Throwback Article March 21, 1991: Sony Had To Keep Michael Jackson Happy

Source: New York Times/ Baltimore Sun


IN WHAT MAY BE the most lucrative arrangement ever for a recording artist, Sony Corp. announced yesterday that Michael Jackson, the pop-music icon of the 1980s, had agreed to create feature films, theatrical shorts, television programming and a new record label for the Japanese conglomerate’s American entertainment subsidiaries.

Jackson, whose albums “Thriller” and “Bad” were the two biggest-selling records of the past decade, also agreed to extend by six albums his existing contract with Epic Records, a Sony subsidiary.

Neither Sony executives nor representatives of Jackson would say how much the singer will receive under the agreement, which had been in negotiations for six months.

However, Sony officials said the company could realize $1 billion from retail sales of the various Jackson products.

The deal could be a prototype of the multi-media arrangements star performers can now demand and receive from the giant information-and-entertainment conglomerates that have been created through mergers and acquisitions in recent years.

Entertainment industry executives and analyst said, in fact, that to keep the 32-year-old Jackson, who had reportedly made rumblings about leaving for another label, Sony had no choice but to allow him to produce his own records and films.

“He doesn’t need the money; this is the guy who owns the Beatles’ music catalog,” said Emanuel Gerard, a communications analyst with Gerard Klauer Mattison in New York.

“What we’re dealing with largely is his ego. And from Sony’s standpoint, no matter what, they could not afford to have Michael Jackson signed away from them.”

A senior executive of a rival entertainment company, who spoke only on condition that he not be identified, said:

“My reading is that they were close to losing Michael Jackson. So you start by saying, ‘What do you have to do to keep him?’ He doesn’t need the money. So you say we have this fantastic company that has all these avenues for you. Give us your albums and you can do movies, TV shows.”

Neither Sony executives nor representatives of Jackson would comment on the negotiations, and a spokesman for Jackson said the singer would not talk.

But Michael P. Schulhof, the president of Sony Software, the Sony division that includes its entertainment subsidiaries, said the deal was viable simply because of Jackson’s varied talents.

“This is the first example where we have been able to combine interests in both film and records,” said Schulhof, 48, who is directing Sony’s efforts in multi-media packaging. “Because Michael Jackson is a multi-faceted entertainer, we felt this was the first time we could attempt it. If this transaction works as we anticipate, it might very well be the forerunner of a new kind of entertainment deal.”

Industry executives who have followed the negotiations said the contract called for Jackson, who is already the highest-paid performer in the record business, to receive an advance higher than the $18 million he was reported to have received for the final record of his current contract.

That would mean that Jackson would be paid more than $108 million for the six new albums alone, on top of whatever he might receive for the movies, television shows and records he might produce, write or star in.

Tommy Mottola, the president of Sony Music Entertainment, said the company based the estimate of $1 billion in retail revenues on the 40 million copies of “Thriller” and 25 million copies of “Bad” that have been sold, at an average of $10 per record, or $650 million.

Jackson’s entire family seems to have a strong hold on the public imagination and the entertainment industry’s wallets. Just last week, his 24-year-old sister Janet signed a contract with Virgin Records that the entertainment trade press said would pay her between $30 million and $50 million for three to five records.

Under the terms of his deal with Sony Software, Jackson will star in his first full-length feature film, which will be produced by Columbia Pictures Entertainment. The company described the film as a “musical action adventure” based on an idea of Jackson’s.

Jackson is currently negotiating with Sir Richard Attenborough, who made “Gandhi,” and Chris Columbus, the director of “Home Alone,” to direct two of the short films, Mottola said. He said other potential directors include David Lynch, the creator of “Twin Peaks,” and Tim Burton, the director of “Batman.”

Jackson is also creating a new record label, called Nation Records, under the auspices of the Jackson Entertainment Complex. With it, “he will be developing new, young and budding talent, and he will be the magnet to attract superstars to leave their current recording company to come to Sony,” Mottola said.

Some analysts suggested that Sony might be taking a large risk in assuming that Jackson’s popularity will extend from records to other media.

“Michael Jackson is yesterday’s news,” said Stanley Lanzet, an analyst with Arnhold & S. Bleichroder in New York who tracked sales of the Jackson shoe line. “He’s not magic anymore.”

But Sony’s competitors in the entertainment industry were not so quick to criticize the deal. “I don’t think you’d ever bet against Michael Jackson,” said Joe Galante, the president of RCA Records.

Throwback Article February 28, 1984: JACKSON WINS 8 GRAMMYS!

Source: The New York Times 


LOS ANGELES, Feb. 28— Michael Jackson tonight won an unprecedented eight Grammys, including album and record of the year, but was beaten twice by the Police ballad ”Every Breath You Take,” the year’s top new song.

Mr. Jackson’s hit album ”Thriller,” which spawned seven Top 10 singles that dominated the airwaves throughout 1983 and has sold nearly 30 million copies worldwide, was named the year’s top LP over rivals including ”Synchronicity” by the Police and the ”Flashdance” soundtrack.

Mr. Jackson’s ”Beat It” was named record of the year and his ”Billie Jean” was chosen best new rhythm and blues song.

Mr. Jackson picked up three best male vocalist awards – with ”Beat It” for rock, ”Billie Jean” for rhythm and blues, and ”Thriller” for pop.

He was also named producer of the year, along with Quincy Jones, and won for best children’s recording for his non-musical narration on ”E. T. the Extra-Terrestrial.”

Mr. Jackson’s eight Grammys topped the record of seven won by Paul Simon in 1970, and the six collected by Roger Miller for 1965′s ”King of the Road.”

Mr. Jackson, nominated for a record 12 Grammys, had to sweep the final two awards of the telecast after being upset twice earlier in the evening by ”Every Breath You Take,” which was named best new song and also defeated ”The Girl is Mine,” by Mr. Jackson and ex-Beatle Paul McCartney, for best pop performance by a duo or group.

The Police won a third Grammy, for best rock performance by a duo or group, with ”Synchronicity.” Sting, the group’s lead singer, won a fourth Grammy for best rock instrumental performance on the ”Brimstone and Treacle” movie soundtrack.

Mr. Jackson’s triumph overshadowed Sir Georg Solti, whose four classical awards gave him a career total of 23, passing Henry Mancini, who has won 20, as the all-time Grammy winner.

The ”Flashdance” soundtrack got three Grammys – for Irene Cara as best female pop vocal, ”Love Theme” as best instrumental composition, and the entire album as best original score for a movie or television special. The Tony-winning ”Cats” won for best original cast show album.

Chaka Kahn also won three awards – for best female rhythm and blues performance for ”Chaka Kahn,” best rhythm and blues performance by a duo or group for ”Ain’t Nobody” with Rufus Kahn, and best vocal arrangement for ”Be Bop Medley” with Arif Mardin.

Wynton Marsalis, a 22-year-old trumpeter, the first artist ever nominated in both jazz and classical categories, also became the first to win in both, for jazz instrumental performance and as classical instrumental soloist.

Duran Duran won both video awards, for ”Duran Duran” as best video album and ”Girls on Film” as best video short.

Other winners in voting by members of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences included Culture Club with Boy George as best new artist, Pat Benatar for ”Love is a Battlefield” as best female rock vocal performance and George Benson for ”Being With You” as best pop instrumental performance.


Read more:

Awards won in one night: Best R&B Vocal, Male for ‘Billie Jean’, Best R&B Song (Songwriter) for ‘Billie Jean’, Best Rock Vocal, Male for ‘Beat It’, Producer of the Year (Non-Classical), Best Pop Vocal, Male for ‘Thriller, Best Video Album for ‘Thriller, Best Recording for Children (Quincy Jones (Producer) & Michael Jackson for ‘E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial’, Record of the Year ‘Beat It’ and Album of the Year for ‘Thriller.’

Throwback Article: Michael Jackson New Drawing Card For Disney (Published July 25, 1985)

Source: Chicago Tribune – By By United Press International


L: Francis Ford Coppola; Middle: Michael, R: George Lucas

HOLLYWOOD — Rock star Michael Jackson is finishing a 12-minute musical space fantasy film that will become a major new attraction at Disney`s theme parks in Florida and southern California, it was reported.

Francis Ford Coppola, who directed “The Godfather,“ is directing the Disney film with George Lucas, who directed “Star Wars,” as executive producer, the Los Angeles Times said in its Wednesday editions. The Times said Disney was expected to announce the project Thursday.

Jackson, the hottest property of 1984, whose last solo album, “Thriller,” released in 1982, sold more than 30 million copies, is singing several new songs and dancing.

The project is expected to play a pivotal role in strengthening the appeal of Disney’s parks, the Epcot Center at Disney World in Orlando and Disneyland in Anaheim, the Times said.

The film will be titled “Captain EO,” the Times said, and will feature several new characters from Lucas’s “Star Wars” galaxy. Filming has been going on for several months and will be completed this weekend, the newspaper said.

Disney spokesmen would not say how much the film will cost, but a source told the Times it is projected to cost between $10 million and $15 million.



On this day in history, January 11, 1984, Michael Jackson is nominated for  a record breaking 12 Grammy’s. This article is posted to commemorate that event.

Source: NY Times – By Jon Pareles (Published January 14, 1984)


In the world of pop music, there is Michael Jackson and there is everybody else.

Earlier this week the singer-dancer-songwriter received 12 nominations for Grammy awards, the record industry’s equivalents of Hollywood’s Oscars. No one has ever received so many nominations, a reflection of the popularity of a performer who has stirred the kind of worldwide enthusiasm that recalls the Beatlemania of the 1960′s.

Michael Jackson has been doing more than just selling records, however. While his latest album, ”Thriller,” was selling better than any long- playing record ever made by a single performer, he also was breaking through the racially segregated programming policies of many radio and television stations. And although he has been singing hits since the 1960′s, when he was the child star of the Jackson Five, he has become a pioneering entertainer in the new technology of the music video cassette.

”Michael Jackson is mass culture, not pop culture – he appeals to everybody,” said Charlie Kendall, program director of the New York rock radio station WNEW-FM. ”No one can deny that he’s got a tremendous voice and plenty of style, and that he can dance like a demon. He appeals to all ages and he appeals to every kind of pop listener. This kind of performer comes once in a generation.”


Difficult to Categorize

Over the last year, Mr. Jackson’s songs have defined dance music. The arrangements on the ”Thriller” album mesh his piping voice with a muscular blend of real and electronic sounds, in rhythms that can’t be categorized as rock or funk or disco.

”Thriller” is now played on rock radio stations that cater largely to young white listeners as well as on urban dance-music stations that appeal largely to blacks. Before ”Thriller,” few entertainers were able to cross that subtle color line. A similar crossover has taken place on cable television, where Mr. Jackson’s video clips are shown on programs that rarely offer black performers.

Since its release just over a year ago, the ”Thriller” album has sold 20 million copies worldwide; it is now in its 25th week as No. 1 on Billboard’s chart of best-selling LP’s. Meanwhile, Mr. Jackson’s singles have been in the top 10 since November 1982, when ”The Girl Is Mine,” a duet with the former Beatle Paul McCartney, was released in advance of the”Thriller” album.

Five other singles from ”Thriller” have also reached the top 10 – an unparalleled number for anything other than a greatest-hits album. (America’s current No. l single, in fact, is ”Say Say Say,” a duet by Mr. Jackson and Mr. McCartney that appears on Mr. McCartney’s album ”Pipes of Peace.”)


At Ease in Video Clips

A major factor in these record sales is Mr. Jackson’s command of video. He is one of the few musicians at ease in rock video clips, song-length films that simultaneously promote and reshape a hit single and that have had a profound effect on mass entertainment.

Mr. Jackson also is one of the few pop performers who finances and owns his promotional video clips. These clips have not only been popular with television viewers, they have also become an industry in themselves.

”Making the Thriller Video,” an hourlong documentary of Mr. Jackson rehearsing and acting in his ”Thriller” short, was released as a home video cassette on Dec. 14 by Vestron Video, with a list price of $29.95. Its initial order – more than 100,000 copies – was the largest registered for a video cassette that had not been previously released as a movie.

In addition, ”Making the Thriller Video” became the first video cassette to be carried by many record stores, putting these outlets into the home-video business. (The clip will be broadcast on the MTV and Showtime cable television channels beginning Thursday.


Combination of Styles

One reason Mr. Jackson’s videos are so popular is Mr. Jackson’s tautly controlled dancing, which mixes moves from break-dancers and such entertainers as James Brown with earlier popular dance styles.

Michael Peters, a choreographer who worked on Mr. Jackson’s video clips, said that the entertainer had also studied the vintage routines of Fred Astaire and his contemporaries on video cassettes.

As a top song-and-dance man, Mr. Jackson draws large audiences to live concerts. A coming world tour by Mr. Jackson with the Jacksons (formerly the Jackson Five) is shaping up as one of the most profitable entertainment events in history. Pepsi-Cola will pay the Jacksons at least $5 million to become the sponsor of the tour, which will come to New York City in the summer.

Yet Mr. Jackson does not fit the rebellious image of the typical pop star. Indeed, he projects a personality of wide-eyed, vaguely androgynous innocence. He is a Jehovah’s Witness who lives with his mother and who is close to his family; his group, the Jacksons, includes four brothers and is supervised by his father.

Michael's praise

Limited Press Relations

Michael Jackson, who has been in show business for 20 of his 25 years, never talks to the press unless he is in a carefully controlled public relations situation. The reclusive singer keeps such pets as a boa constrictor and a llama, and a recent visitor to the Jackson family’s home in Encino, Calif., saw a working popcorn stand and hot-dog cart in the yard, where outdoor speakers played themes from Walt Disney movies.

”I think he’s really Peter Pan,” said Mr. Peters. ”He is this constant dichotomy of man and child. He can run corporations and tell record companies what he wants, and then he can sit in a trailer and play Hearts for hours with a friend who is 12 years old. He loves fantasy, and when he writes about real life it’s a role for him, a fantasy – he sees it from his bubble.”

Marshall Berman, a professor of political science at City College-City University of New York, and the author of ”All That Is Solid Melts Into Air,” a study of modernism and popular culture, added: ”The time is right for Michael Jackson, because American culture has gotten better at handling sex and playing with gender roles. He gives you the sense that you can play with anything – with being man or woman, black or white, scared or scary, or some funny combination of all of them.”


An Early Hit in Gary

Mr. Jackson was a teen idol before he was a teen-ager. The youngster’s boy-soprano lead vocals and his assured stage presence made the Jackson Five the talk of their hometown, Gary, Ind., in the mid-1960′s.

After the group signed with Motown Records – the black-owned, independent Detroit label that created some of the most durable songs of the 1960′s with an ”assembly line” of staff songwriters, producers and singers – it had its first multimillion- selling hit with ”I Want You Back” in 1969. Two years later, the group became the subject of a popular Saturday-morning cartoon series on television.

In the 1970′s, the Jackson Five left Motown for the Epic Records division of CBS and began writing and producing some of its own material as the Jacksons.

Michael Jackson’s 1979 solo album, ”Off the Wall” (produced by the influential Quincy Jones), sold seven million copies. With the Jackson Five and the Jacksons, and as a solo performer, Mr. Jackson had already sold some 100 million records before ”Thriller” was released in 1982.

According to Frank Dileo, Epic Records’ vice president of promotion and the executive responsible for getting records played on the radio, ”Beat It” was the single that turned ”Thriller” from a hit album to a blockbuster.

”Beat It,” a tale of gang warfare, was released as the third single from the ”Thriller” album in February 1983. It was heard on Album Oriented Rock stations that, in recent years, had played fewer and fewer new releases and virtually no music by black performers.


Breaking the Color Line

”We never had A.O.R. people before for Michael Jackson,” Mr. Dileo said. ”It really made the difference.”

Mr. Jackson had broken through a color line.

”Of course,” Mr. Dileo added, ”the videos helped immensely, too.” Mr. Jackson has appeared in ever-more- elaborate video clips – a $60,000 production directed by Steve Barron for ”Billie Jean,” a song about a paternity battle; a $150,000 clip of ”Beat It” directed by Bob Giraldi, and the $1.1 million ”Thriller” short directed by John Landis, the Hollywood director who made ”An American Werewolf in London.”

”He’s the Al Jolson of the 80′s,” Mr. Berman said of Mr. Jackson. ”Like Al Jolson, he’s bringing black music to a white audience. And like Jolson, he shows that you can come out of the ghetto and if you have the energy, you can do anything. It’s the American dream.”


Memories of MJ and Debbie Rowe OK Magazine Interview 1997

Originally posted on Stop Global Airwave Abuse:

While re-reading this particular article I decided to bring it to everyone’s attention once again,  it shows how happy Michael and Debbie were about the birth of their son and in particular how hard Michael tried to keep Prince and later, the rest of his children out of the public eye. He wanted them to grow and take their own place in society and do whatever they wished, the sky has always been the limit for these children and they should live their own lives.  Please take note of MJ and DR’s answers it is a great reminder how he and Debbie had a caring relationship.  She is the mother of Prince and Paris and he always respected and loved her and she him.  I find this article to be very telling and all the answers still stand true today.

nwa5c6OK Magazine Interview

April 4 & 11, 1997

Michael permitted…

View original 1,121 more words

Throwback Article: “Leaving Motown” – New Yorker, July 14, 1975

Source: New Yorker (The Talk Of The Town) – By  George W.S. Trow and Jamaica Kincaid


One minor musical motif we follow involves talented people who announce that they intend to “leave Motown,” the Detroit record company that superintended the most popular black music of the sixties. So far, The Spinners have left Motown and have had a great success; Gladys Knight and The Pips have left Motown and have had a great success; Martha Reeves has left Motown and has granted interviews. Motown producers like Lamont Dozier have left Motown; the management of Motown has left Motown (that is, Detroit); and there is no longer any trace in popular music of Motown’s regional idiosyncrasy or much evidence of the company’s former musical hegemony. Diana Ross, The Temptations, and The Miracles (all of whom remain on the label) have for the record-buying public an interest that is at least partly reminiscent; only Stevie Wonder and The Jackson Five, the last classic Motown act to develop, have continued with undiminished vitality, and last week, in an atmosphere that was—well, businesslike, the Jackson family announced that they had signed a contract with Epic Records (a subsidiary of CBS) and would leave Motown.

