Tyrone Lee Talks About Touring With Thriller Live And His Album

Sources: The Stage – By Georgia Snow| All Things Michael

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Since joining the musical Thriller Live in 2009, Tyrone Lee has toured the show to more than 20 countries and is currently a resident lead vocalist in the West End cast. He has also released his debut album, Invitation.

Why do you think the show has enjoyed such long-term success?

I think people love the music, and the show aims to give people that Michael Jackson feeling. The fans of Michael Jackson can come to the show and feel that essence of what he was about. A lot of people come back again and again. Then there are lots of people that want to go for a good night out. In both cases I think Thriller delivers that.

How does your music background fit in with the show?

The way that this particular production is done, it is quite like a concert. In fact, it is more a concert show than a stage play, so my background as a singer fits in quite nicely. We are encouraged to perform and have our own personality, not to really try to copy Michael Jackson but be ourselves. The dance element was completely new to me. When I got the part my sister warned me that I would have to dance, but I had no idea. The producers kept saying it would be fine so I guess they had more confidence in me. Over the years I have grown into the dancer they wanted, I think – I got there eventually.


What other kind of work have you done in your career?

I like having the balance between different types of jobs. I have released an album as a solo artist, as well as doing Thriller and touring with other artists. I find that quite refreshing. I’ll go from singing with Thriller to being on tour with Blur, go back to Thriller and then tour with Emeli Sande. I have done really contrasting jobs in that respect and I appreciate the different disciplines. On a conventional music stage there is quite a lot of improvisation and you are encouraged to pull out new creative aspects, but with Thriller it is quite disciplined. It is good to go back and forth.

Has working in theatre influenced other parts of your career?

As well as singing and dancing, I do a lot of narration in the show. In that regard it helps me engage with the audience and speak to them. In my own shows it has built that confidence to address my audience and give some information about myself, or just speak to them. That has been really helpful.

Would you like perform in other stage shows in the future?

I have always looked up to singers, like Michael Jackson, that really perform their music. I never thought of myself as a theatre performer and when the Thriller production came around it was something very new to me – I didn’t know what to expect. Now that I have done this, it has opened my eyes to the possibility of doing more theatre. I have definitely learnt a thing or two from this.

Thriller Live is running at the Lyric Theatre. The album, Invitation, is available now.

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What Jennifer Batten Learned From Michael Jackson

Sources: Guitar Girl Magazine | All Things Michael


As some of you may already know, famed guitarist Jennifer Batten will be hitting the road in her motor home starting in July to conduct a series of seminars entitled “Self-Enpowerment for the Modern Music Experience.

In a recent interview with Guitar Girl Magazine, Jennifer provides details about the tour and a few things she has learned from working with Michael Jackson.  To read the entire article, please click on the link at the end of the page.

You are holding three-and-a-half-hour sessions for people with seven-second attention spans. How do you keep them, and yourselves, interested and engaged?

One takeaway from working with Michael Jackson was the entertainment value. For him, the music was the foundation and he built from that. He added the “wow” factor on top of it. Being aware of the attention spans, and my own attention span being short because I’ve got just as many gadgets as everybody else, I’m pulling out all the stops as far as trying to get information across in an entertaining way. Some of the videos are only 10 or 30 seconds long, to take your attention outside of this zone and put it in another one for just a second. By having the point driven home several different ways, it pounds it into your head more. The most dry thing I can think of is having sentences on a PowerPoint and reading them to the class. My sister has been in the corporate world forever, and when I told her that I was getting into PowerPoint, the first thing she said was, “Whatever you do, do not read what’s on the screen.” And in fact I don’t have anything written on the screen. It’s JPEGs or entertaining videos or something hitting them at all times. I worked for Cirque du Soleil for six months, and their whole thing is constantly overloading you with imagery. You can see the same show three times and get three different shows, if you focus on different things. That’s how I intend to keep the attention spans. Having Jesse as my co-host also means there’s a different person to listen to. So every 15 to 20 minutes there’s something brand new, and within those chunks there will be as much entertainment as I can muster.

One of your topics is monetization. How do you approach this when we live in a world where many people believe that anyone working in a creative field should work for free, that creating is not work, and that if you love something, getting paid for it should not matter?

