A Genuis At Work: Stories and Recollections of those who worked with Michael


Proud Member
Sep 25, 2009
London, England
He'd seen the Don't You Want Me video - that's why I got the job. And he wanted something cinematic, as well, and his management said he was really into Peter Pan and could we do something that was a little magical?

I'd had an idea the previous year to do a Midas touch video with everything lighting up so the paving stone idea came from that.


  • US number one (seven weeks)
  • UK number one (one week)
  • Jackson's second solo UK number one after 1981's One Day In Your Life
  • Second single - after Paul McCartney duet The Girl Is Mine - from his sixth solo studio album Thriller
  • Thriller is the best-selling album of all time and has sold more than 100 million copies worldwide

The process was pretty straightforward really; we sent the idea to him and went out to LA and shot the video.

Before we shot it, he had a really nice idea for another little scene within it where mannequins come to life and dance behind him and I thought it was a great idea.

We made the video before the album, Thriller, had come out. It was like five weeks before Billie Jean was going to come out and they wouldn't pay for the extra tailor's dummies and the dancers so we had to can that idea.
Obviously, one month later he got anything he wanted for the rest of his life, but right then he wasn't quite in a position yet to demand what he wanted.

He was a really soft-spoken, sweet guy.

Obviously, he was very curious about everything, he wanted to know what was going on with this and that and how that worked.

Then suddenly… I was operating the camera for it as well and the moment he started to dance in that little chorus, it was just so dynamic, it was breathtaking.

I remember the camera steaming up because it was pretty stunning.

You knew that something special was going to arrive on the scene.

This was one of the first videos by a black artist on MTV.

Re: Billie Jean director Steve Barron remembers making the short film

Thanks for sharing this :love: !
Re: Billie Jean director Steve Barron remembers making the short film

wasn't billie jean actually the very first mv on mtv by a Black artist?
Re: Billie Jean director Steve Barron remembers making the short film

Thanks for sharing - would have loved to see the mannequins start to dance in the background as an extra later on
Re: Billie Jean director Steve Barron remembers making the short film

wasn't billie jean actually the very first mv on mtv by a Black artist?
I think Little Red Corvette actually was and debuted a few weeks earlier but Billie Jean was the one which really broke barriers and got attention and was given the acclaim :)
Re: Billie Jean director Steve Barron remembers making the short film

Lovely article and yes I would like to see the extra mannequins/dancers later on. However, it is good to know that he had other ideas for it. What a guy!
Re: Billie Jean director Steve Barron remembers making the short film

Respect to Steve Barron...........

Michael could of made the Billie Jean Video even better.......

........And I thought it was impossible to make it even better!!!!!!
Re: Billie Jean director Steve Barron remembers making the short film

This thread celebrates Michael's work ethic, creativity and unparalleled skills and passion for his work in the studio and on stage, focussing on stories and recollections of those who worked with him.
Re: A Genuis At Work: Stories and Recollections

Originally posted by smooth_criminal05

On George Lopez last night, LL Cool J was asked who he has loved working with the most, and of course he said Michael Jackson.
LL told a few cute stories about the two spending some time together, and went on to say they recorded "many songs" together, none of which have been released (We know one of these to be Serious Effect).

He also continued to say how much he loves and respects MJ and got a huge clap from the audience.

Thanks to Cherubim II for this find.

Analyzing Michael Jackson: The Genius Behind the Music-Chicago

Analyzing Michael Jackson: The Genius Behind the Music

Howard Reich

Arts critic
12:51 PM CDT, September 27, 2010

Was Michael Jackson a genius?
No doubt about it, according to experts who convened over the weekend at the Harold Washington Library Center to explore the topic.

For more than three uninterrupted hours, the Jackson aficionados played audio tracks, showed video, traded anecdotes and otherwise analyzed one of the most prolific careers in American music – albeit one cut short by the singer-songwriter's tragic death last year, at age 50.

With a throng of Jackson admirers queuing up an hour in advance on Friday night, the connoisseurs were preaching to the choir – and they did not shy away from the "g" word.
"He IS a genius," proclaimed reissues producer Harry Weinger, refusing to revert to past tense.

By way of proof, Weinger played tracks from early Jackson recordings – many still unreleased – drawing from Weinger's work on forthcoming Motown and Jackson 5 catalog reissues. In one excerpt after another, listeners heard Jackson as a child, singing with remarkable prodigiousness.

The most shattering cut was an a cappella version of "Never Can Say Goodbye," a pre-teen Jackson phrasing like a master. Without the benefits of instrumental or rhythmic support, Jackson easily keeps time, but he also finds ways to stretch it. He unerringly holds his pitch, until he decides to bend it, for expressive purposes.
The yearning intensity of Jackson's tone, the disarming "oohs" and "aahs" he improvises at key moments in the song, the silvery clarity of his high-pitched voice simply defy rational explanation. No one under 12 can sing with such craft, ardor and musical wisdom without the benefit of extraordinary gifts.

Jackson's talents, of course, eventually made him an object of adoration around the globe, the crushing attention perhaps explaining some idiosyncracies of his personality.
"The guy was painfully shy," said keyboardist Greg Phillinganes, who recorded and toured prolifically with Jackson.

"You may wonder, 'How could he be so shy?'" asked Phillinganes, pointing to a performer who appeared fearless on stage.
"If you were chased (by fans), and you had to run for your life, if that's what you experience from 11, you would be a little different, too."

The real Michael Jackson, explained Phillinganes, was the man who stood before the microphone – particularly in the recording studio – and let all that glorious music flow out of him, without qualm or inhibition.

When Jackson was recording "She's Out of My Life," with Phillinganes on keyboard, they kept reworking and refining the performance, the pianist remembered.
"And at the end of every take, he'd cry," said Phillinganes. "And it was real."

All the panelists in the symposium, which was organized by the Center for Black Music Research at Columbia College Chicago, concurred that Jackson was thoroughly "hands-on" in recording sessions.

Though he didn't play instruments – with the exception of a rare turn on drums – he routinely "would sing percussion parts and bass lines" and other musical details, recalled singer Siedah Garrett, who wrote "Man in the Mirror" with Jackson and duetted with him on the single "I Just Can't Stop Loving You."
Yet for all Jackson's involvement with musical and production aspects of his recordings, he often would playfully wreak havoc in the midst of sessions.