The Jackson family announced their decision to leave Motown at a press conference in the Rainbow Grill. For the conference, ten high-backed black chairs were arranged behind a long, narrow table on a dais; dozens of other high-backed black chairs were arranged to face the dais. Taken one by one, the black chairs resembled the chairs found in medium-priced dinette sets; massed together, they lent the room a sober quality such as one might find at the United Nations—at meetings of, say, the Trusteeship Council. Susan Blond, who works for Epic, selected the music that played while the press assembled.

“I put on three Jackson Five, three LaBelle, three Jackson Five, three Harold Melvin and The Blue Notes—like that,” she told us as we sat in one of the high-backed black chairs. “I can tell this is a Jackson Five song playing now, because I know it isn’t LaBelle.”


Eleven members of the Jackson family entered the Rainbow Grill and mounted the dais. Ten members of the Jackson family sat in the black highbacked chairs. One member of the Jackson family, Stacy, sat in the lap of her mother, Maureen, the oldest Jackson daughter. At the end of the dais, stage right, sat Joe Jackson, father of the family and manager of the group. He was dressed in a slick black suit. Ranged down the table were Jackie (green jacket, twenty-four years old), Tito (brown jacket, twenty-one years old), Marlon (white leisure jacket, seventeen years old), and Michael (black velvet jacket, plaid vest, sixteen years old). Not present was Jermaine Jackson (twenty years old), who is married to Hazel Joy Gordy (daughter of Berry Gordy, chairman of the board of Motown Records), and who has not yet decided to leave Motown.

“There are a lot of little ones,” Susan Blond remarked to us.

“But do they make up for Jermaine?” asked a young woman behind us.

A reporter asked the Jackson family why they had decided to leave Motown.

“We left Motown because we look forward to selling a lot of albums,” Tito Jackson answered.

“Motown sells a lot of singles. Epic sells a lot of albums,” Mr. Jackson added.

A reporter asked Michael Jackson, who is really the star of the group, how he thought the move would affect him.

I’m sure the promotion will be stronger,” Michael Jackson said. A reporter asked Mr. Jackson how the move would affect the Jacksons’ relationship with Berry Gordy.

Mr. Jackson smiled. “You take it as it comes,” he sald.

Tito and Jackie Jackson looked as self-confident as their father, although they didn’t manage to be quite as elusive. Michael looked very shy. Stacy, in her mother’s lap, put her face in a glass of ice water. Mr. Jackson said he was very happy to be at CBS, because “everything is possible” at CBS. Michael Jackson said he thought the family would be going after an older audience and might, in their Las Vegas show, do some nostalgia, “so the older people can remember their younger days.” Mr. Jackson said he was confident that Jermaine would rejoin the group. “Under his conditions, it’ll take a while,” Mr. Jackson said. No Jackson said anything sentimental. No Jackson said anything to indicate that there had been anything in the Motown ethic which couldn’t be reproduced at will at CBS. No Jackson really explained why their contract with CBS is being announced now, even though they remain under contract to Motown until March, 1976.

A reporter did ask if the Jacksons had tried to renegotiate their contract with Motown.

“Sure we tried to renegotiate with Motown,” Jackie said, “but the figures were just Mickey Mouse.”

“Do you know that show ‘The Jeffersons’?” the young woman behind us said. “About the upperwardly mobile black man who owns some dry-cleaning store? Well, Mr. Jackson is Mr. Jefferson, and the children are his dry-cleaning stores.

We have a report from our correspondent Jamaica Kincaid about Michael Jackson:

Here is my favorite fan letter to Michael Jackson, from the March, 1975, issue of Right On!:

Dear Michael Jackson:      

You are my favorite star. You have all the right things going for yourself. You’re cute, beautiful, sweet, and also kind. You’ll always be my favorite star, Michael, until you get married, then I’ll have to put you down. But while you’re free, I want you always to remember me, because I’m in your corner! I love you!                

Jeanie Wilson                

Norfolk, Va.

Michael Jackson is my favorite teenage idol, because he is so pretty. True, he is not the little ebony cutie he used to be, and his Afro hairdo often shows some split ends, but nevertheless he is just plain old pretty, and as far as I am concerned, if you’re pretty, you’re cool. Some people think Donny Osmond is cool, some people think David Cassidy is cool, some people think Foster Sylvers is cool, but I think Michael Jackson is coolest.

Michael Jackson is so cool that he was discovered by Diana Ross. How many people are ever discovered by Diana Ross? Not many, I bet. Oh, I know, she really discovered The Jackson Five, but I say she discovered Michael. The Jackson Five is just his backup band.

tumblr_mgor8hQvrF1qd5n55o1_r1_500I read everything I can get my hands on about Michael Jackson, so I know a lot of things about him. I don’t mean that I know his mother’s name is Katherine; his father’s name is Joe; he comes from Gary, Indiana; or the song “Ben” was his biggest solo venture. I mean I know things like Michael Jackson is a Virgo; he had his first date on a TV show called “The Dating Game; “ his favorite drink is Kool-Aid; he likes cameras and likes to take pictures of people when they are not looking; he keeps white mice for pets; Tito and Jackie call him Big Nose as a pet name; some of his favorite entertainers are Jim Nabors, Sammy Davis, Jr., and Diana Ross; he believes “you gotta give love to get love;” he likes being treated like the guy next door; his eyes are brown; he likes paintings and likes to paint in oils. I get most of this information from Right On!, a fan publication for black teen-agers. It’s just the greatest. In every issue, there are at least two articles on The Jackson Five and almost always an article on Michael. Recently, I came across a quiz in one issue that said, “Can You Pass Michael’s Love test?” The quiz said that Michael doesn’t like a girl who keeps her thoughts to herself; that he delights in being around a lot of people, even when he is on a date; that he likes comics, and his favorite characters are Spider-Man, Green Arrow, and The Incredible Hulk; that he thinks personality is more important than looks; and that he doesn’t like jealous types. Do you know what? I failed the test pathetically.

Administrator’s Note: The pictures were not part of the original article but added by me for visual content. CP ♥


Throwback Article: MICHAEL JACKSON ‘Black Or White’ Classic Tracks -SOS (August 2004)

Source: SOS – By Richard Buskin

Producers: Michael Jackson, Bill Bottrell • Engineer: Bill Bottrell

Photo: Mick Hutson / Redferns Michael Jackson supported the Dangerous album with a huge world tour

The 18-month gestation period behind Michael Jackson’sDangerous album and its lead single ‘Black Or White’ saw ’80s studio perfectionism taken to extremes — and despite their success, the experience helped to convince co-writer, engineer and co-producer Bill Bottrell that there had to be another way to make records.   classictracksbottrell.s

Grammy Award-winning producer, engineer, composer and musician Bill Bottrell has amassed some pretty amazing credits since leaving college in 1974 and first seeking work inside a recording studio. He’s engineered the George Harrison/Bob Dylan/Roy Orbison/Tom Petty/Jeff Lynne opus The Traveling Wilburys, Vol. 1 (1988), Petty’s Full Moon Fever (1989) and Madonna’s Like A Prayer; co-produced Thomas Dolby’s Aliens Ate My Buick album (1988), Madonna’s songs on the Dick Tracy film soundtrack (1990) and a trio of numbers on Michael Jackson’s Dangerous (1992); and produced the movie soundtrack to In Bed With Madonna (aka Truth Or Dare in the US, 1991), as well as Sheryl Crow’s smash hit debutTuesday Night Music Club (1993) and the eponymous I Am Shelby Lynne (2000). Most recently he has been performing live with various bands that he’s assembled close to his studio near Mendocino in Northern California, while also running and maintaining said facility, and co-composing, producing, engineering and mixing Five For Fighting’s second album, The Battle For Everything, released this year on the Sony Music label.

Having worked as an engineer on the Jacksons’ 1984 Victory album and then on Michael’s Bad three years later as part of the second-tier team working at his Encino home, Bottrell received a call in 1988 to commence work on the follow-up. The fact that he was already a producer by then was quite timely, as the Gloved One was parting company with Quincy Jones and looking to create a more hard-edged, streetwise image with the help of some new writing/production/arrangement collaborators — most notably Teddy Riley, as well as Glen Ballard and Bruce Swedien. So it was that Bottrell ended up as a co-composer on ‘Dangerous’, ‘Give In To Me’ and ‘Black Or White’, while also co-producing the latter two in addition to the Jackson-penned ‘Who Is It’.

From Bad To Worse…

“Michael told me at the end of the Bad sessions that he would hire me as a producer on his next album,” Bottrell confirms, while explaining how his initial involvement with Dangerous commenced at LA’s Oceanway complex.

“The genesis of the songs we co-wrote consisted of Michael humming melodies and grooves, and him then leaving the studio while I developed these ideas with a bunch of drum machines and samplers, including an Akai S1000,” Bottrell says. “Still, we were only at Oceanway for a few weeks, and none of the things we worked on there actually made it onto the record.” classicblackorwhite.l

Thereafter, the sessions moved to Westlake, where Bruce Swedien utilized one room, Bottrell used another and, eventually, drummer/percussionist/synth player Bryan Loren worked in a third. Armed with a Neve console, Bottrell used a pair of 24-track Studer analogue tape machines to record initial tracks and then compiled things on Mitsubishi 32-track.

“As soon as we got to Westlake, the first thing that Michael hummed to me was ‘Black Or White’,” he recalls. “He sang me the main riff without specifying what instrument it would be played on. I just hooked up a Kramer American guitar to a Mesa Boogie amp, miked it with a Beyer M160, and got that gritty sound as I played to his singing. He also sang me the rhythm and I put down a simple drum-machine pattern coming out of an Emulator, and he then left so that I could spend a couple of days working alone on the track. It was Michael who actually drew me out as a musician — on the Bad sessions he would hum me things and go away, and I’d be there alone for two weeks, working on a track. I was used to sampling, but he needed music; guitars, keyboards, you name it. That’s what he expected of me. He assumed I could do it, and since I had been a musician before going into engineering I just followed his lead. 

“For ‘Black Or White’ I laid down a more precise guitar part, and I also had this very dorky EIII drum machine playing a one-bar loop. Back then I would use a Hybrid Arts sequencer that I loved dearly — it ran on the Atari platform and was kind of sophisticated for its time, and I would use that for all my MIDI storage. I could run anything through it, so I set about adding loads of percussion, including cowbells and shakers, trying to get a swingy sort of groove. You see, the guitar swung a lot, as defined by the original hook that Michael had sung to me, and the percussion devices were pretty straightforward, but the groove itself was heavily tweaked in the sequencer in order to be complex and non-linear. This basically amounted to shifting things and manipulating the data. 

The control room at Record One as it appeared in 1991, housing this Neve desk.

The control room at Record One as it appeared in 1991, housing this Neve desk.

“As soon as I sorted out the guitar and drum machine parts on day one, Michael performed a scratch vocal as well as some BVs. I miked him with a [Neumann] U47, which was my choice, and I’d take out most of the bottom end and compress the rest with my Sontec limiter. The guy’s an absolute natural — I mean, we’re talking about Michael Jackson — and for me the best thing about ‘Black Or White’ was that his scratch vocal remained untouched throughout the next year [of work on Dangerous] and ended up being used on the finished song. He had some lyrical ideas when he first entered the studio, and he filled them out as he went along.”

Keeping It Loose

So it was that, within two days of commencing work on ‘Black Or White’ at Westlake, Bottrell had recorded the guitar, drum loop, a small amount of percussion and what would prove to be the finished vocal. Aware that the addition of just bass and a little more percussion would be sufficient to flesh out the verses and choruses, he subsequently took it upon himself to ensure that Jackson would allow the song to retain a basic, more free-and-easy sound.

“I thought the vocal was brilliant, and that the loose, imperfectly layered backgrounds were perfectly charming,” Bottrell says. “As opposed to some of the other people who worked with Michael at the time, when I was allowed to produce I would consistently try to go for simpler vocals, comping them from two or three takes, with looser backgrounds and a more instinctive feel. In this case, he came in with such an endearing lead vocal and background track, I really resolved to try and keep it. Of course, it had to please him or he would have never let me get away with that, but the way it went down is that we had the verses and choruses — the main part of the song — and there were two big gaps in the middle which prompted us to look at each other and say ‘Well, we’ll put something in there.’ They were big gaps.

“The total length of the song up to that point was probably about a minute and a half, and Michael has always felt better really fleshing out something over a long period of time to discover everything that he can about it. Most Michael Jackson songs are worked on quite heavily, for months and months, and we certainly had those months when we worked on ‘Black Or White’ along with the other songs. However, we worked on the middle sections, filling in those two big gaps, and this meant that, while the song got the amount of attention that Michael was used to giving something, I was able to retain its strange, funky, loose and open Southern rock feel all the way through to the end. We never touched anything else. I mean, he never asked to redo the vocals, and so while I say it was my agenda to keep things as they were, maybe it was his as well. 

Even when he was working on projects like Michael Jackson's Dangerous album, Bill Bottrell — shown here in the early '90s — was looking for ways to bring his country and roots influences to bear

Even when he was working on projects like Michael Jackson’s Dangerous album, Bill Bottrell — shown here in the early ’90s — was looking for ways to bring his country and roots influences to bear

“As a co-producer, Michael was always prepared to listen and put his trust in me, but he was also a sort of guide all the time. He knew why I was there and, among all the songs he was recording, what he needed from me. I was an influence that he didn’t otherwise have. I was the rock guy and also the country guy, which nobody else was. He has precise musical instincts. He has an entire record in his head and he tries to make people deliver it to him. Sometimes those people surprise him and augment what he hears, but really his job is to extract from musicians and producers and engineers what he hears when he wakes up in the morning.

“After the first couple of days working on ‘Black Or White’, I put down this big, slamming, old sort of rock & roll acoustic guitar part using my all-mahogany 1940s Gibson LG2. It’s very rare and pretty battered, and it’s actually a deeper acoustic than most other Gibsons — you can hit it hard and it doesn’t cave in. The part I played was in the style of some of my own musical influences, like Gene Vincent, where you just hit the guitar hard and play a big open ‘E’ and an ‘A’ chord. I was quite pleased with it and wondered if Michael was going to like it, but he didn’t say a thing. He just accepted it when he first heard it, and I was really happy to get that type of classic sound on a Michael Jackson album.”

Taking The Rap

Brad Butler assisted Bill Bottrell in terms of tweaking the percussion and getting it to swing in a complex way — mechanically, but with a human feel. At this point they were in Westlake’s Studio B while Bruce Swedien utilised the Harrison-equipped Studio A. But then, while attention turned towards some other numbers — ‘Earth Song’, which would end up on 1995′s HIStory collection, and a couple that are still on the shelf — Bottrell switched to Studio A and remained there for about six months before relocating to Ocean Way’s Record One complex in Sherman Oaks. It was there that he and Michael Jackson set about filling those two big gaps in the middle of ‘Black Or White’. Initially only featuring a drum machine, these would eventually comprise the song’s ‘heavy metal’ section and another that would evolve into the rap. In all, this intermittent process took about a year, during which time several more tracks were also recorded.

“I had hopes to insert a rap in the first eight and Michael came up with the idea of putting heavy metal guitars in the second eight,” Bottrell states. “He sang me that riff and I hired my friend Tim Pierce, because I couldn’t play that kind of guitar. Tim laid down some beautiful tracks with a Les Paul and a big Marshall, playing the chords that Michael had hummed to me — that’s a pretty unusual approach. People will hire a guitar player and say ‘Well, here’s the chord. I want it to sound kinda like this,’ and the guitarist will have to come up with the part. However, Michael hums every rhythm and note or chord, and he can do that so well. He describes the sound that the record will have by singing it to you… and we’re talking about heavy metal guitars here!”

After Tim Pierce had adhered to the main man’s wishes, Michael Boddicker played a stand-alone Roland sequencer part that was meant to sound like high-speed guitar segueing into and out of the heavy metal section. Bottrell’s young musican friend, Kevin Gilbert, also contributed some high-speed sequencer.

“Michael Boddicker played synths and keyboards on several songs,” Bottrell recalls, “and on ‘Black Or White’ he played really fast sequencer notes running up and down, and I recorded his MIDI out of that box into my Hybrid Arts. I then used that, put a guitar sample in my Akai and ran it through the Mesa Boogie amp in order to make it sound more like a guitar. At that point the heavy metal section was intact and Michael [Jackson] sang it, which meant we only had the rap to do. Things remained that way for quite a time, during which I put Bryan Loren on Moog bass and tried Terry Jackson on five-string electric bass going through a preamp that I had built. Bryan’s Moog part was really good, and I used some of Terry’s notes to fortify it and make a rhythm, while also replacing the simple Emulator drum machine with live drum samples that I had in my Akai.

“All the time I kept telling Michael that we had to have a rap, and he brought in rappers like LL Cool J and the Notorious BIG who were performing on other songs. Somehow, I didn’t have access to them for ‘Black Or White’, and it was getting later and later and I wanted the song to be done. So, one day I wrote the rap — I woke up in the morning and, before my first cup of coffee, I began writing down what I was hearing, because the song had been in my head for about eight months by that time and it was an obssession to try and fill that last gap.” 


It is interesting that Jackson left this task to Bottrell and didn’t try to fill said gap himself. “That’s the sort of thing he does,” asserts Bottrell. “It seems kind of random, but it’s as if he makes things happen through omission. There’s nobody else, and it’s as if he knows that’s what you’re up against and challenges you to do it. For my part, I didn’t think much of white rap, so I brought in Bryan Loren to rap my words and he did change some of the rhythms, but he was not comfortable being a rapper. As a result, I performed it the same day after Bryan left, did several versions, fixed one, played it for Michael the next day and he went ‘Ohhh, I love it Bill, I love it. That should be the one.’ I kept saying ‘No, we’ve got to get a real rapper,’ but as soon as he heard my performance he was committed to it and wouldn’t consider using anybody else.”

