Michael Jackson interviews
26 years ago, Michael told Rolling Stone Magazine,”…I always want to know what makes good performers fall to pieces…I always try to find out. I just can’t believe it’s the same things time and time again.”
Here’s the interview in full:
By Gerri Hershey | Rolling Stone | From Issue 389 — February 17, 1983
It’s noon, and somewhere in the San Fernando Valley, the front shades of a row of condos are lowered against a hazy glare. Through the metal gate, the courtyard is silent, except for the distant splat of a fountain against its plastic basin. Then comes the chilling whine of a real-life Valley girl. “Grandmuther. I am not gonna walk a whole block. It’s bumid. My hair will be brillo.”
And the soothing counterpoint of maternal encouragement: “Be good pup, Jolie. Make for mama.”
All along the courtyard’s trimmed inner paths, poodles waddle about trailing poodle-cut ladies on pink leashes.
“Not what you expected, huh?” From behind a mask of bony fingers, Michael Jackson giggles. Having settled his visitor on the middle floor of his own three-level condo, Michael explains that the residence is temporary, while his Encino, California, home is razed and rebuilt. He concedes that this is an unlikely spot for a young prince of pop.
It is also surprising to see that Michael has decided to face this interview alone. He says he has not done anything like this for over two years. And even when he did, it was always with a cordon of managers, other Jackson brothers and, in one case, his younger sister Janet parroting a reporter’s questions before Michael would answer them. The small body of existing literature paints him as excruciatingly shy. He ducks, he hides, he talks to his shoe tops. Or he just doesn’t show up. He is known to conduct his private life with almost obsessive caution, “just like a hemophiliac who can’t afford to be scratched in any way.” The analogy is his.
Run this down next to the stats, the successes, and it doesn’t add up. He has been the featured player with the Jackson Five since grade school. In 1980, he stepped out of the Jacksons to record his own LP, Off the Wall, and it became the best-selling album of the year. Thriller, his new album, is Number Five on the charts. And the list of performers now working with him — or wanting to — includes Paul McCartney, Quincy Jones, Steven Spielberg, Diana Ross, Queen and Jane Fonda. On record, onstage, on TV and screen, Michael Jackson has no trouble stepping out. Nothing scares him, he says. But this….
“Do you like doing this?” Michael asks. There is a note of incredulity in his voice, as though he were asking the question of a coroner. He is slumped in a dining-room chair, looking down into the lower level of the living room. It is filled with statuary. There are some graceful, Greco-Roman type bronzes, as well as a few pieces from the suburban birdbath school. The figures are frozen around the sofa like some ghostly tea party.
Michael himself is having little success sitting still. He is so nervous that he is eating — plowing through — a bag of potato chips. This is truly odd behavior. None of his brothers can recall seeing anything snacky pass his lips since he became a strict vegetarian and health-food disciple six years ago. In fact, Katherine Jackson, his mother, worries that Michael seems to exist on little more than air. As far as she can tell, her son just has no interest in food. He says that if he didn’t have to eat to stay alive, he wouldn’t.
“I really do hate this,” he says. Having polished off the chips, he has begun to fold and refold a newspaper clipping. “I am much more relaxed onstage than I am right now. But hey, let’s go.” He smiles. Later, he will explain that “let’s go” is what his bodyguard always says when they are about to wade into some public fray. It’s also a phrase Michael has been listening for since he was old enough to tie his own shoes.
Let’s go, boys. With that, Joe Jackson would round up his sons Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, Marlon and Michael. “Let’s go” has rumbled from the brothers’ preshow huddle for more than three-quarters of Michael’s life, first as the Jackson Five on Motown and now as the Jacksons on Epic. Michael and the Jacksons have sold over a 100 million records. Six of their two dozen Motown singles went platinum; ten others went gold. He was just eleven in 1970 when their first hit, “I Want You Back,” nudged out B.J. Thomas’ “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head,” for Number One.
Michael says he knew at age five, when he sang “Climb Ev’ry Mountain” in school and laid out the house, that something special was going on. Back then, such precocity frightened his mother. But years later it soothed hearts and coffers at Epic when Off the Wall sold over 5 million in the U.S., another 2 million worldwide and one of its hit singles, “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough,” won him a Grammy. The LP yielded four Top Ten hit singles, a record for a solo artist and a feat attained only by Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours, and by the combined efforts on the Grease and Saturday Night Fever soundtracks.
If a jittery record industry dared wager, the smart money would be on Michael Jackson. Recent months have found him at work on no fewer than three projects: his own recently released Thriller; Paul McCartney’s work-in-progress, which will contain two Jackson-McCartney collaborations, “Say, Say, Say” and “The Man”; and the narration and one song for the storybook E.T. album on MCA for director Steven Spielberg and producer Quincy Jones. In his spare time, he wrote and produced Diana Ross’ single “Muscles.” This is indeed a young man in a hurry. Already he is looking past the album he is scheduled to make with the Jacksons this winter. There is a chance of a spring tour. And then there are the movies. Since his role as the scarecrow in The Wiz his bedroom has been hip-deep in scripts.
At twenty-four, Michael Jackson has one foot planted firmly on either side of the Eighties. His childhood hits are golden oldies, and his boyhood idols have become his peers. Michael was just ten when he moved into Diana Ross’ Hollywood home. Now he produces her. He was five when the Beatles crossed over; now he and McCartney wrangle over the same girl on Michael’s single “The Girl Is Mine.” His showbiz friends span generations as well. He hangs out with the likes of such other kid stars as Tatum O’Neal and Kristy McNichol, and ex-kid star Stevie Wonder. He gossips long distance with-Adam Ant and Liza Minnelli, and has heart-to-hearts with octogenarian Fred Astaire. When he visited the set of On Golden Pond. Henry Fonda baited fishhooks for him. Jane Fonda is helping him learn acting. Pen pal Katharine Hepburn broke a lifelong habit of avoiding rock by attending a 1981 Jacksons concert at Madison Square Garden.
Even E.T would be attracted to such a gentle spirit, according to Steven Spielberg, who says he told Michael, “If E.T. didn’t come to Elliott, he would have come to your house.” Spielberg also says he thought of no one else to narrate the saga of his timorous alien. “Michael is one of the last living innocents who is in complete control of his life. I’ve never seen anybody like Michael. He’s an emotional star child.”
Cartoons are flashing silently across the giant screen that glows in the darkened den. Michael mentions that he loves cartoons. In fact, he loves all things “magic.” This definition is wide enough to include everything from Bambi to James Brown.
“He’s so magic,” Michael says of Brown, admitting that he patterned his own quicksilver choreography on the Godfather’s classic bag of stage moves. “I’d be in the wings when I was like six or seven. I’d sit there and watch him.”
Michael’s kindergarten was the basement of the Apollo Theater in Harlem. He was too shy to actually approach the performers the Jackson Five opened for — everyone from Jackie Wilson to Gladys Knight, the Temptations and Etta James. But he says he had to know everything they did — how James Brown could do a slide, a spin and a split and still make it back before the mike hit the floor. How the mike itself disappeared through the Apollo stage floor. He crept downstairs, along passageways and walls and hid there, peering from behind the dusty flanks of old vaudeville sets while musicians tuned, smoked, played cards and divvied barbecue. Climbing back to the wings, he stood in the protective folds of the musty maroon curtain, watching his favorite acts, committing every double dip and every bump, snap, whip-it-back mike toss to his inventory of night moves. Recently, for a refresher course, Michael went to see James Brown perform at an L.A. club. “He’s the most electrifying. He can take an audience anywhere he wants to. The audience just went bananas. He went wild?and at his age. He gets so out of himself.”
Getting out of oneself is a recurrent theme in Michael’s life, whether the subject is dancing, singing or acting. As a Jehovah’s Witness, Michael believes in an impending holocaust, which will be followed by the second coming of Christ. Religion is a large part of his life, requiring intense Bible study and thrice-weekly meetings at a nearby Kingdom Hall. He has never touched drugs and rarely goes near alcohol. Still, despite the prophesied Armageddon, the spirit is not so dour as to rule out frequent hops on the fantasy shuttle.
“I’m a collector of cartoons,” he says. “All the Disney stuff, Bugs Bunny, the old MGM ones. I’ve only met one person who has a bigger collection than I do, and I was surprised — Paul McCartney. He’s a cartoon fanatic. Whenever I go to his house, we watch cartoons. When we came here to work on my album, we rented all these cartoons from the studio, Dumbo and some other stuff. It’s real escapism. It’s like everything’s all right. It’s like the world is happening now in a faraway city. Everything’s fine.
“The first time I saw E.T., I melted through the whole thing,” he says. “The second time, I cried like crazy. And then, in doing the narration, I felt like I was there with them, like behind a tree or something, watching everything that happened.”
So great was Michael’s emotional involvement that Steven Spielberg found his narrator crying in the darkened studio when he got to the part where E.T. is dying. Finally, Spielberg and producer Quincy Jones decided to run with it and let Michael’s voice break. Fighting those feelings would be counterproductive — something Jones had already learned while producing Off the Wall.
“I had a song I’d been saving for Michael called “She’s Out of My Life,” he remembers. “Michael heard it, and it clicked. But when he sang it, he would cry. Every time we did it, I’d look up at the end and Michael would be crying. I said, ‘We’ll come back in two weeks and do it again, and maybe it won’t tear you up so much. ‘Came back and he started to get teary. So we left it in.”
This tug of war between the controlled professional and the vulnerable, private Michael surfaces in the lyrics he has written for himself. In “Bless His Soul,” a song on the Jacksons’ Destiny LP that Michael says is definitely about him, he sings:
Sometimes I cry cause I’m confused
Is this a fact of being used?
There is no life for me at all
Cause I give myself at beck and call.
Two of the Jackson-written cuts on Thriller strengthen that defensive stance. “They eat off you, you’re a vegetable,” he shouts on “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’.” “Beat It,” a tense, tough dance cut, flirts with paranoia: “You have to show them that you’re really not scared/You’re playin’ with your life, this ain’t no truth or dare/They’ll kick you, then they beat you/Then they’ll tell you it’s fair.”
Yes, he says, he feels used, declining specifics, saying only that in his profession, “They demand that, and they want you to do this. They think that they own you, they think they made you. If you don’t have faith, you go crazy. Like not doing interviews. If I talk, I say what’s on my mind, and it can seem strange to other peoples’ ears. I’m the kind of person who will tell it all, even though it’s a secret. And I know that things should be kept private.”
For his own protection, Michael has rigged himself a set of emotional floodgates, created situations where it’s okay to let it all out. “Some circumstances require me to be real quiet,” he says. “But I dance every Sunday.” On that day, he also fasts.
This, his mother confirms, is a weekly ritual that leaves her son laid out, sweating, laughing and crying. It is also a ritual very similar to Michael’s performances. Indeed, the weight of the Jacksons’ stage show rests heavily on his narrow, sequined shoulders. There is nothing tentative about his solo turns. He can tuck his long, thin frame into a figure skater’s spin without benefit of ice or skates. Aided by the burn and flash of silvery body suits, he seems to change molecular structure at will, all robot angles one second and rippling curves the next. So sure is the body that his eyes are often closed, his face turned upward to some unseen muse. The bony chest heaves. He pants, bumps and squeals. He has been known to leap offstage and climb up into the rigging.
At home, in his room, he dances until he falls down. Michael says the Sunday dance sessions are also an effective way to quiet his stage addiction when he is not touring. Sometimes in these off periods, another performer will call him up from the audience. And in the long, long trip from his seat to the stage, the two Michaels duke it out.
“I sit there and say, ‘Please don’t call me up, I am too shy,’” Jackson says. “But once I get up there, I take control of myself. Being onstage is magic. There’s nothing like it. You feel the energy of everybody who’s out there. You feel it all over your body. When the lights hit you, it’s all over, I swear it is.”
He is smiling now, sitting upright, trying to explain weightlessness to the earth-bound.
“When it’s time to go off, I don’t want to. I could stay up there forever. It’s the same thing with making a movie. What’s wonderful about a film is that you can become another person. I love to forget. And lots of times, you totally forget. It’s like automatic pilot. I mean — whew.”
During shooting for The Wiz, he became so attached to his Scarecrow character, the crew literally had to wrench him from the set and out of his costume. He was in Oz, and wasn’t keen on leaving it for another hotel room.
“That’s what I loved about doing E.T. I was actually there. The next day, I missed him a lot. I wanted to go back to that spot I was at yesterday in the forest. I wanted to be there.”
Alas, he is still at the dining-room table in his condo. But despite the visible strain, he’s holding steady. And he brightens at a question about his animals. He says he talks to his menagerie every day.”I have two fawns. Mr. Tibbs looks like a ram; he’s got the horns. I’ve got a beautiful llama. His name is Louie.” He’s also into exotic birds like macaws, cockatoos and a giant rhea.
“Stay right there,” he says, “and I’ll show you something.” He takes the stairs to his bedroom two at a time. Though I know we are the only people in the apartment, I hear him talking.
“Aw, were you asleep? I’m sorry….”
Seconds later, an eight-foot boa constrictor is deposited on the dining-room table. He is moving in my direction at an alarming rate.
“This is Muscles. And I have trained him to eat interviewers.”
