Michael Jackson’s Engineer Pal Helped King Of Pop Capture Unusual Sounds

Sources: Contact News | All Things Michael

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The King of Pop’s longtime engineer Matt Forger tells WENN he often joined the pop star on missions to find sounds for album tracks, but as a car enthusiast, he was more than a little concerned when Jackson started banging pieces of wood on Tito’s classic Model T Ford.

Forger, who worked closely with Jackson on albums from Bad to Dangerous, admits it was always a fun adventure when his boss was on the hunt for a specific sound.

He explains, “You’d never know where you were gonna end up. I remember one time Michael said, ‘We’re gonna go to my brother’s house, and we’re just gonna walk around. Bring the portable recorder. We’re gonna try some things.’

“Tito had some antique Model T cars and what does Michael do, but picks up a piece of wood… and he was tapping on the body, tapping on the fender, tapping on the door.

“We went into the house and he found a broom and started banging on a table, on the staircase. He had this ability of wanting to hear a sound and knowing that if he searched for it long enough he’d find it. This happened many times… He would bang about and he loved antique things… In his mind, he knew he was looking for something he hadn’t heard before and he’d find it and say, ‘That’s the sound’.”

Forger tells WENN the sounds were very important to Jackson’s live show as each would serve to prompt the pop star to move a certain way, inspiring his famous dance moves.

 

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Michael Jackson’s Heal The World Girl Grew Up To Become A War Widow

Sources: Contact News | All Things Michael

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The Little Girl Who Provided The Magical “Make The World A Better Place” Line At The Beginning Of Michael Jackson’s Heal The World Anthem Grew Up To Become The Widow Of An Iraq War Hero.

Ashley Farrell beat out over 100 kids to become the sweet-voiced girl who insisted “we have to think about making the world a better place for our children and our children’s children” just before the King of Pop started singing on the 1992 hit, and she went on to become one of the youngsters who joined Jackson onstage at the Super Bowl Half-Time Show in Pasadena, California in 1993.

But, a decade after the magical moment, her life was turned upside down when her husband, Evan Ashcraft, was killed in action after he was part of the unit which tracked down and killed one of dictator Saddam Hussein‘s sons.

Jackson’s longtime engineer, Matt Forger, who recorded little Ashley’s thoughts about the world for Jackson’s song, says, “Michael said, ‘You have to get children talking about the world and the environment and it’s gotta be honest…’, so I went to schools, parks, I called every family friend that I knew that had children… I must have recorded 125 children and I was with Ashley, who was a relative of my wife’s, and she went into this thing, and at that moment I said, ‘I got it’. I knew instantly, after working months on this, that that was the recording. I played it for Michael and he said, ‘Wow, that’s perfect!'”

“The Dangerous album came out and there was a snafu and her name wasn’t on the credits and what happened was Michael was doing the Super Bowl performance, so I made a call and I said, ‘Look, this little girl didn’t get her name on the album and you know what would be really good – it would be really nice if she could get a moment of recognition’, so she ended up being the little girl standing right next to Michael on the stage as he performed Heal The World surrounded by young fans.

“She was never paid, because she signed off on the recording, but when the record company discovered her name had been left off the initial album credits, they put together a gift bag full of items. She was thrilled. The error was corrected in reprintings of the album.”

Forger adds, “Michael never knew that little girl grew up to be a war widow and to this day it’s astonishing to think this was the girl who said, ‘We have to make the world a better place’.

“Her husband was attempting to do this when he was killed in action. I don’t know if he was the actual sniper who shot and killed Saddam’s son but he was a part of the unit, and then he himself was killed. Ashley was devastated… We’re not all that close now but I believe that after some difficult years, she has now moved on with her life and has a significant other.”

 

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Dancer Mark Atchison Talks About Touring With MJ And What Helped Him Turn His Life Around

Sources: Warrington Guardian – By Hannah Bergery | All Things Michael

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MANY lives have changed since Mr Smith’s heyday in the late 1980s.

But only a handful can claim their connection with the famous night club was truly life-changing.