The Notorious W Cool B? If the hat fits… “I was OK with it,” he says. “I couldn’t really tell if it sounded good, but after the record came out I did get the impression that people accepted it as a viable rap. Since I try to do everything in the spirit of instinct and in-the-moment, I had given it my best shot, and apparently it worked… I also played a funky guitar part on my Kramer American in the rap section, but then I still felt that the song needed some sort of fire, and so I sampled distorted guitar riffs into my Akai and laid them down all over the place. It just need a more live feel, and a real guitar would have had the wrong effect, so I laid out a keyboard of maybe eight guitar versions, and as I didn’t want to do it — I had heard the song so many times — I brought in my friend Jasun Martz. He listened once to the samples, listened to the song and just laid them down using my Hybrid Arts, a MIDI keyboard and the Akai sampler, and it worked great. He brought an immediacy and a rock & roll fire to something that had been pieced together.”



Photo courtesy of Bill Bottrell As a response to the claustrophobic recording enviroments he encountered on projects like the Dangerous album, Bill Bottrell established a one-room studio called Toad Hall, where the emphasis would be on capturing the feeling of live performances.

Photo courtesy of Bill Bottrell
As a response to the claustrophobic recording enviroments he encountered on projects like the Dangerous album, Bill Bottrell established a one-room studio called Toad Hall, where the emphasis would be on capturing the feeling of live performances.

One way in which Bill Bottrell swam against the tide when working on ‘Black Or White’ was in actually using the live rooms in Westlake and Record One studios; his own guitar parts were tracked in the control rooms, but almost all the other elements, including Michael Jackson’s vocals, were tracked in the studio live areas. “Don’t forget, this was the late ’80s, when so much work was being done in control rooms and these huge studios were being wasted,” Bottrell remarks. “I always found it ludicrous the way studios were designed — all the gear would be in the control room and there’d be no space for people — so I built my own studio consisting of one room with no glass in between.” 

Named Toad Hall and located within a storefront venue near to the Pasadena Playhouse a few miles north-east of Los Angeles, this comprised a long, faux-stone, high-ceilinged room with neo-Gothic lighting, book-lined and tapestry-draped walls, antique furniture and plenty of classic recording gear. It was here that, among numerous other projects, Bottrell produced, engineered and co-wrote Sheryl Crow’s Tuesday Night Music Club album, and since relocating to a tiny, remote Northern California village during the second half of the 1990s he has pretty much replicated the unique look and atmosphere with the expansive, open-plan Williams Place, which houses a Neve 8058 console, Pro Tools, and Radar II and Studer A800 recorders.

 Mixing & Matching

Conforming to his usual approach, Bottrell basically mixed and built the track as he went along. “Even back then I didn’t believe in ‘mixing’ per se. I mix as I go, and when the song is finished recording I leave the faders where they are and press Record on the machine.”

Still, this didn’t mean that everything was simple and straightforward when the mix proper took place on Record One’s Neve 8078. How could it be? “Mixing was quite a trip,” he confirms. “I was dealing with the fine points of audio and equipment and what they were doing to the feel of the song. That’s where I struggled. It was down to balances or effects. There weren’t many effects. As I’ve said, the main part of ‘Black Or White’ always remained the same, but I could not get the rap section and heavy metal part to sound right. I therefore went over to Larrabee, where the bulk of the company had moved, and did a mix over there and then couldn’t get the country part to sound right. The problem was the SSL, which really worked for the heavy metal section — where the Neve produced too much ringing — but was too cold and clinical for the rootsy and nostalgic country part. It didn’t work at all, so I cut the two together, using a Neve for the main parts and the SSL for the rap and heavy metal sections. 

The live area at Westlake Studio A, which Bill Bottrell made a point of using to track vocals and other instruments.

The live area at Westlake Studio A, which Bill Bottrell made a point of using to track vocals and other instruments.

“It didn’t take a long time to get that together, but it did take a long time for me to realise that’s what I had to do. I was going around in circles for a while, and although Michael would drop in every now and then he wasn’t aware of the struggles that I was going through. I don’t think I ever told him. I would try something, it would be time to finish the song and turn it in, so I’d do the mix and the next day I’d hear it and not like it for some reason. Nevertheless, each time I did a mix it would only take an hour or two, or less, because by then the song was so commodified in my mind and repeated so many times that there was nothing to mix. I was just trying to get the audio to sound right.”

A Musical Education

In all, the Dangerous project accounted for about 18 months of Bill Bottrell’s life, and working on it brought him into direct contact with the megastar ethic at its most extreme. This, in turn, was an education for him, both in terms of conforming to this type of sensibility and in concluding that in future he’d rather work on rootsier, more understated, less commercially obsessed projects — ones that would connect with his own Appalachian and country leanings.

“By then I was at the end of my musical education with Michael,” he says. “I had been out at his house for a couple of years and at various studios with him before that, so it was all adding up, and by the time we even started the Dangerous album I was well into that system. It taught me a lot about really going all the way for something, working and working until there’s some kind of perfection. Objectivity is everybody’s biggest problem, especially if you’ve worked a long time on a song, but there’s also a threshold beyond which that isn’t a problem any more because, having the luxury of so much time to spend, your failures in objectivity eventually get fixed. 

Bill Bottrell today.

Bill Bottrell today.

“In other words, if something ends up sounding wrong, there’s no deadline to turn it in. And you will hear that it’s wrong if you get away from it for five days and then hear it again. You always have that second chance, as well as that third or fourth or fifth chance, and that’s a technique which I learned from Michael, in addition to meeting the challenge of outdoing whatever’s out there within the same game. It’s a case of doing whatever it takes. So, I learned all of those things… and never did them again. I totally refused to, but that doesn’t mean I disrespected doing them. I absolutely respected doing them. It just taught me that there is another way to beat everybody, maybe by taking the exact opposite approach to a technique that requires a tremendous amount of time, listening to what records are doing, listening to what gimmicks people are using and making sure you did it better. 

“What I decided to try was to not listen to anybody else, but go to the extremely raw and take that to its logical ends. Only serve the words and the melody and the singer, and although that can take you to some extreme place, you won’t feel it’s extreme because you haven’t been listening to everybody else. This is the approach I’ve been taking ever since, and while it may be less contrived by definition, I say that without imposing any judgement on contrivance. At the time, I was interested in the techniques employed for a project like Dangerous. It was a challenge to me, and none more so than ensuring that ‘Black Or White’, with its cool Southern rock/country thing happening, didn’t go in the wrong direction. That was my agenda: to save take one.”


Michael Jackson’s Lawyer Bob Sanger Talks To West Coast Sound About the Pop Star, His Life And His Reading Habits

Source: LA Weekly Blogs – By Randall Roberts (Published June 25, 2009)

Bob Spanger, L Tom Meserau, R

Bob Spanger (Left) Tom Meserau (Right)

In the wake of the the untimely death this afternoon of Michael Jackson, West Coast Sound contacted the late King of Pop’s longtime attorney, Bob Sanger. Sanger represented Michael Jackson for 16 years, and sat at the table with Jackson throughout the high-profile 2005 case in which the family of a boy accused Jackson of child sexual abuse. We spoke with Sanger late this afternoon.

Bob Sanger: This is what I want to say. I do think it’s appropriate to speak out at this point in honor of Michael. First of all, he was a great musician and performer, and his impact on music goes on today. I saw something on television today, I forgot who it was, but I looked at it, a current star doing a music video, and thought, ‘That’s Michael Jackson.’ You can just see where all that came from that didn’t exist before he started doing that sort of thing. The beat, and the music and everything else. That’s an impact that he’ll have forever, or certainly for a long time. I think that what people don’t appreciate about Michael Jackson was as a human being, which I got to see, was privileged to see this, because he does have a lot of people around him.

When you represent him, which I did, unfortunately – unfortunately for him that we had to do this, but you do get very close to a person, and I sat next to him for four months in the criminal case – it took a full four months, and he was there every day. But what I did learn in the years that I represented him – particularly in that last case – is that he is a very kind person. Truly from his heart. And his whole family is like that. His mother, Katherine, and his sisters, LaToya and Janet – they have their own personalities onstage and everything, but they are the kindest, sweetest people you’ll ever want to meet. And his brothers are very nice; they offer to do what they can for you.

I remember having a family meeting out at the ranch, in a room out there that was nicely appointed, as everything was. And we were all going to sit down and have a big meeting. And Janet says, ‘Bob, you don’t have a place to sit.’ I told her it was okay, I could stand, and she said, ‘No, no, no, I’ll get you a chair.’ She walks out the door, and I figure she’s going to get someone to bring me a chair. She walks in with this big wing-backed armchair that she’s carrying into the room – Janet Jackson – for me to sit in. It wasn’t remarkable in that it was any different that what you’d expect from anyone in that family, or from her.

They were very kind. You would go to the ranch, or a house elsewhere where we met on other occasions, and you couldn’t get away without being offered something to eat or drink. And personally, and I don’t mean snap your fingers and someone comes to do it, they would be very concerned and very kind and generous about everything. And Michael was the same way. He believed that one of the things he could do in life in addition to entertainment was that he could really help children. And I know that’s going to immediately get some kind of sarcastic response, but it’s absolutely true.

I was there at his ranch when he wasn’t even there on at least two occasions when he had a giant group of kids come up. One, a bunch of kids who were from hospitals down in LA — children’s wards — came up with their families and everything else, and another time it was disadvantaged kids with their families, they were brought up and came up on buses – he had a couple of buses – and he would bring people up and it was like they were at Disneyland. His staff was there, and at one point he had a hundred-something people on staff. They would be offering everybody candy, and something to drink, and play in the game room, and go to the movie theater. And you’d see these kids, and it was just remarkable to see these kids and their eyes so wide and being treated this way.

Did the attorney in you ever become concerned with that? Here are hundreds of strangers coming into this multimillionaire’s home, and anyone of them could have ulterior motives.

Well, I don’t want to get into all that.

No, no, I understand.

Well, you know what? Yeah, the attorney in me, I look at what clients do and I always wonder. But, I’ve got to tell you: until we saw what this last family tried to do to him, which was so completely bizarre and off-the-wall, unfounded, manipulative — the DA was so committed to get back at Michael Jackson that they just looked with blinders at these people, and ignored the fact that they had scammed other people, and so on. But when you saw that family and looked at that, you had to say, ‘Oh my god, how vulnerable’ – clearly he was vulnerable. But for a family like this to be able to get the attention of a district attorney and law enforcement was just remarkable. And it just shows you how vulnerable people can be.

And I’ve certainly seen that in my career in representing people for the last 35 years, certainly there are cases – people are prosecuted because they’re guilty, sure, but people are also prosecuted because the government can, and sometimes there are some bad motives. And I don’t want to talk about the particulars of that case, but it was just so clear how vulnerable he was.

The groups stopped at that point because we were in the trial – or at least I didn’t see any, because I was busy trying to save his life, basically. But prior to that when I’d see these people come in, the generosity, and the kindness – the staff was told at all times, whenever you go to Neverland, or to his house elsewhere, the staff was always instructed to be absolutely kind to everybody. The kindness ran from the top down. And it wasn’t the obsequious kind of stuff. It was true kindness, and it came from the top. Michael was kind, the whole family was. And that’s the stuff that people don’t see. They don’t understand how deep the concept of kindness ran in his family.

And the third thing was that Michael was extremely well-read.

I didn’t know that.

No. Few people did. In trial – and I knew Michael, but I got to know him a lot better at the trial. The judge was doing jury selection, and it was time for break. Judge Melville said, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, I want you to know that jury service is very, very important.’ He’s trying to convince people not to have stupid excuses to get out of jury service. All judges do this. He says, ‘The jury system is a very time-honored system. It’s been around for 200 years. We’re going to take a break and come back in 15 minutes.

We stand up and the judge leaves, and Michael turns to me and says, “Bob, the jury system is much older than 200 years, isn’t it?’ I said, ‘Well, yeah, it goes back to the Greeks.’ He says, ‘Oh yeah, Socrates had a jury trial, didn’t he?’ I said, ‘Yeah, well, you know how it turned out for him.’ Michael says, ‘Yeah, he had to drink the hemlock.’ That’s just one little tidbit. We talked about psychology, Freud and Jung, Hawthorne, sociology, black history and sociology dealing with race issues. But he was very well read in the classics of psychology and history and literature.

That’s fascinating.

He loved to read. He had over 10,000 books at his house. And I know that because – and I hate to keep referring to the case, because I don’t want the case – the case should not define him. But one of the things that we learned – the DA went through his entire library and found, for instance, a German art book from 1930-something. And it turned out that the guy who was the artist behind the book had been prosecuted by the Nazis. Nobody knew that, but then the cops get up there and say, ‘We found this book with pictures of nude people in it.’ But it was art, with a lot of text. It was art. And they found some other things, a briefcase that didn’t belong to him that had some Playboys in it or something. But they went through the guy’s entire house, 10,000 books. And it caused us to do the same thing, and look at it.

And there were places that he liked to sit, and you could see the books with his bookmarks in it, with notes and everything in it where he liked to sit and read. And I can tell you from talking to him that he had a very – especially for someone who was self-taught, as it were, and had his own reading list – he was very well-read. And I don’t want to say that I’m well-read, but I’ve certainly read a lot, let’s put it that way, and I enjoy philosophy and history and everything myself, and it was very nice to talk to him, because he was very intellectual, and he liked to talk about those things. But he didn’t flaunt it, and it was very seldom that he would initiate the conversation like that, but if you got into a conversation like that with him, he was there.

Do you remember the last time you saw him, or talked to him?

The last time I talked to him was right after the trial, and then he moved out of the country. I had not seen him personally, in person – I talked to him on the phone – since them. Of course, I talked to people around him, because we still took care of matters for him. But the best I can say, and I don’t want to oversell my significance in his world, but I want to convey this side of him that people didn’t see. I just hate – every time I hear Jay Leno or somebody take a cheap shot – and Jay Leno I think is a very funny man – but every time they take a cheap shot I think, that really isn’t fair, because that’s not who he is. And few people had an opportunity to really experience the kindness of him and his family. And few people really had the opportunity the have these intellectual discussions about great thinkers and writers. Freud and Jung – go down the street and try and find five people who can talk about Freud and Jung.

So I have to ask. Are you representing his estate?

No, no. I represented him up here for Santa Barbara-type matters.

And what’s the status of Neverland Ranch?

I don’t know the exact – I always hesitate to comment on this because I don’t know exactly. It was taken over by an investor. I don’t know that it was sold outright, I’m not sure exactly. But Michael – after having it raided three times by the cops to no avail for them, it shook him. He was living there up until the trial, and continued to live there during the trial, but just before the trial, they got a search warrant and went back out, allegedly because they wanted to find as-built plans for the house. And they could have asked us and we would have given them to him. They could have made a motion in court and we would have given them to him. They could have gone down to the archives and got them. But it was just an excuse to go out and raid it one more time. They roused him early in the morning, and his kids were there, and after that he said, ‘I don’t think I can live here anymore.’ And it was a shame. He had his tree. He would go up in this tree, and he wrote some of his songs there. It’s kind of like a historic place, but for him it was a very personal place.

Throwback Article: Vanity Fair “The Boy Who Would Be King” Originally Published October 1989; Republished September 2009

Source: Vanity Fair – By Lisa Robinson / Photographs by Annie Leibovitz 


With her interviews and notes from the early chapters of the pop king’s career, the author resurrects the innocent, ebullient, exploring youth as he confided his struggle to move beyond his family and take control of his art. Photographs by Annie Leibovitz, from her 1989 V.F. shoot with a then 31-year-old Jackson.


Michael Jackson, photographed in October 1989, in Los Angeles. Photograph by Annie Leibovitz.

The Westin Crown Center Hotel, Kansas City, Missouri, February 23, 1988: Michael Jackson had just finished the opening night of his Bad tour and his manager, Frank DiLeo, arranged for me to visit the star in his hotel suite. No handlers, no bodyguards, no hangers-on, no family members—unusual for a Jackson visitation—but we’d had a friendly journalist-to-artist relationship for the past 16 years, and Michael asked to see me. For Kansas City, the suite was lavish, the size of a small apartment, but as I entered, let in by a security guard, Michael was nowhere to be seen. “Michael?,” I called as I walked around. After a few minutes, I heard giggling from behind a door. The 29-year-old Michael Jackson was literally playing hide-and-seek. Eventually he appeared, wearing black trousers and a bright-red shirt, his semi-straightened hair in a loose ponytail with a few strands falling over his face. He hugged me. He was taller than I’d remembered, taller than he appeared in photos, and while his giggling continued, I thought that the hug was a hug from a man—not a boy—and while there was nothing sexual, it just was strong. Then he pulled back, looked at me, and said, in the lower and more “normal” of the two voices he could produce at will, “What’s that smell? What’s that perfume? I know that smell.” I laughed. “Oh, Michael, you don’t know this perfume. It’s an old drag-queen perfume from the 1950s.” At the words “drag queen” he started giggling and repeated: “Drag queen … hahahahahaha!!! No, I know it. It’s Jungle Gardenia, right?” I was more than slightly surprised. “How do you know that? The only people who’ve ever recognized this perfume are Bryan Ferry and Nick Rhodes. Well, I guess you’re not as la-la as they say you are.” The phrase “la-la” cracked him up and he repeated it: “La-la … hahahahahaha!!!

A few days later I sent a case of Jungle Gardenia to his hotel suite at New York City’s Helmsley Palace. The following night, on March 2, I stood in the wings at Radio City Music Hall as Michael waited with gospel singers the Winans, about to perform “Man in the Mirror” for the Grammy Awards live telecast. Looking at me he whispered, “Thanks for the smells.…I’m wearing it now.”