Muscles, having made it to the tape recorder and flicked his tongue disdainfully, continues on toward the nearest source of warm blood. Michael thoughtfully picks up the reptile as its snub nose butts my wrist. Really, he insists, Muscles is quite sweet. It’s all nonsense, this stuff about snakes eating people. Besides, Muscles isn’t even hungry; he enjoyed his weekly live rat a couple of days ago. If anything, the stranger’s presence has probably made Muscles a trifle nervous himself. Coiled around his owner’s torso, his tensile strength has made Michael’s forearm a vivid bas-relief of straining blood vessels. To demonstrate the snake’s sense of balance, Michael sets him down on a three-inch wide banister, where he will remain, motionless, for the next hour or so.
“Snakes are very misunderstood,” he says. Snakes, I suggest, may be the oldest victims of bad press. Michael whacks the table and laughs.
“Bad press. Ain’t it so, Muscles?
The snake lifts its head momentarily, then settles back on the banister. All three of us are a bit more relaxed.
“Know what I also love?” Michael volunteers. “Manikins.”
Yes, he means the kind you see wearing mink bikinis in Beverly Hills store windows. When his new house is finished, he says he’ll have a room with no furniture, just a desk and a bunch of store dummies.
“I guess I want to bring them to life. I like to imagine talking to them. You know what I think it is? Yeah, I think I’ll say it. I think I’m accompanying myself with friends I never had. I probably have two friends. And I just got them. Being an entertainer, you just can’t tell who is your friend. And they see you so differently. A star instead of a next-door neighbor.”
He pauses, staring down at the living-room statues.
“That’s what it is. I surround myself with people I want to be my friends. And I can do that with manikins. I’ll talk to them.”
All of this is not to say that Michael is friendless. On the contrary, people are clamoring to be his friend.That’s just the trouble: with such staggering numbers knocking at the gate, it becomes necessary to sort and categorize. Michael never had a school chum. Or a playmate. Or a steady girlfriend. The two mystery friends he mentioned are his first civilians. As for the rest….
“I know people in show business.”
Foremost is Diana Ross, with whom he shares his “deepest, darkest secrets” and problems. But even when they are alone together, their world is circumscribed. And there’s Quincy Jones, “who I think is wonderful. But to get out of the realm of show business, to become like everybody else….”
To forget. To get out of the performing self.
“Me and Liza, say. Now, I would consider her a great friend, but a show-business friend. And we’re sitting there talking about this movie, and she’ll tell me all about Judy Garland. And then she’ll go, ‘Show me that stuff you did at rehearsal.’” He feints a dance move. “And I’ll go, ‘Show me yours.’ We’re totally into each other’s performance.”
This Michael does not find odd, or unacceptable. It’s when celebrity makes every gesture a performance that he runs for cover. Some stars simply make up their minds to get on with things, no matter what. Diana Ross marched bravely into a Manhattan shoe store with her three daughters and had them fitted for running shoes, despite the crowd of 200 that convened on the sidewalk. Michael, who’s been a boy in a bubble since the age of reason, would find that intolerable. He will go to only one L.A. restaurant, a health-food place where the owners know him. As for shopping, Michael avoids it by having a secretary or aide pick out clothes for him. “You don’t get peace in a shop. If they don’t know your name, they know your voice. And you can’t hide.”
He won’t say love stinks. But sometimes it smarts.
“Being mobbed hurts. You feel like you’re spaghetti among thousands of hands. They’re just ripping you and pulling your hair. And you feel that any moment you’re gonna just break.”
Thus, Michael must travel with the veiled secrecy of a pasha’s prized daughter. Any tourism is attempted from behind shades, tinted limo glass and a bodyguard’s somber serge. Even in a hotel room, he hears females squeal and scurry like so many mice in the walls.
“Girls in the lobby, coming up the stairway. You hear guards getting them out of elevators. But you stay in your room and write a song. And when you get tired of that, you talk to yourself. Then let it all out onstage. That’s what it’s like.”
No argument — it ain’t natural. But about those store dummies? Won’t it be just as eerie to wake up in the middle of the night to all those polystyrene grins?
“Oh, I’ll give them names. Like the statues you see down there.” He motions to the living-room crowd. “They’ve got names. I feel as if I know them. I’ll go down there and talk to them.”
A restless rhythm is jiggling his foot, and the newspaper clipping has long been destroyed. Michael is apologetic, explaining that he can sit still for just so long. On an impulse, he decides to drive us to the house under construction. Though his parents forced him to learn two years ago, Michael rarely drives. When he does, he refuses to travel freeways, taking hour-long detours to avoid them. He has learned the way to only a few “safe” zones — his brothers’ homes, the health-food restaurant and the Kingdom Hall.
First, Muscles must be put away. “He’s real sweet,” Michael says as he unwinds the serpent from the banister. “I’d like you to wrap him around you before you go.”
This is not meant as a prank, and Michael will not force the issue. But fear of interviews can be just as deep-rooted as fear of snakes, and in consenting to talk, Michael was told the same thing he’s telling me now: Trust me. It won’t hurt you.
We compromise. Muscles cakewalks across an ankle. His tongue is dry. It just tickles. Block out the primal dread, and it could be a kitten whisker. “You truly believe,” says Michael, “with the power of reason, that this animal won’t harm you now, right? But there’s this fear, built in by the world, by what people say, that makes you shy away like that.”
Having politely made their point, Michael and Muscles disappear upstairs.
A few such girlish messages are scratched into the paint of a somber security sign on the steel driveway gate at his house. There is a fence, dogs and guards, but girls still will loiter outside, in cars and in bushes.
As Michael conducts the tour of the two-story Tudor-style house, it’s clear that the room he will sleep in is almost monkish compared to those he has had designed for his pleasures and the ones reserved for his sisters Janet and LaToya, who pored over every detail of their wallpapered suites. “Girls are fussy,” he explains, stepping over a power saw in his bedroom. “I just don’t care. I wanted room to dance and have my books.”
The rooms Michael inspects most carefully are those marked for recreation. “I’m putting all this stuff in,” he says, “so I will never have to leave and go out there.” The “stuff” includes a screening room with two professional projectors and a giant speaker. And then an exercise room, one for videogames and another with a giant-screen video system. In addition, there is a huge chamber off the backyard patio, which has been designated the Pirate Room. It will be not so much decorated as populated. More dummies. But this set will talk back. Michael has been consulting with a Disney technician, the very man who designed the Audio-Animatronics figures for the Disneyland ride Pirates of the Caribbean. If all goes well, he will install several scowling, scabbard-waving buccaneers, wenches and sea dogs right here. “There won’t be any rides,” Michael says. “But there will be a pirate shootout, cannons and guns. They’ll just scream at one another and I’ll have the lights, sounds, everything.”
Pirates is one of his favorite rides in the Magic Kingdom. And Disneyland is one of the few public spots even he cannot stay away from. Sometimes Michael stops at a magic booth and buys one of those Groucho Masks — fake glasses with nose attached. But it’s better when the staff leads him through back doors and tunnels. It’s murder to cross the Court of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle in daylight. “I tried to go just last night, but it was closed,” he says with some disbelief. “So was Knott’s Berry Farm.”
If you live in the funhouse, you usually don’t have to worry about such things. Michael has sung it himself:
Life ain’t so bad at all, if you live it off the wall.
When we arrive back at the condo, Michael finds that a test pressing of “The Girl Is Mine” has been delivered. This is business. He must check it before release, he explains, as he heads for a listen on the stereo in the den. Before the record is finished, he is punching at phone buttons. In between calls to accountants and managers, he says that he makes all his own decisions, right down to the last sequin on his stage suits — the only clothes he cares about. He says he can be a merciless interviewer when it comes to choosing management, musicians and concert promoters. He assesses their performances with the rigor of an investigative reporter, questioning his brothers, fellow artists and even reporters for observations. Though he truly believes his talent comes from God, he is acutely aware of its value on the open market. He is never pushy or overbearing, but he does appreciate respect. Do not ask him, for instance, how long he has been with a particular show-business firm. “Ask me,” he corrects, “how long they’ve been with me.”
Those who have worked with him do not doubt his capability. Even those to whom he is a star child. “He’s in full control,” says Spielberg. “Sometimes he appears to other people to be sort of wavering on the fringes of twilight, but there is great conscious forethought behind everything he does. He’s very smart about his career and the choices he makes. I think he is definitely a man of two personalities.”
When Michael was looking for a producer for his solo album, Quincy Jones was happy to hear from him. Jones knew Michael was in a special class. A few things tipped him off, he says. First there was the Academy Awards ceremony at which Jones watched twelve-year-old Michael deliver a trash-flick love song to a fascist rodent (”Ben”) with astounding poise. Years later, while working with him on The Wiz soundtrack, Jones says, “I saw another side. Watching him in the context of being an actor, I saw a lot of things about him as a singer that rang a lot of bells. I saw a depth that was never apparent, and a commitment. I saw that Michael was growing up.”
In the studio, Jones found that his professionalism had matured. In fact, Michael’s nose for things is so by-your-leave funky that Jones started calling him Smelly. Fortunately, when corporate rumblings feared the partnership too unlikely to work, Smelly hung tough and cocked an ear inward to his own special rhythms. Indeed, Off the Wall’s most memorable cuts are the Jackson-penned dance tunes. “Working Day and Night” with all its breathy asides and deft punctuation, could only have been written by a dancer. “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough,” the album’s biggest-selling single, bops along with that same appealing give-and-go between restraint and abandon. The song begins with Michael talking in a low mumble over a taut, single-string bass bomp:
“You know, I was wonderin’… you know the force, it’s got a lot of power, make me feel like a… make me feel like….”
Ooooooh. Fraidy cat breaks into disco monster, with onrushing strings and a sexy, cathartic squeal. The introduction is ten seconds of perfect pop tension. Dance boogie is the welcome release. The arrangement — high, gusting strings and vocals over a thudding, in-the-pocket rhythm — is Michael’s signature. Smelly, the funky sprite.
It works. Such a creature as Michael is the perfect pop hybrid for the Eighties. The fanzine set is not scared off by raunchy lyrics and chest hair. But the R-rated uptown dance crowd can bump and slide right along the greasy tracks. Thriller is eclectic enough to include African chants and some ripping macho-rock guitar work by Eddie Van Halen. It is now being called pop-soul by those into marketing categories. Michael says he doesn’t care what anybody wants to call it. Just how it all came about is still a mystery to him? as is the creative process itself.
“I wake up from dreams and go, ‘Wow, put this down on paper,’” he says. “The whole thing is strange. You hear the words, everything is right there in front of your face. And you say to yourself, ‘I’m sorry, I just didn’t write this. It’s there already.’ That’s why I hate to take credit for the songs I’ve written. I feel that somewhere, someplace, it’s been done and I’m just a courier bringing it into the world. I really believe that. I love what I do. I’m happy at what I do. It’s escapism.”
Again, that word. But Michael is right. There is no better definition for good, well-meaning, American pop. Few understand this better than Diana Ross, that Tamla teen turned latter-day pop diva. Her closeness to Michael began when she met the Jacksons.
“No, I didn’t discover them,” she says, countering the myth. Motown head Berry Gordy had already found them; she simply introduced them on her 1971 television special. “There was an identification between Michael and I,” she says. “I was older, he kind of idolized me, and he wanted to sing like me.”
She has been pleased to watch Michael become his own person. Still, she wishes he would step out even more. She says she had to be firm and force him to stay in his role as producer on “Muscles.”He wanted them to do it jointly. She insisted he go it alone.
“He spends a lot of time, too much time, by himself. I try to get him out. I rented a boat and took my children and Michael on a cruise. Michael has a lot of people around him, but he’s very afraid. I don’t know why. I think it came from the early days.”
Michael’s show-business friends, many of them women not thought of as especially motherly, do go to great lengths to push and prod him into the world, and to keep him comfortable. When he’s in Manhattan, Ross urges him to go to the theater and the clubs, and counteroffers with quiet weekends at her Connecticut home. In notes and phone calls, Katharine Hepburn has been encouraging about his acting.
Michael has recorded much of this counsel in notebooks and on tape. Visiting Jane Fonda — whom he’s known since they met at a Hollywood party a few years ago — on the New Hampshire set of On Golden Pond proved to be an intensive crash course. In a mirror version of his scenes with the stepgrandson in the movie, Henry Fonda took his daughter’s rock-star friend out on the lake and showed him how to fish. They sat on a jetty for hours, talking trout and theater. The night Fonda died, Michael spent the evening with Fonda’s widow, Shirlee, and his children, Jane and Peter. He says they sat around, laughing and crying and watching the news reports. The ease with which Michael was welcomed into her family did not surprise Jane Fonda. Michael and her father got on naturally, she says, because they were so much alike.
“Dad was also painfully self-conscious and shy in life,” she says, “and he really only felt comfortable when he was behind the mask of a character. He could liberate himself when he was being someone else. That’s a lot like Michael.
“In some ways,” she continues, “Michael reminds me of the walking wounded. He’s an extremely fragile person. I think that just getting on with life, making contact with people, is hard enough, much less to be worried about whither goest the world.
“I remember driving with him one day, and I said,’God, Michael, I wish I could find a movie I could produce for you.’ And suddenly I knew. I said, ‘I know what you’ve got to do. It’s Peter Pan.’ Tears welled up in his eyes and he said, ‘Why did you say that?’ with this ferocity. I said, ‘I realize you’re Peter Pan.’ And he started to cry and said, ‘You know, all over the walls of my room are pictures of Peter Pan. I’ve read everything that [author J.M.] Barrie wrote. I totally identify with Peter Pan, the lost boy of never-never land.’”
