Yeah, Make That Change!

Sources: CCM – By Andy Argyrakis| All Things Michael


Special extended BONUS material from the CCM Magazine exclusive interview with Sandra Crouch, by Andy Argyrakis. CLICK HERE to read the main portion of the interview, featured in the April 1, 2015 edition of CCM Magazine.

CCM: How did it work logistically when you were collaborating and touring so frequently with Andraé but also releasing solo records?
Sandra: It was so funny. My records did well. He would say “Sandra, okay, you can do a couple of dates, but you have to come back and be with me.” He always won. He would look so pitiful, like one of those little Doberman Pinchers, and I’d say, “Okay, Andraé.” I won a GRAMMY and he ran up there before I did and exclaimed, “My sister!” While I was trying to say something over the microphone on stage he would interrupt and answer for me! But we were twins and we were just really inseparable. We did everything together. He did some touring without me, but I was mainly with him from the start until the end.

CCM: Didn’t you also have some involvement as a session player with Motown?
Sandra: A friend of mine named Frank Wilson was the producer at Motown and he used to come to the church. We were great friends and he’d say, “Sandra, I want you to play on one of my productions that I’m doing.” So I said “okay,” played on one and then Barry Gordy heard me. He liked using the same people, so I don’t know how many projects I played on, but some of them included Diana Ross & The Supremes, Diana’s solo projects, The Temptations, and I played on Michael Jackson’s demo when Diana Ross presented him. I did the Motown thing for at least five or six years straight, and then from Motown, I did some pop and rock stuff. It was a whole genre of music that the Lord blessed me just to be a part of. I’ve also played percussion—even on some things for films and really enjoyed it because I got a chance to meet a lot of people. And then from that, I introduced Andraé to Michael Jackson and Diana Ross and then the rest became history. I enjoyed that. I loved doing sessions.

CCM: So were you on all those classic records alongside Andraé, like Michael Jackson’s “Man In The Mirror?”
Sandra: I directed the choir. Andraé would say, “Sandra, I want to do…” and just start mumbling. That is the way he arranged things. And I’d go, “Oh, okay,” because I could understand what his mumbling meant. When you’re with somebody that long, you can understand what the mumbling means word for word. He would go into the booth and I would direct the choir, then he’d come out and say, “I’ve got another idea.” He’d go back in the booth with Michael and I would complete it. If he was directing, I would sit down. If I was directing, he would sit down. We would just trade off. We did that all our lives. He’d say, “I’ve got an idea and my sister will finish it up” and I’d say, “Okay” and he’d go sit down.

Let me tell you more about that song. [One day during the “Man In The Mirror sessions] we were in the parking lot and Andraé said, “Sandra, I’ve got an idea. Tell all the singers not to leave.” I said, “They’re getting in their cars, Andraé!” He said, “Tell them ‘don’t leave!’” We ran back in the studio and said “Michael, Andraé’s got another idea. He wants to put another little thing on it. Michael said, [in his high-pitched voice] “Do whatever you want to.” So everybody went back into the studio and they did [the song’s signature choral chat] “Yeah, yeah-make that change.” That’s the part that wasn’t there in the beginning, but added that at the end after Andraé’s last-minute suggestion. He just would keep singing little things and that’s how that happened. Michael was a dear friend. He was a really dear guy and we loved him a lot.

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Pizza, Music And Elevators

Sources: In The Studio With Michael Jackson – By Brad Sundberg | All Things Michael

In many ways this is going full circle – coming back to New York. I have written about New York many times, and the pleasure it was to record the HIStory album at The Hit Factory. It’s hard to explain, but New York is sort of where I really discovered just how huge Michael was. The 1988 Grammys. The Bad Tour at MSG. So moving into The Hit Factory in 1994 seemed so natural.

The Hit Factory had this cool elevator that you would likely only find in a New York recording studio. It was a huge freight elevator that opened onto the street, so cartage (musical gear) could be loaded into it from the street and delivered to the correct floor. But it was also used for cars to access the parking garage under the building. So from time to time if Michael needed to get to our session on the 6th floor, his security guys would simply drive the van (yes, a big white passenger van, not a Maybach or a limo) into the elevator and bring him to the 6th floor – in the van! I don’t know… it wasn’t exactly “Flying Skateboard” cool, but it was still pretty cool. (Brad setting up a microphone on in Studio One on the 6th floor, giant elevator doors open up to reveal Michael getting out of a huge white van. Cool.)

