Sources: Liverpool Echo – By Jade Wright | All Things Michael
The King of Pop had a special place in his heart for Liverpool.
“I have always considered Liverpool the home of contemporary pop music, by virtue of its being the birthplace of the incomparable Beatles,” he said.
And at the height of his fame, in September 1988, he came to Liverpool to play at Aintree.
Some 125,000 flocked to see him play – it was reported to be the largest concert ever performed by a solo artist in the UK at that time.
It was the last British date in the iconic Bad world tour, that covered Japan, Australia, the United States and Europe.
The tour, sponsored by Pepsi and spanning 16 months, included 123 concerts playing to 4.4m fans across 15 countries. When the tour concluded it had grossed a total of $125m, adding two new entries in the Guinness Book of World Records for the largest grossing tour in history and the tour with the largest attended audience.
It was nominated for Tour of the Year 1988 at the inaugural International Rock Awards.
He’s been to the city before, performing with the Jackson 5 at the Liverpool Empire in 1972. He was only 14 at the time.
The ECHO the night before reported: “The biggest thing happening to Liverpool this weekend is the arrival of The Jackson Five for their show at the Empire tomorrow night. It should be enough to put their new single single Looking Through The Windows, right into the charts. It is already selling very well in some local stores, coinciding with their visit to Liverpool is today’s release of Michael Jackson’s new single Ben which is going very big in America.”
On the day of the sell out concert, fans brought the city centre to a standstill, and their dad Joe had to stop the show on two occasion and plead for calm amongst the hysterical fans who where trying to storm the stage.
“Traffic outside the theatre was brought to a standstill by hundreds of fans who hadn’t been able to get a ticket but who had come along just to get a glimpse of their idols. The final word on Liverpool’s long day of screams came from Michael Jackson the group’s 14 year old lead singer and the fans heart throb when he said “It was just great the fans were really wonderful, I hope we come back again soon”
By the time he returned to Liverpool, 16 years after his first visit, excitement was reaching fever pitch.
Never one to do things by half, on his return in 1988 he took over an entire floor of the Atlantic Tower hotel in Chapel Street.
But it was hardly the rock’n’roll excess that stars these days expect.
Arriving in disguise – a parka anorak and a red polo neck – with mum Katherine, his entourage of 10 arrived by helicopter at Speke and travelled in three black Daimler limousines with a police escort, through Aigburth and Otterspool.
Day trippers to the garden festival stared on as the convoy passed by.
He’d requested the £100 a night Port of Liverpool Suite, which offered a view over the Mersey waterfront, and was transfixed by the telescope in there – watching the boats come and go on the river.
Staff at Aintree spent months preparing for the concert, which extended as far as the first three jumps in the Grand National.
Tickets were £16.50 and fans had been queuing all day in the hope of getting a place near the front. Merseyside police cancelled all leave and drafted in 500 extra officers, but despite rumours to the contrary, just 31 people were taken to hospital, mostly after fainting in the crowd.
Kim Wilde was the support act to Jackson. After his two-hour set, including a Beatles medley in tribute to being in Liverpool, the superstar left the city and returned to America.
The most famous man in the world had come back to see the city he loved. And it loved him in return.
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