Hearing that Francis Coppola may be doing a film version, Fonda sent word to him that he must talk to Michael Jackson. “Oh, I can see him,” she says, “leading lost children into a world of fantasy and magic.”
In the book, that fantasy world lies “second to the right star, then straight on til morning” — no less strange a route, Fonda notes, than Michael’s own journey from Indiana.
“From Gary,” she says,”straight on to Barrie.”
All Children, Except one, grow up.
This is the first line of Michael’s favorite book, and if you ask Katherine Jackson if she finds this similar to what happened in her own brood of nine, she will laugh and say, oh yes, her fifth son is the one.
Five children — Maureen, Tito, Jackie, Jermaine and Marlon — are married and have families. LaToya is a very independent young woman. At thirteen, Janet was starring as a self-possessed ghetto twerp on the sitcom Good Times. Now she has a hit single of her own, “Young Love,” and appears in the sitcom Diff’rent Strokes. Youngest brother Randy is already living on his own at twenty. Michael is sure he’d just die if he tried that.
“LaToya once told me she thinks that I overprotected them all,” Mrs. Jackson says. “But under the circumstances, I truly don’t think so.”
Marriage had brought her from east Indiana, just outside Chicago, to the chilly industrial town of Gary. A growing family had forced Joe Jackson to disband the Falcons, and R&B group he had formed with his two brothers. Playing Chuck Berry and Fats Domino covers in local clubs was as far as they got. The guitar went into the closet, and Jackson went to the steel mills as a crane operator. The family budget didn’t have a lot of slack for toys, but there was an old saxophone, a tambourine, some bongos and a homey patchwork of songs from Katherine’s childhood. What she could remember, she taught her children. “It was just plain stuff,” she says, “like ‘Cotton Fields’ and ‘You Are My Sunshine.’”
The breadth of the harmony grew with the family. Jackie, Jermaine and Tito started singing together, with Tito on guitar and Jermaine on bass. Then Marlon climbed aboard. Baby Michael, who liked to flail on the bongos, surprised his mother one day when she heard him imitating Jermaine’s lead vocals in his clear toddler’s falsetto. “I think we have another lead singer,” she told her husband. The brothers agreed.
“He was so energetic that at five years old, he was like a leader,” says Jackie, at thirty-one the oldest brother. “We saw that. So we said, ‘Hey, Michael, you be the lead guy.’ The audience ate it up. He was into those James Brown things at the time, you know. The speed was the thing. He would see somebody do something, and he could do it right away.”
“It was sort of frightening,” his mother says. “He was so young. He didn’t go out and play much. So if you want me to tell you the truth, I don’t know where he got it. He just knew.”
By the age of seven, Michael was a dance monster, working out the choreography for the whole group. Local gigs were giving way to opening slots at larger halls in distant cities. Joe Jackson spent weekends and evenings as chauffeur, road manager, agent and coach. He taught Michael how to work a stage and handle a mike. Michael does not remember his father making it fun; the boys always knew it was work. Rules were strict. Grades had to be kept up, even with five shows a night, or the offender would be yanked off the road. When Motown called, Joe took the boys to Detroit, and Katherine stayed in Gary with the rest of the children. She says she never really worried about her children until she went to a show and heard the screams from the audience. “Every time I’d go to a concert I’d worry, because sometimes the girls would get onstage and I’d have to watch them tearing at Michael. He was so small, and they were so big.”
There have been some serious incidents, too, one so chilling and bizarre it landed a young woman in a mental institution. So Katherine Jackson has made it her business to talk to some of these wild, persistent girls. What is so very crazy, she says, is that they do it in the name of love. “There are so many,” she says. “You have no idea what’s really on their minds. That’s why it’s going to be so hard for my son to get a wife.”
Michael is aware of, if not resigned to, the impossibility of that task. He might like to have children in the future, but says he would probably adopt them. For now, he has only to walk into one of his brothers’ homes and he’s instantly covered with nephews. He says he gets along with children better than adults, anyhow: “They don’t wear masks.”
Kids and animals can nose their way into Michael’s most private reserves. It’s the showbiz spook show that makes his own growing up so public and hard. He has borne, with patience and good humor, the standard rumors of sexchange operations and paternity accusations from women he has never seen. But clearly they have affected him. “Billie Jean,” on Thriller, is a vehement denial of paternity (”the kid is not my son”). In reality there has been no special one. Michael says that he is not in a hurry to jump into any romantic liaison.
“It’s like what I told you about finding friends,” he says. “With that, it’s even harder. With so many girls around, how am I ever gonna know?”
“Just here to see a friend.”
Michael is politely trying to sidestep an inquiring young woman decked out with the latest video equipment. She blocks the corridor leading to the warren of dressing rooms beneath the L.A. Forum.
“Can I tell my viewers that Michael Jackson is a Queen fan?”
“I’m a Freddie Mercury fan,” he says, slipping past her into a long room crowded with Queen band members, wives, roadies and friends. A burly man with the look of a linebacker is putting lead singer Freddie Mercury through a set of stretching exercises that will propel his road-weary muscles through the final show of the group’s recent U.S. tour. The band is merry. Michael is shy, standing quietly at the door until Freddie spots him and leaps up to gather him in a hug.
Freddie invited Michael. He has been calling all week, mainly about the possibility of their working together. They’ve decided to try it on the Jacksons’ upcoming album. Though they are hardly alike — Freddie celebrated a recent birthday by hanging naked from a chandelier — the two have been friendly since Michael listened to the material Queen had recorded for The Game and insisted that the single had to be “Another One-Cites the Dust.”
“Now, he listens to me, right Freddie?”
“Righto, little brother.”
The linebacker beckons. Freddie waves his cigarette at the platters of fruit, fowl and candy. “You and your friends make yourselves comfortable.”
Our escort, a sweet-faced, hamfisted bodyguard, is consulting with security about seat locations. There had been girls lurking outside the condo when Michael sprinted to the limousine, girls peering through the tinted glass as the door locks clicked shut. This was all very puzzling to Michael’s guest, who was waiting in the car.
He is a real friend, one of the civilians, so normal as to pass unseen by the jaded eyes of celebrity watchers. He has never been to a rock concert, nor has he ever seen Michael perform. He says he hopes to, but mainly, they just hang out together. Sometimes his younger brother even tags along. Most of the time they just talk “just regular old stuff,” says the friend. For Michael, it is another kind of magic.
At the moment, though, it’s show business as usual. Gossip, to be specific. Michael is questioning a dancer he knows about the recent crises of a fallen superstar. Michael wants to know what the problem is. The dancer mimes his answer, laying a finger alongside his nose. Michael nods, and translates for his friend: “Drugs. Cocaine.”
Michael admits that he seeks out such gossip, and listens again and again as the famous blurt out their need for escape. “Escapism,” he says. “I totally understand.”
But addictions are another thing. “I always want to know what makes good performers fall to pieces,” he says. “I alway try to find out. Because I just can’t believe it’s the same things that get them time and time again.” So far, his own addictions?the stage, dancing, cartoons — have been free of toxins.
Something’s working on Michael now, but it is nothing chemical. He’s buzzing like a bumblebee trapped in a jelly jar. It’s the room we’re in, he explains. So many times, he’s stretched and bounced and whipped up on his vocal chords right here, got crazy in here, pumping up, shivering like some flighty race horse as he wriggled into his sequined suit.
“I can’t stand this,” lie fairly yells. “I cannot sit still.”
Just before he must be held down for his own good. Randy Jackson rockets into the room, containing his brother in a bear hug, helping him dissipate some of the energy with a short bout of wrestling. This is not the same creature who tried to hide behind a potato chip.
Now Michael is boxing with the bodyguard, asking every minute for the time until the man mercifully claps a big hand on the shoulder of his charge and says it: “Let’s go.”
Mercury and company have already begun moving down the narrow hall, and before anyone can catch him. Michael is drawn into their wake, riding on the low roar of the crowd outside, leaping up to catch a glimpse of Freddie, who is raising a fist and about to take the stairs to the stage.
“Ooooh, Freddie is pumped,” says Michael. “I envy him now. You don’t know how much.”
The last of the band makes the stairs, and the black stage curtain closes. Michael turns and lets himself be led into the darkness of the arena.
Ebony 2008 with Chuck Dakota
CD: You are without doubt the greatest entertainer that ever lived. Looking back did you ever think you would be the king of pop?
MJ: (laughter).. Wow.. Thank you so much… That’s wonderful of you to say. I don’t think I ever really had a grip on what we did until thriller. When I was a child I didn’t understand it all. Joseph would give us checks each week from Barry and I was ten, eleven years old and had hundreds of thousands of dollars handed to me each week and all I wanted was a friend to play ball with and a pack of bubblegum. I can really tell you with all honesty that when I was younger I wanted to stop and just be a child with the astonishment of the world.
CD: You say that it came to life for you with Thriller. What do you mean by that?
MJ: A lot of people don’t know this but thriller was mine. I had it in my head from the days of being with my brothers playing clubs at two or three in the morning. Because I could never play with children or join a baseball team I would stay up late into the night and write poems and stories. I remember I would fantasize about what I wrote and I guess a lot of what came out was my dreams of what I really wanted. I kept everything I ever wrote and when I was making thriller I took some of what I composed and adapted it into the album of which I’m very proud of. Because thriller was my own creativity, it made me really fall in love with the music because for the first time I was able to express myself and release all these emotions and if you listen to the album and i mean really listen you can hear that I wrote most of those songs from the soul.
CD: Michael you were the king of the stage since day one. You didn’t have to work at it, you had it and gave it to the world. Do you have any regrets?
MJ: Again hank you for such kinds words. That’s wonderful. I was talking with one of my dear friends the other day and we were I guess reflecting on the past and I think if I could have changed anything it would have been the chance to be a child for just a little while. I remember going to and from the studios and seeing children play and how all i wanted was to be one of them. I would have traded anything in the world to change places with them just for the day
CD: Michael you’ve lived your whole life in the press. Everything from the elephant man bones to having alien babies. How do you cope with it all?
MJ: (laughter).. The elephant bones was one of the top ten. I’ve always said the bigger the star the bigger the target and by no means am I saying that I’m better than anyone else but because of the way I live and choose to live and what I’ve accomplished the press for the most part feel they can make anything up and as long as it has my name on it, it will sale.. All I can say is don’t by that trash. That’s all it is, trash and what i want people and my fans to know is when you buy that junk you’re putting money in their pockets and it hurts me. I’m a human being, not a freak show or Wacko Jacko, just a man trying to raise his children and live in peace.
CD: Michael how has your children changed you?
MJ: (deep sigh).. Oh wow.. Everything.. Everything has changed. I’ve always wanted children and I’m so blessed by the lord to have that kind of love in my life and I will do anything and everything I can to make my children lovers of the world and not spoiled brats with the silver spoon. I want them to see the world with wonderment and not be afraid and to have goals and to live life at its fullest and with each step they take I see that in them and I wake up for them and go on for them. For the first time in my life, all of this has a purpose and it’s my children. The hell, the pain, the loneliness was leading to them all along.
CD: Let’s talk about the 90′s run. You had huge success in that decade but the press down played it. You sold millions of albums, had huge hits and I’m wondering if that’s why you slowed down with putting out more music?
MJ: Without question. I was so irritated the media said those albums were utter failures. They sold millions of copies like you said and had massive air play and it still wasn’t good enough. They wanted to focus on other things and I think we know what those are without having to indulge but the point being it goes back to making news out of nothing when I gave them so much to make news from that was true and honest like selling 7 or 8 million copies, debuting at number 1, I could go on and on but it’s the same Ol’ story.. If Michael does it, let’s burn it into something else.
CD: Do you have plans for new music or maybe a tour?
MJ: Well I’m going to tell you something you may not believe..(laughter).. I have several hundred songs already laid down that I go back to when I want to release a new compilation. When I’m in the studio I sing until I can’t sing anymore because I write all the time. I get beats and rhythms and work on new dance steps all the time but people don’t see that side of me. I do want to do a new album but it has to be right. I want it to be bigger than thriller and I know I can do it. We’re talking about some concerts but right now that’s still private information but we’re talking and it’s coming.
CD: That my friend will be the biggest show in the world.. I can’t wait.. I remember I was just a young DJ when you played arrowhead back on 84 or 85. How much work goes into a new album or concert tour?
MJ: (laughter).. Kansas City right….
CD: Yea.. Where the chiefs play…
MJ: (With excitement) Yea.. Yea.. I remember that.. I had Kansas City ribs for the first time and made Joseph buy me four or five racks to eat on the plane. (laughter) It’s really a lot of work. I’m not one to say let’s do a tour and hire someone to put it all together regardless if it’s just on MTV, with my brothers or a world tour. I develop every detail and it takes years. That’s why I don’t do it all the time (laughter)
CD: Speaking of MTV.. How does it make you feel knowing you are the one.. The only one.. Who broke down the barriers and made it into what it is today?
MJ: They say imitation is one of the biggest form of flattery and some of them just can’t do it.. (laughter) Chuck don’t you air that.. People will get mad at me.. (laughter) I was just kidding…. I do consider that one of the biggest achievements I’ve done and I’m so proud of those artist that come in my footsteps and take it into a new direction. I often wonder what music would be if it wasn’t for thriller. I know what it did to the world and to music and sometimes i just wonder how different it would have been without it.
CD:Michael, in all the interviews I’ve ever heard or read you always go back to thriller.. In my opinion you’ve had so many great works of art.. Not music but art.. So why do you use thriller as the example?