"Michael would make it his business to make other artists mess up," recalled Garrett, with a laugh. "He would sing his part. Then when I would sing my part, he would throw peanuts or something at me.
"And Q (producer Quincy Jones) would say (to Garrett), 'You're wasting studio time!' "

The cumulative effect of all these insider recollections and newly unearthed recordings proved quite moving, especially to those in the audience who already revered Jackson.
"You gave me the soundtrack to my life," one observer told those on the stage, a lineup that included Jackson drummer Ricky Lawson and former record executive Ed Eckstein.

Toward the end of the evening, 79-year-old Oscar Walden Jr., a Chicago TV and radio producer, got up from his seat in the crowd and, leaning on his cane, prepared to read a poem he had
written for Jackson.
"I love Michael," he told the crowd, which fell to a hush.
"He was a genius."
The memory of Anjelica Huston
"A child sincere and fragile"

Interview with the actress, who toured with him for a short Disneyland. "I had reviewed a month ago, told me that he had stolen a dream. It 'died of a broken heart"
by Silvia Bizio

Anjelica Huston
LOS ANGELES - "Michael was like a shaman capable of penetrating into your dreams. A being unique. It 'died of a broken heart." So says Anjelica Huston, who in 1986 had worked with Michael Jackson in 3-D short film Captain Eo , directed by Francis Ford Coppola and produced to Disneyland and DisneyWorld. A film in which Huston played a witch against whom Jackson, hero of the title role, was fighting to save humanity. The actress, 58, daughter of legendary director John Huston, had just begun to recover from grief for the death, last December, her husband, sculptor Robert Graham, when she learned of Jackson's death. "Another terrible grief - he says, reached at his home in Venice - cherished a special affection for him."

Mrs. Huston, as noted by Michael Jackson at the time of the shooting of Captain Eo ?
"I remember the first time I arrived on set, five in the morning, it was already rigged, beautiful, a little 'androgynous, vaguely alien. I was amazed."

Did you know him already?
"No, I had only seen in newspapers or on TV. But in person it was different. He was feeling in a positive sense I mean. The way he worked, his professionalism, perfectionism with which he studied and performed every song and choreography was admirably . Me after two hours of makeup began to impatient, he did not blink. I took her hand and calmed me immediately. "

At that time Michael was a mega-superstar. One could notice?
"Here I am on the set had a huge trailer and was followed by a lawyer, the managers and bodyguards. She had her personal chef, it was like a sheik. Every day we receive requests to star on the first day of shooting came to find Sophia Loren, Elizabeth Taylor and then almost all the biggest stars of those years. "

You became friends?
"Yes he was very sweet and shy. Invited me to lunch in his trailer, where he enjoyed watching cartoons on TV. In some ways it was, in fact, like a child, grew only in the physical, a real Peter Pan , introverted but also eccentric, electrifying, was wound up to a thousand before the public. "

He was good at acting?
"At first found it hard to express feelings such as anger, as if his DNA did not exist in that gene. He could instead express the pain and tenderness. I remember the morning when, after a week of camera turned on me, we would had to shoot his scenes, and I was annoyed that I had claimed, although not "in camera", reciting my lines completely made up and dressed as a witch. Yet, when he climbed onto the platform and began to sing and dance , my heart started pounding, I was shivering. A spell, a force of nature. A performance of pure talent that I had never seen before. "

I had seen recently?
"After Captain Eo I have rarely met ... But, ironically, I saw about a month ago, by chance, in the study of our dermatologist, Arnie Klein. We hugged and we were locked in a study rooms and chat for a couple of hours. We talked about how he had felt humiliated by the accusation of sexual harassment. And of sorrow for the loss of Neverland, where he had lived many years. "

What did he say?
"I remember his words: 'They ruined my dream. I had this dream, perhaps childish and foolish, a place designed to celebrate the innocence of that childhood that I never had, and they took me. I love children, I could never do them harm. I spent all my life to love them and try to do good things for them. A libel, as I did from the harm a child, breaks my heart. An unbearable pain, accusations are unjust and terrible ...'. As she said these things began to cry. I shook my arms. ... He was so skinny and frail "

He spoke of future projects?
"He told me he was prepaparando concert in London. I told him 'I advise you not even a clear night, or I'll slaughter.' He said 'I know, so I'm preparing for the better, because otherwise I will have no more hope of come back and love me. 'He was thin and pale, but with all the makeup he had, even to see a dermatologist, you could not tell what was underneath One thing I can say so much pain he felt in the past and a lot of anxiety and uncertainty for the future. "

What do you think really killed Michael Jackson?
"Michael had a broken heart. For this is dead. Of course, with an autopsy will wonder how many things, drugs and so on. But the truth is that broke your heart."

What legacy?
"Michael has changed the world. It changed everything in the lives of African Americans, proving that there is no barrier between white and black. He really was both white and black. There were others such as Elvis Presley, but never like Michael Jackson. He something alien that no one else had, and no one else will ever have. "
( July 7, 2009 )

The english was kinda off coz the original article is in Italian: http://www.repubblica.it/2009/07/se...-anjelica-huston/jackson-anjelica-huston.html
Thanks to Xtarlight for this

Since the text was sent to a mailing list in June 25, 2010, I'm not sure if this is the correct forum. Feel free to move it if it doesn't fit here.

Remembering a friend

Today marks the one year anniversary of his death. Over the course of the next few days you will likely hear his music, see news about his estate or kids, perhaps hear jokes and rumors. His enormous debt has apparently been lowered from $500M to $300M with income continuing to flow, thanks to the business team controlling his estate. According to Sony Music, 31 million of his albums have sold since he died. The movie "This Is It" grossed $260 worldwide. His videos will be in heavy rotation this weekend, and his lighthearted Captain Eo will continue to draw crowds at Disneyland and Epcot Center in Walt Disney World.

People are beginning to remember that beyond all the tabloid headlines, eccentricities and accusations was a remarkably talented guy who created a soundtrack for millions of people. He was an entertainer, plain and simple, on stage and off. He was also a good client, boss, and friend.

Many of you know that I worked with him on countless projects spanning some 18 years. I have had the opportunity to meet and work with many "famous" people, but none more interesting or polarizing than this man. When people learn that I worked with him for such a long period of time, they are understandably curious. Typically, the opening line is, "So, was he as weird as he seemed?". But I can't really blame them. The media did a great job of painting him in such a way that it seemed he rode around on a monkey carrying the Elephant Man bones in a backpack wearing pajamas on his way to a Boy Scout camp.