We were at the Hit Factory (car elevator and all) for about 15 months working on HIStory. There were many special guests (“Janet, your brother is in that room, let me tell him you’re here”), and many of our tried-and-true friends.

Of course New York always reminds me of food. Let me rephrase that – New York has some of the best food on the planet! Pizza, water dogs, egg-on-a-roll, street carts, White Castle, steak houses, Italian joints, bagels. Yes, I gained a bit of weight on that project. We used to order in from a place called “Old Homestead” quite a bit. All these memories – all New York.

So in two weeks we’ll be back, and I am going to try something I have never done before. On Friday night (Feb 20), I am going to Skype in a couple of my friends who spent a lot of time on HIStory to talk about that album.

Steve Porcaro needs no introduction to MJ fans. He wrote two of my favorite songs, “Human Nature” and “For All Time”. Oh, and he is in a little band called Toto. Steve was with us for a chunk of time, and he is generously offering to join us via Skype that night.

Another name you may or may not know is Rob Hoffman. Rob is a great guy and a good friend since I met him at Hit Factory. He was with us virtually from the first day, and he helped with everything from recording to creating synth sounds. He was a very trusted part of the team, and continues to have an amazing career in the industry in LA. Rob was there, and he will share many of his stories via Skype.

I am so excited about “A Slice Of HIStory”, because I know these guys will bring some amazing stories. Plus – I’ll feed you pizza and beer/soft drinks! What could be a better way to spend a Friday evening??

On Saturday the 21st we will be back at Smash Studios for my full day seminar focusing on my 18 years with Michael in the studio (Bad, Dangerous, HIStory), prepping for his tours, building Neverland, etc.

New York. Michael Jackson. Pizza. Music. Stories. Memories. Friends. Maybe it’s just me, but I can’t wait!

Tickets for both events are on sale now, and if you purchase both, you will receive a $40 refund. Have a great weekend, and Keep The Faith!


Two weeks from tonight – “A Slice Of HiStory”
February 20, 2015, 5-9:30pm

Two weeks from tomorrow – “In The Studio With MJ – V2.0″
February 21, 2015, 12-7pm

Smash Studios, New York

Supermodel Elle Macpherson Talks About Billy Joel, Whitney Houston, Donald Trump, Michael Jackson And More

Sources: Mstar News – By Jaymz Clements | All Things Michael

Modern Luxury Held At The Park Hyatt Hotel Dubai

Elle MacPherson has revealed some of the secret stories behind being a supermodel in the 1980s, talking about how she would hang out and party with celebrities like Whitney Houston, Donald Trump, Michael Jackson and was there when Christie Brinkley met her eventual husband Billy Joel. The Australian supermodel-turned-super-succesful-businesswoman also told Jimmy Kimmel Live! how she trademarked the phrase ‘The Body’ and struck out on her own with her famous calendar.

She also explained to Kimmel just how crazy the ’80s were. “It was interesting;” she admitted.”I’d just come from Australia and moved to America and was exposed to a lot.”

Macpherson then regaled Kimmel with a couple of classic ’80s stories, saying that she may’ve hooked up Billy Joel and Christie Brinkley — who were married form 1985 to 1994 — as well as setting Whitney Houston on the path to stardom!

Said Macpherson, “I remember one of my first jobs I was invited to go to St Barts… and I remember thinking ‘No, I can’t go, I don’t have enough money for the plane ticket,’ and my agency said, ‘No, the magazine actually pays for you to go,'” she laughed.

Once she got to St Barts she says “A friend of mine called me and said ‘you’ll never guess who’s playing the piano down at the piano bar,’ and it was Billy Joel!”

Down she went with her Whitney Houston, who Macpherson was working with. “She started as a model,” remembers Macpherson, “so Whitney and I were working together and then Christie Brinkley was shooting her beauty book there. So it was Whitney, Christie, and me, and Billy Joel, and the rest is history. He ended up with Christie and very much in love…

“And,” she added, “I remember Whitney made a tape and gave it to him and said ‘do you think I could be singer?’ and there you go.”