I have tons of resources. There’s a book called The Trick To Money Is Having Some, by Stuart Wilde. The gist is that the amount of money you make is directly related to how you feel about yourself. If you believe in yourself, then why would you sell yourself short? I will never forget — this guy wanted to be my manager right after I had done the Super Bowl with Michael Jackson, and he wanted me to do this certain thing for free. For “exposure.” I’m saying, “Motherf****er, I just played for 1.5 billion people and I got paid for it!” A lot of public speakers say, “If you do it for free, you get your name out there and you get known.” Every time the offer comes up to do something for free, you’ve got to weigh it. Is it going to be valuable to you to get you used to the stage? Will there be certain people in the audience who might be shopping and it makes it worth your while? But making a habit of working for free, or playing for cheap, just cheapens the whole industry. I got that training when I was with Michael Jackson. I was making ridiculous amounts of money, and as a result I have no problem saying, “This is what I cost. Take it or leave it.” Also it’s a psychological thing. I have done ten- or twelve-hour flights to Europe so many times, and I know very well what happens from jet lag, especially when I return and I’m absolutely useless for seven days minimum. I have a certain dollar amount in my mind that if you want me to do that, this is what it’s going to cost and I feel OK about it, but if it’s less, I’m going to feel abused. The last time it happened, someone had me fly to Birmingham, England, for a one-off for $1,500. I flew home and I thought, What the hell was I doing? I’m never doing that again. My price doubled after that, and it’s probably doubled again.

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Sources: Head Gear – By Christopher Currell| All Things Michael

The “Bad” World Tour

To refresh your memory of where the story left off, here’s Part 1 and Part 2.


There were so many experiences while on the “Bad” tour, and it is almost an impossible task to write about them without making a complete book. I could break down the tour into three primary categories. The rehearsals; the actual tour which covered Japan, Australia, America and Europe; and the period right after the tour. I will talk about some of the experiences in the above mentioned three categories. What I will not discuss are the political/business aspects of the tour as these subjects tend to be somewhat of a downer. Due to the amount of information, I will write about my experiences on the Bad tour in two columns. This month I will talk about the rehearsals. Next month I will talk about the actual tour with a few additional notes of what I experienced shortly after the tour. Let’s get going….

The Rehearsals

My biggest worry was how to play the Synclavier Live. I am not a keyboard player. I am a guitar player. I needed to search for the latest technology that would allow a guitar player to play an instrument with guitar like technique but would output digital information reliably to a computer to trigger the Synclavier. I tried everything! In the end, I chose an instrument called the SynthAxe. After plying it for 5 minutes, I knew this instrument could do the job. It was $12,000! I bought one for myself and I had TTC buy two for the tour. Now I just had to learn to play it in a few weeks!

My biggest worry was how to play the Synclavier Live. I am not a keyboard player. I am a guitar player. I needed to search for the latest technology that would allow a guitar player to play an instrument with guitar like technique but would output digital information reliably to a computer to trigger the Synclavier. I tried everything! In the end, I chose an instrument called the SynthAxe. After plying it for 5 minutes, I knew this instrument could do the job. It was $12,000! I bought one for myself and I had TTC buy two for the tour. Now I just had to learn to play it in a few weeks!


I happened to be at Leeds the day Jennifer Batten came to audition. She pulled up in a beat up pickup truck. She was a guitar instructor at GIT. She had her guitar and her amp. I was walking into Leeds at the same time so she asked where she should set up. She did not look like a rock star…she looked more like an introverted librarian. I showed her the stage. As I recall, Rory was there too. Jennifer asked what she should play. We said anything she wants. So she played the Eddie Van Halen solo on Beat It perfectly with no backing music! We were floored! Later that evening, at Michael’s house, we were watching the videos. I told Michael that Jennifer was really good and he should really check her out! He watched and got very excited and said…”Wow! She is really good but we have to do something about her look!” We all laughed! She was immediately in the band!

Next, came a referral for a bass player! Don Boyette! He had played with many people including the Pointer Sisters and had just come off a year tour with Lionel Richie. Great player and a great look he was in right away!

There were many keyboard players auditioning but Michael wanted Greg Phillinganes. He had played on some of the songs in the studio and he had been working with Michael for many years. I am not sure why we even held keyboard auditions. He was the last musician to come into the band.