Recently an article was published by a friend of mine in the Huffinton Post. It went into great detail about how out of line the press was during his 2005 trial. The event became a global media circus, with soundbites and sensationalism taking the place of facts. When 14 jurors found him not-guilty, the story was over and the tents were packed up.

It is not my job to convince you that he was innocent or "normal." I can only share memories of working with him in the studio and at his home, known as Neverland Valley Ranch.

When I wrote the following article shortly after his death, I received countless notes of appreciation for introducing people to the artist that I knew. I will continue to write and compile these stories, as he was a truly unique individual, and he deeply impacted my life and career path.

If you can turn down the media madness for just a few minutes, I would like to tell you about a friend of mine that died a year ago. His name is Michael Jackson.

Gone Too Soon

In 1985 I got married, got my first job in a recording studio (Westlake Audio), and met one of the kindest young men I have ever known, Michael Jackson. Quite a year. To Brad and Michaeleven attempt to sum up a nearly 20 year working relationship and friendship with Michael in one article is impossible, but let me try to give you a glimpse into the incredible world I was privileged to be a part of.

Michael was working on Captain Eo for Disneyland and Epcot Center. He was fresh off the Victory Tour, the Thriller album, his dominance of MTV, and he was back in the studio. I wish I could remember our first meeting, but it was likely just passing each other in the hallway. He was always warm, yet shy. Over time we would chat now and then, but it took time to build the trust.

Around that same time he did an often forgotten album, The ET Storybook. This was when I met Quincy Jones and Bruce Swedien. Early in 1986 the team moved into Westlake Studio D in Hollywood to record the BAD album, and welcomed me in. I worked other sessions during the day, but at night I was invited to sit in and learn. Eventually I worked my way up to technical director for the team, and the trust was solidified. It was during this time that Michael nicknamed me "Really Really Brad," a twist on the chorus, "Bad, Bad, Really Really Bad." Check the album credits, it's there.

Over the next ten years I worked with Michael doing tour prep for the BAD tour in 1988, then back in the studio for the Dangerous album in Los Angeles, followed by the HIStory album in New York. Toss in countless music videos, the HIStory tour, the Moonwalker project, Blood On The Dance Floor album, and various side projects, and I got to know him pretty well.

So who was Michael Jackson, and why did he have such a profound effect on my life? Not for a moment do I pretend to have been a close friend of his, or a confidant. Rather I worked for him and with him, and considered it an honor.

He was a consummate professional. If his vocals were scheduled for a noon downbeat, he was there at 10 am, with his vocal coach Seth, singing scales. Yes, scales. I would set up the mic, check the equipment, make coffee, and all the while he would sing scales for two hours.

He typically drove himself to the studio alone. For a while he drove a big Ford Bronco with dents and scrapes on it. He was not a great driver. More than once he called into the studio to say he would be late after being in a fender bender.

He was intensely curious about "normal life." He asked me about Christmas once, and couldn't understand how kids could wait until Christmas morning to open the gifts. You see, he was raised Jehovah's Witness, so Christmas was not celebrated in the Jackson family.

Since I was so close to this world, let me try to give you some insight. A "typical" MJ album would take between 10 and 16 months in the studio. His budget allowed for as many as 100 songs to be recorded for any given project. Some would be discarded early on, while others were fine tuned. Musicians would be brought in to add their textures and ideas, but in the center of it all was Michael. The team was remarkably small given the scope of the projects. Each project was slightly different, but typically there were less then eight of us working day to day, from the first day until the project was mastered. No entourage. No Elephant Man bones. No groupies. No drugs. Just music. And food.

During the BAD album, Fridays quickly became known as "family day." He would have his two chefs, affectionately known as the Slam Dunk Sisters, prepare a large dinner for the crew, musicians and any family members that might be around. Since I was working sometimes 80 hours a week, it was not uncommon for Deb to come have dinner with us. Michael loved these family get togethers. In later projects I would bring my girls, whom he loved and would play with. There is one moment in time in my head when Deb brought my daughter Amanda, who was just a baby at the time, into the studio for the afternoon. She set up a play mat and brought some toys, and Michael sat and played with her for a while. He looked at Deb and said, "This is her own little world, isn't it?"

Brad and MJ playing Jenga

When you work in this environment, your sense of normal begins to shift. It was not uncommon for celebrities or VIPs to stop in. One day the Secret Service searched the building for a couple hours before Nancy Reagan came for a visit. Next it was Princess Stephanie from Monaco. (She has a cameo on the song "In The Closet.") The chimps were common guests in the studio, as was a giant snake, both of which I would wind up holding during MJ's vocals. Michael loved mixing fun and work, but work always came first.

I have watched him write many songs, and the process is amazing. I asked him where they came from, and he said they were gifts from God. He could hear the entire song in his head before we could get tape on the machines. He would sometimes sing the drums, bass, percussion, keyboards, etc., and we would later bring in musicians to replace his demo tracks.

His lounge would be decorated with Disney posters and old Hollywood memorabilia. He loved innocence, and displayed gentleness, humor and patience.

This driving work ethic also had to escape from time to time. There were many days we would show up at the studio, only to find he had flown to Europe or Japan for a few days, and neglected to tell us. This sometimes meant an unscheduled few days off for us, which was awesome.

There were however memories that he would sometimes share about the endless travel and work schedule when he was just a boy. I remember him telling me about grown women throwing themselves at him when he was just 9 or 10 years old. One story I will never forget was him telling of flying with his dad and brothers through a lightening storm at night. The plane was being tossed around, lightening was flashing, and he started crying in fear. His dad ignored him, embarrassed. A flight attendant sat with until the plane cleared the storm. Hearing him tell that story, with tears in his eyes, gave a glimpse into his life.

There are few people I have worked so closely with for so long than Michael Jackson. There were many months when I spent more time with him than I did my own wife. Somewhere around 1991 he asked me to visit a ranch he had purchased, and design a sound system for a carousel. The next thing I knew I was at Neverland Valley Ranch, in Santa Ynez, CA. There was construction everywhere, and the amusement park was in the early stages of installation. Over the next few years Michael asked me to build system after system, putting music on the bumper cars, in the petting zoo, on two trains, all around the amusement park, the boat lake, the train stations, and eventually inside the house, and inside his bedroom and bathroom. Deb loves to tell of the times Michael would call at 2 in the morning (his sleep schedule was never normal) to talk to me about a new attraction he had coming to Neverland, and if I would put music on it. I still have an old answering machine tape of him thanking me for one of the systems we had built.