Michael Jackson was one of the most talented, adorable, enthusiastic, sweet, ebullient performers I’d ever interviewed. From 1972 to 1989, I spent time with Michael at his family’s home in Encino, California, in New York City, backstage at his concerts, at parties, at Studio 54, and on the phone. And in 1972, when Michael was 14 but I thought he was 12 (he was 10 when he got to Motown but was told to say he was 8 because he’d seem cuter), we did the first of many interviews.


From 1972 to 1989, I spent time with Michael at his family’s home in Encino, California, in New York City, backstage at his concerts, at parties, at Studio 54, and on the phone.
The Jackson Five (from left, Michael, Marlon, Tito, Jermaine, and Jackie) and their parents, Joseph and Katherine Jackson, surrounded by the group’s awards and accolades at home in Encino, 1971. By John Olson/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images.

Havenhurst, Encino, California, October 8, 1972: A sign on the gate to the Jackson family’s house says, beware of guard dog, with the phone number of the place that trained the dog. (“Promotion,” Michael tells me later.) According to Michael, Liberace used to live across the street, and the Jacksons would visit him and look at his diamonds. The family has a German shepherd named Heavy and a Doberman named Hitler (the group’s drummer named him Hitler), but when they talk about that dog in interviews they call him Duke. The bottom of the swimming pool is decorated with two blue-tile dolphins. Lemons and tangerines grow on the trees around the pool. Michael shows me around the house: the pool, the animals, his room—with two beds, a clock with time zones from various cities around the world, the TV, a phone (there is also a pay phone in the house). He climbs a tree, he does dance steps, he is outgoing, inquisitive, fun. I call a friend and say, “This kid is going to be the greatest entertainer ever, seriously, like Frank Sinatra.”


In 1972 … we did the first of many interviews.
Lisa Robinson with Jackson, then 14, during her first interview with the star. By Andrew Kent.

Lisa Robinson: The group is going to perform in London soon?

Michael Jackson: Yes … and I want to go shopping when I go over there, get a lot of souvenirs, and antiques … Ever hear of Napoleon?

L.R. Yes

M.J. I want to see him too.

L.R. You mean the monuments? His tomb? In Paris?

M.J. You’ve seen that? What airline did you take?

L.R. Well, several. I’ve taken Pan Am, TWA, Air France

M.J. What kind of tape recorder are you using?

L.R. Sony. [A discussion ensues about the size of the tape recorder, how, if they get any smaller, people will be able to sneak them into concerts, tape, and make bootlegs.] They’re really excited you’re going to be performing in England.

M.J. I know, we got a lot of letters, so we decided to go. But we want this time to be the biggest … for the Queen.

L.R. Ah … you’re performing for the Queen. Her palace is huge …

M.J. You’ve seen it?

L.R. Well, only from the outside. Have any of the other groups told you what it’s like performing in England?

M.J. Well, the Supremes and the Temptations told us some stuff. You ever hear of Marty Feldman? [I say yes.] When the Supremes went there, Ringo Starr went shopping with them. But I don’t know what [the audiences] will be like, whether they’ll be quiet or loud.

L.R. So, what do you like to do in your spare time?

M.J. Swim … play pool … We don’t go much out of the gate because we have [everything] here. When we lived in the other house, we would go to the park to play basketball, but now we have it here.

(Michael asks me more questions than I ask him; there are discussions about my maroon nail polish, buying antiques on Portobello Road, the Apollo Theater, Madison Square Garden.)

L.R. Do you ever get scared onstage?

M.J. No. If you know what you’re doing, you’re not scared onstage.

Interview with Michael, circa 1974:

L.R. Do people tell you what to do?

M.J. Well, I never like to stop learning—even Stevie [Wonder] says that. If you stop learning, then you’re dead. People used to tell us what to do and we listened, but we filled in our own stuff, too … We still have people work with us, but no way are we puppets [laughs], no way.

L.R. What sort of thing are you going to do on the TV show?

M.J. I’m used to being highlighted on the show, but I also do different things—like dancing. It’s a very showbizzy kind of thing, we get funky in the front, and in the closing we get real spankin’—that’s what the fans like.

L.R. Any plans for acting? Movies?

M.J. I was supposed to do Roots, but it was done during our own TV show, and I couldn’t do it—I had an offer for that.That’s the kind of thing I’d like to be my first film—a big TV event, because then the most people can see it.

L.R. What other plans do you have for the future?

M.J. I’d like to write my own things, because an artist knows what fits him best. Every artist can’t write his own material, but if you feel like you can do it—like Marvin Gaye or Stevie Wonder—you should do it. At first, people didn’t think that Stevie could record himself—they thought he was taking a risk. Then he did those albums and they were dynamite.

To me, ballads are special, because you can have a pop song that’ll be known for three weeks and then you’ll hear nothing else about it. Nobody else will record it and it’ll just be gone. But if you do a good ballad, it’ll be [in] the world forever. Like [Stevie Wonder’s] “Living for the City”—that’s a great song, and it opens up the minds of a lotof people, but it won’t be around as long as “My Cherie Amour” or “For Once in My Life” or “You Are the Sunshine of My Life.”—Michael Jackson


Michael Jackson doing what he did best for the camera. Photograph by Annie Leibovitz.

The Warwick Hotel, New York City, February 5, 1975: The entire Jackson family is in town for the Jackson Five’s concert at Radio City Music Hall. Michael is alternately fun and his usual outgoing self and more quiet, thoughtful. His skin has broken out; he confides to me that his brothers have been teasing him.

L.R. What was different for you on this latest album [Dancing Machine]?

M.J. I got to sing free. For the first time I got to do my own thing.

L.R. What do you mean “free”?

M.J. Well, when you’re being told, it’s not you.

L.R. What were you being told?

M.J. Told to sing this word this way, this line this way, go up and down, and this and that. It’s not being “you.” And you’re trying to get the “you” out. Like Gladys Knight—she sings freely and look how great she is and that’s the best way.

L.R. And how was it working with Stevie Wonder?

M.J. It was really fun because he lets you sing freely. Only a singer and a producer-singer knows what he’s doing, because he sings also.

L.R. Have you been going out lately?

M.J. No … I like staying home, just under the fireplace, reading …

L.R. What sort of things are you reading?

M.J. All kinds of things … the dictionary, adventure books. I had four weeks off and I just stayed home. I don’t really like going to parties … Well, I like parties where you can talk—a fireplace and a piano, and when there’s entertainers [there] it’s even better. You go to a lot of concerts, don’t you? You get in for free? What was the last concert you went to?

L.R. Led Zeppelin.

M.J. Good concert?

L.R. Yes. Loud. Rock. You don’t get a chance to go to many? You don’t want to?

M.J. I want to, but whenever I go out, there’s always problems. But that’s how you could tell what [else is] happening.

The Plaza Hotel, New York City, February 1977: For a photo session, Michael wears a blue sweater, blue pants, a white shirt, and, for some reason, an E.L.O. (Electric Light Orchestra) pin. His bodyguard and a friend/publicist are with him, and when it comes time for photos, the publicist calls him into another room to tell him to take off his undershirt; when he comes back, Michael says that he could have been told that in front of us. He’d arrived late the night before and is staying an extra day so he can go see The Wiz starring Stephanie Mills (there were rumored publicity attempts to drum up a fake romance with her to calm down Michael’s black female fans who were upset he was never seen with a black girl). “I’ve seen [The Wiz] three times already,” Michael says. There is a discussion about birds—Michael had spent the morning at the Bronx Zoo visiting the birdhouse; he says he likes the exotic birds and used to have some, but they made a lot of noise, especially during the mating season, and usually at night, and the neighbors complained, so he had to give them away. It was his first trip to the Bronx Zoo. He asks if Coney Island is still any good, or if they have taken all the good stuff out. He talks about Disneyland—which he’d been to lots of times—and Disney World: “Disney World is better,” he says. “It’s more of a world, like they say. It’s a resort; they have everything—golf, tennis, hotels—it’s all fantasy time.”

From a generic questionnaire filled out by the 18-year-old Michael Jackson in 1977:

What do you do in your spare time?
Read, think, write songs

What is your favorite sport?

Would you like to get married?
Later in life

What kind of girl/boy would you like to marry?

How many children would you like to have?
20. Adopted. All races

Briefly describe your dream girl/boy
Beautiful in every way

What type of person do you usually dislike?

What would you do if someone gave you a million dollars?

What was the biggest thrill of your life?
Finding what I was searching for

Who has helped you the most with your career?
My father, experience

Out of all the performers you’ve worked with,who do you admire the most?
Fred Astair [sic], Stevie Wonder

What do you like best about your work?

What do you dislike about your work?

What is your most prized possession?
A child, words of wisdom

Do you have a pet fear, superstition?
No, that [sic] man made

Who is your favorite actor?
Heston, Brando, Bruce Dern

Who is your favorite actress?
Garland, Bette Davis

Do you have a nickname, how did you get it?
Nose [and then, crossed out, is the word “niger” (sic)]

What do you daydream about?

Interview with Michael by phone from his home in Encino, California, February 1977:

Jackson: “Well, I never like to stop learning—even Stevie [Wonder] says that.”  Jackson and Wonder, 1978. © Globe Photos, Inc.

Jackson: “Well, I never like to stop learning—even Stevie [Wonder] says that.” Jackson and Wonder, 1978. © Globe Photos, Inc.

L.R.You’ve been doing this for more than 10 years now; do you ever wonder, if you could have had a different life, what you’d be doing?

M.J. I don’t know … It’s a lot of fun, you learn a lot of things, and you get into a lot of things. Right now, I write a lot of songs. I’ve been writing a lot of songs for a long time. I’m looking forward to recording them.

L.R. What about the celebrity stuff, like when you come to New York and go, for example, with Andy Warhol to Regine’s like you recently did?

M.J. [Laughs.] It’s part of being an entertainer. You know, people talk to you, and they want to know about you. And a lot of entertainers don’t know this, but interviewers help entertainers 100 percent. I don’t mean promotion-wise; I mean like when they ask you questions, it helps you to look at your future yourself, like when they ask you what you think you’ll be doing in 10 years. Interviewers put [entertainers] in a position to think about their life—where they’re going or what they should be doing or what shouldn’t they be doing. So it’s important, it really is.

L.R. Do you think your brothers are relieved that they don’t have the same burdens you do being the lead singer or do you think they’re jealous of the attention you get?

M.J. No, never. Everybody knows we have certain jobs that we do onstage, and my thing that I do is sing up front, and I dance and lead most of the songs. They know that’s my thing and they do theirs.

L.R. Did you ever have doubts, or worry that you wouldn’t be able to do it?

M.J. No, because it’s something that I like to do. I never thought I couldn’t do it—it’s just a feeling inside of you.

L.R. You never get fed up or exhausted or bored?

M.J. I get bored sometimes … yeah. You have to wait in your hotel room, and all these fans are knocking on your door or waiting outside around the hotel, and all you can do is stay in your room. You can’t go anyplace. So that’s when I would say I get bored. But you have an obligation to your fans—they made you what you are. They’re the ones who bought the records, so performers who don’t sign autographs and stuff are wrong. Someone who does that can’t say he’s right, because he’s wrong … because if he did a concert and nobody showed up, he wouldn’t do the concert. So he owes it to them.

L.R. Do you go out with girls? Any dates?

M.J. No, I don’t date, no. I’m not really interested right now. I like girls and everything, but [laughs] … Oh, you think I’m one of those? No! I’m just not that interested right now.

L.R. Most 18-year-olds don’t have to get up every day and rehearse or tour or work 12 hours a day: they have girlfriends, they do sports, they have homework—they have a different life and they’ve had a different life for years. Does it bog you down?

M.J. No, because it’s something I like doing. If it was work, I don’t think I could have lasted this long. I’d probably go crazy.

L.R. Do you feel you have a special gift?

M.J. Well, there’s such a thing as talent. And, yeah, I would say that’s true … For instance, with an artist, he can draw anything you look at—he can draw it. And then you take [someone else], who can’t even draw a stick person. So look at the difference.

L.R. What about vacations?

M.J. I like to be at home because we travel all the time, so if we had some time off, we wouldn’t go on vacation. We do enough [traveling] when we’re working.

L.R. Who lives at your family home now?

M.J. Me, Janet, Randy, and La Toya.

L.R. None of the other brothers?

M.J. Uh-uh. The rest live out and are married.

L.R. Marlon?

M.J. He’s married and he’s got a baby.

L.R. I didn’t know that. What is his wife’s name?

M.J. Carol … but don’t print that.

L.R. You’re not supposed to say they’re married? Not Jackie either?

M.J. Right, none of them. Don’t mention that.

L.R. What? That’s kind of silly …

M.J. I know.

L.R. O.K., change the subject. You’re on Epic [Records] now—do you miss Motown at all?

M.J. I miss the old days at Motown, the old days. When we first came there we used to live with Diane [Diana Ross] and we’d play at the Gordys’. We’d go to Disneyland and go bike riding and all those things.

L.R. Have you seen Diana Ross in Lady Sings the Blues or Mahogany? Do you want to act?

M.J. Lady Sings the Blues was much grander than Mahogany because she could get into it much more. It was about this singer, and drugs … A real actor can do any part, but I want to do something pertaining to show business. Like in Mahogany, Diana is great, but she’s not a real actress [as much as in Lady Sings the Blues] … She inspired a lot of people, though.

Interview with Michael by phone from Encino, California, June 9, 1977:

M.J. We just came back from Europe and we performed for the Queen of England in Scotland. We’d done it five years ago for her mother, but this time it was for her and her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh. They asked us and we were honored to do it. Afterwards she came backstage and she said, “Did you just come here to perform for [me]?” And we said, “Yes.” She said, “Where do you go next?” We said, “London.” She said, “Are you all brothers?” And we said, “Yes.” And she said our show was very enjoyable. Her husband was very interested—he must have spent five minutes asking us if our parents were musically inclined: what did they play, what did my mother play? My mother played the clarinet in a band, and my father was in a singing group called the Falcons—they were a local group. The Queen had her crown on and a pink dress with all these pearls and rubies and diamonds all over it. She wears a lot of jewelry. The producers and the people from the [Silver] Jubilee told us that [the Queen] did something at our show that they never saw her do—she actually clapped to the music and kept time and nodded her head in keeping the time. We were really happy to hear that; that’s really different and I was glad.

Jackson: “We just came back from Europe and we performed for the Queen of England … We didn’t see any changing of the guard this time, but we were with the guards and took some pictures.”  The Jacksons pose with a bobby outside Buckingham Palace, London, 1977. From left, Randy, Jackie, Michael, Marlon, and Tito. By Tom Sheehan/Sony Music Archive/Getty Images.

Jackson: “We just came back from Europe and we performed for the Queen of England … We didn’t see any changing of the guard this time, but we were with the guards and took some pictures.” The Jacksons pose with a bobby outside Buckingham Palace, London, 1977. From left, Randy, Jackie, Michael, Marlon, and Tito. By Tom Sheehan/Sony Music Archive/Getty Images.

L.R. Did you have any time to sightsee?

M.J. Well, we’re usually in these cities so quick and out the next night—we do the concert and split. But I made time in London to see Big Ben, which I’ve seen before. I’ve seen the London Bridge and Whitechapel, where Jack the Ripper was cutting people up … it’s scary. In Scotland, I saw Loch Lomond—it’s very close to Loch Ness … We saw old castles. We didn’t see any changing of the guard this time, but we were with the guards and took some pictures. But the show in London was much wilder—I didn’t think we’d get out of that place. All through the show there were girls running up, one after another, onto the stage—poor children were being crushed and smashed. Two policemen got stabbed. The last time was even rougher, because there’s just something about the excitement in Europe … the teenyboppers and the excitement of Beatlemania. They called it “Jacksonmania.”

Interview with Michael by phone from California, August 3, 1978:

L.R. So after filming The Wiz here, you told me you wanted to come back to New York and spend more time.

M.J. I love it—it’s the perfect spot for me, for the things I’m interested in in life. When I’m in New York, I get up early and I’m ready to start the day. You have a whole schedule: I’m going to see this play at this time, and I’m going to have lunch, I’m going to see a movie—that’s what I like about it, so much … energy. Whenever I come back home, I look forward to going back to New York. I love the big stores—I love everything.

L.R. You’ve been seen out with Janelle Penny Commissiong, the former Miss Universe. Is it a romance?

M.J. [Laughter, giggling.] That’s a hard question to answer. Like most of the people you may see me out with, like Tatum [O’Neal] and Janelle, they’re kind of on and off, they’re friends, and [hysterical laughter] … I talk to them. I don’t know how to describe it, really [more laughter]. I don’t know what to say.

L.R. O.K., change the subject. What was it like to work with Diana on The Wiz?

M.J. It was incredible, wonderful. I learned so much from her. We’re like brother and sister, really. She was such a help—she made sure I was O.K. on the set; every morning she’d come to my room and ask if I needed anything. She was very protective. I just loved the world of moviemaking; I love it more than reality. Sometimes I just wish I could wake up in the morning to a big production dance number.

L.R. As for reality, do you still like meeting your fans?

M.J. I enjoy all that sometimes, seeing people who love me, or buy my records. I think it’s fun, and I enjoy meeting my fans and I think it’s important. But sometimes people think you owe your life to them; they have a bad attitude—like “I made you who you are.” That may be true—but not that one person. Sometimes you have to say to them, If the music wasn’t good, you wouldn’t have bought it. Because some of them think they actually own you. Someone will say, “Sit down,” “Sign this,” or “Can I have your autograph?” and I’ll say, “Yes, do you have a pen?” And they say, “No, go get one.” Honestly. I’m not exaggerating. But I just try to deal with it.

L.R. Are you having fun with your new car [a recently purchased blue Silver Shadow Rolls-Royce]?