MJ: That’s a great question chuck.. Wow.. Well I guess because it was mine. It was the first time I had complete control from start to end and it allowed me to bring everything that was buzzing in my head to life.. (laughter) now people will think I hear voices (laughter) be quit I’m talking (laughter).. Sorry I get carried away sometimes.. It’s my Genesis. It’s the start of what I consider the career of Michael Jackson. The others before it, I’m very proud of but it had other hand prints on it when thriller was mine and it paved the way for what my music would be. It’s like a road map and I’ve followed it every beat from then until now.
CD:That is so cool… I’ve read what your favorite song is and what you like to listen to but what is your favorite Michael Jackson song?
MJ: Good grief.. This is like final jeopardy..Do the questions get harder as we go (laughter)… I have many that are special to me. Each song represents something so special in my life from charity work I do to love to relationships to peace in the world so I can’t pin down one because each one has come from my soul.. Not just pen and paper with a lyric that rhymes…
CD: Let’s talk a minute about charity. You have a Guinness World Record for supporting the most charities from the entertainment world.
MJ: Yea.. It’s pretty neat.. My children told me that were going to get one for eating the most fried chicken (laughter).. My dear mother instilled in me very young to give back and as I grew in God I knew what I had to do as a believer in Christ. I hate to see suffering, I hate to see people in need and I feel God gave me a gift and I have to use it responsibly by giving back and I’ll do it until I have pennies left or the good lord calls me home.
CD: You’re not only like that with charity but also with your fans?
MJ: I love my fans.. I mean I really love them and if I could meet every one of them I would. I watch television and see shows that follow other celebrities and how they get so mad about fans wanting to say hi or get an autograph.. They made me.. So if I can give them two minutes of my time and a friendly hello it’s well worth it. I’ve lived my life by the fans and I’ll die by the fans.
CD: Michael give me a typical day in your life?
MJ: Well.. It’s very boring.. (laughter).. After i visit with the aliens (laughter) don’t air that..I can see them writing that story now…. (laughter) …I start the day around 6:30 or 7.. Take a shower, get my children up and we have breakfast… I fix them what they want and then I’ll have a meeting or read while the children play and then it’s about lunch time and we eat and spend the afternoon maybe playing a game or watching TV or a video and i get them ready for dinner and at night we might stay up late to go shopping or something fun for the children. I tuck them in, read them a story, and then I spend the rest of the night catching up on mail and stuff like that. Just a typical dad.
CD: Finally Michael.. What is one thing you want the world to know about you?
MJ: Well..For one don’t read everything you believe (laughter) .. I just want my fans to know that I’m not done.. I haven’t thrown in the towel and I’m coming back bigger than ever before… I owe it to them, I owe it to myself and I owe it to my children. I want them to see what their daddy can do, not read about what he was and had to put up with 20 years from now.
Chicago Daily News
taken from the forum “Soulful Detroit”, article posted by Chi Drummer.
Jackson Five sparks kiddie pandemonium
Michael Jackson (of the Jackson Five) doesn’t fool me for a minute. No 12 year-old kid is that good at singing, dancing and controlling a crowd. Michael is really a 36-year-old midget.
I know because I saw him and his brothers put on their pandemonium-prone show Tuesday night at the International Amphitheatre. And what a show it was.
After the Undisputed Truth (of “Smiling Faces” fame) had finished their set, the venerable E. Rodney Jones (of radio station WVON) made the first of his several appeals to the audience, telling the crowd, “Please stay in your seats or the show will stop.” Jones, however, could not dampen the electric ardor and once the lights went out, non-stop screaming and stage rushing began in earnest.
When the J-5 bounded on the stage in matching white suits with silver piping, the crowd went looney. So much screaming filled the Amphitheatre I never could figure out what was being sung. Immediately after the first number, the house lights came up and E. Rodney Jones made another appeal. He got a lot of laughs.
Usually at shows drawing a very young audience there is an inverse relationship between the kinetic energy generated in the audience and the amount of talent on stage. Young kids are easily suckered, falling head over heels for some super-processed, slicky junk that offers about as much nourishment as sugar-coated breakfast cereal.
But the Jackson Five sing a different song altogether. They go through all that stylized Motown choreography, but underneath their undeniable layer of hokey “showmanship”, they really are an exciting act.
And they know how to plug into an audience. In addition to the inevitable thousands of little girls who bounced, boogied and beckoned from their chairs and the aisles, Michael the Midget successfully turned on quite a few mothers over twice his age.
Thus, the J-5 show was actually two good shows rolled into one. While the five brothers (Jackie 21, Tito 18, Jermaine 16, Marlon 15 and Michael) were dancing their way through such songs as “I Want You Back,” “I’ll Be There,” “Goin’ Back to Indiana,” “Bridge Over Troubled Water” and “Look Through the Window.” I was also fully enjoying the audience.
For me, the high point came when seven-year-old Randy Jackson joined his brothers on stage for some dancing and conga-playing. His presence triggered a charge by a wave of kiddies, some of whom were small enough to dash between the ushers’ legs.
But while all the brothers are handsome, Michael is the real heart-throb of a J-5 audience. His brothers may call him “big nose,” but to the fans he is as pretty as fantasy can be. He is also a dynamite lead singer and when he dances, he certainly knows how to strut his stuff.
Toward the end of the show Michael sang four of the songs he has released independently of his brothers. “Rockin’ Robin” is my fave, but according to the audience scream-o-meter, his new single, “I Want to be Where You Are,” was the evening’s biggest hit.
Conveniently enough, the last song was “Never Can Say Goodby.” Then it was every man, woman and child for himself. Some of us merely tried to slip away into the night, but if we didn’t move fast enough, we were trampled by little people on their way to the stage door for one last grace-giving glimpse of the biggest teen-age soul act in the business.
But most of the fans were out of luck. It takes the Jackson Five exactly 30 seconds to dash from the stage, out the door and into the waiting limousine. It’s hard to be a big star. Passionate fans are very scary – especially for a 36-year-old midget.
- Jack Hafferkamp
September 1972 Tiger Beat.
Michael Tells! I’m A Girl Watcher!’
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 to 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![/color]
It’s very normal for a young, healthy, and great-looking guy like Michael to enjoy girlwatching.
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 girls walk. 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 -
16 magazine 1972
Mike Jackson – Spy On Him
Hi! I’m LaToya Jackson, the 16-year-old sister of the J5. In case you missed last month’s 16, in which I told you my impressions of brothers Jermaine, Marlon and Randy, this time I’m about to reveal all about mischievous Michael, my 14-year-old brother, known to most of you as a “superstar.” To me, however, he’s a teasing, always outgoing and friendly but sometimes bothersome, little brother-whom I love and admire a lot (but I don’t usually admit that to him!) Michael can charm the fuzz off a peach-he can talk to anyone and make him or her feel at ease and instantly like an old friend! I guess you could say that Michael has “charisma”-that enviable quality of leadership that makes some politicians and entertainers so unforgettable and dynamic. He’s not at all shy like some of my other brothers, but Mike is generally quite tactful. He says the right thing to the right person, and has a marvelous knack for sizing up what people are like soon after he meets them.
He’s very observant and notices everything-even the little things like when I change my hair style! You can’t put anything over on him! Laughter accompanies him everywhere he goes, and I rarely remember Mike being in a grumpy mood. The only thing that really bugs him is if some member of the family gets angry and tells him off in front of company. He becomes embarrassed, and is likely to walk away with his head drooping down. But he generally gets over even this in a matter of minutes and is soon back in the room with a whole new barrage of funny remarks to make everyone smile. He often bugs me when I’m trying to read or study something for school. He’ll put on a record, or start singing silly stuff and clapping his hands till I eventually give up and go into another room! Mike doesn’t like studying much-he’d rather be sketching or singing. Now spend a day with me spying on Mike -from the early morning hours when he hops out of bed and watches cartoons an TV till he scrambles into his red PJs about nine o’clock at night. You’ll love him!
LOTS MORE SUPER PHOTOS ON THIS LINK TO THIS ARTICLE
Ebony December 1973
Loco, the playful grinly German shepherd, ran across the basketball court to join the two young boys. Michael and Jermaine Jackson were walking behind their home in Encino, California, not far from Los Angeles. A Christmas tree had been put up the day before and could be seen sparkling through the window. Their mother and father always made everything beautiful at Christmas. But Michael was upset today.
“Christmas always makes me a little sad now,” Michael said to his brother. “I always remember the good friends we had to leave in Gary, Indiana. I wish we could see them more often. Especially at Christmas. We used to have so much fun together at Christmas.” “We can still call and talk to them on the telephone,” Jermaine said, rubbing Loco‘s fuzzy head. “But that’s not half as good as seeing them, is it?”
“I miss the snow in Gary, too,” Michael added. “We never have snow here in Encino, only the sunshine.” “Yeah, that’s true, Michael,” Jermaine said, throwing an arm over his little hrother’s shoulder. “But even though we miss our hometown friends, we have made millions of new friends through our music. Dad said we have to remember that.”
“You’re right.” Michael said. “I know what I’ll do. l’ll take some time to personally answer more of our fan mail. I want to thank our fans for liking us.” That’s a good idea I’ll helpyou,” Jermaine said. “And maybe Tito,” Marlon, Jackie and Randy can help us too.”
The boys found their brothers sittiug by the huge swimming pool. Tito, Marlon, Randy and Jackie were rehearsing so that they would be ready for their next concert tour. The Jackson Five always work hard on their music. Even though Christmas was only a few days away, the popular quintet knew that they could not quit practicing. Michael told his brothers what he had on his mind.
“Why don’t we write and tell our fans what we want to get for Christmas,” exclaimed young Randy, who joined the group in the summer of 1972 as bongo player. “That’s a good idea,” Tito agreed, putting his guitar in the case. “What do you want for Christmas, Michael?”
“A golf cart,” Michael shouted. “But you can’t play golf,” Tito said with a chuckle. “I know. I just want to drive around in it like a race car.” All the brothers laughed at Michael, who laughed too.
Michael always has a good sense of humor and likes practical jokes. At 14, the young teen star is small, but very strong and quick. When he is not practicing his music, he plays basketball and ping pong. He also enjoys watching television, especially science fiction and detective shows. “Christmas has changed a lot since I was a little boy,” said Jackie, 22, and the oldest member of the group. “I can remember when kids in the neighborhood looked forward to getting bicycles and other toys for Christmas. Now, people don’t look up to Santa Claus like they used to.”
“Yeah,” agreed Marlon. “And I guess it really doesn’t matter so much what you give or receive. The spirit you give in or receive in is what counts.” Marlon explains himself and reminds his famous brothers that a short and sincere letter from one of their fans means as much to them as one that is five or six pages long. The Jackson brothers nod in agreement.
Anyone who knows about The Jackson Five should know that the popular singing group sells many records and therefore, earns large sums of money. The brothers could easily afford to show their love for family and friends at Christmastime by spending their money on expensive gifts. But The Jackson Five know well enough that money can not buy friends. They also know that a warm and friendly smile can often better express their love for others than an expensive gift. Each of the Jackson brothers is very menoly and engoys meeting their fans. They enjoy doing benefit shows.
One of their favorite benefits was a Christmas party for blind children last year. “It was great to be able to make so many kids really happy in a group small enough to see and talk to,” says Jermaine. More than 400 blind children from the Foundation for the Junior Blind attended the benefit party. At the end of the party, someone asked Michael what he thought about the event. Michael said quietly, “You know, really, this is what Christmas is all about – giving”,
Jackie described the concert for the blind children as “one of their most rewarding performances we have ever given.” The children had learned the lyrics to some of the group’shits and were prepared for the show, which for the most part, turned into a sing-a-long. At other parties for children who had no Christmas gifts, The Jackson Five dressed as Santa Clauses and passed out presents.
Jackie, along with his brothers, thinks their fans are the most, important people in their lives. “Without them we’re nothing,” he says honestly. “They have made us famous and popular and we owe everything we are to them.” The Jackson brothers are all very close. There are no favorite brothers. “Each of the guys has something about him I like, so I can’t pick one over the rest,” says Tito. “Jermaine and Michael are great singers. Jackie and Marlon can really dance and then there are personal things they each mean to me.”
“When you’re like a family and grow up together,” explains quiet Marlon, “you know each other and that’s sort of like a safety chain for us.”
With the strong chain that holds the Jackson family together, the brothers will have a wonderful holiday this year.
June 14 1971
Jackson 5 At Home
Jackie is 20, Tito 17, Jermaine 16, Marlon 14. They sing some, and play guitar. Michael, the lead singer, is twelve. They are brothers, and taken together they add up to the Jackson Five, a group that in hardly more than a year-has become the biggest thing to hit Pop Capitalism since the advent of the Beatles. They had four hit singles in 1970, two more already this year, four albums, with all ten releases selling in the millions, and one (I’ll Be There) already well over 4,000,000. Teen-age girls besiege their home for autographs and sometimes faint when they sing. They have their own magazine, a quarterly in which fans can revel in a whole issue devoted entirely to the Jackson Five and read things like “Michael’s Love Letter to You.” Stores now bulge with Jackson Five decals, stickers and sweaters. A Jackson Five hair spray and a Jackson Five watch are planned, as well as a television cartoon about their lives. Despite this commercial hoopla, the group manages to be one of the best soul bands in the country. It is also part of the most likable and natural family ever to survive the pressures of teen-age stardom. So Correspondent Timothy Tyler discovered on a recent visit to the Jackson Five in Los Angeles:
First of all, they are really the Jackson twelve or 13, depending on whether you count Sister Maureen, who lives in Kentucky. There are the parents, Joe and Katherine, and Cousins Johnny Jackson and Ronnie Rancifer, who play drums and piano respectively, Sisters Janett, 4, and Latoya, 15, and Little Brother Randy, 8, who is getting ready to join the group.