Michael had very little patience when it came to new rides. When the second train was ordered for the ranch, we were flown to Ohio to install the lights and music before it was trucked to California. That way, as soon as it rolled off the truck onto the track it was ready for Michael. He lived for those moments!

In it's day, Neverland Valley was one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. He loved that ranch. He could act like a kid, drive golf carts, throw water balloons and just have fun. Week after week the buses would roll in, bringing inner city kids, Make A Wish kids, friends and families. I have been there with sick kids whose dying wish was to spend a day with Michael.

As Neverland grew, I got the bug to continue building systems, and eased out of the recording studio. Soon I was working for Elizabeth Taylor, building a massive outdoor music system for her, followed by my good friend Quincy Jones.

This was the Michael I knew. Innocent, perhaps child-like at times, but not childish. A professional who worked to be the best performer in the world, yet knew how to have fun. If he was comfortable, he would laugh and joke with everyone, but if someone was there that made him uncomfortable, he would disappear.

We used to say there were two Michaels: the one we worked with, and the one who went on stage in front of 100,000 people and entertained them. There have always been singers and dancers, but Michael was in a class by himself. I have been to perhaps 12 of his concerts (my daughter Amanda was on stage with him in Paris with several other kids singing "Heal The World"), and there is really no one that comes close to his level of artistry.

Yes, there were allegations. No, I don't believe them.

Yes, he changed his color and facial shape. No, I really don't care.

I have worked with plenty of normal looking people who thrive on pain and anger. I'll take a guy who might be abnormal looking and eccentric yet shows kindness, love, generosity, patience, humor and humility any day of the week. I could write page after page of simple acts of kindness I have seen firsthand.

But the eccentricities increased.

The last time I spoke with Michael was around 2003. He wanted some additional work done at the ranch, but clearly things had changed. It was an awkward conversation between us, with me declining to do the work for what he was offering. Then he drove away in a golf cart. As I walked to my car, I knew it was the last time I would ever see him. I remember looking across the valley with the amusement park well past it's prime, the grass not as green as it once was, and Michael driving over the bridge back to his house. I was a long way from that hallway in a studio where we first met nearly 20 years before.

But I would not trade a minute of it.

Thank you Michael, for letting me be a small part of your world. You have taught me more than you will ever know. Your friendship and trust is something I will always cherish. Rest in peace my friend.



[Spanish Translation @ MJHideOut.com]
Ne-Yo is torn over what to do with a treasure trove of music he wrote especially for Michael Jackson before the megastar's untimely death.

The R&B singer is sitting on dozens of songs he penned for Jackson as the late king of pop was preparing to kickstart his career for the final time.

Ne-Yo is one of America's most bankable songwriters, backing up smash singles for Beyonce and Rihanna with a trail of his own dollar stacking hits.

But the star steadfastly refuses to sell off the music he wrote for Jackson and is reluctant to release the songs under his own name out of respect for his idol.

"The songs are sitting in archives but I really don't know what to do with them," Ne-Yo said in Sydney.

"I can't sell them on to someone else as that would be disrespectful but I also think it might be disrespectful to bring them out myself.

"So I don't know, I'll sit on them and wait. It's definitely quality music but they were songs written absolutely for Michael Jackson."

His brief relationship with Jackson developed in 2008 when Ne-Yo was contacted by Black Eyed Peas producer will.i.am to work on what would have been a comeback album.

The 30-year-old singer was handpicked by Jackson after the success of his smash hits So Sick and Sexy love.

Despite all the controversy surrounding his life, Ne-Yo found the world's most famous performer to be businesslike and friendly.

"He was normal, as odd as that may sound," Ne-Yo explained.

"I felt quite bad as I'd allowed what the media had done to his name and image to have me thinking, 'Ok what's this about to be? Is this going to be weird?'

"But he walked in in a black suit and some sun glasses and was a genuine nice guy. And it wasn't because he wanted something from me, he just had no reason other than to be a decent guy.

"We talked about the state of music, what he liked and didn't like. One thing that was interesting is that he views music in shapes and colours and that's how I think.

"He told me he admired my music and I could have fainted right there. I was like, `You like my music? You're the reason I make music'.

"So I wanted to bring something good to the table."

Ne-Yo set to work on a variety of songs ranging from upbeat dance tracks to heartfelt ballads, sending three or four drafts a week to Jackson.

"Melodic and meaningful. Those were the two words which kept coming back to me," he said.

"Michael told me the melodies needed to be the ones you heard once and could sing back, and the lyrics needed to have meaning and depth."

"He believed what was wrong with a lot of music today is that people aren't singing about anything.

"If it's not about a party or sex then it's about money, and there's not really much to that.

"Michael told me, 'I need songs that mean something to somebody and that's what I need you for'. I was honoured."

Despite writing a number of tracks for Jackson, the album project was put on hold while the singer shifted his attention towards his This Is It world tour, which was scheduled to begin in London in the summer in 2009.

Weeks before the opening concert Jackson died at his Los Angeles home following a lethal injection of prescription drugs.

Ne-Yo later paid tribute to Jackson by performing his song Lady In My Life at the 2009 BET Awards.

He hopes one day to be able to pay his respects with the songs he wrote for the great entertainer.

"Hopefully the songs will see the light of day, it just has to be the right way."

Ne-Yo is in Australia on the Winterbeatz festival tour.

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DAYTON, Ohio &#8211; Electrifying sell-out crowds, with distinguished vocals and mind-blowing dance routines is one way fans remember Michael Jackson. For Tom Bahler, memories of Jackson are meaningful, filled with harmonies, laughter and Motown soul.
As a songwriter, studio singer, arranger and producer, Bahler has worked with a variety of artists, including the Temptations, Barbara Streisand, Elvis Presley and Smokey Robinson. Among his list of seasoned performers is Michael Jackson, dating back to the early 1970s. "Back in the day when I first met Michael, he was warm, and at the same time, inside of himself," Bahler said. "He knew there was a fire inside of himself."
Bahler, along with his brother John Bahler began working at Motown Records in 1972. They were given multiple tasks, including background singing and vocal arranging. Together, they worked with the Jackson 5. "We use to start [around] 4:30 p.m., after school [let out,]" Tom said. "They'd arrive in a limousine from school and go straight into the studio."