It seemed that the plan was to use Jonathan Moffett on drums and David Williams on guitar since both were on the Jackson’s Victory tour. The problem was, they were currently out touring with Madonna. Her tour would soon end allowing a couple of weeks to make the transition into the band. For rehearsals, we needed substitutes for the drums and guitar. Ricky Lawson was brought in on drums. He had also been on the Lionel Richie tour with Don Boyette so they were already very tight playing together. Ricky wanted to take some time off from touring so he agreed to set in temporarily for Jonathan Moffett at the rehearsals. As it turns out, Ricky and Greg were both from Detroit, Michigan and had already done much playing together. I found that interesting because I am also from Michigan and had also lived in Detroit.

LA session guitar player, Paul Jackson, Jr. was asked to fill in for the rehearsals but turned it down. He referred a guitar player named Jon Clark. As I recall, Jon had a day job being a messenger for a record company. When he got the call, Jon said yes right away even though it was just a temporary gig.

If I was to also play guitar, I needed a guitar system so I had TTC buy two Mesa Boogie amps and speakers. I realized very quickly, however, that my gig was going to be very demanding with the SynthAxe and the Synclavier. We had very little time to assemble, program and learn the music. I decided playing guitar was not really necessary since we had two good guitarists already. So I dropped the idea of playing guitar to focus on just playing the SynthAxe and Synclavier.

The band at this point was me, Greg Phillinganes, Rory Kaplan, Ricky Lawson, Jennifer Batten, Don Boyette and Jon Clark. We were finally ready to begin band rehearsals!

Everyday the sound got better and better. We were impressed how well we played together and how good the sound was!

Meanwhile it seemed that Madonna was extending her tour. She would not be finished until we were in the middle of the Japan tour! Clearly this was a problem. Our integration of technology and performances would not be easy for Jonathan Moffet or David Williams to just walk into with little or no rehearsal. Also, the band was sounding great as is! Even Ricky changed his mind and wanted to do the tour! The band had a meeting and we all agreed that this was going to be THE band! We decided that we needed to make our thoughts known to Michael and Frank. So Greg, Rory and myself had a meeting with Michael and Frank to discuss the situation.

We explained that it would not be easy to quickly integrate other players because so much technology was being used. Plus a different drummer and guitar player would change the basic feel of the band and already it was sounding great. We explained to Michael that we thought that the current lineup of members should be the final band. Michael agreed. He thought the band as is sounded great! Frank had no problem with the current lineup because he was already frustrated with negotiations concerning the high salaries that Jonathan and David were demanding. So it was decided! The current lineup was to be the official band! We reported back the good news to the other band members. Ricky was very excited! Jon Clark was in tears! He had no idea that he would actually become a final member in the band! He was overjoyed!

Next stop…production rehearsals!

Production rehearsals were to take place at the Universal Studio’s largest sound stage in Los Angeles. These rehearsals are where we refine everything…the music arrangements, the vocals, the sounds, the choreography, costume changes and the pyrotechnics!

The first day at rehearsal, I had the SynthAxe strapped on. Michael walked up and saw it for the first time. I thought his eyes were going to pop out of his head! He said “Wow! Where did you get that!” I responded with “I have my ways” with a smile. Right away he wanted some future looking guitars dug out of storage from the Jacksons’ Victory tour. Jennifer and Jon diplomatically tried them but declined as they were too hard to play.

Everyday there was new arrivals. The backing vocalists showed up for the first time…Kevin Dorsey, Dorian Holley, Darryl Phinnessee and Sheryl Crow.


During the rehearsal time spent at the sound stage, our work required long hours. Basically we ran the two hour plus show three times a day. Then in the evening, we would work on programing the gear to reflect the additions or changes to the songs as Michael requested. If I recall correctly, we would arrive around 10:00 am and work until about 1:00 am everyday.

Michael would go rehearse with the dancers at another place when we finished playing the show for the day….


Christopher Currell

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Rick Baker Talks About Why He Retired And Thriller

Sources: Vice – By Sam Pheeters | All Things Michael


Rick Baker is closing up shop. The legendary special-effects and makeup creator recently announced that he would be shuttering his studio and auctioning off 400 of his best-known props. Baker’s career included some of the most enduring effects imagery of the 20th century, including work on The Exorcist, Star Wars, the “Thriller” music video, and Men in Black. For 35 years, his iconic costumes, makeup, and props defined film effects just prior to our own age of computer-generated imagery. The auction marked a bittersweet moment in film history; the end of an era—if not precisely the era of practical effects, then at least the era of Rick Baker’s work in film.