They all live together in a massive twelve-room stucco-modern house on a large lot guarded by an electric gate out in Los Angeles’ sprawling San Fernando Valley. The place is mammoth, flanked by a guesthouse, playhouse and servants’ quarters. But there are only six bedrooms so that Michael—culture hero though he is—has to triple up with Randy and Marlon, and the other brothers are forced to share too.
The Jackson fortress wraps itself around a pool; it has walkways and plants growing all around; there is a basketball half court, badminton court, an archery range and, inside, a pool table in a sunken rec room and a den that looks like a cross between a motel lobby and the foyer of a Sunset Boulevard record company. The walls are plastered with platinum records (each signifying $2,000,000 in sales) and various other trophies the boys have picked up. For furniture, there is a bar, a stereo with big speakers and leatherette couches.
The place is almost totally impersonal, the fiercest personality around being without a doubt Lobo, a German shepherd trained to eat anything, black or white, that’s squeaky and carries an autograph book. The family’s closest friends have to wait outside in their cars in the parking lot and call up to the window, “Is Lobo O.K.?” The kids hold the raging beast down, inside the house, until a split-second before the visitor comes in the front door. Then Lobo is allowed to rush out the back door, a tornado of bristles and snarls, in a vain (hopefully) attempt to race around the establishment and up the front steps in time to rip the pants off whoever is going in the front door.
The kids wander around the place, not exactly at home but definitely in control of the situation. Michael, with the loveliest, fullest, twelve-year-old Afro you’ll hope to see, has the history of the group down pat: “We all started singing together after Tito started messin’ with Dad’s guitar and singin’ with the radio. It was Tito decided we should form a group, and we did, and we practiced a lot, and then we started entering talent shows, and we won every one we entered, and then we did this benefit for the mayor [Richard Hatcher of Gary, Ind.], and Diana Ross was in the audience, and afterward we was in the dressin’ room and Diana Ross knocked on the door, and she brought us to Motown in Detroit and that was it.”
He is taken aback when you question him beyond this, because that’s as far as his training takes him. But he responds well enough. Yes, Mother Katherine had played clarinet in high school, but she wasn’t much of a musical influence. Father Joe, who also sports a natural and who as a youth had sung and played guitar with a local group called the Falcons, set more of an example. The whole family, Maureen on piano, would sit around the house through the ’60s and sing on weekends, Joe providing the chords on guitar. Tito got the idea they should be a formal group when Michael was only six.
Tito was playing guitar, and Jermaine learned bass—on Tito’s guitar at first, there being no money for a real bass. Then came the bass amps and speakers, and there wasn’t enough money left to buy any more instruments, so the cousins were enlisted, more for their set of drums and their piano than for their musical talents. Singing songs like the Temptations’ I Wish It Would Rain and My Girl, or Smokey Robinson’s Going to a Go-Go, they began making tours to Chicago, Arizona, New York and Boston. The family made most of these trips in their Volkswagen bus, with a second van for equipment. The kids just remember all the snow and all their weekends and school holidays being spent in motels and strange arenas. Says Marlon: “We would do a show somewhere Sunday night, we’d get home at 3 in the morning, then we’d have to get up at 8 to go to school. That was rough.”
Things have eased up in some ways. But it’s still remarkable that they’re as big as they are, considering that their concert and recording schedules, TV appearances and the creation of a new series of J-5 animated cartoons all have to be worked around school and homework. The Buckley School (in Sherman Oaks, where all five of them go) makes allowances, and a social worker-tutor travels with the boys wherever they go, but show biz is still a schooling handicap. But then again, the boys, who; get only a small allowance each week, aren’t subject to the pressures of traveling grown-ups —you know, wasting time with those worthless chickies on the road, migraine headaches, creaking bones, drugs and alcohol—instead, they unwind nightly with pillow fights and card games, Scrabble and Monopoly.
Motown Magic. But neither their schooling nor their music has really suffered from their schedule. Seeing the boys together, you begin to realize how hard they’ve worked to get good. Some of their stuff is certainly a product of “that Motown magic,” as Motown publicists put it, meaning Motown President Berry Gordy and Songwriters Fonso Mizell, Freddy Perren and Deke Richards, who wrote Love Child for the Supremes. The tunes they are given are good black pop, the rhythms authentic rhythm and blues. But it takes some kind of private and personal magic for a twelve-year-old like Michael to sound convincing in a lyric like this:
Let me fill your heart with joy
Togetherness, girl, is all I’m after.
Whenever you need me,
I’ll be there.
Musically, they’re all really just getting started. Michael plays drums. He says he is learning piano too. “It’s not hard. You just have to put your mind to what you doin’; that’s all there is to it.” Marlon says in his soft child-voice that he’s a dancer, and Jermaine adds that Marlon is known around the house as “Las Vegas” because of his prowess with cards. It turns out that Jermaine is a poet, and that he and Michael (Michael does everything) draw pictures of people. Jackie likes to recall how 16 girls fainted in Cincinnati when Jermaine was doing his solo in I Found That Girl. When he ad-libbed, “Won’t you take me with you?” the girls apparently confused the concert with a gospel response meeting, broke out in sweats and screamed, “Yes!” and then keeled over.
It’s still a bit too chilly to swim just now, so after a little basketball the kids settle down to a game of pool. “I’m good on my trampolin,” Michael remarks. “And I’m good at pool.” “Not as good as me,” says Jermaine. Back home in Gary, says Tito, “We all played Little League, and we all hit home runs during the series. We were always the best at everything.” Somehow it sounds neither phony nor swellheaded —merely the truth.
Michael Jackson in Africa-Ebony/Jet Magazine Interview May1992
I’ve been researching Michael’s trip to Africa in 1992. I recommend reading this entire Ebony May 1992 issue. This is from one of the best & most spiritual interviews he ever gave:
EBONY/JET: Do you have any special feeling about this return to the continent of Africa?
MICHAEL JACKSON: For me, it’s like the “dawn of civilization.” It’s the first place where society existed. It’s seen a lot of love. I guess there’s that connection because it is the root of all rhythm. Everything. It’s home.
EBONY/JET: You visited Africa in 1974. Can you compare and contrast the two visits?
MICHAEL JACKSON: I’m more aware of things this time: the people and how they live and their government. But for me, I’m more aware of the rhythms and the music and the people. That’s what I’m really noticing more than any thing. The rhythms are incredible. You can tell especially the way the children move. Even the little babies, when they hear the drums, they start to move. The rhythm, the way it affects their soul and they start to move. The same thing that Blacks have in America. . .
EBONY/JET: How does it feel to be a real king?
MICHAEL JACKSON: I never try to think hard about it because I don’t want it to go to my head. But, it’s a great honor….
EBONY/JET: Speaking of music and rhythm, how did you put together the gospel songs on your last album?
MICHAEL JACKSON: I wrote “Will You Be There?” at my house, “Never Land” in California…. I didn’t think about it hard. That’s why it’s hard to take credit for the songs that I write, because I just always feel that it’s done from above. I feel fortunate for being that instrument through which music flows. I’m just the source through which it comes. I can’t take credit for it because it’s God’s work. He’s just using me as the messenger….
EBONY/JET: What was the concept for the Dangerous album?
MICHAEL JACKSON: I wanted to do an album that was like Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite. So that in a thousand years from now, people would still be listening to it. Something that would live forever. I would like to see children and teenagers and parents and all races all over the world, hundreds and hundreds of years from now, still pulling out songs from that album and dissecting it. I want it to live.
EBONY/JET: I notice on this trip that you made a special effort to visit children.
MICHAEL JACKSON: I love children, as you can see. And babies.
EBONY/JET: And animals.
MICHAEL JACKSON: Well, there’s a certain sense that animals and children have that gives me a certain creative juice, a certain force that later on in adulthood is kind of lost because of the conditioning that happens in the world. A great poet said once. “When I see children, I see that God has not yet given up on man.” An Indian poet from India said that, and his name is Tagore. The innocence of children represents to me the source of infinite creativity. That is the potential of every human being. But by the time you are an adult, you’re conditioned; you’re so conditioned by the things about youand it goes. Love. Children are loving, they don’t gossip, they don’t complain, they’re just open-hearted. They’re ready for you. They don’t judge. They don’t see things by way of color. They’re very child-like. That’s the problem with adults they lose that child-like quality. And that’s the level of inspiration that’s so needed and is so important for creating and writing songs and for a sculptor, a poet or a novelist. It’s that same kind of innocence, that same level of consciousness, that you create from. And kids have it. I feel it right away from animals and children and nature. Of course. And when I’m on stage. I can’t perform if I don’t have that kind of ping pony with the crowd. You know the kind of cause and effect action, reaction. Because I play off of them. They’re really feeding me and I’m just acting from their energy.
EBONY/JET: Where is all this heading?
MICHAEL JACKSON: I really believe that God chooses people to do certain things, the way Michelangelo or Leonardo da Vinci or Mozart or Muhammad Ali or Martin Luther King is chosen. And that is their mission to do that thing. And I think that I haven’t scratched the surface yet of what my real purpose is for being here. I’m committed to my art.
I believe that all art has as its ultimate goal the union between the material and the spiritual, the human and the divine. And I believe that that is the very reason for the exis-tence of art and what I do. And I feel fortunate in being that instrument through which music flows…. Deep inside I feel that this world we live in is really a big, huge, monumental symphonic orchestra.
I believe that in its primordial form all of creation is sound and that it’s not just random sound, that it’s music. You’ve heard the expression, mu-sic of the spheres? Well, that’s a very literal phrase. In the Gospels, we read, “And the Lord God made man from the dust of the earth and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man be-came a living soul.”
That breath of life to me is the music of life and it permeates every fiber of creation. In one of the pieces of the Dangerous album, I say: “Life songs of ages, throbbing in my blood, have danced the rhythm of the tide and flood.”
This is a very literal statement, because the same new miracle intervals and biological rhythms that sound out the architecture of my DNA also governs the movement of the stars.
The same music governs the rhythm of the seasons, the pulse of our heartbeats, the migration of birds, the ebb and flow of ocean tides, the cycles of growth, evolution and dissolution. It’s music, it’s rhythm. And my goal in life is to give to the world what I was lucky to receive: the ecstasy of divine union through my music and my dance. It’s like, my purpose, it’s what I’m here for.
EBONY/JET: What about politics?
MICHAEL JACKSON: I never get into politics. But I think music soothes the savage beast. If you put cells under a microscope and you put music on, you’ll see them move and start to dance. It affects the soul…. I hear music in everything. [Pauses] You know, that’s the most I’ve said in eight years. You know I don’t give interviews. That because I know you, and I trust you. You’re the only person I trust to give interviews to.
Teen Star Magazine Interview
Q: Michael, your fans want to know your ideas about a first date!
MJ: 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 alot 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?
MJ: 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?
MJ: 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?
MJ: 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?
MJ: 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?
MJ: 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?
MJ: 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?
MJ: 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!
MJ Tidbits in 1972:
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: Shar lookin’ pant suits (heaven forbid)
Fave vacation spot: Yosemite National Park
In the magazine, fans were voting for their favorite teen star as president. Here were Michael’s campaign promises:
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 (MJ is such a pimp)! 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’ (future foreshadowing) 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 cheris each of my sweet-faced fans forever
Michael Jackson Speaks: Good Morning America 2009
Tomorrow, August 29th, ABC’s Good Morning America will air an exclusive telephone conversation with Michael Jackson–in which he will describe his thoughts on turning 50 years old and what his plans for the future hold (including a possible tour). Below is the accompanying ABC article in anticipation of the audio conversation with Michael Jackson set to air tomorrow, which includes some snippets of the conversation:
Michael Jackson Good Morning America Exclusive Interview 2008He first became a star as a young boy, then endured superstardom, scandals and a legal prosecution, but as he turns 50, Michael Jackson told “Good Morning America” in an exclusive interview, he is “having a wonderful time.”
Speaking by phone from his home in California, at times so softly he was barely audible, Jackson said he was listening to a little James Brown and preparing for his 50th birthday Friday, when he will have a little cake and watch cartoons with his children, and then get back to work.
Watch “Good Morning America” Friday at 7 a.m. ET for more on this exclusive interview.
Does turning 50 mean he now has an AARP card?
“Not that I know of!” Jackson said, laughing.
He said he still can do all his famous dance moves and “more.”
“I feel very young,” he said.
Reflecting back, Jackson said the happiest time in his life was probably when he was recording his hit solo albums “Thriller” and “Off the Wall” — which propelled him to the height of his stardom.
Asked to pick a single song as his greatest achievement, Jackson went back to the same period.
“Oh boy, that’s a hard one,” he said, before singling out “We Are the World,” and “Billie Jean,” adding that there were “so many others.”
But Jackson was not content to rest on his laurels, saying, “I am still looking forward to doing more.”
He hopes to release new music and tour, though he doesn’t have dates set.
“I am writing all the time,” he said. “I love it.”
He said he hopes to “be myself” in his future work, but also be “inspired by great artists,” noting he wished he could have worked with Brown or Fred Astaire.
