eighth – and final – trip she would ever make down the aisle.

And now, for the first time, the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation has released photos of Elizabeth Taylor and Larry Fortensky’s lavish 1991 wedding at Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch exclusively to PEOPLE.

This inside look commemorates PEOPLE’s Oct. 21, 1991, cover story on the biggest and most media-saturated wedding in Hollywood history. (Remember, this was in the days before weddings like George and Amal Clooney’s and Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s.)

In the photos, the blushing, bronzed bride is dressed in a pale yellow $25,000 Valentino gown (a gift from the designer). She is seen with her groom – her seventh (she married Richard Burton twice) – and with her close friend, Jackson, who hosted the wedding for 160 high profile guests on his 2,700-acre Santa Ynez Valley, California, estate.

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As about a dozen helicopters hovered overhead, a brazen paparazzo even parachuted into the ceremony, landing 20 feet from the shocked bride and groom. (Despite the fact that the wedding was guarded by a former Israeli army officer and a 100-man security force.)

Taylor, then 59, is seen in the photographs sharing a laugh with an upbeat Jackson, and standing with her new hubby, then 39, under the gardenia-draped gazebo where they became husband and wife.

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While Taylor’s ex-husband Eddie Fisher predicted that her marriage to Fortensky “should last [because it’s] the first time Liz has married a regular guy,” it wasn’t to be. The couple divorced five years later.

Taylor died on March 23, 2011, of congestive heart failure at 79. Jackson died on June 25, 2009. Forensky, now 62, still lives in California and says he remained close friends with his ex-wife after they split, reportedly speaking for hours by phone a few times a month.

“I have wonderful memories of my time with Elizabeth and I will treasure her memory forever,” he said in a rare 2011 interview after her death.

Taylor met Fortensky, a twice-divorced construction worker with rugged looks, in 1988 when they were both battling drug and alcohol dependencies at the famed Betty Ford Center in Rancho Mirage, California.

Inside the Big Day

At their much-anticipated wedding, the two couldn?t have been happier. As famous faces including Liza Minnelli, Eddie Murphy, Nancy Reagan (Taylor moved the wedding date to accommodate President Ronald Reagan, but he was still unable to attend), then-Twentieth Century Fox head Barry Diller and his date, designer Diane Von Furstenberg, Arsenio Hall, George Hamilton, Merv Griffin, Quincy Jones and Macaulay Culkin looked on, Taylor walked down the aisle, escorted by Jackson and her eldest son, Michael Wilding Jr., then 38.

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Fortensky’s best man was Taylor’s hairdresser, José Eber (shown in the picture). Taylor’s longtime friend Norma Heyman was matron of honor.

Hollywood self-help guru Marianne Williamson presided over the nondenominational ceremony (Taylor was Jewish; Fortensky is Protestant), with the couple exchanging vows and rings. Wearing her pavé diamond-encrusted wedding ring for the first time, Taylor placed a loving hand on her new husband’s cheek after their first kiss as man and wife.

“You could just look in their eyes and tell Liz was very happy,” Von Furstenberg said at the time.

Under the massive tent where the glamorous reception was held, the bride and groom toasted each other and their host – who reportedly paid for much of the estimated $1.5 million wedding – with mineral water.

“You’ve been so generous, it makes me want to cry,” Taylor told Jackson. “I’ll never forget it as long as I live.”

Jackson and his date, Brooke Shields, cut into the couple’s first dance as guests sipped Dom Perignon and chardonnay from a nearby winery and dined on platters of rolled salmon and five tiers of chocolate mousse cake.

At about 10:30 p.m., the newlyweds said their goodnights and retired to Jackson’s ranch house, where they spent several nights before a two-day tour to promote Taylor’s White Diamonds perfume, opting to honeymoon later. Syndicated newspaper columnist Liz Smith predicted that Taylor’s marriage to Fortensky “will be fun for her. Under the high gloss of her facade, she is really an ordinary woman who has led an extraordinary life.”

That life became even more extraordinary when Taylor began working tirelessly to battle HIV/AIDS, which became her legacy. Taylor used proceeds from her exclusive wedding pictures to start the ETAF in 1991, raising funds and awareness to fight the spread of HIV/AIDS and providing assistance for those living with the virus.