According to Tom, he and John treasure their memories at Motown because of the music. "It was a wonderful chapter in our lives," he said. "It was the greatest experience ever. I think it was spiritually fulfilling."
Tom reminisces about Jackson and considers his memories to be priceless. He said it's hard to pinpoint specific memories because there are many, but said he will never forget what Jackson did one day in Motown's studio. "Being the youngest of the Jackson 5, everybody was always telling Michael where to stand," he said. "It wasn't because he was &#8216;Michael Jackson,' but because he was the youngest. One day, Michael walked over and leaned against a piano and just started singing. I was thinking, &#8216;A kid this young with this much soul.' It was just extraordinary."
In 1973, Tom began working with Quincy Jones. (He arranged Jones' album "Body Heat.") The two became fast friends and enjoyed working together. At the same time, Tom and John continued working with a variety of artists, including the Jackson 5. Jones knew who the group was, but never worked with them musically.
Both Tom and Jones remained busy with music-related projects, but stayed connected. In 1977, Jones began directing the 1978-released film "The Wiz." Tom worked behind the cameras as the film's vocal arranger. The cast featured a star-studded lineup, including Diana Ross as "Dorothy," Nipsey Russell as the "Tin Man," Ted Ross as the "Cowardly Lion," Lena Horn as "Glinda the Good Witch," Richard Pryor as "The Wiz" and Jackson as the "Scarecrow." "When we did &#8216;The Wiz' I knew Michael, but Quincy was [just getting better acquainted with him,]" Tom said. "It was fun seeing that relationship grow. It shows you what can happen when you have the right combination of mind and spirit."
The same year, 1977, Tom wrote a ballad describing emotional heartbreak, detailing what was currently going on in his life. The song was called "She's Out of My Life." "I was going with a wonderful woman and woke up with her, and she wanted to get married, and I wasn't ready," he said. "These thoughts were going through my mind on the freeway one night. I said [to myself,] &#8216;Hey man, you made a choice. Face it. She's out of your life.' I was like &#8216;Wow' at what I was thinking. By the time I got home, the song was written in 13 minutes."
Tom's ballad is featured on Jackson's 1979 solo album Off the Wall. According to him, Jackson wasn't his original choice to sing the track. "But [Michael] understood drama," he said. Jackson was moved by the song and tearful toward the end of every recording he made. Tom said Jones had Jackson record the song 12 times before deciding to keep the emotional ending. The version released on Off the Wall is the first recording Jackson made. "When he sang &#8216;She's Out of My Life," he cried," Tom said. "People don't hear how he apologized at the end of every take. I asked Michael on a break if he was alright. I said, &#8216;Hey man, sorry if I hit a chord.' [Michael] said, &#8216;No man, I was just getting into the lyrics."

Throughout his career, Tom and John remained connected with Jackson, becoming his vocal arrangers. "Any time he'd do something on voices, he'd call us," Tom said. "Michael was great. He was always open [to our comments.] But at the same time, he was an incredible singer."
Tom said he can't remember every song he worked on with Jackson while at Motown, but said he has beautiful memories, filled with "funny moments." "There were so many songs, that if I hear them, then I can remember them," he said. Still, one song stands out in his mind: Jackson's version of "Rockin' Robin." Tom remembers helping him practice his vocals for the song. Another reason the track is important to him is because of a memory he has with Jackson years later. "John and I met with Michael at Neverland Ranch, and when he came into the room and sat down, John and I got on each side of him and started singing, &#8216;Tweedly-deedly-dee. Tweedly-deedly-dee.' [Michael] was a fun guy. He had such a bright spirit."
Memories of music fill Tom's head when thinking of Jackson, and are close to his heart. "Michael was an amazing spirit and had a real gift for singing," he said. "Everything he did, I found to be unique, funky, hip and tasteful. He was one of the greatest entertainers I've ever encountered and I'll never forget him."

Read more: http://www.articlesbase.com/music-a...th-michael-jackson-2720728.html#ixzz1OKHjehNT
Under Creative Commons License: Attribution
Brad Buxer Interview is a four-page interview with one of Micheal Jackson's former collaberators. In this interview there are a few Sonic-related questions and Micheal Jackson is confirmed to have worked on Sonic the Hedgehog 3. This interview was published in the French language Black & White magazine.

Translation provided by SegaLoco
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Brad Buxer Musician, Arranger [Dangerous, HIStory]

Keyboardist and arranger on all albums since Dangerous, Music Director of the Dangerous and HIStory Tour, Brad Buxer was the closest and most loyal artistic associate to Michael for over 15 years. In a quiet and unassuming nature, this incredible musician, now an airline pilot, did, however, never speak about his work with the King of Pop. In tribute to his late friend, Brad speaks for the first time ...

Black & White: How did you come to work with Michael?Brad Buxer: In 1986 I toured with the Stevie Wonder's band. But as you know, Michael was a big fan of Stevie and, therefore, it was paying serious attention to the musicians who worked with him ... Until 1991, so I toured with Stevie but in the meantime, thanks to him I could get to know Michael. I will never forget my first encounter with him. A current immediately passed between us. Musically speaking, we were on the same wavelength, we spoke the same language. And purely human, we instantly became friends. Bonds were created naturally, and they have only strengthened over time ....

Black & White: Soon Michael and you got involved in the creative process
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of what would become the album Dangerous ...Brad Buxer: Yes. Before Teddy Riley is working on the album, with Bill Bottrell, we recorded several demos, including those Who Is It, Black Or White or Heal The World ...

Black & White: Dangerous was the first album recorded without Michael by Quincy Jones. Why do you think he did this?Brad Buxer: Let me be clear: Michael was not angry with Quincy. He has always had an admiration for him and an immense respect. But with Dangerous, Michael wanted to control the creative process from A to Z. Simply put, he wanted to be his own boss. Michael was always a very independent, and he also wanted to show that his success was not because of one man, namely Quincy. However, Quincy still had a lot of opinions. This showed when we finished Dangerous and Michael called Quincy to help him at the end. Quincy still had a lot of opinions about the album. And when Quincy said we had a masterpiece, Michael was no longer hesitant to release the album ...

Black & White: One of the great successes of Dangerous is Who Is It. But the structure of this song reminds many Billie Jean. Was this conscious on the part of Michael?Brad Buxer: No, I do not think so. I never really paid attention but now that you say is true, Who Is It and Billie Jean are very close. However, despite all the qualities of Who Is It, I do not think it comes close to Billie Jean. No song is better than Billie Jean, I think ...