M.J. Yes, it’s my favorite car. I know how to drive it, but I hate to take pictures in it. You know, you see so many people with their new cars, and it’s a little show-offy. I’m really not like that.

Interview with Michael by phone from Encino, California, September 4, 1979:


Jackson: “It was incredible, wonderful. I learned so much from [Diana Ross]. We’re like brother and sister, really.”
Ross and Jackson at the Paramount premiere of The Wiz, Los Angeles, October 24, 1978. © Berliner Studio/BEImages.

Michael said he knew that the Jacksons could do their own record production, and the success of Destiny (released in 1978 and yielding the platinum single “Shake Your Body”) proved them right. “Our persistence in not giving up, continually telling the record company we didn’t want other writers, was what finally changed their mind. You’ve got to remember I’ve been around studios since I was a child, and I’ve just picked it up. You learn, you watch … I’d sit in on Stevie [Wonder]’s sessions and just be amazed. He’d sit there and do everything.”

L.R. Why did you go outside the family and work with Quincy [Jones] on Off the Wall?

M.J. I felt there are still so many different things I want to learn that I didn’t want to go in myself and do it. I wanted to watch a giant and learn from him. That’s why I wanted to work with Quincy. He’s the kind of guy who’s unlimited musically: classical, jazz, disco, soul, pop—he’s done operas, movie soundtracks, he’s worked with Billie Holiday, Dinah Washington, all the greats, he can do everything. He can work with me and do anything I want. I wanted an album that wouldn’t just consist of one kind of music, because I love all kinds of music. I see it all as music; I don’t like to label it. It’s like saying this child is white, this child is black, this child is Japanese—but they’re all children. It reminds me of prejudice. I hate labels. I went to a record store the other day and I saw the Bee Gees in the “Black” category. I mean, what is that? It’s so crazy. If somebody has a wonderful song that’s right for me, I’d love to do it. I wouldn’t pass up a good song just because I didn’t write it. On the Jacksons’ albums we write all the songs, but I love hearing other people’s material. It’s so much fun hearing things that I didn’t write; I think, How did you write that? How did you do that? That’s what I enjoy most about doing solo albums. You get to see how different people work in the studio. With the Jacksons we’re just doing our own thing in our little private world. That’s why I didn’t want the Jacksons to produce my album. I don’t want the same sound, because mine is different.


Michael Jackson, ever the showman. Photograph by Annie Leibovitz.

L.R. How was it filming The Wiz?

M.J. I had the time of my life. It was an experience I’ll never forget. I’m just dying to do the next film. It’s really killing me—and when I say killing me, I really mean it. Sometimes I could just scream, but I’m so busy with other things, and what I really want to do more than anything is film. Film will last forever. I can go on tour and it’s exciting, but when it’s done, it’ll be lost to the world. But if I do a movie, it’ll be there forever, that’s what I love about film: it’s something captured, a moment captured that’ll be there for eternity. The stars die, like Charlie Chaplin—he’s gone, but his films will be here forever. If he did Broadway and plays while he was alive, he would have been lost to the world. I’d have to set time aside to do films, but I always do things through force and feeling, and I always follow my instincts. If it’s meant to be, it’ll come, it’ll happen. It will make itself known.

In my interviews over two decades with the other Jacksons, I learned that for years Michael ate fruits and raw vegetables every day, and nothing else. “He loves carrots, celery, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, apples, peaches,” La Toya once told me. Until they were 18, Janet said, their mother, Katherine, a devout Jehovah’s Witness, would take the kids to Kingdom Hall, but when they came of age, they could choose what religion they wanted. As for all the tabloid stuff about Michael—the plastic surgery in particular—in October 1986, Janet said it was just part of being in show business.

“Michael told me when you hear bad things about yourself,” she said, “just put your energies into something else; it’s no good crying about it. Just put it into your music—it’ll make you stronger.” But she had, had she not, said he was a weirdo? “I probably just said, ‘Oh, Michael’s crazy’ … like silly, fun. He’s very quiet, but every once in a while he says something that’s really funny, and I’ll say he’s crazy, like a lot of fun to be around. And it was taken as his being weird.” But, I say, people think he is weird, all that re-doing of his face. “You know, so many stars do that, but the press picks on certain people. I think if more people could afford it they’d do it, too. I see nothing wrong with it. You have to feel good about yourself. You can’t worry about pleasing other people. And aging is a sad thing. I don’t see anything wrong with staying young as long as you can.” The hyperbaric chamber? Is it in the house? “It is not in the house; I would know if it was in the house. Knowing Michael, if he had gone into one, it probably had something to do with his voice.”

His older brother Marlon, to whom he was closest growing up, said in October 1987, “Sometimes [the stuff they write about Michael] hurts, but the main thing is they’re keeping the name going. Regardless if it’s good or bad news. If they stop talking about you, then you’re in trouble. People have the right to write whatever they want to, but I don’t think that they give people a fair shot sometimes. Everybody has the right to do what they want to in life, to make themselves happy, regardless of what it may be. People probably don’t know the reason why Michael wanted to buy the skeleton [the Elephant Man’s bones]. Maybe instead of looking at it in a negative way, my first thought was maybe he wanted it at the burn center of a hospital so doctors could look at it and study a skull like it in case a case like that happened to an American kid. We’re not here on earth to judge other people. I feel that we’re here on earth to love one another and bring harmony to each other’s hearts.” As for the constant stories about how Michael had no fun as a child while the other brothers participated in sports and had dates, Marlon disagreed: “That’s not true—he did the same things we all did. We all rehearsed constantly, we rehearsed together, and that’s how we got to where we are today.” The family didn’t drink, except wine and champagne when guests came over or, according to Janet, brandy when someone was sick. They had snakes—one named Muscles and another named Revenge. They had two black swans, a llama, the dogs, two deer, and a giraffe named Jabbar. Michael and Janet were together all the time after Marlon got married and moved out of the house. Janet and Michael did everything together: they’d draw together, and when Michael went on the road he’d send boxes of drawings and paintings back to Janet. “He never put his name on it,” she said, “but I knew who it was from.”

Michael’s jaw-dropping solo performance of “Billie Jean” on the 1983 TV special Motown 25 put him into the stratosphere. This was the solo spot that Michael demanded from Berry Gordy and producer Suzanne de Passe before agreeing to appear on the show with his brothers. It was rumored that initially he refused to allow them to film the number, then he agreed after he was given approval of the final edit. During the 1980s, according to CBS Records Group president Walter Yetnikoff, Michael talked to him incessantly about his record sales, marketing, and promotion; “possessed” was the word Yetnikoff used to describe Michael’s involvement in his day-to-day business. On February 7, 1984, CBS threw a huge party at New York’s Museum of Natural History for 1,200 guests to celebrate the mega-million success of Michael Jackson’s Thriller. The invitation was printed on a glove; President and Mrs. Reagan sent a telegram; Yetnikoff introduced Michael as the greatest star ever, and a few days later told me Michael was being pressured to tour again with his brothers.

Luncheon to announce the Jacksons Victory Tour, Tavern on the Green, New York City, November 30, 1983: Promoter Don King came out to announce the upcoming Jacksons Victory Tour. He talked about the Jacksons and himself, how wonderful the tour would be, how fabulous their association was, introduced the Jackson parents and the celebs in the room (Dustin Hoffman, Andy Warhol, Roberta Flack, Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee, and a few boxers). King went on about how it would be the biggest-grossing tour of all time, the biggest this, the biggest that. He quoted Shakespeare; he introduced the boys. Michael introduced his sisters and the wives—it was a cross between a press conference for a heavyweight title fight and a revival meeting.


Michael’s jaw-dropping solo performance of “Billie Jean” on the 1983 TV special Motown 25 put him into the stratosphere.
Jackson singing on the NBC special, which honored one of his mentors, Berry Gordy. The show garnered an audience of 50 million. © NBC/Photofest.

The Jacksons Victory Tour, 1984: Michael traveled separately from his brothers on the tour. He reportedly sent Don King a letter stating that King could not communicate with anyone on Jackson’s behalf without prior permission, that Michael’s personal representatives were to collect all the money paid to him for his participation in the tour, and basically that King could not hire anyone to work on the tour without Michael’s approval. Michael referred to the Victory Tour as “the Last Hurrah” and “the Final Curtain”—meaning for the family group. On August 4, 1984, I took Van Halen lead singer David Lee Roth to see the show at Madison Square Garden, and we met Michael in a private area of the Garden’s rotunda. I was surprised at how different Michael looked from the last time I’d seen him, how much makeup he was wearing (it rubbed off on my clothing when we hugged hello), but mostly I was surprised how fully aware he was of just exactly who David Lee Roth was—probably even to the number of records Van Halen had sold and their chart positions. Later, in a phone interview from Los Angeles on February 15, 1985, Michael admitted to me his problems with the tour and the pressures of working with his family—especially after having had such huge solo success.


On February 7, 1984, CBS threw a huge party at New York’s Museum of Natural History for 1,200 guests to celebrate the mega-million success of Michael Jackson’s Thriller.
Once rumored to be a romantic item, Jackson and Brooke Shields revel at the museum. By Ron Frehm/A.P. Photo.

L.R. I haven’t seen you since the Garden.

M.J. I know. What have you been doing? Do you still love New York?


Jackson: “I wanted to work with Quincy. He’s the kind of guy who’s unlimited musically … ”
Jackson poses with Quincy Jones and their trophies at the 26th annual Grammy Awards, Los Angeles, February 28, 1984. By Michael Ochs Archive/Getty Images.

L.R.Of course.

M.J. Better than L.A.?

L.R. You know, I haven’t been out to L.A. in so long …

M.J. You don’t like us out here?

L.R. I think it’s too … bright. Anyway, were you happy with the tour?

M.J. Well … ummm … it depends. I never really wanted to use a lot of the people we had, but it became a voting thing. It was unfair to me, you know? I was outvoted a lot of times. I never liked doing things that way. I always liked using A1 people who are considered excellent in their field. I’ve always tried to do everything first-class. Use people who are the best. But it was a different story with the family. And the fact that it was the biggest tour that ever happened, and my success has been so overwhelming, it’s as if they’re waiting to throw darts at you, too You know [Barbra] Streisand once said … um, I taped it, on 20/20, she said she first came out, she’s new and fresh, everybody loved her, and they built her up and then … they knocked her down. And she felt, you know, ‘Oh, is that it?’ You know, she’s human, she can’t take it, she can’t just forget about it.

L.R. Well, when you get that big, there is this backlash … people get jealous.


Kansas City, Missouri, February 23, 1988: Michael Jackson had just finished the opening night of his Bad tour and his manager, Frank DiLeo, arranged for me to visit the star in his hotel suite.
Michael Jackson performs onstage in Kansas City during the Bad tour. By Bettmann/Corbis.

M.J. I know. Steven Spielberg’s going through that … But I’m a strong person. I don’t let any of it bother me. I love doing what I do and I’m gonna keep moving mountains and doing bigger and better things because it makes people happy.

L.R. I heard some of the fans were upset because the ticket prices were high.

M.J. You know, that wasn’t my idea. None of that was my idea. I was outvoted. I mean, mail order … I didn’t want that—I didn’t want the ticket price the way it was … our production was so big, it had to pay for itself, but still, even then, I didn’t want the ticket price so high. But … I was outvoted … Don King … all of it, I was outvoted. And it’s tough, especially when it’s your family. Like Lionel Richie said with the Commodores, he would do the same thing, and he would say, ‘Can we talk about it?’ But they’re not his brothers.… It’s hard to see your brother and they’re upset with something and you can look in their eyes and see it, or they won’t talk to you. But I’m going to do bigger and better things in the future. I’m compelled to do what I’m doing and I can’t help it—I love performing. I love creating and coming up with unusual new things. To be a kind of pioneer. You know, innovative. I just love it. I get excited about ideas, not about money; ideas is what excites me.

L.R. The conception about you is that you’re totally insulated and isolated, locked up, can’t go anywhere

M.J. Well, a lot of that is true, but I get a chance to have fun, you know. I show films, and I play games and have friends over sometimes, and I love children and stuff. I get to play with them; that’s one of my favorite things to do. Performing is fun. I miss that, but I’ve been writing a lot of good stuff lately and I’m real excited about the songs I’m coming up with.

L.R. Wherever I go in the world, I hear your songs.

M.J. Well, it just proves that what you put into something you get out of it. And I put my soul, my blood, sweat, and tears, into Thriller. I really did. And not only was it Thriller, but I was doing E.T. at the same time, the E.T. [soundtrack] album. And that was a lot of stress. But [when we first] mixed the Thriller album, it sounded like crap.

L.R. What?

M.J. Oh, it was terrible. And I cried at the listening party. I said, “I’m sorry—we can’t release this.” I called a meeting with Quincy, and everybody at the [record] company was screaming that we had to have it out and there was a deadline, and I said, “I’m sorry, I’m not releasing it.” I said, “It’s terrible.” So we re-did a mix a day. Like a mix a day. And we rested two days, then we did a mixing. We were overworked, but it all came out O.K.

Michael Jackson’s induction as a solo artist into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Waldorf Astoria, New York City, March 19, 2001.


Michael Jackson’s induction as a solo artist into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Waldorf Astoria, New York City, March 19, 2001. Michael is wearing a white suit … It was the last time I ever saw him.
By 2001, Jackson’s public appearances had become increasingly rare. By Yael/Retna Ltd./Corbis.

Michael is wearing a white suit and is surrounded by huge bodyguards as well as his friend Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, who, at that time, was—for lack of a better word—his “spiritual” adviser. Michael is standing against the wall in the kitchen to the left side of the stage (which serves as “backstage” at the Hall of Fame induction ceremonies) when I catch his eye. “Lisa?” he says. We start to move toward each other and his bodyguards are on me. “No! It’s O.K.,” he says to them forcefully—in that other voice, not the whispered one, not the public one, but the one he uses when talking, say, to a lawyer or record-company executive. “She’s my friend.”

It was the last time I ever saw him.

Epilogue: When I was writing the Motown oral history for V.F. last year, Jermaine wanted the brothers to be a part of it. Annie Leibovitz and I didn’t want to photograph or interview the brothers without Michael. We got a message from Jermaine that we needed to contact Michael’s spokesman, Dr. Tohme Tohme, who had only a P.O.-box address somewhere in California. I wrote a letter requesting Michael’s participation. We never heard back.

Lisa Robinson is a Vanity Fair contributing editor and music writer.

Throwback Article: “In The Kitchen With Michael Jackson”

Source: UK Loves Michael Jackson


I don’t know the original source of this article other than the site I got it from. I do remember reading in either Katherine’s autobiography or one of LaToya’s books that he and his siblings use to hang out and help his grandma in the kitchen while she cooked.  Sorry I can’t make it bigger because of the WordPress format. CP ♥

Michael Jackson: Can Exiled King Reclaim His Throne?

Source: Los Angeles Times – Paul Green (July 22, 1987)

Today is the day that Michael Jackson begins the defense of his pop crown. Or, more precisely, the day he attempts to regain his pop crown.

Epic Records is releasing to radio stations today “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You,” a duet with Siedah Garrett. It’s Jackson’s first new record since 1982′s “Thriller,” the most successful album of all time with worldwide sales of 38.5 million.


The single, described as a gentle, soulful ballad, will be in the stores Monday, with Jackson’s new album, “Bad,” to follow late next month. A CBS-TV special is expected near the time of the album’s release. And Jackson is set to begin his first solo tour Sept. 12 in Tokyo, with U.S. and European dates slated for 1988.


The success of “Thriller”–which resulted in a then-unprecedented seven Top 10 singles and a record eight Grammy Awards–established Jackson as the hottest property in pop music since the Beatles.

Most retailers and radio programmers surveyed about Jackson’s return to the chart wars expressed optimism about the singer’s chances. But there is industry uncertainty surrounding Jackson’s album, and it extends beyond the usual whispers of “can he do it again?”

Those surveyed acknowledged that Jackson may have to battle against a backlash resulting from overexposure and negative publicity surrounding his controversial 1984 “Victory” tour with his brothers.

Numerous other stars have occupied pop’s center stage since “Thriller,” including Lionel Richie, Prince, Bruce Springsteen, Madonna and Whitney Houston. This leaves Jackson’s own status in pop unclear: Can the exiled king reclaim his throne?

In a stinging cover story in its June issue, Spin magazine described Jackson as the victim of “the most powerful backlash in the history of popular entertainment.” Other observers have questioned Jackson’s position with equal bluntness.


Is this just another case of the media building up a celebrity only to tear him down? Or have rank-and-file fans indeed tired of Jackson?

The fate of Jackson’s single and album will answer several other provocative questions:

–Did Jackson, by staying away from the pop scene for so long, let his audience slip away? Or was his absence a clever way to combat his earlier overexposure?

–Have Jackson’s “eccentricities”–bidding on the Elephant Man’s remains, sleeping in an oxygenated chamber, wearing surgical masks–alienated his audience and overshadowed his artistry? Or have they helped pique people’s interest and curiosity in him?

–Has sister Janet’s own enormous success helped Michael by keeping the family name in the foreground? Or has it upstaged him by stealing the thunder from his comeback?

One more question: Do any of these questions really matter?

Louis Kwiker, president of Wherehouse Entertainment, which operates the 202-store record and video chain, says no. “Ultimately the product will sell or not based on the quality of the music,” he observed.

Kwiker is one of 60 key retailers who heard the album at a listening party thrown by Epic and the singer July 13 in Beverly Hills. His verdict? “It will be a very strong album. Clearly, the jury is still out as to whether it’s going to match ‘Thriller,’ but I don’t think anybody can expect a world record every time somebody goes to the plate.

“Maybe the album will sell only 10 million. Next to what ‘Thriller’ sold, that doesn’t sound like a lot. But no album in the last two years has sold 10 million (in the U.S.). So the question is what are you going to measure it against–everything else that has happened in the marketplace in the last couple of years, or the greatest-selling album of all time?”