By chance, the auction took place on opening day for San Andreas, a CGI-fueled disaster blockbuster. In its review of San Andreas, the New York Times noted the obvious: “the most disturbing thing about this may be how dull and routine it seems. Computer-generated imagery can produce remarkably detailed vistas of disaster… but the technology also has a way of stripping such spectacles of impact and interest.” The contrast with old-fashioned practical effects was stark. In An American Werewolf In London, Baker showed a man transforming into a wolf onscreen, something that had previously only been hinted at with dissolves and cutaways. The effect had astonished audiences. Now the ability to amaze seemed itself doomed for extinction.

I met up with Baker in a colossal conference room at the Universal City Hilton. At 64, he is trim, gracious, and conspicuously enthusiastic—the kind of guy most men would like to age into as they approach retirement. We were given a few minutes to chat before the sale got underway.

VICE: I heard you on NPR the other day, and I was struck by your lack of bitterness. On one hand, you were saying that CGI had played a large role in the closing of your studio, and on the other hand you were saying you were comfortable with that.

Rick Baker: It wasn’t just CGI. I’ve seen that come up a lot. Ever since that NPR thing, I’ve been getting a lot of tweets saying, “End of an era, end of an era.” You know, it’s kind of been that for a while. The whole business has changed. I had a 60,000-square-foot studio, which was great for How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Planet of the Apes.But it’s not great for making a nose for somebody. And I’ve had that. I had one project where I had a guy making some teeth, in this 60,000-square-foot building, by himself, in summer. My air conditioning bill was more than I was getting paid to make the teeth. So it just became time. Those big jobs don’t exist anymore. As a young man, when I finally started meeting some people in the industry, I met a lot of bitter people, and a lot of crabby old guys, and I thought, How can you be like that? You’re in this amazing industry doing these cool things . And I didn’t want to become that.

Much of your work involves faces. Which seems ironic, because faces are the hardest things to fake with CGI. Avatar got it right, and then Tron: Legacy got it wrong a year later. Do you think there will be work for practical effects and makeup people doing facial design for CGI films?

Yeah, I do think so. When CG first became popular, we instantly became dinosaurs. But what happened was [the studios] started coming around, realizing that we actually had a skill set. I was brought in to do some damage control on The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. I said I would do it, but I didn’t really want credit, because they wanted to do this CG head. They said, “You can model this stuff in the real world better than we can on the computer.” So we actually modeled and made real, completely finished, silicone heads that they scanned to make their computer model from.

I was always hoping for a much closer marriage between the CG and the makeup stuff. I’ve been designing on a computer since the late 80s—’89, I think—because I saw the writing on the wall, too. I’ve been doing computer models, and doing my designs extensively on a computer, and I love it. I love doing digital models and digital paintings, and playing with digital compositing. But I don’t think it’s the answer to everything. I think you’re going to lose something.

When you have a good actor, in a good makeup, and he’s been sitting in the makeup chair looking at himself in the mirror, seeing himself become something else, and then he walks onto a set and he knows where he is, he knows what he looks like, he gives a performance that he’s never going to give on a motion-capture stage.

Michael Jackson contacted you for work on the “Thriller” video—is that correct?

He contacted John Landis because of An American Werewolf in London. I was the first phone call that John made, and he said, “Michael Jackson wants to do a rock video… very much American Werewolf–influenced. He wants to transform.” I said, “Little Michael Jackson?” and he was like, “Well, he’s not little Michael Jackson anymore.”