Black & White: In the studio, Michael gave you a lot of freedom?Brad Buxer: Absolutely. Michael was not one of rigid, it was always open to my suggestions and ideas. He gave me full confidence. Most often, I sang a melody, and I found the arrangements to accompany him. Regarding arrangements for strings or sheets of synth, I tended not to do, and intervened when he found that the direction in which I was not good. Even if a musical point of view, Michael was a genius, he knew he could not do anything and he had the intelligence to delegate some things. Sometimes, he knew exactly what he wanted to hear me sing all the parts of a song. Other times, he let me play until he hears something he likes. This is particularly what happened to songs like "Who Is It or Stranger In Moscow.

Black & White: Is that Michael sometimes wrote the lyrics of a song before a melodic idea?Brad Buxer: No, it's almost never happened. Michael was still writing the lyrics at the last minute, on a piece of table. It was one of his hands. [laughs] He expected that often the instrumentation of a song is completely finished before writing lyrics. And it made us crazy
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sometimes! For example, Michael wrote the lyrics of Black Or White in 20 minutes in the studio while we waited to do his voice making. [laughs]
[Bottom of Page: He hit so hard that the false bilum disintegrated under his feet!]

Black & White: Did you sometimes feel that Michael was frustrated not knowing how to play an instrument?Brad Buxer: Not really. But once he asked me to give him piano lessons. I told him: "Ok Michael, do it seriously. Every day, you'll sit with me for 15 minutes and there will be a little lesson. But he never had the patience to apply themselves to this discipline. [laughs] I think he knew he did not need to play an instrument to express his talent. While he may not have played an instrument, he was still a fantastic musician. He instinctively understood the music. It was just part of him ...

Black & White: Can see clarify the rumor that Michael had in 1993 composed the music for Sonic 3 video game, which you will be credited?Brad Buxer: I've never played and I do not know what the developers have kept the tracks on which Michael and I have worked, but we did compose the music playing Michael called me at the time for give him a helping hand on this project, and that's what I did. And if he is not credited for composing the music, because he was not happy with the result sound coming out of the console. At the time, game consoles did not allow an optimal sound reproduction, and Michael found it frustrating. He did not want to be associated with a product that devalued and his music ...

Black & White: One of the surprising things in the music of Sonic 3 is that you can hear the chords of Stranger In Moscow, which is supposed to have been composed later ...Brad Buxer: Yes, Michael and I had made the following arrangements for the game, and it has served as the basis for Stranger In Moscow. More than any other song that I worked with Michael, Stranger In Moscow is where I made my most artistic leg. I'm not credited as co-composer on this track, but I have worked closely with Michael on the composition and structure of this song ... I also played virtually all instruments ...

Black & White: Did that not bother you that Michael did not include it in the song credits as co-composer?Brad Buxer: No. I did not ask to be. When you have the opportunity to work with such a musical genius, be credited or not, it does not really matter. I had a great opportunity to working with Michael all these years. I'm probably the musician with whom he worked most of his career. I was a musician and arranger from 1989 until 2006. It shows how we were on stage, him and me ...

Black & White: You also play almost all instruments on Morphine ...Brad Buxer: Yes, but unlike Stranger In Moscow Michael knew exactly what he wanted to hear each instrument pure. He sang all the parts, whether the piano in the middle of the song, or those sheets of synth on the chorus. Everything is his. On this song, so I simply carried out his ideas. With two sound engineers, it has even been singing the word "Morphine" on the chorus. It was very fun ...

Black & White: Can you tell us about In The Back, appearing on The Ultimate Collection? It is a truly exceptional piece ...Brad Buxer: I'm glad you mentioned this song because it's one of my favorites. This title is unbelievable and it proves once again how Michael was a genius ... Like morphine, I play almost every instrument on this song, but all ideas are Michael. What a pity he did not write the words as such deserved to be completed 100%. It is also Beautiful Girl, by the way ... We worked so hard on In The Back ... We recorded a lot of parts that are not on the version you know. Bill Preston [legendary keyboardist who worked with the Beatles or the Rolling Stones, Editor's note] is by example from the studio to play the organ. But Michael did not finally kept this part ...

Black & White: Do you experiment a lot while recording a title?Brad Buxer: Yes, because Michael loved finding new sounds that the human ear had ever heard. Often, he repeated: "Brad, get me a sound that hurts really bad." That meant he wanted something that shakes him inside. Even if we had much use of machines and computers to design some sounds of drums, sometimes we find more ideas ... organic, I would say. For example, we came banging on the lid of a grand piano with a baseball bat-ball kick to design a specific drum. [laughs]

Black & White: You've recorded new songs with Michael after Invincible. You can tell us about?Brad Buxer: Yes, the newest piece on which we worked, Michael and me, From The Bottom Of My Heart, the title was out to raise money for victims of Hurricane Katrina ... Overall, the songs we recorded during the latest years are of exceptional quality. Contrary to
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popular belief Michael was not an artistic decline. He bubbled with ideas. And these songs on which we worked are more original and more creative than we've done together.

[Under picture: The video took place in a theater, but the roles were reversed ...]

Black & White: Michael has never been lacking inspiration?Brad Buxer: No. At no time in his life Michael has been lack of inspiration ... Plus he went through many trials, as has been the case in 2005 with the trial, and this had a positive influence on creativity.

Black & White: Do you think we will hear in the near future these songs recorded during the last years of his life?Brad Buxer: I am not allowed to speak, but it is very likely ...

Black & White: Are you staying in contact with Michael afterwards?Brad Buxer: Last year, he called me to work with him again. The problem is that having spent my pilot's license, I had just been hired by an airline. And projects like Michael were quite vague and did not even have a label behind him, I could not risk giving my resignation and losing one job like that. I needed to know where I was and there, in this case, it was not the case at all. Having 51 years today, I might never be committed again later. To my regret, so I had to refuse to work with him again.

Black & White: What are the best memories you keep of Michael?Brad Buxer: All those laughs we had together ... I remember the races we were in the corridors of the hotel when we were on tour, or the food fights in our rooms ... But mostly, I always remember his smile when we listened to a song completed. There was a lot of pride, love and respect in this regard. And the feeling was mutual ... For nearly 20 years, I have been fortunate to count Michael among my best friends. We had the same age, him and me. Needless to say I miss him terribly ...


Originally posted by analogue.

Michael Beardon Interview, This Is it

MoviesOnline recently sat down with Michael Jackson&#8217;s musical director, Michael Bearden, to talk about his new film, Michael Jackson&#8217;s THIS IS IT, which offers Jackson fans and music lovers worldwide a rare, behind-the-scenes look at the performer as he developed, created and rehearsed for his sold-out concerts that would have taken place beginning this past summer in London&#8217;s O2 Arena.