“My grandmother’s deep love and concern for people led her to create The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation, which focuses on the immediate needs of HIV+ people, by supporting access to medicine and health care, healthy food, needle exchanges, and safe places to live and be cared for,” Taylor’s granddaughter, Laela Wilding, tells PEOPLE. “She is a champion for us all, and her determination and love is a shining inspiration that we should all support those in need, support each other, despite any differences we have in gender, race, class, or HIV status.”

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Disney’s Monster Hits – 80s Halloween Special Featuring The Music Of Michael Jackson, Rockwell, The Eurythmics And More

Sources: Decider | All Things Michael

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When asked to provide the one thing that terrified me as a child, my first thought was a weird memory of seeing a video in which the Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” was paired with grainy old-timey cartoons featuring ghosts and goblins. (Naturally, I thought I had made this up, so I went with Arachnophobia.) It only took me a little bit of Internet researching, however, to realize that I was not being crazy.

In the early ’80s, as the MTV craze began to spread, the smart folks at Disney created D-TV, a series of music videos that were created by combining past pop songs with classic cartoons from the Disney vault. Most of these were broadcast in between shows on The Disney Channel, but NBC ran three holiday-themed D-TV specials in the last ’80s. One was, in fact, calledDTV Monster Hits, which I distinctly remember watching and, naturally, being scared as hell.

Airing October 1987 and hosted by the Magic Mirror from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (voiced with perfection by eternally creepy actor Jeffrey Jones), DTV Monster Hits featured a pretty stellar lineup. In addition to the Eurythmics, the compilation also included Halloween-y staples like Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” Rockwell’s “Somebody’s Watching Me,” and Bobby “Boris” Pickett’s “Monster Mash,” as well as some surprisingly thematic jams like E.L.O.’s “Evil Woman” and Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Bad Moon Rising.” I also consider it the root of my lingering fear of the Heffalumps from Winnie the Pooh.

If you’re looking for some Halloween jams for the afternoon, you’re in luck. DTV Monster Hits is floating around online, and the full special can be streamed on YouTube below.

 

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Cape May County Zoo Is Home To Flamingos From Neverland

The Cape May County Zoo is home to 13 flamingos from Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch.

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In 2007, the Cape May County Zoo received Chilean Flamingos from Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch. The Flamingos can be found in the Flamingo Yard in the zoo. Flamingos at the Cape May County Zoo, summer outside in the Flamingo yard and winter inside the World of Birds Aviary. The Chilean Flamingos are the smallest flamingos in the yard. In all, 16 flamingos reside at the zoo with 13 of them being the Chileans.

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Uniquely this bird is a filter feeder like the baleen whales. They take up water into their hooked beak and expel the water trapping shrimp and other invertebrates with comb-like structures in its bill called Lamellae. They often stand on one leg and will shift back and forth one up and one down to rest.

All Flamingos are carnivores and eat invertebrates such as shrimp. At the Cape May County Zoo, Flamingos are served a special food just for the flamingos.

Some Facts:

It is true that without their special diet they would lose their pink color.

Did you know that what appears to be the flamingo’s knees are actually its ankles.

They often stand on one leg and will shift back and forth one up and one down to rest.

Their life expectancy is up to 50 Yrs in the wild and up to 40 Yrs in captivity.

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Sources: Cape May County Government | Cape May County Herald| Edited By – All Things Michael

Will.i.am Tells Xposé About Irish Visit With Michael Jackson

Sources: TV3.ie | Edited By – All Things Michael

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Xposé’s Lisa Cannon flew to Paris last week to interview Will.i.am at the unveiling of the special edition Lexus, which airs on tonight’s show at 6pm.

The Black Eyed Peas frontman and judge on The Voice UK told Lisa about a special visit to Ireland to record with Michael Jackson describing it as a beautiful place.

He said that Michael also thought it was amazing in Ireland because he loved the green, the hills and the trees.

“The ambience, the environment, the set up there at the cottage and in the studios, it was just amazing. And then the music was great.”

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To catch the full interview, tune in to Xposé from 6pm tonight (Wednesday 1st October) on TV3.

Xposé airs weekdays from 6pm – 7pm on TV3.

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