I was really concerned about making up a pop star. I thought, This is going to be difficult, and he’s not going to be a good subject for this . But I was totally wrong. He loved it, [but] it was chaotic, and I had a whole lot of work to do in a very little amount of time. I had to use union makeup artists whom I didn’t really know, and didn’t know what they could do to apply these makeups on the dancers, and I was applying makeup on Michael on the same night, running around the makeup trailers, going, “No, no, no…” And there we were, in Vernon, the meatpacking district, in the middle of the night, and they started doing the “Thriller” dance…


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Michael Jackson’s Guitarist Advises On Creativity And More (Updated)

Sources: Sonic State | All Things Michael

Jennifer Batten & Michael Jackson

Guitarist Jennifer Batten (Jeff Beck, Michael Jackson) has announced a series of U.S. dates for seminars this summer, which will teach musicians how to stay mentally centered and how to maintain creativity in a technology-driven world. Here’s a press release with the full details:

Keeping the constantly evolving nature of the music business in mind, Batten, along with co-host Jesse Solomon (founder of music school Academy of Guitar), will help harness audience members’ inner focus. Batten will provide insights from her 30-year career, including do’s and don’ts, lessons learned, and will give special attention to energizing the mind and body to their utmost potential. Each event concludes with giveaways and a mini concert by Batten and Solomon.

“Musicians are unaware of some of the newest powerful tools available to them to help skyrocket their progress as creative beings. I’m excited and eager to help attendees focus and energize, and to share knowledge on practices that have worked extremely well for me,” said Batten.

This three-and-a-half-hour-long creative seminar was cultivated to enlighten the modern musician through Batten’s real-world stories, and will offer multimedia demos on the tools and information available to help support a creative life; how to create and boost their brand; and how to make the law of attraction work for them. Audience members will be educated on the latest science of how the brain works to help magnetize the elements of their dreams.

In this seminar, Batten will teach attendees:

  • How their brain works and ways to optimally energize the mind and body
  • New tools to help unlock creativity and optimize practice habits
  • Practical information about domestic and foreign touring
  • How to enhance their abilities to focus and learn time management skills with proven techniques
  • Supportive techniques in building self-confidence and creating unstoppable motivation
  • How to dig into the newest models of building a personal brand and enhanced income
  • How to conquer powerful, intuitive, and life-enhancing free or cheap software

Beginning July 12, Batten will tour 18 locations throughout the United States, including many Sam Ash store locations


Self-Empowerment for the Modern Musician Tour Dates

  • 7-12 Seattle, WA R.M.I.
  • 7-13 Portland, OR Apple Music
  • 7-14 Eugene, OR McKenzie River Music
  • 7-17 Los Altos Hills, CA TBA
  • 7-19 Canoga Park, CA Sam Ash
  • 7-24 Las Vegas, NV Sam Ash
  • 8-1 Dallas, TX Sam Ash
  • 8-2 Austin, TX Mac’s Seminars
  • 8-4 San Antonio, TX Sam Ash
  • 8-16 Margate, FL Sam Ash
  • 8-20 Nashville, TN Sam Ash
  • 8-22 Charlotte, N.C. Sam Ash
  • 8-23 Raleigh, N.C. Sam Ash
  • 8-27 King of Prussia, PA Sam Ash
  • 8-29 Carle Place, NY Sam Ash
  • 8-30 New Haven, CT Sam Ash
  • 9-5 Indianapolis, IN Sam Ash
  • 9-6 Lombard, IL Sam Ash

About Jennifer Batten
Acclaimed guitarist Jennifer Batten is most known for having played guitar for Michael Jackson’s three solo world tours as well as the Superbowl XXVII (the largest TV audience in history). Batten has also toured and recorded with British Guitar icon Jeff Beck for several years, has recorded three solo CD’s, written two music books, and released three instructional DVD’s with Truefire.com. Batten continues to tour the globe with performances and music seminars. For more information, visit http://www.jenniferbatten.com.

Pricing and Availability:
Tickets are $49 and space is limited

More information:


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Former Thriller Live Singer Kieran Alleyne Debuts New Single

Sources: The 405 – By Courtney Buck| All Things Michael


20-year-old, Nottingham-born, Leicester-raised and now London based singer/songwriter Kieran Alleyne got his first taste of stage life at the age of 13 starring in Thriller Live, the West End theatre production dedicated to the life and music of one of his musical idols, Michael Jackson. During this time he began uploading covers of his favourite songs to YouTube, which soon caught the eye of Max Gousse (once A&R for Beyoncé) and his newly launched Artistry Ent label who quickly snapped up the burgeoning star and began developing his talents.