Bearden is an accomplished musical director/keyboardist/arranger/composer for a diverse range of musical superstars. He has performed and/or recorded with some of popular music&#8217;s giants including: Sting, Carlos Santana, Whitney Houston, Lionel Richie, Chaka Kahn, Patti Austin, James Ingrahm, Patti Labelle, Yoko Ono, George Benson, Natalie Cole, Yossou NDour, Boz Scaggs, Lenny Kravitz, Luther Vandross, Issac Hayes, Aaron Neville, Edie Brickell, Jon Bonjovi and legends Nancy Wilson, Queen, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Liza Minelli, Elton John, Aretha Franklin, and Ray Charles and served as musical director for Madonna and Rod Stewart to name just a few.

His diverse musical skills have also been sought by younger artists including: Christina Aguilera, Ricky Martin, Destinys Child, Brandy,India Arie, Fantasia, Neyo, Chris Brown, Rhianna, Ashanti, John Mayer, Faith Evans, Brian McKnight, Mary J. Blige, Da Brat, Mya,Marc Doresy, Joss Stone, Usher, Keisha Cole, Angie Stone and musical director for Jennifer Lopez , Anastacia, DAngelo,and The Veronicas, among others.

He has also written, produced, and performed for such notable jazz artists as: Rachelle Ferrell, Herbie Mann, Everette Harp, Will Downing, Nelson Rangell, Marion Meadows, Regina Carter, Noel Pointer, Special EFX, Pieces Of A Dream, Jonathan Butler, Victor Bailey, Stanley Turrentine and collaborated on Herbie Hancock's Grammy nominated album Possibilities.

An accomplished composer, Bearden&#8217;s feature film scores include Drop Squad produced by Spike Lee (starring Eriq Lasalle and Ving Rhames) and the indie film The Visit directed by Jordan Walker Pearlman (starring Rae Dawn Chong and Billy Dee Williams). Michael scored two debut indie features, The Arrangement for filmmaker H.H.Cooper and One Week for director Carl Seaton. In addition, Michael penned the score to Dense, the directorial debut feature film for Soul Foods Vanessa Williams. He scored the feature Constellation (starring Gabrielle Union, Leslie Ann Warren and Billy Dee Williams) as well as the feature film/doc America The Beautiful for director Darryl Roberts, and director Ian Inabas&#8217; Sundance film/doc American Blackout, as well as the dark comedy "Redrum" starring Jill Marie Jones. Bearden recently performed with all acts at the historic Lincoln Memorial "We Are One" concert for the Obama inauguration.

Michael Bearden is a terrific guy and we really appreciated his time. Here&#8217;s what he had to tell us about his friendship and recent collaboration with Michael Jackson on his new film, Michael Jackson&#8217;s THIS IS IT:

At what point did you know that one scene between you and Michael was going to be in the movie? And when you saw it for the first time, what was your reaction?

MB: Oh me and him? Telling him &#8220;More booty&#8221;? What happened was after MJ&#8217;s memorial, we had a few days off and then we get a call from AEG -- Kenny Ortega, our wonderful director, Travis Payne, our choreographer and Associate Director and Associate Producer of the film, and me, also Associate Producer of the film. They asked us to come down and see out of the 80, 90, 100 hours we had, maybe a 4-hour long string, so we saw that and that was the first time I saw that scene and I just laughed because that moment in the film is &#8211; MJ, that whole week, was supposed to come in with me and my band and he would either have something else to do or he didn&#8217;t so there was me being frustrated because he wasn&#8217;t there. He was asking for things and I was like &#8220;Well, if you had been here, I would have had them for you.&#8221; (laughs)

Q: He wasn&#8217;t coming?

MB: No, no. It wasn&#8217;t that he wasn&#8217;t coming. He was working. We were working. This tour was a massive undertaking. A lot of times Travis would have him or I would have him or Kenny Ortega would have him or we collectively would have him so he was just busy doing a lot of things so my time was getting cheated in the initial stage. It didn&#8217;t in the end as you saw in the film. It was glorious and all of that. I&#8217;m never one to back down and then MJ wasn&#8217;t either. But, it wasn&#8217;t a confrontational thing. It was just he wanted what he wanted and I wanted what I wanted. Together, he and I would call it&#8230;all of us would call it creative jousting. He would do something and I would go &#8220;Yeah, I like that but try this.&#8221; So what you see there is not tension so much and I&#8217;m always silly and as you can see, I made him crack up at the end. He says, &#8220;I knew exactly what you meant.&#8221; And we always embraced and we always said &#8220;I love you.&#8221; He&#8217;d say, &#8220;God bless you, Bearden. I love you.&#8221; He would call me by my last name because we had about 10 or 12 Michaels on the tour. (laughs)

Q: Was he not planning to do Bad?

MB: See, here&#8217;s the thing. The set list, if MJ did every hit that he ever had, he would be on stage for 24 hours or at least a week. One of my earliest meetings with MJ, he actually went on line and, by going on line, I mean his older son, Prince Michael, probably got on line and he asked the fans what they wanted to hear. So he had a computer printout of a list from 1 to maybe 50 or 100 and he really wanted to give the fans and serve them what they wanted. He really loved the fans so much &#8211; more than any other artist I&#8217;ve ever worked with. I&#8217;ve never seen this before ever. One day we were having a meeting &#8211; he and I and maybe one of his young sons &#8211; and he showed me the printout, then he showed me his personal handwritten list. He&#8217;d take out his reading glasses which I thought was great and he showed it to me and said &#8220;What do you think, Bearden?&#8221; And I said, &#8220;You know, MJ, this is cool, but you have no J5 and you have no Off The Wall.&#8221; He says, &#8220;I don&#8217;t?&#8221; And he looked at it and went &#8220;Ahhh.&#8221; It was an angst ridden thing for us because he had so much material and so much great stuff and we really wanted to serve the fans but he also wanted to do his message pieces of Heal the World and We Are the World. That&#8217;s a big thing for him and to rescue this planet and help heal how we treat each other on the planet. So we couldn&#8217;t take those songs out. Remember the Time, there as Bad. There was so many things I wanted to do and he wanted to do them as well but we just&#8230; I said, &#8220;You know, if we do this MJ, we&#8217;ll be on stage for 3, 4, 5 hours. We can&#8217;t do that every night. You&#8217;ve got 50 days. He says, &#8220;Oh yeah, I don&#8217;t want to do that.&#8221;

Q: Are there some that will be on the DVD that aren&#8217;t in the film?