She also remembers having “dinner at a casino in New Jersey I think it was, at one of the Trump Towers, with Michael Jackson and Donald Trump,” which was “pretty cool,” she laughed.

michael jackson taj mahal (4)

So… how was it hanging out with Michael Jackson in the ’80s? “He was cool,” revealed Macpherson. “He was sweet and funny, and very wry. I remember people chasing him and he would run the other way up the escalators to try get away and I was like ‘How did he do that? How do you even go up a down escalator?’ But that was what he could do. He was nifty on his feet.”

That’s for sure.

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Larry Allison Talks About His Time Working Security For Michael Jackson

Sources: Wilson Post – By Ken Beck | Edited By – All Things Michael


From right, Larry Allison, Liza Minnelli, security chief Michael La Perruque and Michael Jackson are captured in this photo taken at Minnelli’s wedding party in New York City in 2002. Note the broach that Jackson is wearing. Allison purchased the piece of jewelry for $12.50 from a gift shop on Park Avenue just before the event.

During the course of a career that stretches across four decades, lawman Larry Allison not only crossed paths with some of Hollywood’s most famous celebrities, he made sure that their paths, front and back, were all clear.

The former California cop, today a part-time policeman in Watertown, once provided security for such renowned folks as Nicole Kidman, Michael Jackson, Jack Nicholson, Andy Griffith, Aaron Spelling, Will Smith and Robin Williams.

“It’s been a crazy ride. I sit here now and my mind’s going two million miles an hour,” says the officer, 59, over lunch at Depot Junction in Watertown as he grants his first interview ever about his heydays in Tinseltown where he watched over the stars at awards shows like the Oscars, Grammys and Emmys and provided security on movie sets and sound stages for TV shows including “The Dukes of Hazzard,” “Murder, She Wrote,” “The King of Queens,” “Wheel of Fortune” and “Quantum Leap.”

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“I was tired of the desert and had the opportunity to go to Los Angeles full time in ’99. I left law enforcement to work for a company that had several celebrities and began working in Will Smith’s house in residence protection, and when Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman split, I was assigned to work for her,” he recollected.

When Kidman left for a lengthy film job out of the country, Allison was offered a job by a close friend, Michael La Perruque, Michael Jackson’s security chief.

“I jumped on board and traveled with Michael Jackson for about 11 months. It was fun. He was a very interesting person, and I met a lot of interesting people and I enjoyed it,” recounted Allison, who shaved his moustache to placate the king of pop.

“He thought I was very intimidating with my moustache and asked me if I would shave it. It was the longest time I was without my moustache.”

One of the more amusing incidences during his time with the singer came just hours before the 2002 wedding of his friend, singer Liza Minnelli. Jackson called Allison and asked him to purchase a broach for him to wear to the event.

“We were staying at the Palace Hotel in New York but they didn’t have anything. So I ran down Park Avenue in and out of three or four gift shops, and I bought one for $12.50, and he loved it. He said, ‘Oh, that’s great. I love that. You did so good.’

“It’s funny because I’m sure that people who saw that broach were thinking that it was probably a Harry Winston million-dollar piece, and it’s $12.50 from a gift shop on Park Avenue,” laughed Allison.

After his tenure with Jackson he returned to providing security for Kidman and then for professional soccer icon David Beckham and his wife, Victoria, and there were numerous jobs in-between before he was employed by one of his favorite clients.



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‘Black-ish’ Star Tracee Ellis Ross Talks Mom Diana Ross, Michael Jackson and Not Growing Up Normal (Video)

Sources: The Wrap | Edited By – All Things Michael


Despite her mother attempting to keep things normal, she recalls trips to the White House and getting painted by Andy Warhol.

Tracee Ellis Ross is a burgeoning television star thanks to the success of ABC’s “black-ish,” but the world of stardom is nothing new for her. During her appearance on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” Wednesday night, Ross talked about growing up as the daughter of Diana Ross.

While her mother tried to keep things normal by minimizing the impact of her career from her kids, there were elements of Tracee Ellis Ross’ childhood that could not be considered normal by any means. The children of stars, they’re definitely not like us.