Mitch Perliss, director of purchasing for the 48-store Music Plus chain, also attended the listening party. “I think the album’s a winner,” he said. “We’re going to buy it as though it’s going to be the smash record of the season.” But, Perliss added, “I don’t think people are waiting on pins and needles for it. I think he’s got to build that audience back up again.”

Historically, most follow-ups to blockbuster albums have come up short. Stan Goman, senior vice president of retail operations for the Tower Records chain, pointed to the impact of Carole King’s 1971 “Tapestry” album. “The time was right, the lyrics were right,” he said. “Everybody had it. But it never really happened for her again after that. I think that’s what everybody’s afraid of (this time).”


King wasn’t an isolated example. The follow-ups to Peter Frampton’s “Frampton Comes Alive!,” Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumours” and the Bee Gees’ “Saturday Night Fever” were also sales disappointments.

That explains CBS’ cautious handling of Jackson’s album. The label is urging retailers to be conservative in ordering the album, emphasizing that they can easily replenish their stock if they sell out quickly.

“They’re not going to let the accounts run wild on ordering,” said Music Plus’ Perliss. “Perception is important: You can order 1,000 and sell 800 and it’s moving, or you can order 5,000 and sell 800 and it’s a stiff.”

Ciara’s VH1 DIVAS 2012 Performance To Feature Michael Jackson Song

Source: VH-1 Tuner – By Felicia Daniels

Ciara is bringing Michael Jackson to VH1 Divas! No, not hologram MJ. A little birdie told us that on Sunday, December 16 at 9PM ET/8C CiCi will be using one of his classics to kick off her “Got Me Good“ set.

Though, she’s not the first to draw inspiration from the King of Pop, we’ve seen her perform tributes to his work in concerts over the years, work the red carpet like Mike and peeped his dance moves in some of her own gravity-defying choreography (does the woman have a spine?!). So, if any Diva can ”Work“ his presence on stage, it’s Ciara. We don’t yet know which minute-long snippet I’ll be screaming, “That’s my jam!” to in six days, but here are a few theories:

Song #1: “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’”
Why It’s Likely: She got the blogosphere buzzing last summer when flexed her fancy footwork to the tune in an Angola concert. Where is Angola? I don’t know, but I wished I was there when I saw that show footage.

Song #2: “Heal The World”
Why It’s Likely: She performed it at the 2009 BET Awards shortly after Michael Jackson’s death. It’s a slow jam, but it could be an easy-build complement (and moment of rest) before the non-stop dance fest that is “Got Me Good.”

Song #3: “Billie Jean”
Why It’s Likely: This song is all about showcasing feet popping and hip twerking. And the first 30 seconds are so recognizable, too - 1983 Motown 25 performance, anyone? Nothing but good things happen from starting a set with that.

Song #4: “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough”
Why It’s Likely: Another jam she’s pulled out of her concert repertoire before. It’s definitely a big crowd-pleaser. What better way to pump up a dance-theme Divas crowd?


The Amazing Appeal of Michael Jackson – National Enquirer

Believe it or not, the National Enquirer once wrote a nice, truthful article about Michael.  The world was at his feet and it seemed like it would never change, but like all good things, it sadly came to an end.  The world may have changed their opinion about him but he never changed from being loving and kind.   Bless you Michael.  You will always be my hero! ♥

My Childhood, My Sabbath, My Freedom – By Michael Jackson December, 2000

What I wanted more than anything was to be ordinary. The Sabbath was when I could be.

Source: Belief Net

“Have you seen my childhood?
I’m searching for that wonder in my youth
Like pirates in adventurous dreams,
Of conquest and kings on the throne…”

Written and Composed by Michael Jackson

In one of our conversations together, my friend Rabbi Shmuley told me that he had asked some of his colleagues–-writers, thinkers, and artists-–to pen their reflections on the Sabbath. He then suggested that I write down my own thoughts on the subject, a project I found intriguing and timely due to the recent death of Rose Fine, a Jewish woman who was my beloved childhood tutor and who traveled with me and my brothers when we were all in the Jackson Five.

Last Friday night I joined Rabbi Shmuley, his family, and their guests for the Sabbath dinner at their home. What I found especially moving was when Shmuley and his wife placed their hands on the heads of their young children, and blessed them to grow to be like Abraham and Sarah, which I understand is an ancient Jewish tradition. This led me to reminisce about my own childhood, and what the Sabbath meant to me growing up.

When people see the television appearances I made when I was a little boy–8 or 9 years old and just starting off my lifelong music career–they see a little boy with a big smile. They assume that this little boy is smiling because he is joyous, that he is singing his heart out because he is happy, and that he is dancing with an energy that never quits because he is carefree.

But while singing and dancing were, and undoubtedly remain, some of my greatest joys, at that time what I wanted more than anything else were the two things that make childhood the most wondrous years of life, namely, playtime and a feeling of freedom. The public at large has yet to really understand the pressures of childhood celebrity, which, while exciting, always exacts a very heavy price.

More than anything, I wished to be a normal little boy. I wanted to build tree houses and go to roller-skating parties. But very early on, this became impossible. I had to accept that my childhood would be different than most others. But that’s what always made me wonder what an ordinary childhood would be like.

There was one day a week, however, that I was able to escape the stages of Hollywood and the crowds of the concert hall. That day was the Sabbath. In all religions, the Sabbath is a day that allows and requires the faithful to step away from the everyday and focus on the exceptional. I learned something about the Jewish Sabbath in particular early on from Rose, and my friend Shmuley further clarified for me how, on the Jewish Sabbath, the everyday life tasks of cooking dinner, grocery shopping, and mowing the lawn are forbidden so that humanity may make the ordinary extraordinary and the natural miraculous. Even things like shopping or turning on lights are forbidden. On this day, the Sabbath, everyone in the world gets to stop being ordinary.

But what I wanted more than anything was to be ordinary. So, in my world, the Sabbath was the day I was able to step away from my unique life and glimpse the everyday.

Sundays were my day for “Pioneering,” the term used for the missionary work that Jehovah’s Witnesses do. We would spend the day in the suburbs of Southern California, going door to door or making the rounds of a shopping mall, distributing our Watchtower magazine. I continued my pioneering work for years and years after my career had been launched.

Up to 1991, the time of my Dangerous tour, I would don my disguise of fat suit, wig, beard, and glasses and head off to live in the land of everyday America, visiting shopping plazas and tract homes in the suburbs. I loved to set foot in all those houses and catch sight of the shag rugs and La-Z-Boy armchairs with kids playing Monopoly and grandmas baby-sitting and all those wonderfully ordinary and, to me, magical scenes of life. Many, I know, would argue that these things seem like no big deal. But to me they were positively fascinating.

The funny thing is, no adults ever suspected who this strange bearded man was. But the children, with their extra intuition, knew right away. Like the Pied Piper of Hamlin, I would find myself trailed by eight or nine children by my second round of the shopping mall. They would follow and whisper and giggle, but they wouldn’t reveal my secret to their parents. They were my little aides. Hey, maybe you bought a magazine from me. Now you’re wondering, right?

Sundays were sacred for two other reasons as I was growing up. They were both the day that I attended church and the day that I spent rehearsing my hardest. This may seem against the idea of “rest on the Sabbath,” but it was the most sacred way I could spend my time: developing the talents that God gave me. The best way I can imagine to show my thanks is to make the very most of the gift that God gave me.

Church was a treat in its own right. It was again a chance for me to be “normal.” The church elders treated me the same as they treated everyone else. And they never became annoyed on the days that the back of the church filled with reporters who had discovered my whereabouts. They tried to welcome them in. After all, even reporters are the children of God.

When I was young, my whole family attended church together in Indiana. As we grew older, this became difficult, and my remarkable and truly saintly mother would sometimes end up there on her own. When circumstances made it increasingly complex for me to attend, I was comforted by the belief that God exists in my heart, and in music and in beauty, not only in a building. But I still miss the sense of community that I felt there–I miss the friends and the people who treated me like I was simply one of them. Simply human. Sharing a day with God.

When I became a father, my whole sense of God and the Sabbath was redefined. When I look into the eyes of my son, Prince, and daughter, Paris, I see miracles and I see beauty. Every single day becomes the Sabbath. Having children allows me to enter this magical and holy world every moment of every day. I see God through my children. I speak to God through my children. I am humbled for the blessings He has given me.

There have been times in my life when I, like everyone, has had to wonder about God’s existence. When Prince smiles, when Paris giggles, I have no doubts. Children are God’s gift to us. No–they are more than that–they are the very form of God’s energy and creativity and love. He is to be found in their innocence, experienced in their playfulness.

My most precious days as a child were those Sundays when I was able to be free. That is what the Sabbath has always been for me. A day of freedom. Now I find this freedom and magic every day in my role as a father. The amazing thing is, we all have the ability to make every day the precious day that is the Sabbath. And we do this by rededicating ourselves to the wonders of childhood. We do this by giving over our entire heart and mind to the little people we call son and daughter. The time we spend with them is the Sabbath. The place we spend it is called Paradise.

Michael And Son: At Home With The King Of Pop And His Baby – Life Magazine

Source:  Life Magazine – By David Friend /Photographer Harry Benson

Mom’s rarely around. Dad’s often on tour. But, hey, the babe’s in Neverland! So come on along as LIFE takes an exclusive peek inside this kid’s otherworldly digs at his father’s California estate. Meet the one and only nine-month-old PRINCE MICHAEL JOSEPH JACKSON JR.

In the dance studio where he practices his moves, Dad plays career counselor. “This is his first step into the spotlight,” Michael says, only half in jest. As if on cue, Prince grabs for a toy microphone – and promptly shoves it into his mouth. “He’s teething,” explains a nearby nanny. Will he be moonwalking by next year? Dad laughs, slipping into mock-grandmother mode: “As long as he’s healthy, smart and brilliant, he’ll be O.K.”

Pop and the little Prince share meals, afternoon naps and story hour. “I put my voice on tape, reading poems, stories I’ve written,” Michael says. “When I’m out at concerts, [his nurses] play it for him.” One tape offers this: “Not the stars, not the farthest solar systems, not the millions of different species of animals, but the child is the greatest of God’s creations.”

In the nursery the nannies come and go, bottles and squeeze-toys all in tow. Six teddies occupy an antique African cradle, six stuffed animals crowd Prince’s modest crib. Above it hangs a Humpty-Dumpty poster, a Mickey and Minnie mobile and a quilt with Daddy’s image. On ledges and counters stand five forlorn picture frames – each one empty, since so few photos have been taken of the room’s elusive occupant. “You don’t have to buy him much,” notes Michael. “Fans give him toys, signs, banners – everything.” The child’s cache includes a red Junior Roadster from Michael Milken and a genuine Lamb Chop puppet, courtesy of ventriloquist Shari Lewis.

Prince is nicknamed after Michael’s grandfather and great-grandfather. Though, on occasion, Dad prefers Baby Doo-Doo. Or Apple Head, for his plump countenance. (He’s a bruising 22 pounds.) “When he first came out,” Michael recalls, “he had my grandfather’s and brothers’ and La Toya’s shape of head. He has Debbie’s chin.” Michael claims his hectic touring schedule kept him from taking Lamaze classes, but he held wife Debbie Rowe’s hand throughout her 25-hour labor last February 13: “I was screaming and praying at the same time.” Rather than reducing his creative output, Michael believes, fatherhood has energized his inner artist. Michael insists: “I’ve written more songs in my life – albums’ worth – because of him than because of any other inspiration. He’s complete inspiration.” (One recent verse: “People say/I’m not O.K./’cause I love such elementary things. /It’s been my fate/to compensate/for the childhood I’ve never known.”)

LIFE Magazine photos: (Click to enlarge)
Click the image to open in full size. Click the image to open in full size. Click the image to open in full size. Click the image to open in full size.

YOU HAVE TWO nurses, three chefs and a doting dad. You have a petting zoo, two locomotives and a full-scale amusement park – all in your backyard. And, oh yes, your godparents are Elizabeth Taylor and Macaulay Culkin. So you’ve got that going for you.

On the other hand, your dad wears sequins and a hat when changing your diapers and has been known to grab his privates in front of thousands. Your mom has to commute to visit you, sometimes across the globe. And even as a celebrity fetus you got no respect: Your pop-star pop felt compelled to issue a press release insisting you weren’t the product of artificial insemination.

 Welcome to Earth, Prince Michael Joseph Jackson Jr.

The bright-eyed, beaming Prince is genuinely good-natured, prone to wide, if toothless, jack-o’-lantern grins. Tonight, however, he is Mr. Whimper – due to the merciless popping of flashbulbs. The boy of beige-and-olive cheek, with a hint of spit curl, sobs for several minutes. His nurses, in white NEVERLAND VALLEY uniforms, brandish rattles to little avail. Then Dad tries, stroking bony fingers tentatively against his child’s face: “If he cries, and then you dance, he’ll stop at once.” But Michael’s not in a particularly moonwalky mood. “C’mon, look, look, Mmm,” Michael says, hazarding a hum. “He loves anything rhinestone.” So Dad quickly dons a bangled jacket. But the Prince blubbers on.

His cries sound mama-like, even at nine months. Indeed, his cries seem part reproach. Everywhere, throughout the 25-room home, mom is eerily absent. The house, with games and knickknacks piled in stairwells and nooks, has an edgy abandon, as if a teenager and his friends have been left in charge and the real parents are about to burst in – back from vacation – and throw a fit. Even now, after returning from an African tour, Michael is here in Neverland with his boy, yet Debbie is in L.A., 150 miles southeast. When asked why Mom’s away, Michael cryptically attributes it to some unspecified aspect of – yes – a second pregnancy. He says, in a delighted whisper, “There’s a new one on the way.”

Michael, 39, is well aware that his is not a nuclear family. “It’s very hard,” he explains, faulting his performance schedule for their long-distance marriage. “We haven’t been able to spend time as a family. Not at all.” Debbie Rowe, 38, who has kept her one-bedroom Van Nuys apartment, reportedly told intimates she was carrying Michael’s first child as a “favor to a friend.” Since then, she has admitted in a TV interview: “I don’t need to be there… It’s not my duty. And [Michael] understands that. And he understands that I need my independence.” Citing Michael’s constant attention to Prince’s every need, she said, “I’d have nothing to do.

Click the image to open in full size.

Michael’s choice of partners, confidants and playmates has never been conventional. He has long sought the company of other former child stars, like Taylor and Culkin, or stars’ children, such as first wife Lisa Marie Presley, whom he divorced last year. He has befriended young boys and girls. (Charges of child molestation in 1993, never proven, were dropped after he reached a multimillion-dollar out-of-court settlement with the family of a 13-year-old accuser.) “Celebrities have to deal with this,” is all he will say on the subject, adding dismissively, “I’m not the first who’s gone through it. It’s horrible.” Debbie has remarked of the accusations: “I wouldn’t leave our child there…if I even suspected any of them were true.”

Despite the time they spent apart, Michael has found a kindred soul in Debbie. A free spirit who fancies Harleys and animals (one tabloid reported that she arranged for chemotherapy for one of her dogs), she met Michael at his dermatologist’s, where she was a medical assistant, during his treatment for skin condition. After they became friends, Debbie twice offered to bear his child. And once his divorce from Lisa Marie was finalized, Michael surprised her by accepting. They were married in a secret Australian ceremony last November. They do spend time together, of course, often watching cartoons or big-screen projections of Three Stooges shorts. “We laugh, hold the baby,” Michael says. “She’s come out on the tour a lot.”

But there is one subject to which Michael repeatedly returns during four hours of conversation and picture-taking: Lisa Marie Presley.

Michael’s voice quickens, even quavers, when he speaks of Lisa Marie. How she enjoys the baby. How they are still close after an amicable divorce. How they frolicked overseas the month before. He seems to pine for her. “Lisa Marie was just with me in Africa,” Michael says. “We [went to] IMAX theaters, simulated-ride safaris, dinner. We went parasailing. It was wonderful.” Even Debbie has acknowledged that Michael is still smitten. “He cares about her very much, but it didn’t work out and he was devastated,” she has said. “He loved her very much. Still does.”

When asked if Lisa Marie has ever expressed second thoughts about not having been the one to bear his son, Michael insists, “She regrets it. She said so.” Would she still consider having a kid with him? “She’d like to, yes,” he says, putting a mischievous finger to his lips. “Shhh.”

Michael turns the conversation to what makes him happiest nowadays: “the baby, writing music and making movies.” He’s planning a film version of J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan fable, having been misled, he says, by Steven Spielberg, who he believes reneged on an offer to cast Michael in Hook six years ago. “I worked on the script, writing songs, for six months,” says Michael. “And they let me down. I was so heartbroken. Steven Spielberg admitted later it was a mistake. I was torn. He put me through a lot. We’re friends now, though.” What Michael dreads most, he says, is continuing a life on the road. “I love to entertain,” he admits, “but I don’t like the system of touring. You’re jet-lagged. You’re sleepy onstage. I don’t know where I am half of the time. I may not tour again. Ever.”

Besides, for now, Michael has his glove full with this bundle of Jackson. Especially with bedtime beckoning. His T-shirt mottled with faint baby-food stains, he cradles Prince in the crook of his arm, placing a lavender pacifier in his son’s mouth. The baby drifts into his own little Neverland. After several minutes, Michael hands the child to a nanny and slips away to his own bedroom – a floor below and a wing away.

Click the image to open in full size.
To enter Michael’s bedroom, one has to pass under the interlocked fingers of two life-size figures on pedestals – a Boy Scout and a girl in British bobby’s hat, the pair arching a London Bridge above the door. Inside, toys, gadgets and books sprout in every alcove. Michael’s latest Grammy gleams on the fireplace mantel. Peter Pan paraphernalia adorns three walls; arcade-scale consoles, including Sega World and Nintendo 64, dominate a recessed cranny. “I can beat all of them,” he says with pride.