He sees his influence in some of today’s artists, specifically mentioning Chris Brown.
Asked if his kids are good dancers, Jackson said, “I don’t push them.”
Asked if he’d like them to have the same sort of upbringing as him, he said he’d prefer to let them “enjoy their childhood” as much as possible.
It “means a lot when I see them on a ride,” he said, “having a really good time.”
If he could go back and give himself some advice at age 9 or 10, he would advise himself to know his craft and be tough, but also to have “rhinoceros skin.”
ABC News’ Thea Trachtenberg contributed to this report.
ABC Interview with Michael on his 50th Birthday
Interesting interview just a year before he “died”.
You can see it scripted out on the video but wanted to point out things that Scream out…pun intended:
Chris Connelly: As you look back on your career, Michael, what would you have done differently?
MJ: I am still looking forward to doing a lot of great things, so that’s hard – I think the best is yet to come in my true humble opinion.
He also mentions his albums Thriller and Off the Wall to be some of his happiest times in the past 50 years.
Chris Connelly asks if he can, still after decades, do all that he used to when entertaining.
MJ responds: Yes! Because I am expanding a lot of the avenues…People see some of the things I do and say why don’t you show this to the world, people don’t know you do these things! Well, maybe I will.
Video also mentions the younger generation that is influenced by Michael and he responds: Some of the younger newer artists – I think Chris Brown is doing wonderful and Timberlake. I really admire what they are doing.
Chris Connelly also asks Michael if he wants his kids to have a childhood he never had, and Michael says yes.
Oxford Union Speech 2001
On March 6, 2001, Michael Jackson adressed the Oxford Union (Oxford university, UK) to launch his new initiative ‘Heal The Kids’. After giving a very emotional speech, during which he broke down into tears, Michael basked in a five-minute long standing ovation.
During the speech, which ran approximately 40 minutes, Michael addressed the emotional neglect of today’s children as well as the emotional neglect of his own childhood. He spoke about his troubled relationship with his father and briefly of his own children, Prince and Paris. Michael’s speech also covered such topics as violence in US high schools, illiteracy in the US and UK, and even the very tragic story of James Bulger, the toddler who was abducted and killed by two older children in Liverpool.
Thank you, thank you dear friends, from the bottom of my heart, for such a loving and spirited welcome, and thank you, Mr. President, for you kind invitation to me which I am so honored to accept. I also want to express a special thanks to you Shmuley, who for 11 years served as Rabbi here at Oxford. You and I have been working so hard to form Heal the Kids, as well as writing our book about childlike qualities, and in all of our efforts you have been such a supportive and loving friend.
And I would also like to thank Toba Friedman, our director of operations at Heal the Kids, who is returning tonight to the alma mater where she served as a Marshall scholar, as well as Marilyn Piels, another central member of our Heal the Kids team. I am humbled to be lecturing in a place that has previously been filled by such notable figures as Mother Theresa, Albert Einstein, Ronald Reagan, Robert Kennedy and Malcolm X. I’ve even heard that Kermit the Frog has made an appearance here, and I’ve always felt a kinship with Kermit’s message that it’s not easy being green. I’m sure he didn’t find it any easier being up here than I do. As I looked round Oxford today, I couldn’t help but be aware of the majesty and grandeur of this great institution, not to mention the brilliance of the great and gifted minds that have roamed these streets for centuries. The walls of Oxford have not only housed the greatest philosophical and scientific geniuses — they have also ushered forth some of the most cherished creators of children’s literature, from JRR Tolkien to CS Lewis. Today I was allowed to hobble into the dining hall in Christ Church to see Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland immortalized in the stained glass windows. And even one of my own fellow Americans, the beloved Dr Seuss graced these halls and then went on to leave his mark on the imaginations of millions of children throughout the world.
I suppose I should start by listing my qualifications to speak before you this evening. Friends, I do not claim to have the academic expertise of other speakers who have addressed this hall, just as they could lay little claim at being adept at the moonwalk — and you know, Einstein in particular was really terrible at that. But I do have a claim to having experienced more places and cultures than most people will ever see. Human knowledge consists not only of libraries of parchment and ink — it is also comprised of the volumes of knowledge that are written on the human heart, chiseled on the human soul, and engraved on the human psyche. And friends, I have encountered so much in this relatively short life of mine that I still cannot believe I am only 42. I often tell Shmuley that in soul years I’m sure that I’m at least 80 – and tonight I even walk like I’m 80.
So please harken to my message, because what I have to tell you tonight can bring healing to humanity and healing to our planet. Through the grace of God, I have been fortunate to have achieved many of my artistic and professional aspirations realized early in my lifetime. But these, friends are accomplishments, and accomplishments alone are not synonymous with who I am. Indeed, the cheery five-year-old who belted out Rockin’ Robin and Ben to adoring crowds was not indicative of the boy behind the smile. Tonight, I come before you less as an icon of pop (whatever that means anyway), and more as an icon of a generation, a generation that no longer knows what it means to be children. All of us are products of our childhood. But I am the product of a lack of a childhood, an absence of that precious and wondrous age when we frolic playfully without a care in the world, basking in the adoration of parents and relatives, where our biggest concern is studying for that big spelling test come Monday morning. Those of you who are familiar with the Jackson Five know that I began performing at the tender age of five and that ever since then, I haven’t stopped dancing or singing. But while performing and making music undoubtedly remain as some of my greatest joys, when I was young I wanted more than anything else to be a typical little boy. I wanted to build tree houses, have water balloon fights, and play hide and seek with my friends.
But fate had it otherwise and all I could do was envy the laughter and playtime that seemed to be going on all around me. There was no respite from my professional life. But on Sundays I would go Pioneering, the term used for the missionary work that Jehovah’s Witnesses do. And it was then that I was able to see the magic of other people’s childhood. Since I was already a celebrity, I would have to don a disguise of fat suit, wig, beard and glasses and we would spend the day in the suburbs of Southern California, going door-to-door or making the rounds of shopping malls, distributing our Watchtower magazine. I loved to set foot in all those regular suburban houses and catch sight of the shag rugs and La-Z-Boy armchairs with kids playing Monopoly and grandmas baby-sitting and all those wonderful, ordinary and starry scenes of everyday life. Many, I know, would argue that these things seem like no big deal. But to me they were mesmerizing. I used to think that I was unique in feeling that I was without a childhood. I believed that indeed there were only a handful with whom I could share those feelings.
When I recently met with Shirley Temple Black, the great child star of the 1930s and 40s, we said nothing to each other at first. We simply cried together, for she could share a pain with me that only others like my close friends Elizabeth Taylor and McCauley Culkin knew. I do not tell you this to gain your sympathy but to impress upon you my first important point — it is not just Hollywood child stars that have suffered from a nonexistent childhood. Today, it’s a universal calamity, a global catastrophe. Childhood has become the great casualty of modern-day living. All around us we are producing scores of kids who have not had the joy, who have not been accorded the right, who have not been allowed the freedom, or knowing what it’s like to be a kid. Today children are constantly encouraged to grow up faster, as if this period known as childhood is a burdensome stage, to be endured and ushered through, as swiftly as possible. And on that subject, I am certainly one of the world’s greatest experts. Ours is a generation that has witnessed the abrogation of the parent-child covenant. Psychologists are publishing libraries of books detailing the destructive effects of denying one’s children the unconditional love that is so necessary to the healthy development of their minds and character. And because of all the neglect, too many of our kids have, essentially, to raise themselves. They are growing more distant from their parents, grandparents and other family members, as all around us the indestructible bond that once glued together the generations, unravels. This violation has bred a new generation, Generation O let us call it, that has now picked up the torch from Generation X.
The O stands for a generation that has everything on the outside — wealth, success, fancy clothing and fancy cars, but an aching emptiness on the inside. That cavity in our chests, that barrenness at our core, that void in our center is the place where the heart once beat and which love once occupied. And it’s not just the kids who are suffering. It’s the parents as well. For the more we cultivate little adults in kids’ bodies, the more removed we ourselves become from our own childlike qualities, and there is so much about being a child that is worth retaining in adult life. Love, ladies and gentlemen, is the human family’s most precious legacy, its richest bequest, its golden inheritance. And it is a treasure that is handed down from one generation to another. Previous ages may not have had the wealth we enjoy. Their houses may have lacked electricity, and they squeezed their many kids into small homes without central heating. But those homes had no darkness, nor were they cold. They were lit bright with the glow of love and they were warmed snugly by the very heat of the human heart.
Parents, undistracted by the lust for luxury and status, accorded their children primacy in their lives. As you all know, our two countries broke from each other over what Thomas Jefferson referred to as “certain inalienable rights.” And while we Americans and British might dispute the justice of his claims, what has never been in dispute is that children have certain inalienable rights, and the gradual erosion of those rights has led to scores of children worldwide being denied the joys and security of childhood. I would therefore like to propose tonight that we instal in every home a Children’s Universal Bill of Rights, the tenets of which are:
The right to be loved, without having to earn it
The right to be protected, without having to deserve it
The right to feel valuable, even if you came into the world with nothing
The right to be listened to without having to be interesting
The right to be read a bedtime story without having to compete with the evening news or EastEnders
The right to an education without having to dodge bullets at schools
The right to be thought of as adorable (even if you have a face that only a mother could love).
Friends, the foundation of all human knowledge, the beginning of human consciousness, must be that each and every one of us is an object of love. Before you know if you have red hair or brown, before you know if you are black or white, before you know of what religion you are a part, you have to know that you are loved. About 12 years ago, when I was just about to start my Bad tour, a little boy came with his parents to visit me at home in California. He was dying of cancer and he told me how much he loved my music and me.
His parents told me that he wasn’t going to live, that any day he could just go, and I said to him: “Look, I am going to be coming to your town in Kansas to open my tour in three months. “I want you to come to the show. I am going to give you this jacket that I wore in one of my videos.” His eyes lit up and he said: “You are gonna give it to me?” I said “Yeah, but you have to promise that you will wear it to the show.” I was trying to make him hold on. I said: “When you come to the show I want to see you in this jacket and in this glove” and I gave him one of my rhinestone gloves — and I never usually give the rhinestone gloves away. And he was just in heaven. But maybe he was too close to heaven, because when I came to his town, he had already died, and they had buried him in the glove and jacket. He was just 10 years old. God knows, I know, that he tried his best to hold on. But at least when he died, he knew that he was loved, not only by his parents, but even by me, a near stranger, I also loved him. And with all of that love he know that he didn’t come into this world alone, and he certainly didn’t leave it alone.
If you enter this world knowing you are loved and you leave this world knowing the same, then everything that happens in-between can he dealt with. A professor may degrade you, but you will not feel degraded, a boss may crush you, but you will not be crushed, a corporate gladiator might vanquish you, but you will still triumph. How could any of them truly prevail in pulling you down? For you know that you are an object worthy of love. The rest is just packaging.
But if you don’t have that memory of being loved, you are condemned to search the world for something to fill you up. But no matter how much money you make or how famous you become, you will still fell empty. What you are really searching for is unconditional love, unqualified acceptance. And that was the one thing that was denied to you at birth. Friends’ let me paint a picture for you. Here is a typical day in America – six youths under the age of 20 will commit suicide, 12 children under the age of 20 will die from firearms — remember this is a day, not a year. Three hundred and ninety-nine kids will be arrested for drug abuse, 1,352 babies will be born to teen mothers. This is happening in one of the richest, most developed countries in the history of the world. Yes, in my country there is an epidemic of violence that parallels no other industrialized nation. These are the ways young people in America express their hurt and their anger. But don’t think that there is not the same pain and anguish among their counterparts in the UK. Studies in this country show that every single hour, three teenagers in the UK inflict harm upon themselves, often by cutting or burning their bodies or taking an overdose. This is now they have chosen to cope with the pain of neglect and emotional agony.
In Britain, as many as 20% of families will only sit down and have dinner together once a year. Once a year! And what about the time-honored tradition of reading your kid a bedtime story? Research from the 1980s showed that children who are read to, had far greater literacy and significantly outperformed their peers at school. And yet, less than 33% of British children ages two to eight have a regular bedtime story read to them. You may not think much of that until you take into account that 75% of their parents did have that bedtime story when they were that age. Clearly, we do not have to ask ourselves where all of this pain, anger and violent behavior comes from. It is self-evident that children are thundering against the neglect, quaking against the indifference and crying out just to be noticed. The various child protection agencies in the US say that millions of children are victims of maltreatment in the form of neglect, in the average year.
Yes, neglect. In rich homes, privileged homes, wired to the hilt with every electronic gadget. Homes where parents come home, but they’re not really home, because their heads are still at the office. And their kids? Well, their kids just make do with whatever emotional crumbs they get. And you don’t get much from endless TV, computer games and videos. These hard, cold numbers which for me, wrench the soul and shake the spirit, should indicate to you why I have devoted so much of my time and resources into making our new Heal the Kids initiative a colossal success. Our goal is simple – to recreate the parent/child bond, renew its promise and light the way forward for all the beautiful children who are destined one day to walk this earth. But since this is my first public lecture, and you have so warmly welcomed me into your hearts, I feel that I want to tell you more. We each have our own story, and in that sense statistics can become personal. They say that parenting is like dancing. You take one step, your child takes another. I have discovered that getting parents to rededicate themselves to their children is only half the story. The other half is preparing the children to reaccept their parents. When I was very young I remember that we had this crazy mutt of a dog named Black Girl, a mix of wolf and retriever. Not only wasn’t she much of a guard dog, she was such a scared and nervous thing that it is a wonder she did not pass out every time a truck rumbled by, or a thunderstorm swept through Indiana. My sister Janet and I gave that dog so much love, but we never really won back the sense of trust that had been stolen from her by her previous owner.