“All those kinds of things that were really important to her about creating the reality of our life,” she said about her mother’s attempts at fostering a sense of normalcy. “But I also was painted by Andy Warhol, I’ve been to the White House numerous times.”

Andy Warhol picture

Andy Warhol picture

She even shared her mother’s friendship with Michael Jackson, sharing a story of the time she tried to get him to back her side in an argument with one of her friends. When she asked him what he said during the scat portion of “Wanna Be Startin’ Something,’” Jackson replied, “I don’t know. What do you think I’m saying?”

“I’ve been saved by the sound of Michael’s song,” she said. She even sang it for Kimmel’s audience, but … no.

“Black-ish” airs at 9:30 p.m. ET on ABC Wednesdays. “Jimmy Kimmel Live” airs weeknights at 11:35 p.m. ET on ABC.

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The Missing Speakers

Sources: In The Studio With Michael Jackson – By Brad Sundberg| All Things Michael


I still remember my first visit to Neverland. I mean, it would be hard to forget. But this was before Neverland was really Neverland – it was just Michael’s new ranch. He had asked me to install a music system in his bedroom – specifically on either side of his bed. It was soon after he bought Sycamore Valley Ranch, and he was just starting to settle in and plan what it could be like over time.

So I drove up to the ranch (he wasn’t there my first visit), and I was escorted into his bedroom. I quickly took some measurements and came up with some ideas… but maybe I lingered a bit longer than was really needed. I mean… it’s his bedroom for crying out loud! That’s pretty cool no matter how you slice it.

It was sort of decorated with movie memorabilia, toys, the gold and red throne (a gift, I assume?), and the classic MJ array of shopping bags and overstuffed Fed Ex and manila envelopes. Everywhere. This was how his office looked at the studio, and how Havenhurst looked, so it was clear that this was his home.

I ordered a pair of Westlake BBSM-4 speakers for his bedroom, and a nice amplifier. We not only recorded at Westlake Studios, but they also manufacture a line of speakers that we (and many professionals) used for recording. They build huge speakers that cost more than a small house, and they also sell smaller versions that sound amazing in a more traditional size. Michael was used to the sound of Westlake speakers, so it only made sense to mount a small pair of them in his bedroom for him to listen to mixes that Bruce was working on.

(I have another story about a pair of Westlake speakers I installed for Michael at Trump Tower in New York, but I’ll save that for now.)

I decided to mount them on arms that would rest above his bedside tables, and he could swing them in, so they would be floating on either side of his head, like a giant set of headphones. I thought it was a cool idea, and I dove into the project the following week. It only took a few hours to get them installed, so I kicked my shoes off and climbed onto his bed, and pulled the speakers on either side of my head for a test drive. They sounded amazing, and I was pretty proud of myself for making the whole thing come together so smoothly. Then Michael came in and listened to them, and he was so excited! We played a few mixes from the studio, and talked about new ideas for the ranch – and the rest of his enormous house.

Over the next many years I spent a lot of time at the ranch, in the house, even in the bedroom. Soon he wanted even bigger speakers in his master bathroom. I knew he loved to feel the music, and when I had it right, he would always laugh and yell, “Hurt me Brad… hurt me!”

Years rolled by, more projects, more albums, more mixes, more laughter. Then one day it was as if the music stopped. Michael was gone, and Neverland would forever be empty without him. I remember watching news reports of strangers and the press touring the house. It seemed so empty, looking at the bare floors and vacant rooms on TV. I remember one reporter walking into the bedroom, and trying to describe something he clearly had never seen. Then I saw the holes in the wall, where I had mounted my swing arm brackets for the speakers. The missing speakers. They were gone now, like everything else.

I didn’t really notice anything else, just the missing speakers. I knew he loved how they sounded, and I imagined him cranking them up and eating popcorn (“corn”). In a way they symbolized where he came from, and what drove him: Music. After seeing the holes in the walls where my speakers used to hang, I generally avoided all photos and videos of inside the house. It wasn’t the same. The missing speakers represented, at least to me, a great loss.

allthingsmichael edit

It’s just one of those days.