Mark Atchison, better known in the town as Bov, enjoyed a whirlwind three months supporting music legend Michael Jackson on his Dangerous European tour as well as coaching Britain’s Got Talent winner George Sampson and still inspires dancers in Warrington today.

But he says his success is all thanks to the dancers at Mr Smith’s who helped him turn his life around.

The 45-year-old added: “Back in 1988 I was quite badly behaved and had just come out of prison after serving a four-month sentence for fighting.

“I didn’t know where I was going in life and got dragged to Mr Smith’s for a dance class with the Hitman and Her dancers by a mate.

Mark at the former site of Mr. Smith's

Mark at the former site of Mr. Smith’s

“They smashed me all over the place with their moves and I apologised to Clive Donaldson, who was running it, for being so bad and asked if I could go back again.”

After improving with the help of the Hitman and Her crew, Mark became part of the show and for the next two-and-a-half years was a regular face dancing alongside his friend Jaffa, from Runcorn.

The pair admit they loved being on the show but were keen to find a way to make it pay and started asking acts on the show if they needed dancers.

Their persistence led to them supporting Everybody’s Free popstar Rozalla on tour in Germany but they could not believe it when she switched labels to the same one as Michael Jackson and was asked to join him on his European tour in 1992.

The Orford dance teacher said: “It was 39 shows in 15 different countries over three months and we went from dancing in front of 10,000 to 110,000 people in Paris.

“When we got to Wembley we invited Michaela Strachan to watch us because her and Pete Waterman always had a soft spot for us as we were council estate kids and she said she cried because she was so proud of us.

“When we came off stage in Barcelona, we were told Michael Jackson wanted to see us and he thanked me for touring with him which I thought was hilarious.

“He said he had seen me dance and it was amazing. I was 21 at the time and didn’t know what to say and then we got a picture with him which is one of my most prized possessions.

“It was one of those moments you can’t forget and the Michael Jackson dancers were asking us for moves we had learnt in Warrington. You can’t make that up!”

Rozalla and her dancers were invited to support the Thriller singer across North and South America but sadly the opportunity was turned down as Rozalla wanted to work on a new album.

It meant Mark had to return home but despite a taste of life supporting music royalty, he has never forgotten his roots and is still thankful to Mr Smith’s.

“My dance career lasted 30 years on the back of what I learnt at Mr Smith’s and what happened in there changed my life completely”, Mark adds.

“It’s not an exaggeration to say I was going nowhere until I took that class and what I learnt I’ve been able to pass on to others like George Sampson.

“I’ve been surprised how devastating it feels to see it demolished and can’t imagine what it’s going to be like going past and not seeing it there.

“But my Mr Smith’s memories will always be pretty strong.”

 

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Michael Jackson’s Engineer Pal Matt Forger Is Planning Career As A Public Speaker To Motivate Struggling Students

Sources: Contact News | All Things Michael

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The studio ‘fixer’ who worked closely with the King of Pop for over 15 years and became one of the late superstar’s closest confidantes, is stepping out as a public speaker.

He tells WENN, “I plan to take these things that I’ve observed and lived, these lessons, and I know that there’s a demographic of students that don’t know what’s going on; they don’t know what’s going on in their lives, they don’t know what’s going on in the world… ‘How do I assemble a path for me…?’ and I realise I’ve had the most unique experience for anyone like me that I can imagine, and this is now what I write about and what I speak about.

“It slowly crept in; I started hearing people speak… and it was like, ‘I could do this’, and then I started making some friends in the industry and started taking it more seriously.”

 

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Michael Sherwood Talks About Working With Michael Jackson

Sources: Something Else – By Preston Frazier | All Things Michael

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That Michael Sherwood would one day work with everyone from Toto to Michael Jackson, Air Supply to Anderson Wakeman Bruford Howe, from Tony Orlando to Lisa Loeb should come as no surprise. After all, his family also includes mid-century jazz band leader Bobby Sherwood (his father) and Billy Sherwood (the brother with whom Michael Sherwood played in both Lodgic and then in Conspiracy).