At first, it is his red and gold throne that stands out amid the clutter. But then one’s eyes zero in on Michael Jackson’s bed. On its green brocaded pillows. On the twin stereo speakers mounted near the headboard. On the stark but simple painting of Jesus in a plain frame, the Sacred Heart blood-red, the eyes penetrating.

And there, on one nightstand, rests a framed photograph of Lisa Marie. Not a recent snapshot. Or even a formal portrait. But a picture apparently cut out of a magazine, placed as a child would place it, cockeyed, in a frame meant to hold a photo twice its size. A picture of Elvis and is little girl, then only five years old.” This is the age,” Michael says, “when I first met Lisa Marie. When her father first came to my concerts. I’ve known her ever since.”

But when Michael lies in his bed, the last thing he sees before he falls asleep is Prince’s spare crib, sitting next to an old Peter Pan diorama. It is empty tonight but for the clutch of stuffed animals inside. Still, it’s there – ready for those nights when Prince needs his dad.

Exclusive Michael Tells “Where I Met Lisa Marie And How I Proposed” Ebony Magazine October 1994

Source: Ebony Magazine – By Robert Johnson


In the first one-on-one interview the “King of Pop, Rock and Soul” Michael Jackson granted after he shook up America with the announcement of his marriage to Lisa Marie Presley, daughter of the late Rock ‘n’ Roller Elvis Presley, the mega star revealed to EBONY where they met and how he proposed.

Some published reports said that the couple had known each other only eight months before Lisa Marie Presley-Jackson issued a statement, saying: “My name is Mrs. Lisa Marie Presley-Jackson. My marriage to Michael took place in a private ceremony outside the United States [May 26].” She said the marriage was not formally announced because “we are both very private people living in the glare of the public media… I am very much in love with Michael. I dedicate my life to being his wife. I understand and support him. We both look forward to raising a family and living happy, healthy lives together. We hope friends and fans will understand and respect tour privacy.”

It was their love of privacy that prompted media probes that resulted in published stories that stated the couple knew each other only eight months before beginning their romance that led to matrimony. The truth is that Michael, now 36, and Lisa Marie, 26, were just a couple of youngsters when they met in Las Vegas 20 years ago. He was 16 and she was 6. The Jackson Five, with Michael out front as the lead singer, appeared at the MGM Grand Hotel April 9 through 23, 1974, and August 21 through Sept. 3, 1974.


Michael, taking time out from his studio recording session in New York to give EBONY an exclusive interview, recalls: 

“Her father [Elvis] used to bring her to catch our show where all nine of us [Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, Marlon, Randy, Maureen 'Rebbie,' LaToya and Janet, then 8] were performing.  It was a real family show — the only family show in Las Vegas which allowed children to come.”  He continued: “Elvis would bring his daughter, Lisa Marie. She would sit right in the front and bodyguards would be right there.  Afterwards, she would be escorted backstage and I would meet her and we would talk.  This happened quite often. She would come again, again and again. It was quite an event.  After that, I didn’t see her for quite a while. You know, it was like ships passing in the night — hello and goodbye.”

Lisa Marie married musician Danny Keough in 1988 and two children (Danielle, now5, and Benjamin, 2) were born to this union. Differences that the couple did not reconcile resulted in a “quickie” divorce in the Dominican Republic last spring. Three years ago when he started the DANGEROUS album, which featured such hits as “Why You Wanna Trip On Me,” “Remember The Time,” “She Drives Me Wild” and “Can’t Let Her Get Away,” Michael said their relationship reached a new plateau.

“We sort of went out together.  Then we would talk on the phone… I noticed that we had come closer. We went to Las Vegas for The Jackson Family Honors [in 1993]. We later traveled to Atlanta for (former) President Jimmy Carter to visit children, but no one knew that she was there with me. The brilliant thing about us is that we were often together but did not let anybody know about it.  We got to see each other that way over the years.  We were really quiet and comfortable with each other.  That’s pretty much how the dating started happening.”

It was during this period that Michael said their relationship changed from being good friends to lovers. As a sensitive songwriter who deals with feelings that run the range of human emotions, Michael has an uncanny sense of the chemistry in writing songs. For him, that chemistry is inspiration.  If you listen to the lyrics of  “Remember The Time” and “I Can’t Let Her Get Away,” in the 1991 release of his ‘Dangerous’ album, you conclude that Lisa Marie could have provided the inspiration. She certainly provided the kind of support he needed in 1993 when he was going through legal trials and tribulations.

“I was on tour and it seemed like I was in Armageddon — Armageddon in the brains,” Michael remembered. “All these horrible stories were going around about me. None was true.  It was unbelievable.  Lisa Marie would call.  I could count my true friends on one hand.  She was very, very supportive the whole time.  That really impressed me.  She would call and be crying.  She was angry and really wanted to choke people.  But really, what impressed me was earthquake day in L.A. [June 28, 1993],” Michael says with an air of excitement.  “On earthquake day, my phone just happened to be working.  I was terrified — almost out of my brains.  I thought the world was ending.  I got a phone call that day and it was from her, right after the quake. “Later, in London, where he underwent treatment for addiction to prescription drugs, Michael said that Lisa Marie gave him the impression that their relationship was moving them toward each other in ties that bind.  “She would call me, but she didn’t always get through to me.  And that made it very frustrating for her.  I got all the messages… She was very concerned.”  

It was after these experiences that Michael say she came to that moment when he had to say “This Girl Is Mine” and “The Way You Make Me Feel.” (Michael chuckles at the play on the words of two of his best-selling songs.) “It kind of unfolded,” he said of the moment of truth.  “We spent a lot of time on the ranch [his sprawling, multimillion-dollar Neverland] and just walked around and talked.  It happened!  It unfolded all natural.  We could feel the feeling we had for each other without even talking about it.  It was all in the vibrations, the feelings and the look in our eyes.”

After he recounted how a friendship turned to romance, Michael was asked: “Who proposed, you or Lisa Marie?”  He responded: “I proposed.”  Blushing at the recollection, Michael said: “Well, first I asked — I’m the shyest person in the world.  I said to her — we were on the phone — “If I asked you to marry me, would you?”  She said, “Of course!”  Then there was silence.  I said, “Excuse me, I’ve got to go to the bathroom,” he laughed sheepishly.  “So I came back.  I didn’t quite know what to say.  But that’s how it happened.”  

Following the telephone proposal and acceptance, the engaged couple promptly met at Neverland, where the romance started.  It climaxed in marriage on May 26 in the Dominican Republic, proving that love conquers all. The couple honeymooned briefly in Budapest, Hungary, where the bride shared sometime with the groom on a film location, where he produced a promotional video for his upcoming album, ‘HISTORY.’  They also spent some time doing what they both love — caring for children.  They visited children’s hospitals where they comforted the young patients and distributed toys. This was a prelude to the priority they have agreed upon.  The priority is not recording together, although Lisa Marie inherited her famous father’s talent for singing and his estate valued at over $150 million.” All this talk about us recording together is a complete rumor,”  says Michael, whose financial worth is estimated to be over $200 million.  “The thing we want to do most is centered around children.  I never met anybody who cared so much about children the way I do.  I get real emotional about children.  Lisa Marie is the exact same way. Wherever we go, we visit children’s hospitals.  My dream is that when we go to South Africa and India, we will aid children,” he discloses.  Asked about plans for their own children, he replied:  “It’s already happening.”  Then the fifth born of the nine Jacksons paused and added: “I want more children than my father [Joseph] has.”


Written By David Nathan – Soul

THE FIRST ever visit of Motown’s Jackson Five is something which numerous people won’t forget in a hurry: the staff at the hotels that the group used, at the airports, and at Wembley Pool and the other theatres the group played at during their brief time here, if only because of the number of fans that turned out to see them. With the attendant publicity, what with weeny-boppers and all, it would be easy to dismiss the group as the ‘new’ Beatles in terms of the sheer hysteria they created, but when it all boils down to it, just how good are The Jackson Five? After all that’s been written and said about them since they first hit with ‘I Want You Back’, it was a question that must have been uppermost in many minds. Well, taking everything (particularly their ages) into consideration, the Jacksons are exactly what we’d been told to expect: talented, slick, and surprisingly professional and polished – but for all that, purveyors of either good pop music, or depending on how you look at it, bubblegum soul! Perhaps it’s wrong to bring the word ‘soul’ into it at all, because no one could honestly claim that it’s been an ingredient as such of anything the group have ever done. Not to say they don’t put a lot into what they do – but because they happen to be black surely doesn’t make them any more soulful than anyone else. Indeed, the group can easily lay claim to be the leading black pop group and judging them as such they are very good indeed – but they hardly bear some of the comparisons that have been made with some top soul groups.

Apart from any other consideration they draw a completely different audience – when has anyone ever witnessed the kind of scenes we did at Wembley for any other black act? It would probably be true to say, too, that no one fully expected the reaction there was to the group’s visit – after all, they have had their share of chart failures here. But they’ve always had a following: did anyone think it was as big as it turned out to be?

From how the audiences reacted at Wembley, no one could possibly dispute that the group have far more fans than anyone had ever given them credit for! Proceedings at the jam-packed Pool on Sunday, November 12, were severely marred by the long wait everyone had to endure in pouring rain until the entrances were opened – the delay was possibly due to the time it took to empty the vast arena from the hastily-organized first house. When the magical moment did come, all hell broke loose and it’s a miracle that there weren’t literally hundreds of accidents.

It was, in some ways, far worse than any football crowd and the fact that the average age must have been around fourteen or fifteen didn’t help much. When eventually the show opened late, every mention of The J5 was met with the kind of deafening roar that made the wholes place shake and that’s more or less how it went all evening. Local group The Orange Rainbow started off with ‘Shaft’ and ‘Backstabbers’ before serving as backing group for MoWest’s four Sisters Love. The former team of Raelets did not meet the kind of response they deserved but since they have yet to become established here, that’s hardly surprising

Throughout their act, the girls displayed a remarkable sense of showmanship and timing as well as some exceptionally fine vocal teamwork. Kicking off with ‘Now Is The Time’, they proceeded with a soulful ‘Giving Up’ before their much-appreciated funky ‘Mr. Fix It Man’ which has given the girls some degree of success here, particularly amongst disco-goers. Unfortunately, their version of ‘Do What You Gotta Do’ seemed pretty weak, but they made up for it with an up-tempo ‘Come Get It, I Got It’ (the last Raelets single).

Their closer was the exceptionally soulful ‘Are You Lonely’, which just missed being an American hit for the group on A&M, just prior to joining MoWest. And, boy, can those girls sing! Their harmonies are really excellent and particular credit should go to Vermyetta Royster whose wailing, gutsy voice was particularly stunning.

Unfortunately, the soulful ladies did not get the reaction they earned with their hard work, but perhaps, all things considered, it may have been the wrong kind of bill for them. There could be no question, however, about Junior Walker’s place as special guest of the evening. Supported by his All Stars, the man had the vast audience with him every step of the way. Whether he played and sang his haunting ‘What Does It Take’ or equally mellow ‘These Eyes’ or whether he had the crowd clapping and singing along to the strains of ‘How Sweet It Is’, Junior simply could do no wrong.

His act should have ended with ‘I’m Losing You’ which he did insist was the last number, but he was forced to continue with his recent smash, ‘Walk In The Night’. Yet again, he insisted that ‘Shotgun’ be the absolute closer and he demonstrated his ability on the sax by playing it literally on the stage!

What then followed is open to question: was it planned or did the organizers of the show have genuine trouble trying to get him to conclude his act? Nobody seemed quite sure, but he was yanked up onto his feet to finally finish off his act. From the reaction he got from the audience, they would have gladly listened to more – but by now, time was rolling around, and the big moment was not too far away.

When the Jacksons’ drummer came out on stage, the whole place fell apart; then, when the boys themselves appeared, the entire crowd hollered till you couldn’t hear yourself think. Looking just as smart as you’d expect, the group launched into a number presumably entitled ‘Doing Our Thing’. Each separate offering met with the same roar of approval and the flashes of slick choreography that permeated the act also met with instant acceptance.

It was left to Michael and Jermaine to draw some of the biggest screams whenever either sung solo or spoke. Naturally, the group sung their major hits, ‘I Want You Back’, ‘A.B.C.’ and ‘I’ll Be There’ before giving way to some humour. They needn’t really have sung a note, if they’d only done ‘Humpty Dumpty’ it would have been enough for the audience – just their presence sufficed. ‘Going Back to Indiana’ was followed by our introduction to ten-year old Randy who plays the congas – and he certainly can play. Indeed, whatever criticisms can be levelled at the group, no one can possibly claim they are not good at what they do – Tito and Jermaine are fine guitarists whilst Jackie and Marlon really harmonize and move well, leaving Michael to shine out vocally. But then, all that vocal talent doesn’t lie just with him as Jermaine proved on ‘I Think I’ve Found That Girl’.

The Golden oldie, ‘Daddy’s Home’ was a fine group effort and Michael’s talent was evident on his own solo hit, ‘Ben’. Changing the pace, the group offered ‘Rockin’ Robin’ and their latest hit, ‘Looking Through The Windows’ before Jermaine insisted on getting in his own plug for his solo album and single, ‘That’s How Love Goes’ which he performed well.

It’s Michael that really draws the screams though, and his ‘Ain’t No Sunshine’ floored the crowd. He certainly has a fine professional stance and manner and one can’t help but wonder what the group will be like in years to come, seeing how together they are now.

‘Never Can Say Goodbye’ was a welcome item in the programme though it seemed somewhat spoiled by the instrumental break of ‘Walk on By’ a la Isaac Hayes. The audience lapped up every minute though and when the end came with ‘The Love You Save’, the crowd were really enjoying themselves.

The end came rather abruptly and although there were the expected calls for more, the group did not return. So that was it – a phenomenon had come and gone. It’s easy to see what all the fuss is about – the group have talent and polish and by no means does their youth make them amateurs at what they do.

About the Writer

David Nathan is the founder and CEO of and began his writing career in 1965; beginning in 1967, he was a regular contributor to Blues & Soul magazine in London before relocating to the U.S. in 1975 where he served as U.S. editor for the publication for several decades and began being known as ‘The British Ambassador Of Soul.’ From 1988 to 2004, he wrote prolifically for Billboard, has penned bios, produced and written liner notes for box sets and reissue CDs for over a thousand projects. He returned to London in 2009 where he has helped create Records as a leading reissue label.


The King of Pop exclusively on L’Uomo Vogue for Thriller’s twenty-fifth  anniversary, the biggest selling album of all time

Source: L’Uomo Vogue

“I love you,” whispered the King to his future Queen, ending the long day events with such beautiful wisdom. Only then, the villagers started celebrating, dancing and shouting hundreds of cheers everywhere in the kingdom of Vogueland. The mighty King had finally found his companion: a beautiful, courageous and magical princess, who, after a long journey saw, all her dreams come true. Even the wizard was respectful and all thumbs up for the king’s choice, so much than with few words, he had sealed her fate: “A star is born”.  Let me introduce myself, ladies and gentlemen, I am the storyteller, and my assignment is to show you step by step L’Uomo Vogue’s magical quest in photographing Michael Jackson (The King of Pop), thanks to Bruce Weber (the wizard) and fashion editor Rushka Bergman (the princess), all of it for the 25th Anniversary of the release of “Thriller”, the most successful and most sold album in the entire world.

September 14th 2007. From L.A. to New York, here I am.  The doorman opens the door and Rushka Bergman – long satin jet-black hair, with 60’s old vintage glasses – walks out welcoming me with a strong east European accent: «How are you darling?». I want to know all that happened before my arrival to the Four Seasons Hotel, few minutes away from Michael Jackson. On august 22nd, Rushka talks to her agent, Marek, suggesting him the photo shoot with Michael Jackson, in time for the 25th anniversary release of “Thriller”. She prepares a letter for Jackson’s agent, Raymone K. Bain. We will see what happens next.

September 2nd. Broadway, right in front of the Angelika Theater. The phone rings. It’s Raymone confirming the photo shoot.  Oh my god! Dreams do come true. Michael Jackson will be available on the 14,15, 16 of September. September 5th. Fortunately for us, Weber, booked solid for the next 6 months, is available for those three days. «I was nervous. He is like a god to me, then I thought, who better than him knows fashion photography. It was enough to calm me down.  It’s up to the fashion editor to line up the photographer, hair&make up, talent & plan the shoot. Sometimes it is more important than the styling itself. «For someone like me, who knows Engels and Marx by heart, this is the easy part. Michael loves the Uomo Vogue look, elegant, classy, white shirts, black jackets. His favorite is Roberto Cavalli, they are great friends… but I like to mix & match and it is my job to speak my mind», says Rushka. September 6th-13th. Everybody is confirmed. «I was on the phone the whole week. I got 300 looks from 62 designers, 178 pairs of shoes. Michael loves a military coat, Burberry’s. I’ve got clothes from every designer in the world, Paris, London, New York, Milan. No one said no to us. I even got some incredible sequins shirts that weigh 8 pounds! The King of Pop had the best clothes in the planet!». September 14th, the Four Season Hotel. The day before the shoot, Rushka is nervous but focused. We are riding a cab. With us, 20 racks of clothes. We got everything, except fur, Michael doesn’t like them. We walk through the hotel, everybody stands still. We even passed the jeweler security checks, $ 2 million worth of diamonds! I see Michael for the very first time. He’s sexy. My heart is beating. After I finished, he says to me: Rushka I like everything you chose, please, help me getting dressed. Michael wears a small size, like a model. Dior is the perfect fit for him. All the others required minimum fitting.