Tickets are now on sale for our seminars in Japan (January) and New York (February).


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Behind The Curtain

Sources: RockCellar Magazine – By Steve Rosen | Edited By – All Things Michael

Autosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbH

March 1981…

Michael’s personal menagerie of exotic and wild animals was still a zoo in the sky and Bubbles only a distant thought. Neverland hadn’t broken ground and extravagant shopping sprees hadn’t been indulged in.

No, in 1981 Michael was still as normal as you could be if you were a 23-year old musician with an arsenal of astonishing talent and poised on the edge of a career about to turn you into the biggest artist on the planet. The artist was still happy, good-natured, and addicted to nothing more than making the most passionate and perfectly constructed pop music anyone would ever hear.

He was just two years down the road from making Off the Wall, his first collaboration with producer Quincy Jones and the album that was the first step in a trajectory that would launch him from artist to icon. It was a remarkable record that showcased the young singer’s unbelievable range and versatility on songs like Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough, Rock With You and She’s Out Of My Life.

Additionally, he was still performing with his brothers Tito, Jackie, Marlon and Randy as the Jacksons and had released Triumph about a year earlier.

When given the opportunity to speak with Michael, I jumped at the chance. Who wouldn’t? Even this early in his career, he rarely did interviews and I knew meeting and talking to the young performer would be something special. The interview was held at the Columbia Records offices in Century City, CA.

Century City was not so much a city as it was a community of high-rise business offices, expensive apartments, and high-end boutique stores.

Columbia Records was a stunningly modern building molded from glass and chrome and on this particular day was the location where a whole assortment of Jacksons were convened. I went to the Epic Records suite—Epic was a Columbia subsidiary and the Jacksons’ label— where the publicists had gathered a group of music journalists. They ushered us downstairs into a massive conference room and seated us at various tables arranged around the floor.

There were hard shell trap cases strewn about the wooden floor suggesting that the Jacksons had been rehearsing here.

After sitting by myself at a table for several minutes, the conference doors flew open and in marched Michael, Jermaine, Jackie, Randy, Tito and Janet. You have to understand that in 1981 Janet Jackson was only 15 years old. She had appeared in a sitcom called Good Times but her debut was still a year away when she would release her debut self-titled album. When she walked through that door with her older brothers, she looked more like some fan tagging along than she did a blood relative.

As the group walked in, various members were directed to certain tables where other music writers were waiting. To be honest, I wasn’t sure which Jackson was which. I couldn’t have told you the difference between Jermaine or Jackie but I knew what Michael Jackson looked like and I was silently hoping he’d be directed to my table. Sure enough, he was. I rose and shook his hand.

What struck me was his height. Michael was taller than I thought. Or not exactly tall but tallish. He was thin in the muscled and sinewy way dancers were. There was a genuinely sincere smile revealing bright, white teeth. His hair was short and not stylized in the way it would later become.

He wore a brownish, uniform-looking shirt with epaulet-styled patches on both shoulders, which bore three stripes and a crescent moon-looking design. Michael was rocking jeans, a simple belt and the black loafers he always wore.

Michael sat down at my table along with another brother . I said hello to Tito after he was introduced to me—thankfully I hadn’t addressed him as one of the other brothers—and was going to introduce myself to the young girl seated next to Michael but she simply sat down and ignored me. She hadn’t said a word. I tried to get her to look in my direction but she was fixated on Michael.

Remember, I had no idea who this person was and simply thought she was a friend of the band who was hanging out. To my surprise, chagrin and even horror, I’d soon realize otherwise.

My cassette player had been set up and was ready to go. I pushed the cheap, plastic microphone across the table so it was perched in front of Michael. Admittedly, my heart was beating overtime. There was more than a small case of nerves. This was Michael Jackson, the king of pop. I didn’t want to embarrass myself. Fighting through the terror, I presented my first question.

Destiny was a little bit different than Triumph for the band in terms of producing and writing it by yourselves?” I asked.

As I’m talking, my eyes were focused on Michael. Establishing eye contact with an interviewee was important in conducting in-person interviews. You wanted to make sure your eyeballs were locked on the person sitting across the table from you. The simple ritual created a sense of intimacy and connected you on an emotional level. There was a non-verbal communication and a world of information could be expressed without uttering a word.