Kieran Alleyne in Thriller Live

Kieran Alleyne in Thriller Live

In April, Kieran released his debut EP Breaking Good, which included ‘Running Low’ (strongly supported by BBC Radio 1Xtra and MistaJam) and ‘Comfortable’, which spawned a remix featuring rising underground talent Bonkaz and rapper/actress Paigey Cakey. With his new single, he has the charts firmly in his sight; linking up with producer of the moment DJ Mustard for ‘Be Around’.

Its accompanying clip, directed by Erik White (Chris Brown, Keri Hilson, Cassie), features Kieran trying to win the heart of his lady love.

‘Be Around’ will be released on July 5.


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A Chance To Say Thanks To The Man Behind The Music (Please Read)

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


Greetings Everyone!

I have some news to share with you, and I want to read this post very carefully as I have an idea that needs your participation.

My dear friend Bruce Swedien fell last week and broke his hip, requiring major surgery. I visited him in the hospital yesterday and he is doing very good and on the road to recovery. He is in very good hands, but he will have a painful recovery ahead. To be clear: He looked and sounded great, and is in good spirits.

He and I swapped many stories and laughs about Michael, Quincy and the countless projects we worked on, and it was great being able to spend time with him and Bea.

I was driving home and thinking about the impact that he has had on so many people, based on his incredible ability to make music sound amazing. From the Chi-Lites to Quincy Jones to Barbra Streisand to Michael Jackson, Bruce Swedien helped forge their sound. From the drum sounds on “Billie Jean” to the Andre Crouch Choir on “Man In The Mirror” – no makes music sound better than Bruce Swedien.

Take a look at his partial discography – http://www.allmusic.com/…/bruce-swedien-mn0000639655/credits

So I came up with this crazy idea, and I hope you will consider being a part of it. (And please – if you are in direct contact with Bruce – try not to say anything about this as I want it to be a surprise).

I want to give you a chance to write Bruce a thank you note. I want to give you a chance to share a memory about a favorite song he worked on, or how a song had an impact on your life. Maybe draw a picture or take a photo or write a poem – it’s up to you. If you want to write it in your native language – that is fine!! I think that would make the book even more interesting.

It can be as long or as short as you like. This is not about me, it is not about my seminars – this is about Bruce, and his amazing gift of recording, mixing and producing music. I want to present him with a book of notes, letters, poems, photos and drawings from you.

Now – listen carefully please. I think it would be really cool if they were hand-written and scanned, instead of a stack of printed emails. I want them to reflect your personality, your love of music, your country, your traditions, and your love and respect for Bruce.

I opened a gmail account this morning to receive your notes. They will come to me and I will print and deliver them next week.

Does that make sense? This is a small way that you can say “Thank You” to a pioneer in the music world, a living legend and a good friend.

Please send your notes, drawings and photos (preferably as PDF or jpg attachments) to:


PLEASE mention where you are from and a something about yourself if you like.

Please try to send them by Tuesday, June 9th. I will then print them up and deliver them to Bruce and Bea next week.

Please do not send them to my facebook page or my “In The Studio” account.

Send them to: notesforbruceswedien@gmail.com

Please feel free to share this post on your page, on fan pages, groups, etc.

I know your notes will be respectful and fun, and I can’t wait to see what you come up with!

Thanks in advance for working on this project with me, and keep Bruce and Bea in your prayers. They are an amazing couple, and his talent has touched countless music lovers around the globe.

Have a great week – and Keep The Faith!

Brad Sundberg


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Brad Sundberg Shares Memories About The Making Of Michael Jackson’s History Album

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


20 Years. Let’s set the stage……

In 1994 the world was not as innocent as perhaps it was a decade earlier. Rwanda was hit with a brutal massacre. Sarajevo was under attack by the Serbs, Chechnya was having some separation issues with Russia, and the US was sending the military to the Persian Gulf.

Nancy Kerrigan got beaten with a pipe, OJ Simpson was involved in the world’s slowest car chase, arrested and charged with murder and Kurt Cobain tragically ended his own life. Tom Hanks became Forrest Gump and Whitney Houston won record of the year with “I Will Always Love You”. And Nelson Mandela was elected president of South Africa in the country’s first inter-racial election.

All in the same year that we were in New York recording an album called HIStory.

Michael married a very pretty Lisa Marie Presley (a complete surprise to us), and we all enjoyed having her in the studio. She made him happy, and I think he did the same for her. They were fun to be around.