“Now it’s my turn. I’ve got to satisfy Michael Jackson, the magazine, Weber, the designers, all without compromising my style, my choices,” says Rushka. Once back in her apartment she will focus on the looks for the shoot. But once in bed… it was hard to sleep all night, I kept waking up. Millions of thoughts in my head. At 8 a.m. I got up and went to the set. September 15th, 10 am, on the set. While Kabuki applies the make up and Bruce prepares everything else, Rushka starts dividing the clothes: jackets, pants, accessories, shoes. The first look is ultimately the cover look: Dior Homme suit, Prada shoes: everything black! Jacob & Co. necklaces. “It was a complete partnership while, I just gave some clothes and he put them on. I told him that this was the best I could get,” says Rushka. 3 p.m. Mozart music in the background. A positive energy came over the set, everyone was focused but happy at the same time. It’s like when you have lots of people who are trying to make something happen… if their energy is true, it will happened, don’t matter how long you wait for it. Sooner or later, the magic moment hits you. That’s when we put on “Thriller”, everybody started to dance and then… all of a sudden… he came in. “Hello.” Michael Jackson stepped in front of the camera, looked at us and dance showing off the moves that made him famous! It was miracle magic. After that, he never stopped. Professional, genius, he was him who took us by hand through the whole shoot. He let us in his world. And while Jackson was dancing, Bruce was shooting away. Another genius! 10 p.m. After five looks and hundreds of pictures, we finished the shoot. He got up and came to me: “I love you baby,” he said. Then he shook my hand and thanked everybody, and I mean everybody. We applauded him for what looked like an eternity.

September 16th. The day after Rushka feels like a different person. “I felt I learned something, like something happened in my life, something I can never forget. Like I knew what I was gonna do for the rest of my life not bad for a day’s work.”

Michael Jackson: The Ladies’ Man! Two Articles Combined -TeenStar Magazine 1972: Michael’s Dating Advice / “I’m A Girl Watcher!” Teen Beat September 1972

TeenStar Magazine 1972: Michael’s Dating Advice

Q: Michael, your fans want to know your ideas about a first date!

Michael: On a first date, I like to bring a girl over to my house for a barbeque and a swim, especially on a warm summery evening! I know that some chicks get mad if you don’t take them somewhere fancy and spend a lot of money on them on a date, but I’m not interested in those kinds of girls. I want someone who I can feel comfortable with just sitting and talking to, or sharing a fun, casual time with! I’m not sayin’ that we wouldn’t ever go out. I love to go out to movies, concerts, and restaurants, but I think it’s important to know one another on a first date, and you can’t if you go to watch somethin’ all night!

Q: Are you a ‘gentleman’ on a date?

Michael: I never gave it much thought. Opening doors for girls is something that I just do automatically without thinking, like scratchin’ my head when it itches! When you’re taught all your life to do polite things for girls, you just can’t forget it! It’s second nature to you, like breathing or tapping your feet to music!

Q: How do you feel about kissing on a first date?

Michael: I can dig it! I think that if you dig a chick enough to ask her out, you’re crazy if you don’t want to kiss her. And, if she accepted the date, she likes you and probably wants to be kissed. So, I couldn’t think of any reason why you shouldn’t! I think I’d like to wait ‘till the end of the date before I kissed her, though! I think most girls are afraid you’re comin’ on too fast if you kiss them right away. But, if I could tell that chick I was with was just waitin’ to be kissed, I wouldn’t mess around wastin’ time! I’d take her in my arms, bend her face back to rest on the back of her seat, and slowly lean toward her, gazin’ into her eyes and talking in a slow, smooth voice. Then, I’d press my lips against hers, gently at first, then harder and harder until we’re both lost in a soul kiss of true love.

Q: How do you feel about honesty between a guy and a girl?

Michael: I think that bein’ honest with one another is important when you’re gettin’ serious with a chick, and don’t want to have her goin’ out with other guys. You have to be loyal and true to one another, or your love will never last! But, when you’re dating lots of chicks, and the chicks you date go with other guys, honesty isn’t so important. Don’t get me wrong, though! I don’t think lyin’ to someone is ever a good or a smart thing to do! But, as long as you haven’t made any promises to each other, you have the right to keep some things for yourself! For instance, if you’ve been dating a chick on and off and she dates other guys, and she asks you where you were when she phoned your house and didn’t get an answer, I don’t think it’s any of her business to know you were out with a different girl! I don’t think I have the right to pry into her life either!

Q: What would you do if you fell in love with a girl who was going steady with someone else?

Michael: Well, if I knew from the beginning that she was going with another guy, I probably wouldn’t date her, no matter how much I wanted to! But, if I didn’t know she was going steady, and I found out after I fell in love with her, I think I’d be pretty mad! Even if I thought that she didn’t do it to be cruel, and was just too scared to tell him her true feelin’s, I think I’d tell her in a kind, understanding way, to figure out what she was gonna do, and come back after she’d done it.

Q: Michael, what do you admire in others?

Michael: I admire people who are really dedicated to their music and to entertaining people! That’s why I admire Sammy Davis Jr, and hope to be like him when I grow up! He’s a super professional, who puts a spell over his audience like some kind of magician. Singin’ and dancin’ his heart out to give his audience a thrill they’ll never forget. It takes many years to get like that, and that’s my goal.

Q: What is the one thing you dislike in a person?

Michael: I guess it’s conceited, snobbish people that really bother me! Some people are very egotistical, and think they’re better than everyone else! They’re always talkin’ about themselves, and can’t listen to you when you’re trying to tell them something about yourself. They keep looking around to see if someone’s lookin’ at them, instead of looking directly at you, listening to what you’re sayin’! It’s like talking to a stone wall. When I meet a chick like that, I just turn off right away!

Q: Here’s a hard question – what one thing in your personality would you change if you could?

Michael: Well, my Mom says that I’m a procrastinator, which means that I put off things I don’t want to do. I know that it’s better to get things out of the way as soon as you can, like cleaning your room, or doing your chores but sometimes I have a hard time gettin’ around to them and keep putting them off!

Doesn’t he have the most amazing eyes? So dreamy and sweet! *melts and faints*

Michael Jackson’s Tidbits in 1972

Height: 4’11
Weight: 80lbs
Fave colors: orange and red
Fave food: barbeque beef sandwiches (he’s changed just a bit)
Fave drink: milk
Fave desert: apple pie
Fave hobby: drawing
Fave animals: dogs and horses
Fave movie: The Great White Hope
Fave instrument: drums and piano
Fave group: The Supremes
Fave sports: swimming and basketball
Fave TV Show: Hawaii 5-0
Fave clothes: wild print shirts, caps, and bell bottom pants
Fave J5 Song: I’ll Be There
Fave Male Singers: Sammy Davis Jr and Lou Rawls
Fave Female Singer: Diana Ross
Fave saying: Right on!
Fave clothes for girls: Sheer lookin’ pant suits 
Fave vacation spot: Yosemite National Park

Michael’s campaign promises if elected TeenStar President:

One promise I’ll make for you for sure is that if I win STAR Magazine’s Superstar of ‘72 election, I’m gonna be so happy that I’ll grab you wherever and whenever we meet, and give you a big kiss to thank you for bein’ my fan and for giving me your vote! I always like to show my fans that I dig them and appreciate all they’ve done for me by holdin’ their hand and lookin’ right in their eyes as I talk to them! When a chick takes the time and trouble to come see me, no matter where I am or how busy I am, I’m gonna do all I can so that when she leaves she’ll really feel that it was worth her while! Here are my promises:

Promise Number One: Whether or not I win the title Superstar of ‘72, I’m going to continue to work even harder at putting together an exciting show (like learning to play the piano!), so that when you come to see us sing and dance, you’ll remember our show all your life!

Promise Number Two: I promise that we’ll try to make our concert costumes real ‘baaad’ and foxy to keep you turned on! And I want you to send me any J-5 costume ideas you might have!

Promise Number Three: I promise to bring lots of personally autographed pictures of the J-5 on the road with me, so that when I see you in concert, you’ll have something to really remember us by!

Promise Number Four: To love and cherish each of my sweet-faced fans forever.


“I’m A Girl Watcher!”

Teen Beat 1972

Peek-A-Boo! Michael’s Watching YOU!

Have you ever had that weird feeling that someone was staring at you—watching your every move? If you have, you might discover that the someone is none other than Michael Jackson!

He was leaning against the tree, whistling a nameless little tune. The sky—so blue that it hurt the eyes to stare up too long. But that was all right because he wasn’t looking at the sky. His eyes were busy elsewhere!

Michael grinned to himself. There was nothing that could top what he was doing right now! Standing here so casually, with his thumbs stuck through his belt loops, no one could guess that he was practicing an art.


Michael always says it with a smile but he’s serious when he calls girl watching ‘an art’!

When asked, he’ll explain that it takes a lot of practice to ‘eyeball chicks’ without being noticed. For one thing, Michael knows that it’s very rude to stare at a person openly. That’s why he’s perfected a technique that never gives him away.

Why did he go through all this trouble?

‘Because I really don’t want to offend anyone by watching them. Some people really get uptight if they know someone is looking at them. But I have this weakness—I love looking at girls!’

‘Just watching a girl can give me the best reason to smile. Girls are something very special and you got to treat them that way. That’s why I always say don’t stare right at a chick. She’ll begin to fidget, wondering if her hair’s messed up or if her make-up is smeared. It’s kind of like going to an art gallery to see beautiful paintings. If you look at a painting just the right way, you get the most out of it!’


It’s very normal for a young, healthy, and great looking guy like Michael to enjoy girl watching. Every guy his age has put in time standing around just enjoying the lovely view of girls passing by! But, some guys like to look at girls and then rate them according to the way she’s dressed or how pretty she is. Not Michael. He has his own reasons.

‘The guys who are doing the rating are missing the whole point. They’re so busy counting up the scores that they’re not looking—I mean really looking at the girls.’

‘The way a girl walks. You can tell a lot from the walk. If she’s happy or sad—if she’s proud of being a girl. And then, there are the chicks that look so helpless that I want to rush over to them and put my arms around them!’

‘And if I’m lucky enough to be close enough to see her face—well, that’s like your favourite dessert after a fine meal!’

‘The eyes—do they wink at you? What makes them shine like they do? Love? Or just happy at being alive?’

‘And the mouth. Is it smiling at some secret? Or is she just doing her best to spread a little happiness by smiling at every person she sees?’

Michael’s list goes on and on. He can spend hours on a windy day seeing how the wind plays with long hair, short hair, dark hair, light hair. Or he can stare at the girls’ hands. Does she hold them still when she sits? Or are they part of her communicating methods? Do her hands come alive in conversation—gesturing wildly to emphasize her words?

But mostly, Michael just wants the time to watch and see the whole picture—the whole person. He likes everybody but the girls are still, for him, ‘something very special!’

If he was one of those guys who rated the chicks he saw, Michael would be spending all his money on paper to add up the high scores for each girl. Because to him, each girl is a winner—simply by being a girl—by being someone special—by being the very girl he might be staring at this very moment—with a smile on his face.

Michael Jackson: Master Girl Watcher!

The Jackson Five, Ebony Magazine, September 1970

Explosive soul brothers from Indiana are hottest young group in entertainment history 

The No. 1 singing group in the country today is neither the Beatles, the new Supremes, Jefferson Airplane nor the Mormon Tabernacle Choir—all popular, all established, all hit-makers—but rather a group of the young brothers who a year ago were virtually unknown.

They are the Jackson Five, who on the strength of three hit records have become the No. 1 group in the U. S. and Britain.

Ranging in ages from 10 to 19, the Five (Michael. Marlon, Jermaine, Tito and Jackie) have burst onto the musical scene the same way that they explode onstage: all fire and energy and with a seemingly unlimited amount of musical talent.

Discovered by Diana Ross during a visit to Gary, Ind. (she was there to do a benefit for black Mayor Richard Hatcher, for whom the boys also had performed), the group was signed by Miss Ross’ company, Motown, last August. They promptly showed their gratitude by becoming the famous recording firm’s No. 1 property, outstripping both the fabled Supremes and Motown’s second bananas, the Temptations.

The Jackson Five’s first recording early this year, “I Want You Back”, has sold more than three and a half million copies, and two subsequent releases, “A-B-C” and “The Love You Save”, have each sold more than two million. This accomplishment is all the more astounding considering that, although the boys are tremendously exciting in person, having an electrifying impact on teens and pre-teens, they have rarely been presented visually to their audiences. Their television and stage exposure has been comparatively minimal, although they are obviously now becoming more in demand for personal appearances. To date they have done only a handful of national TV shows, including two Ed Sullivan performances, the Andy Williams Show, American Bandstand and Hollywood Palace, and three major concert appearances: Philadelphia’s Convention Hall, the Cow Palace in San Francisco and the Forum in Los Angeles.

At the Forum, the Jackson Five set an entertainment attendance record, drawing 18,675 people, several hundred of whom charged the stage at the end of the evening, a phenomenon that has occurred at all their appearances and which has caused abrupt, unplanned endings of their shows and considerable concern for their safety.

Trained by their parents, Joe and Katherine Jackson, who both had minor entertainment careers at one time (he was a guitarist and songwriter, she was a clarinetist), the Jackson Five were strictly soul singers at first, popular around Gary, and ofttimes playing low-paying or expenses-only engagements in the Mid-west, New York, Philadelphia and Arizona.

(Originally, the entire family sang and played together at home. It included at that time the two Jackson girls, Maureen, now 20 and married, and Latoya, now 14, but neither was interested in following it professionally. There are also two younger children in the family: Randy, 8, and Janet, 3.)

The first professional performers were the three older boys: vocalist Jackie (whose real name is Sigmund Esco), now 19, and guitarists-singers Tito (Toriano), 16, and Jemaine, 14. They were later joined by Marlon, 11, and the youngster who is now emerging as the star of the group, Michael, 10. A singer and dancer with bold and innovative showmanship astounding in one so young, Michael is viewed by many as being a potential equivalent to Sammy Davis Jr. and James Brown.

Since joining Motown, the Jackson Five style has changed somewhat. They now consider themselves to be the foremost practitioners of a sound called “bubble-gum soul,” a mixture of pop and soul music in a subtle shading of lyrics and musical arrangement which Jackie proudly calls “the Jackson Five sound.” Specific details of the “sound,” says Jermaine, are “a secret; too many people might find out and start doing it.”

Although they are well on their way to becoming wealthy and famous, and are regarded with considerable awe by class-mates and other teenagers, the Jackson Five must pay a handsome price for all the glory. Perhaps the highest price of all is being extracted from Jackie and to a slightly lesser degree from Tito. At an age when most boys have acquired the freedom of parties and hanging out with friends, Jackie and Tito find themselves constantly linked with their younger brothers and tied closely to home.

“We have to have tight security,” their father, Joe, says solemn-ly. “With stars like these, you never know when somebody out there is waiting to get their hands on one of them.” (Jackson’s fear was no doubt heightened by the brief kidnapping of new Supremes singer Cindy Birdsong last winter. She escaped her abductor (he was later arrested and imprisoned) by leaping from a moving ear on a Los Angeles freeway.)


Such caution allows for limited and well-chaperoned trips to nearby parks and the like, but little else. This, coupled with the demands of school, rehearsals, recording sessions (they cannot go swimming for four days prior to one for fear of sore throats) and appearances means that the Jackson Five, for all their celebrity, enjoy a lot less day-to-day fun than the average teenager. “It’s necessary for it to be this way, but I don’t like the private life,” says Jackie. Tito nods in agreement.

But there are compensations. The boys now live with their family in a large house tucked neatly into the Hollywood hills, where they have their own swimming pool, archery range and miniature basketball court. All are athletic, and their father makes sure they have time for physical activity.

While the Five seem to come together smoothly and completely in their music, offstage they appear to be five typical teenage brothers, no more or no less tolerant of one another than any other family. Jackie and Tito have been known to refer to the younger boys as “big nose,” “liver lips,” and “big head” when they want to tease or when the other three have been particularly difficult.

Says father Joe: “They’ve gotten a little larger, their Afros are larger, they eat a little more, but otherwise they’re the same.” Others attribute this level-headedness to good home training. Remarked one observer: “They’re still the think you, yes ma’am, yes sir type. I don’t think it’s so much a tribute to them as to their parents.”

The Jackson father admits that his sons’ success is long-time dreams come true for him. He himself is a one-time musician—a former guitar player who played and wrote songs for a group in the Gary area called the Falcons. The demands of his steel mill job and his growing family cut short his career. But they did not stop him from dreaming that his sons would someday take up where he left off.

Neither of the five has any thought beyond the group’s career as an act: singing and singing together seems to be their thing. Jackie, tall and slender with fine athletic ability, finished high school last spring but does not intend to enter college this fall. If and when he decides to go, he will have to attend one of the colleges in the Los Angeles area in order to remain with the group.

Tito, a muscular young man who has a couple more years of high school, would be a grease monkey if he were not singing. “I like things mechanical,” he explains.

Jermaine, who is considered by Jackie to have the best voice in the group, would like to study music in college, which is still four years off. With a “B” average, he is the best student in the group, laughs quickly and easily and in the kitchen can toss up batches of enchiladas, greens, ham hocks, tacos, cornbread I’ lasagna.

Marlon appears to be the quietest of the Five. He is not old enough to express himself as forcefully as his older brothers, nor is he as irrepressible as young Michael. He plays easily with his younger brother, however, likes electronics and has been described as “the lovable one” of the Jackson Five. According Tito. both Marlon and Michael would grow up to “produce cartoons” if they did not sing, a reference to the amount of time the two youngsters spend wvatching television comics.

Michael Jackson, at 10, is the lead singer of this fastest-rising group in show business. He has unbelievable stage presence and daring and admits that much of what he does in front of an audience is spontaneous and unrehearsed. “Sometimes I don’t even know what I’m doing” Michael says.

The entire group has a flair for improvisation, and something they may do in an act one time may never be repeated, no matter how well it may have gone over with an audience, because the boys have simply responded to the excitement of the moment without being totally aware of w’hat they have done.

At any time. the Jackson Five may become the Jackson Six, or the Jackson Five Plus One, or the Jackson Five and Randy for the eight-year-old youngest male member of the family may be joning the group any day. “I was watching him in rehearsal yesterday,” said father Joe a few weeks ago, “and he looked like he’s about ready.”