So imagine my horror when I found myself staring at the side of Michael’s head because he was looking directly at this young girl perched at his side. It was as if he hadn’t heard my question or if he had, it simply wasn’t registering. It threw me for a moment but I kept my poise.

What happened next was so bizarre, alien, uncomfortable and unreal that it’s hard to find the exact—or enough—words to describe the moment. While Michael was still turned and looking directly at this young teenage girl with black hair, she began speaking to him.

“Was Destiny a little bit different for you guys because you produced the album and wrote the songs?”

For a second, I wasn’t sure what I’d heard. Had she just paraphrased my question? Had I stumbled over my words so badly that he didn’t understand what I was saying? Three seconds later, Michael started talking but he wasn’t looking at me. He was still turned sideways.

“Well, we did also on Destiny,” he said. “I think the difference is in progress and learning. I think each album you get better. But we wrote all the songs on Destiny except for one song, Blame it on the Boogie. With Triumph, I think we accomplished a lot of different things we’ve learned since Destiny. Destiny was the beginning and Triumph is like what we’ve accomplished since then. We have more freedom and we’re doing more arrangement. Trying different creative things, different sounds, all kinds of things like that now.”

My brain was still processing what had just happened. While delivering his response to the question, Michael never looked at me. His eyes remained fixed on this girl and the effect was so unsettling as to leave me sitting there with my mouth agape. I did not exist. It was one of those moments where you say to yourself, “I cannot believe what I just saw. That didn’t just happen.” You don’t want to admit that what just occurred was real so you keep trying to deny it. It’s a defense mechanism to keep you from losing it or at least going temporarily insane. You find excuses for it.

Was he talking through her? Was she channeling the voice of Michael? Was this a game? A joke? A Jackson family tradition nobody was telling me about? Were Michael and Janet really one person?

Flustered, flummoxed and battling to retain control, I soldiered on. “You feel you’ve progressed a long way from Gamble-Huff?” I asked. “Was that a period for the Jacksons that you’ve since, uh, thought you just went beyond that and wanted to produce yourselves? Did you feel they did a good job with the Jacksons?”

I could feel my tongue cleaving to the roof of my mouth and my brain sticking to the top of my skull. I was stuttering over my words and my thoughts wouldn’t pour out any faster than thick molasses from a jug. I managed this second question and was hoping for the best but that wasn’t happening. Once again this tiny voice issued from the girl. “Did you feel that Gamble and Huff did a good job with the Jacksons?”

Now I was totally freaked out. What I initially thought may have been just some lighthearted interplay between interviewer and interviewee became a truly strange and surreal exchange. I kept looking at both of them to see if they might break into smiles and tell me I was on Candid Camera or something. But there was no camera, no aha moment and no answer.

Michael never looked at me and to this day I wonder if that’s what really happened. Was I manifesting this scenario because it would later make for a great story? It would but I wasn’t. I only had to play the recorded interview and hear in all its unguarded glory my comments being echoed by this adolescent girl—later learning it was Janet Jackson—and Michael’s disembodied voice responding to somebody that wasn’t me.

I always felt like Robert DeNiro in the classic scene from Taxi Driver where he stared into the mirror and asked, “You talking to me?” Certainly Michael hadn’t been.

In all honesty though, he was a very sweet and charming person. His comments were forthright and thoughtful albeit massively quirky and crazy in the way they were delivered. I didn’t think he was trying to belittle or embarrass me. Possibly it was just some ritual meant to make him feel more at ease amongst strangers.

Following the interview, he ventured off into a corner of the big room and began dancing. It was a marvel to watch him from such a close distance. Truly he walked on air and floated three inches above the floor. When I asked him for a picture, he graciously consented. Putting his arm around my shoulder, he beamed at the camera with a huge grin. It was hard to believe if he had been trying to make me feel small or mock me in any way that he would have agreed to taking his picture with me.

Looking at that photo today, I’d like to think his smile meant, “You were OK, Steve. I can’t explain to you why that happened but it did. I wasn’t trying to hurt you. I know what being hurt feels like. It’s who I am. I am a Jackson.”

Excerpt taken from here.