We knew he used to beat her. We didn’t know with what. But whatever it was, it was enough to suck the spirit right out of that dog. A lot of kids today are hurt puppies who have weaned themselves off the need for love. They couldn’t care less about their parents. Left to their own devices, they cherish their independence. They have moved on and have left their parents behind. Then there are the far worse cases of children who harbor animosity and resentment toward their parents, so that any overture that their parents might undertake would be thrown forcefully back in their face. Tonight, I don’t want any of us to make this mistake. That’s why I’m calling upon all the world’s children — beginning with all of us here tonight — to forgive our parents, if we felt neglected. Forgive them and teach them how to love again. You probably weren’t surprised to hear that I did not have an idyllic childhood. The strain and tension that exists in my relationship with my own father is well documented. My father is a tough man and he pushed my brothers and me hard, from the earliest age, to be the best performers we could be. He had great difficulty showing me affection. He never really told me he loved me. And he never really complimented me either. If I did a great show, he would tell me it was a good show. And if I did an OK show, he would say nothing.
He seemed intent, above all else, on making us a commercial success. And at that he was more than adept. My father was a managerial genius and my brothers and I owe our professional success, in no small measure, to the forceful way that he pushed us. He trained me as a showman and under his guidance I couldn’t miss a step. But what I really wanted was a Dad. I wanted a father who showed me love. And my father never did that. He never said I love you while looking me straight in the eye, he never played a game with me. He never gave me a piggyback ride, he never threw a pillow at me, or a water balloon. But I remember once when I was about four years old, there was a little carnival and he picked me up and put me on a pony.
It was a tiny gesture, probably something he forgot five minutes later. But because of that moment I have this special place in my heart for him. Because that’s how kids are, the little things mean so much to them and for me, that one moment meant everything. I only experienced it that one time, but it made me feel really good, about him and the world. But now I am a father myself, and one day I was thinking about my own children, Prince and Paris and how I wanted them to think of me when they grow up. To be sure, I would like them to remember how I always wanted them with me wherever I went, how I always tried to put them before everything else. But there are also challenges in their lives. Because my kids are stalked by paparazzi, they can’t always go to a park or a movie with me.
So what if they grow older and resent me, and how my choices impacted their youth? Why weren’t we given an average childhood like all the other kids, they might ask? And at that moment I pray that my children will give me the benefit of the doubt. That they will say to themselves: “Our daddy did the best he could, given the unique circumstances that he faced. “He may not have been perfect, but he was a warm and decent man, who tried to give us all the love in the world.” I hope that they will always focus on the positive things, on the sacrifices I willingly made for them, and not criticize the things they had to give up, or the errors I’ve made, and will certainly continue to make, in raising them. For we have all been someone’s child, and we know that despite the very best of plans and efforts, mistakes will always occur. That’s just being human. And when I think about this, of how I hope that my children will not judge me unkindly, and will forgive my shortcomings, I am forced to think of my own father and despite my earlier denials, I am forced to admit that me must have loved me. He did love me, and I know that. There were little things that showed it. When I was a kid I had a real sweet tooth — we all did. My favorite food was glazed doughnuts and my father knew that. So every few weeks I would come downstairs in the morning and there on the kitchen counter was a bag of glazed doughnuts — no note, no explanation — just the doughnuts. It was like Santa Claus. Sometimes I would think about staying up late at night, so I could see him leave them there, but just like with Santa Claus, I didn’t want to ruin the magic for fear that he would never do it again.
My father had to leave them secretly at night, so as no one might catch him with his guard down. He was scared of human emotion, he didn’t understand it or know how to deal with it. But he did know doughnuts. And when I allow the floodgates to open up, there are other memories that come rushing back, memories of other tiny gestures, however imperfect, that showed that he did what he could. So tonight, rather than focusing on what my father didn’t do, I want to focus on all the things he did do and on his own personal challenges. I want to stop judging him. I have started reflecting on the fact that my father grew up in the South, in a very poor family. He came of age during the Depression and his own father, who struggled to feed his children, showed little affection towards his family and raised my father and his siblings with an iron fist. Who could have imagined what it was like to grow up a poor black man in the South, robbed of dignity, bereft of hope, struggling to become a man in a world that saw my father as subordinate.
I was the first black artist to be played on MTV and I remember how big a deal it was even then. And that was in the 80s! My father moved to Indiana and had a large family of his own, working long hours in the steel mills, work that kills the lungs and humbles the spirit, all to support his family. Is it any wonder that he found it difficult to expose his feelings? Is it any mystery that he hardened his heart, that he raised the emotional ramparts? And most of all, is it any wonder why he pushed his sons so hard to succeed as performers, so that they could be saved from what he knew to be a life of indignity and poverty? I have begun to see that even my father’s harshness was a kind of love, an imperfect love, to be sure, but love nonetheless. He pushed me because he loved me. Because he wanted no man ever to look down at his offspring. And now with time, rather than bitterness, I feel blessing. In the place of anger, I have found absolution. And in the place of revenge I have found reconciliation. And my initial fury has slowly given way to forgiveness.
Almost a decade ago, I founded a charity called Heal the World. The title was something I felt inside me. Little did I know, as Shmuley later pointed out, that those two words form the cornerstone of Old Testament prophecy. Do I really believe that we can heal this world, that is riddled with war and genocide, even today? And do I really think that we can heal our children, the same children who can enter their schools with guns and hatred and shoot down their classmates, like they did at Columbine? Or children who can beat a defenseless toddler to death, like the tragic story of Jamie Bulger? Of course I do, or I wouldn’t be here tonight. But it all begins with forgiveness, because to heal the world, we first have to heal ourselves. And to heal the kids, we first have to heal the child within, each and every one of us. As an adult, and as a parent, I realize that I cannot be a whole human being, nor a parent capable of unconditional love, until I put to rest the ghosts of my own childhood. And that’s what I’m asking all of us to do tonight. Live up to the fifth of the 10 Commandments. Honor your parents by not judging them. Give them the benefit of the doubt. That is why I want to forgive my father and to stop judging him. I want to forgive my father, because I want a father, and this is the only one that I’ve got.
I want the weight of my past lifted from my shoulders and I want to be free to step into a new relationship with my father, for the rest of my life, unhindered by the goblins of the past. In a world filled with hate, we must still dare to hoe. In a world filled with anger, we must still dare to comfort. In a world filled with despair, we must still dare to dream. And in a world filled with distrust, we must still dare to believe. To all of you tonight who feel let down by your parents, I ask you to let down your disappointment. To all of you tonight who feel cheated by your fathers or mothers, I ask you not to cheat yourself further. And to all of you who wish to push your parents away, I ask you to extend you hand to them instead. I am asking you, I am asking myself, to give our parents the gift of unconditional love, so that they too may learn how to love from us, their children. So that love will finally be restored to a desolate and lonely world. Shmuley once mentioned to me an ancient Biblical prophecy which says that a new world and a new time would come, when “the hearts of the parents would be restored through the hearts of their children.” My friends, we are that world, we are those children. Mahatma Gandhi said: “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” Tonight, be strong. Beyond being strong, rise to the greatest challenge of all — to restore that broken covenant. We must all overcome whatever crippling effects our childhoods may have had on our lives and in the words of Jesse Jackson, forgive each other, redeem each other and move on. This call for forgiveness may not result in Oprah moments the world over, with thousands of children making up with their parents, but it will at least be a start, and we’ll all be so much happier as a result. And so ladies and gentlemen, I conclude my remarks tonight with faith, joy and excitement. From this day forward, may a new song be heard. Let that new song be the sound of children laughing. Let that new song be the sound of children playing. Let that new song be the sound of children singing. And let that new song be the sound of parents listening. Together, let us create a symphony of hearts, marveling at the miracle of our children and basking in the beauty of love. Let us heal the world and blight its pain. And may we all make beautiful music together. God bless you, and I love you.”
Jackson Interview Transcript
Interview With Ed Bradley On ’60 Minutes’
- Jackson speaks to Ed Bradley. (CBS)
- Michael Jackson shows his arm which he claims was injured by handcuffs when arrested. (CBS)
- Jackson’s booking photo and personal information from the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department in Santa Barbara, Calif. (AP)
For most of his life, Michael Jackson has been in the spotlight, most recently because of what has been described as bizarre behavior -— bizarre behavior that has now led him to be charged with sexually molesting a 13-year-old boy. If convicted, he could spend 20 years in prison.
Now out on bail and awaiting trial, tonight Michael Jackson speaks out for the first time about his arrest, his accuser and the charges that have, for the moment, made his life a shambles.
We sat down with Michael Jackson on Christmas Day at a hotel in Los Angeles –one of several cities where he has been in seclusion since authorities in Santa Barbara officially charged him with seven counts of sexual molestation and two counts of using an “intoxicating agent” — reported to be alcohol — to seduce the boy.
ED BRADLEY: What is your response to the allegations that were brought by the district attorney in Santa Barbara, that you molested this boy?
MICHAEL JACKSON: Totally false. Before I would hurt a child, I would slit my wrists. I would never hurt a child It’s totally false. I was outraged. I could never do something like that
ED BRADLEY: This is a kid you knew?
MICHAEL JACKSON: Yes.
ED BRADLEY: How would you characterize your relationship with this boy?
MICHAEL JACKSON: I’ve helped many, many, many children, thousands of children, cancer kids, leukemia kids. This is one of many.
Michael Jackson says his accuser is among thousands of children he’s invited to his 2,600—acre Neverland Ranch in California to play in his amusement park, visit his zoo, watch movies, play video games, and feast on their favorite foods.
ED BRADLEY: But tell me why you developed Neverland.
MICHAEL JACKSON: Because I wanted to have a place that I could create everything that I that I never had as a child. So, you see rides. You see animals. There’s a movie theater. I was always on tour, traveling. You know? And — I never got a chance to do those things. So, I compensated for the loss by — I have a good — I mean, I can’t go into a park. I can’t go to Disneyland, as myself. I can’t go out and walk down the street. There’s crowds, and bumper to bumper cars. And so, I create my world behind my gates. Everything that I love is behind those gates. We have elephants, and giraffes, and crocodiles, and every kind of tigers and lions. And — and we have bus loads of kids, who don’t get to see those things. They come up sick children, and enjoy it. They enjoy it in a pure, loving, fun way. It’s people with the dirty mind that think like that. I don’t think that way. That’s not me.
ED BRADLEY: And — and do you think people look at you and think that way today?
MICHAEL JACKSON: If they have a sick mind, yeah. And if they believe the trash they read in newspapers, yeah. And — and it’s not — what — just cause — remember something. Just because it’s in print doesn’t mean it’s the gospel. People write negatives things, cause they feel that’s what sells. Good news to them, doesn’t sell.
And Jackson says his relationship with this boy he first met a year ago was positive. He says he was determined to help him with his battle against cancer.
ED BRADLEY: So when he would come over what would he do? What would you do?
MICHAEL JACKSON: I’ll tell you exactly. When I first saw him, he was total bald—headed, white as snow from the chemotherapy, very bony, looked anorexic, no eyebrows, no eyelashes. And he was so weak, I would have to carry him from the house to the game room, or push him in a wheelchair, to try to give him a childhood, a life. Cause I felt bad. Because I never had that chance, too, as a child. You know? That the— and so, I know what it— it felt like in that way. Not being sick, but not having had a childhood. So, my heart go out to those children I feel their pain.
Jackson says he tried to help in the healing process by taking the boy around the grounds of Neverland to Jackson’s favorite places.
MICHAEL JACKSON: He had never really climbed a tree. So, I had this tree that I have at Neverland. I call it, “My Giving Tree.” Cause I like to write songs up there. I’ve written many songs up there. So, I said, “You have to climb a tree. That’s part of boyhood. You just gotta do it.” And — I helped him up. And once he went up — up the tree, we looked down on the branches. And it was so beautiful. It was magical. And he loved it. To give him a chance to have a life, you know? Because he was told he was going to die. They told him. They told his — his parents prepare for his funeral, that’s how bad it was. And I put him on a program. I’ve helped many children doing this. I put him on a mental program.
The boy — whose name and face we’re not revealing — has credited Michael Jackson’s friendship and support with helping him to battle his cancer. And last February in a British documentary that was filmed before the boy alleged he was sexually molested — he said that he had stayed overnight at Jackson’s home many times, and had slept in his bedroom.
JACKSON ACCUSER: There was one night, I asked him if I could stay in the bedroom. And he let me stay in the bedroom. And I was like, Michael, you can sleep on the bed. And he was like, no, no you sleep in the bed. And then he finally said, ‘Okay, if you love me, you’ll sleep on the bed.’ I was like, ‘Oh, man.’ And so I finally slept on the bed.
That comment – along with Michael Jackson’s startling confession that he had shared his bed many times with children – spurred an investigation last February by the Los Angeles county department of children and family services, which interviewed the boy and his mother to determine whether he had been sexually molested by Michael Jackson.
According an agency’s memo, “the child denied any form of sexual abuse,” and “the investigation by the sensitive case unit concluded the allegations of neglect and sexual abuse to be unfounded.” Over the next several months, relations between the boy’s family and Michael Jackson deteriorated. According to sources close to the family, the boy’s mother had suspicions that Jackson was serving alcohol to her 13-year-old son, who was still suffering from cancer. Eventually she took her suspicions to the district attorney and that led to a full scale investigation by his office and the Santa Barbara County Sheriff.