Sherwood, it’s said, got his first keyboard at age 4. With a resume that long, he must have started sitting in with famous people not long after. Perhaps Michael Sherwood’s most successful association has been with Toto’s Steve Porcaro, in a collaborative partnership that dates back to the late ’80s. Lodgic’s 1986 debut, in fact, was co-produced by Porcaro.

Fast forward nearly three decades, and Michael Sherwood has co-writing credits on two tracks from Toto’s long-awaited comeback project Toto XIV, just a few years after seeing a Sherwood/Porcaro composition included on the 25th anniversary reissue of Michael Jackson’s Thriller. There’s talk of a solo project from Steve Porcaro, as well.

MICHAEL SHERWOOD ON MICHAEL JACKSON: I took a gig as the keyboardist with Air Supply. Working with Jimmy Haun from Lodgic, as well as writing with Air Supply’s Graham Russell. Air Supply was a fun group to tour with, since the audience was mostly pretty women. Songwriting was what interested me the most, however, and I continued to hone my craft. Steve Porcaro and I had written a track for Michael Jackson called “For All Time” for the Dangerousalbum. Michael Jackson wanted another sort of “Human Nature” track, and reached out to Steve Porcaro — but, in the 11th hour, the song was bumped for Michael’s track, “Gone Too Soon.” The thing about “For All Time” is that, in 2007, I got a call from Steve Porcaro saying that Michael Jackson wanted to use the song for the 25th anniversary edition of Thriller! After listening to it we added a few things to the original recording, to update it. Steve and I had a bunch of things in the hopper for Michael’s next project, but unfortunately he had passed.

 

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MJ’s Magician Franz Harary’s To Open House Of Magic In China

Sources: Live Design | Edited By – All Things Michael

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Hollywood, CA, March/April 2015 – Discovered by superstar Michael Jackson at the age of 20, FRANZ HARARY is today – without question – the most famous, successful, and internationally acclaimed Magician and Illusionist working anywhere on the Planet. Currently, Harary is preparing for his most ambitious project yet – the grand opening, during September 2015, of “Franz Harary’s House of Magic.” This $40-million attraction will be permanently housed within the new “Studio City Macau,” a $ 3.2 billion hotel and casino resort complex located on the Cotai Strip in Macau, China (Asia’s “Las Vegas.”)

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NOTE: To view Promotional Video of “Franz Harary’s House of Magic” see:
http://autonomy3.wix.com/houseofmagic   Password:   magic

“Franz Harary’s House of Magic,” which Harary designed and where he will perform his award-winning “Mega Magic” show, represents the world’s most sophisticated, state-of-the-art magic production in history. This new, unprecedented venue, comprised of four live performance theatres, will enthrall millions of fans from around the world. Upon its opening, these fans will witness an array of mind-bending, never-before-seen magic experiences, illusions that Harary has prepared exclusively for this site.

Regarding his new venture, Harary said, “During the course of the past 30 years, my magic has literally taken me around the planet and has introduced me to the world’s greatest illusionists. Today, I am proud to announce that I will be bringing those incredible wizards to Macau, where they can showcase their art in a place designed to let their magic shine. I am thrilled to have created the ‘House of Magic ‘at Studio City— the most advanced magic venue on Earth, and a theatrical setting sure to become the premier performance destination for magicians globally!”

ABOUT “FRANZ HARARY’S HOUSE OF MAGIC:”

Described as “An intimate, two-hour, live experiential presentation,” Franz Harary’s “House of Magic” has been conceived as an immersive experience “designed by a magician, for magicians.” Visitors to the new, $40-million venue, will be treated to brand new, large-scale magical illusions, including: shrinking motorcycles; cars appearing from nowhere, and members of the audience being levitated and teleported to distant locations. “Our show is being designed to  reduce adult audience members back to their days as children, recapturing that sense of wonder and awe we all had when we were very young,” Harary says.

Art designed in a “retro-tech, steam punk” look and feel by noted Art Director Tim Delaney (the man behind Disneyland’s “Tomorrowland,”) Franz Harary’s “House of Magic” will be comprised of four theatres: the “Illusion Laboratory,” where guests can interact with magical toys, gizmos and illusionary gadgets of all shapes and sizes; the “Paris Opera House,” a French Nouveau style theatre featuring the world’s best classical magicians; a “Middle Earth” -style theatre, in which guests will feel  transported to a beautiful, mystical forest right out of “The Hobbit;” and a “Future Tech” Mega Magic theatre, which, through state-of-the-art multi-media technologies, will take guests on amazing odysseys thru the human imagination.