Michael had been through a crushing amount of stress those previous years since Dangerous. I can’t imagine many people going through what he went through, and coming out the other side with as much joy, laughter and love as he did.

As we plowed through the production of the album, we were told it would be a quick three or four month project. I good-naturedly nodded my head in agreement, knowing it would take much longer – Michael’s level of perfectionism was not something to be rushed.

Originally it was to be a “Greatest Hits” with a couple new songs. But the material was so strong, and Michael had so much to say that it was becoming a larger project. Brad Buxer reminded me of the day that he, Michael and I were in one of the lounges at The Hit Factory, and I looked at Michael and said, “You need to just do a full album of new music – there is too much good stuff here.” That certainly was not the moment that the double-album was hatched, but I am glad to have at least shared my opinion on the matter.


In the spring of 1995, after mixing and mastering were completed, we knew we were sitting on an amazing musical product. Bruce Swedien and Michael were so driven to perfection that I was actually sent to the CD plant to inspect the process and get some initial discs to take back to the studio for testing. In fact, we tested the first batch of CDs, cassettes, LPs and – Minidiscs. Remember those?

I had a full listening rig set up at Hit Factory, and I would evaluate one after an other after another. I had heard some of those songs for nearly 15 months by then. And in the case of “Earth Song” and “Come Together,” nearly a decade.

During one of those visits to a CD plant in New Jersey, I heard the news of the Oklahoma City bombing, killing so many people including a daycare full of innocent children. What a messed up world.

Michael used to talk about wanting to help every child in need, wanting to fix things that needed to be fixed. He was a dreamer, and he dreamed of a better world. He dreamed of a world filled with laughter and music, and in 1995 his contribution to our world was HIStory.


The greatest hits assortment truly was jaw-dropping in its depth of musical enormity, but Disc 2 was what people were waiting for. And the first thing Michael wanted them to hear was the duet with his sister Janet. He had a lot of stuff to get off his chest, and “Scream” was a good place to start.

By the time HIStory was released, I had known Michael for about 11 years. Was he the same young man I originally met during Captain EO? Yes, and no. But mostly yes. He had been hurt, he had been mocked, he had been bullied. But he still laughed. He still threw water balloons out of the studio window. He still was generous with his time. He still insisted that we bring fans into the studio and made sure they were fed. He still sent my family beautiful gift baskets when each of our daughters was born. He was still Michael.

Being so close to these albums, being a part of their birth, their growth and their graduation/introduction to the public is hard to explain, almost hard for me to understand. Michael moved so fast, he worked so hard, he pushed the team, the musicians and the technology as hard as possible, but he did it all with a smile. The work was enjoyable. The challenges were fun. Of course we can manage 14 studios across the country at once (I think). Of course we can harness nearly 200 digital tracks of music and nearly 200 moving faders in two studios side-by-side with miles of cable and millions of dollars of recording equipment and have it all come together flawlessly – just give us a couple hours to work out some of the details first.

“They Don’t Care About Us” has become an anthem for many people around the world.

To this day I get chills when I hear “Stranger In Moscow”, one of my favorite MJ songs of all time.

“Earth Song” points out so vividly the world that surrounded us in 1994 and 1995, and it remains just as strong today.

“2Bad” always makes me remember the insane video Michael produced for it.

I built a giant speaker rig for him to dance to on the set, and it was played so loud that I replaced many blown speakers to keep up with his desire to feel the music. “Hurt me, Brad!!” I still can’t listen to the song a modest volume – it must be loud.

“Childhood”, “Little Susie” and “Smile” are pure magic.

Each song on HIStory represents Michael wanting to tell you something. He had been through hell, and the world was not as soft as it was during “Off The Wall”. He was older, and, like I said, he wanted to get some stuff off of his chest. But he was still Michael. He starts the record with a scream, but ends it with a smile.

I am proud of each of project, song, mix, demo, video, tour, amusement ride and special project I worked on with Michael. But I am especially proud of the “HIStory” album. It was an amazing time, and I am grateful and blessed to have been a part of it. Looking back twenty years later, I am just as proud as I was the first time I saw it for sale at Tower Records on Sunset.

Happy 20th Anniversary to the HIStory album, and a deep, sincere “thank you” to Michael for letting me be a small part of his history.



See you in three weeks in Germany and Spain!


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