SHERRIFF JIM ANDERSON: An arrest warrant for Mr. Jackson has been issued on multiple counts of child molestation. The bail amount of the award has been set at 3 million dollars.
REPORTER: If Michael Jackson’s watching this right now, what’s your message to him?
DISTRICT ATTORNEY THOMAS SNEDDON: Get over here and get checked in.
With that announcement two weeks ago, Michael Jackson’s future and his career were in serious jeopardy. He surrendered to authorities and was booked on child molestation charges of lewd and lascivious conduct with a child.
ED BRADLEY: What was going through your mind when you’re taken into a police station, in handcuffs, to have a mug shot taken, that you know is gonna be shown around the world?
MICHAEL JACKSON: They did it to try and belittle me, to try and to take away my pride. But I went through the whole system with them. And at the end, I— I wanted the public to know that I was okay, even though I was hurting.
ED BRADLEY: What happened when they arrested you? What did they do to you?
MICHAEL JACKSON: They were supposed to go in, and just check fingerprints, and do the whole thing that they do when they take somebody in. They manhandled me very roughly. My shoulder is dislocated, literally. It’s hurting me very badly. I’m in pain all the time. This is, see this arm? This is as far as I can reach it. Same with this side over here.
ED BRADLEY: Because of what happened at the police station?
MICHAEL JACKSON: Yeah. Yeah. At the police station. And what they did to me — if you — if you saw what they did to my arms — it was very bad what they did. It’s very swollen. I don’t wanna say. You’ll see. You’ll see.
We were given a photograph said to be taken after Michael Jackson was released on bail. Jackson says the swelling above his wrist is where the police handcuffed him.
ED BRADLEY: How did they do it? I mean, what, physically, what did they do?
MICHAEL JACKSON: With the handcuffs, the way they tied ‘em too tight behind my back —
ED BRADLEY: Behind your back?
MICHAEL JACKSON: Yeah. And putting it, they put it in a certain position, knowing that it’s going to hurt, and affect my back. Now I can’t move. I — I — it keeps me from sleeping at night. I can’t sleep at night.
And Jackson says there was more …
MICHAEL JACKSON: Then one time, I asked to use the restroom. And they said, “Sure, it’s right around the corner there.” Once I went in the restroom, they locked me in there for like 45 minutes. There was doo doo, feces thrown all over the walls, the floor, the ceiling. And it stunk so bad. Then one of the policemen came by the window. And he made a sarcastic remark. He said, “Smell — does it smell good enough for you in there? How do you like the smell? Is it good?” And I just simply said, “It’s alright. It’s okay.” So, I just sat there, and waited.
ED BRADLEY: For 45 minutes?
MICHAEL JACKSON: Yeah, for 45 minutes. About 45 minutes. And then — then one cop would — come by, and say, “Oh, you’ll be out in — in a second. You’ll be out in a second.” Then there would be another ten minutes added on, then another 15 minutes added on. They did this on purpose.
What about Jackson’s allegations? Was he mistreated? Did the police injure his arm and shoulder? Did they lock him in a bathroom for 45 minutes? To get answers to those questions, we made repeated calls to both the sheriff’s office and the office of the district attorney. They declined our request for an interview and referred us to the statement on their Web site, which says about allegations of mistreatment: “That is not true.” It was the sheriff’s deputies who executed the search warrant of the Neverland ranch.
ED BRADLEY: How did you feel when they went into Neverland, I mean, with a search warrant? I mean, what were they looking for? What did they take?
MICHAEL JACKSON: My room is a complete wreck. My workers told me. They said, “Michael, don’t go in your room.” They were crying on the phone, my employees. They said, “If you saw your room, you would cry.” I have stairs that go up to my bed. And they said, “You can’t even get up the stairs. The room is totally trashed.” And they had 80 policemen in this room, 80 policemen in one bedroom. That’s really overdoing it. They took knives, and cut open my mattresses with knives. C — just cut everything open.
ED BRADLEY: Did — did they take anything from Neverland?
MICHAEL JACKSON: A— I’m not sure what they took. They never gave me a list.
ED BRADLEY: But you’re saying that they destroyed your property?
MICHAEL JACKSON: Yes, they did. And then they, what they did was they made everybody that work at the property, they locked everybody out of the house. They had the whole house to themselves to do whatever they wanted. And — they totally took advantage. They went into areas they weren’t supposed to go into — like my office. They didn’t have search warrants for those places. And they totally took advantage. And the room is a total, total wreck, they told me. I don’t think I wanna see it. I’m not ready to see it yet.
ED BRADLEY: So, you haven’t been back there?
MICHAEL JACKSON: I’ve been back there. But not in my bedroom. I won’t live there ever again. I’ll visit Neverland. It’s a house now. It’s not a home anymore. I’ll only visit there. What time is it? Cause I’m hurting. You know what? I’m — I’m hurting. I have to go pretty soon anyway. Yeah. Okay. I don’t feel good.
This is not the first time Michael Jackson has been accused of child molestation. Ten years ago, he was accused of sexually abusing another young boy. However, after the boy refused to testify, and after Jackson paid the boy’s family millions of dollars to settle a civil lawsuit, Jackson was never charged. Although the family in the current case against him has filed no lawsuit and says it does not intend to, Michael Jackson is still suspicious of their motives.
MICHAEL JACKSON: Somewhere greed got in there, and somebody — I — I can’t quite say. But it has to do with money. It’s Michael Jackson. Look what we have here. We can get money out of this. That’s exactly what happened.
ED BRADLEY: You had helped him with his cancer. What I don’t understand is why today and I know you say it’s money, but why would he turn around and say, “Michael Jackson sexually molested me,” if it weren’t true?
MICHAEL JACKSON: Because parents have power over children. They feel they have to do what their parents say. But the love of money is the root of all evil. And this is a sweet child. And to see him turn like this, this isn’t him. This is not him.
ED BRADLEY: So, you don’t think this comes from him? This —
MICHAEL JACKSON: No.
ED BRADLEY: — Comes from his parents?
MICHAEL JACKSON: No. This is not him. No. I know his heart.
Jackson said that even if he could, he would never settle this case as he did when similar charges were made in 1993.
ED BRADLEY: So — if you were innocent, why would you pay, I mean, to keep you quiet? I mean, why not go into court, and fight for your good name? I mean —
MICHAEL JACKSON: I’m not allowed to talk on that —
MARK GERAGOS: I’m gonna stop you for a second.
ED BRADLEY: Sure.
Jackson’s high powered attorney Mark Geragos told me that if I wanted an answer to that question I’d have to ask him.
MARK GERAGOS: I mean remember what happened to him ten years ago. He was humiliated. He was — he went through where somebody — was examining him. Was photographing him. Was having him — humiliating him in the worst way in terms of looking at his private parts and photographing his private parts. And — and he was subjected to some of the most, just intrusive kinds of things that you could ever imagine. I can only try to put myself into that situation and — and say look, if money could make that situation go away, maybe that — that was the calculus then. I don’t know and I don’t wanna second guess it.
ED BRADLEY: But — but what you end up with is the public perception that this has happened not once, this has happened twice. That young boys have — have come forward to accuse him of — of sexual molestation over the last ten years. And he has made public comments about how he enjoys sharing his bed with children. Can you understand how the public might feel that, hey, maybe there’s something here. There’s a lot of smoke.
MARK GERAGOS: Well, look. There’s a lot of smoke. But a lot of the people who blow the smoke are — are twisting what’s happened. I understand when people say, now, there’s somebody else who came forward. But I — I think, in all fairness, most people get it. Most people understand that this case is not about anything but money.
We asked the mother of the accuser who made these latest allegations to tell us her side of the story, but she declined and would not authorize anyone else to speak on her behalf.
ED BRADLEY: That British documentary last February — which you didn’t like —
MICHAEL JACKSON: Yeah, I didn’t like it.
ED BRADLEY: You — you said in that documentary that— that many children have slept in your bedroom.
MICHAEL JACKSON: Yeah.
ED BRADLEY: You said, and — and I’m gonna quote here, “Why can’t you share your bed? A most loving thing to do is to share your bed with— with someone.”
MICHAEL JACKSON: Yes.
ED BRADLEY: As — as we sit here today, do you still think that it’s acceptable to share your bed with children?
MICHAEL JACKSON: Of course. Of course. Why not? If you’re gonna be a pedophile, if you’re gonna be Jack the Ripper, if you’re gonna be a murderer, it’s not a good idea. That I’m not. That’s how we were raised. And I met — I didn’t sleep in the bed with the child. Even if I did, it’s okay. I slept on the floor. I give the bed to the child.
ED BRADLEY: But given all that you’ve been through —
MICHAEL JACKSON: Yeah?
ED BRADLEY: Given the allegations, given the innuendo — why would you put yourself in a position where something like this could happen again?
MICHAEL JACKSON: Well, I’m always more cautious. But I will never stop helping and loving people the way Jesus said to. He said, “Continue to love. Always love. Remember children. Imitate the children.” Not childish, but childlike.
That may sound naïve, but Jackson attorney Mark Geragos says they did take precautions.
MARK GERAGOS: They were, at all times during that February 7 to March 10 period of time, whenever Michael was there, there was always a third party around. Always.
ED BRADLEY: What about the allegation that some kind of intoxicating agent, said to be wine, was given to this child to make him more pliable?
MARK GERAGOS: Ludicrous. I mean it’s ludicrous on its face. There are in excess of 100 employees at any one time at that ranch. There is full—time security at that ranch. There are people who are there at all times, day and night, 24—7, who are specifically instructed to make sure that people don’t do that. The kids are nowhere near alcohol and liquor.
ED BRADLEY: You’re a parent. You’ve got three children.
MICHAEL JACKSON: Yes.
ED BRADLEY: Would you allow your children to sleep in the bed with a grown man, who was not a relative, or to sleep in the bedroom?
MICHAEL JACKSON: Sure, if I know that person, trust them, and love them. That’s happened many times with me when I was little.
ED BRADLEY: Would you, as a parent, allow your children to sleep in the same bedroom with someone, who has the suspicions and allegations that have been made against you, and about you today? Would you allow that?
MICHAEL JACKSON: Someone —
ED BRADLEY: If you knew someone, who had the same —
MICHAEL JACKSON: I’m not —
ED BRADLEY: —kind of allegations —
MICHAEL JACKSON: Ed, I — I know exactly what you’re saying.
ED BRADLEY: — that were made against you — would you let your children —
MICHAEL JACKSON: My children?
ED BRADLEY: — sleep in that man’s bedroom?
MICHAEL JACKSON: Mmm, if I — if I knew the person personally. Cause I know how the press is, and how people can twist the truth, if I knew the person personally, absolutely yes. Absolutely. I wouldn’t have a problem with it.
ED BRADLEY: Do you know how this looks to a lot of people? I mean, do you understand that?
MICHAEL JACKSON: How does what look?
ED BRADLEY: How the fact that you —
MICHAEL JACKSON: Know why? People think sex. They’re thinking sex. My mind doesn’t run that way. When I see children, I see the face of God. That’s why I love them so much. That’s what I see.
ED BRADLEY: Do you know any other man your age, a 45-year-old man, who shares his bedroom with children?
MICHAEL JACKSON: Of course. Not for sex. No. That’s wrong.
ED BRADLEY: Well, let me — let me say, from my perspective, my experience, I don’t know any 45-year-old men, who are not relatives of the children, who share their bedroom with other children.
MICHAEL JACKSON: Well, what’s wrong with sharing your bed? I didn’t say I slept in the bed. Even if I did sleep in the bed, it’s okay. I am not going to do anything sexual to a child. It’s not where my heart is. I would never do anything like that. That’s not Michael Jackson. I’m sorry. That’s someone else.
And the Michael Jackson of today is not the Michael Jackson who at one time was the No. 1 pop star in the world. His “Thriller” CD topped the charts, while his latest didn’t crack the top 10.
ED BRADLEY: What — what has this done to your career?
MICHAEL JACKSON: What — what has it done to my career?
ED BRADLEY: What has it done to your career?
MICHAEL JACKSON: In what way?
ED BRADLEY: How has it impacted — you know —
MICHAEL JACKSON: I’m — my album —
ED BRADLEY: — touring, record sales —
MICHAEL JACKSON: — album is number one all over the world. All over the world. America is the only one, because I — I don’t wanna say too much.
ED BRADLEY: But it’s not number one in the United States?
MICHAEL JACKSON: It’s a conspiracy. Yeah. I’m getting tired.
Before Michael Jackson’s attorneys stopped the interview, we were able to ask him one last question.
ED BRADLEY: Michael, what would you say to you — your fans, who have supported you through all of this, and — and who today, some of them might have questions? What would you say to them?
MICHAEL JACKSON: Well, I would tell them I love them very much. And I— I— they’ve learned about me, and know about me from a distance. But if you really want to know about me, there’s a song I wrote, which is the most honest song I’ve ever written. It’s the most autobiographical song I’ve ever written. It’s called, “Childhood.” They should listen to it. That’s the one they really should listen to. And thank you for your support, the fans around the world. I love you with all my heart. I don’t take any of it for granted. Any of it. And I love them dearly, all over the world.
Michael Jackson will make his first appearance in court on Jan. 16 when is arraigned. He is expected to plead not guilty.