Adds Harary, “We expect that the ‘House of Magic’ is sure to become to Magic what Hollywood has long been to Movies.”

ABOUT “STUDIO CITY MACAU:”

When it opens during September 2015, “Studio City Macau” will establish Macau, China, as an unprecedented entertainment destination. The new hotel/resort/casino complex will offer a “next generation” of outstanding entertainment-driven leisure experiences to visitors from every corner of the planet. Studio City Macau represents the world’s newest international tourism center. See: http://www.studiocity-macau.com/en/index.php#home

ABOUT FRANZ HARARY:

Over the course of the past 30 years, more people around the world have experienced the magic of legendary performer Franz Harary than that of any other magician in the history of the art form. The Associated Press once wrote: “Franz Harary’s magic is arguably the most innovative of our time,” while CNN has called his body of work, “An entertainment empire.”

Today, virtually every illusion show in Las Vegas features some element of Harary’s magic design, as he has established himself as the leading designer of illusions in the world. In addition to his work as a designer, he also continues to star in his own live show, “Mega Magic,” the largest touring illusion production in history.

As an on-screen television personality, Harary’s credits are equally massive, both in the U.S. and overseas. His TV series, “Magic Planet,” runs in syndication globally, while his earlier series, “Masters of Illusion,” along with many of his 42 other television specials, remain alive on TV screens around the world via reruns.

As a magic designer and producer, Harary’s work in his chosen field is without precedent – his ground-breaking innovations in the field of live, on-stage magical illusions are unmatched.  His client base has included a “Who’s Who” of celebrities, including Michael Jackson & Janet Jackson, David Copperfield, Cher, Madonna, Usher, and Missy Elliott, and such major brands as Honda, Nissan, AT&T, GM, Pepsi, Sony and Toyota. In addition, his illusions have been featured within dozens of live, televised, world-class events, including the Grammy Awards, the Academy Awards, the Super Bowl, and many others.

For Additional Biography & Background Info on Franz Harary:
www.harary.com

 

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Rock My Soul: A Gospel Music Celebration Honoring Andraé Crouch

Sources: Playhouse Square | All Things Michael

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The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum will honor the legacy of seven-time Grammy Award–winning Pastor Andraé Crouch in a tribute to rock’s gospel roots during Rock My Soul: A Gospel Music Celebration. Crouch helped usher in contemporary gospel music during a career that spanned over five decades and included many gospel hits. Crouch also served as vocal arranger for Madonna and Michael Jackson, and his choir can be heard in Michael Jackson’s number one hit “Man in the Mirror.” Tribute performers will include Marvin Winans, CeCe Winans and Donnie McClurkin. The event is free but a reserved seat admission ticket is necessary.

Children Policy:

Children under two years old are generally not permitted in the theaters. At designated performances Children of all ages are permitted. However, everyone regardless of age must have a ticket. All children must be seated with an adult. Any person disrupting a performance or inhibiting the enjoyment of an event for guests may be removed from the theater without refund.

When: April 12, 2015 at 7:30PM

Presented by Playhouse Square in collaboration with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum

 

Get your tickets here

 

Sony Bosses Launch Legal Action Against Prince

Sources: Contact News | All Things Michael

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In a new lawsuit, the music executives allege the Purple Rain hitmaker disregarded the fact Judith Hill was signed exclusively to Sony and recorded a top secret album with her.

According to documents, obtained by TMZ.com, Hill, who appeared alongside the late King of Pop in his This Is It concert movie and then went on to appear on U.S. TV talent show The Voice, is currently working with Jolene Cherry, the producer who discovered Lady Gaga, under Sony’s supervision.

Despite warnings, Prince allegedly recorded an entire album with Hill and released the tracks as free Internet downloads at the beginning of the week (23Mar15).

Sony bosses and Cherry are demanding damages.

 

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