Promoter Neil Warnock On Touring With Michael Jackson

Sources: Forbes – By Jimmy Ness | All Things Michael

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Neil Warnock has worked with some big names in the music industry.  He’s done all the big tours: from Pink Floyd to Russia before the end of the Cold War and with Michael Jackson to India.

Forbes magazine recently spoke to him about his experiences on the road. Here an excerpt about working with Michael on the HIStory tour:

You took Michael Jackson to India as part of the famed HIStory tour. What are your memories of him and the tour itself?

The first time I met him was in Los Angeles when he was rehearsing at an ex US airport space in the North. Actually watching him put his dancers, at that time I was watching him through rehearsals, was gruelling. He was unremitting in what he wanted to see and what he wanted them to do. He was really, really disciplined and working with Kenny Ortega in those days, his choreographer. It was great to see. But on the other side, he lived in a bubble. He was surrounded by families that have been with him from his childhood. He didn’t live in our world. He just didn’t. He wasn’t part of our world. He wasn’t either allowed to be or it was the way he was brought up. It was like somebody being brought up in a greenhouse. Actually I hadn’t thought of that before, but it was exactly that.

The security precautions when taking MJ through India must have been insane.

It was crazy. Getting the equipment in was a piece of work because at that time, I think, we had the five arctics that were available in India and everything else had to come in on flat-back trucks. It was just truck after truck after truck of gear. When we got Michael from the airport, there was just police out-riders and everything going on.

Because his fans are fanatical.

They were nuts. When we were getting very close to the city, Michael got them to stop his car. He got out of the car and he starts going to the people that were living by the side of the road. It was just like “woah, woah, woah!” But they were brilliant and I actually don’t think they even knew who he was. There wasn’t any mobbing. He was just like “oh hi, hello. How are you?” and this and that. They were more bemused by how much police [were there] and what was going on and the pandemonium around this guy, than who he is. But it was a brilliant show and it was immaculately presented because we took in everything that he needed. We had to build a city.

The thing about these tours, the Michaels, or Floyds or U2s, the very big tours, is that you’re literally moving a small town around every time, because that’s what it takes between building the stages. If you’ve got a big tour, however you’re leapfrogging to the next place, you’ve got to have advanced catering, you’ve got to make sure that you’ve got security in place, you’ve got medics in place, you’ve got everything going. You’re probably building the next venue, a week before you get to it and so on and so on. The actual organization is very sophisticated to actually be able to do three or three shows a week, to enable the production back-line, everything to be in place to do these shows.

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