MB: Hopefully, there are some things. Obviously we couldn&#8217;t put everything in a film &#8216;cause you would be in the theater for 24 hours. There&#8217;s gonna be some extras, hopefully. They call it &#8216;added value&#8217; now. It&#8217;s too fancy for me, but hopefully we&#8217;ll get to do some numbers on there that we didn&#8217;t do before.

Q: Do you know which ones?

MB: I don&#8217;t know. I don&#8217;t know.

Q: What was he planning for his finale and encore? Did you get that far?

MB: We sorta kinda got that far but not really. We were just on the way there. To this day we don&#8217;t have the set list. We were in the process of just chiseling. It was my job and his job, but towards the end he gave it to me. He wanted to put it on me. &#8220;Well you take out the verses &#8216;cause I don&#8217;t want to cheat the fans.&#8221; It was almost too painful for him. He would just go, &#8220;Oh.&#8221; I blew up a set list one day, poster size, put it in his dressing room, went in there with him. I said, &#8220;Okay, I&#8217;m going out here. You mark it up for me. You do it.&#8221; And I came back and it was still not touched. I said, &#8220;MJ, what are you doing?&#8221; He said, &#8220;I can&#8217;t do it. I can&#8217;t do it. You have to do it. You have to do it.&#8221; So we would take some things out of it and literally he would look at me. I would put the marker by it and I would go, &#8220;Okay. Cut that out.&#8221; And he&#8217;d go, &#8220;No, no&#8230;&#8221; It was painful. So we kind of got there. We probably were gonna do Man in the Mirror, but maybe not. We didn&#8217;t know.

Q: As the finale?

MB: We didn&#8217;t know. We didn&#8217;t know.

Q: I always liked the song from Free Willy. I wonder where that ranks on his list?

MB: I don&#8217;t remember where that ranks. There&#8217;s a lot like that that he loved.

Q: In that scene in the movie between you and him where you&#8217;re talking back, Michael doesn&#8217;t come across as a diva. How did you see Michael and what did you discover about him after you really got to know him?

MB: I discovered that he was not a diva and he was not a perfectionist in the dictatorial sense where &#8220;You must do what I say&#8221; kind of thing. He was very collaborative and a lot of people, including me, didn&#8217;t really know. I worked with a lotta, lotta stars, big artists, and Michael just had a mystique about him that you didn&#8217;t think you could touch him. He was quite the opposite. He was quite probably the kindest, the most generous, the most gracious, the most approachable artist that I every worked with in my life, and you wouldn&#8217;t think he would be. We would say &#8220;God bless you&#8221; and then &#8220;I love you&#8221; every day. Now how many bosses tell you they love you? Okay? So that&#8217;s what it was to work with him. He knew what he wanted and he wasn&#8217;t afraid to tell you. But he was also not afraid of change if you could make something better, make his idea better. He was open to that and he didn&#8217;t mind being vulnerable in front of you and if you made something better, he would go &#8220;Oh no, that&#8217;s better. That&#8217;s better. I like that better.&#8221;

Q: Was he planning to do live vocals for every song?

MB: Yes, and I didn&#8217;t want him to.

Q: You didn&#8217;t? Because a lot of artists now when they&#8230;

MB: Absolutely and everybody does it. I&#8217;ll tell you what, I can do an experiment right now. Just sit in your chair and do this (bouncing up and down) and try to have a conversation. Now imagine dancing and doing that. And I would tell him and he would just resist it. &#8220;No.&#8221; I&#8217;d say &#8220;Well MJ, everybody knows you can sing. You&#8217;ve been doing it since you were 5. It&#8217;s not like a Milli Vanilli thing. It&#8217;s you. It&#8217;s you.&#8221; But he would not do it. I would say, &#8220;Okay. Well, at least let me lower the key some and then he would go, &#8220;Okay. But make it only a half step.&#8221; &#8220;Alright MJ.&#8221; Then, some pieces he would, just like on the J5, and then I&#8217;d say &#8220;What about a half step on this?&#8221; And he said, &#8220;No, you gotta do long. I&#8217;m too old to sing these songs.&#8221; So yeah, you&#8217;re right, I didn&#8217;t want him to, but he insisted. And to his credit and to his genius, that was Michael.

Q: For the Jackson 5 stuff, did you lower the register a little bit for him?

MB: Can you do things like he would do them? No, no.

Q: In the film he uses the expression &#8220;let it simmer&#8221; a lot. Were there any other Michael Jacksonisms?

MB: There were a lot of MJisms that we just &#8211; &#8220;simmer,&#8221; &#8220;bathe in the moonlight,&#8221; &#8220;I&#8217;m sizzling.&#8221; That is my favorite, &#8220;I&#8217;m sizzling.&#8221; I can&#8217;t think of it. There&#8217;s so many. There&#8217;s so many and we would just talk. There&#8217;s one moment in I Wanna Be Starting Something. You can see him talking to me. &#8220;I don&#8217;t hear that [beat boxing].&#8221; And he would talk to me like that. So one day he and I were in his room and he said, &#8220;Yeah, so you know that part? It needs to be louder.&#8221; And he said, &#8220;You know, that&#8217;s like his cousin. It goes through the guitar and his cousin is there. His cousin is running up right next to him. So you got to heavy him and then you have a cousin.&#8221; He would talk to me like that. That&#8217;s a Michael Jacksonism. Just regular, you know, nothing big, just something simple that everybody&#8217;s able to understand.

Q: Well you&#8217;re probably the last person I can ever ask this, what did Shamon mean?

MB: Shamon is, it&#8217;s just a combination of &#8220;come on&#8221; and some things that he got from his Motown days and it&#8217;s just&#8230;if you notice, MJ would never do anything regular, especially when he was on stage. So, every moment, there was no wasted movement. So every time, if you watch the film again, you&#8217;ll see if he&#8217;s standing there and the singer is singing, if he&#8217;s doing a duet with Judith, he&#8217;s always animated and he&#8217;s always doing something. He&#8217;s always gracious and he&#8217;s always doing this. Every moment means something. I asked him one day &#8220;MJ, why you have tape on your hands?&#8221; I always wanted to know that and it was a great gig for me because I would have him personally and it was one of those gigs where he would say, &#8220;If you had this person alone, what would you ask him?&#8221; and I took full advantage of it. And to his graciousness, he would say to me, &#8220;You really want to know?&#8221; and he would just honestly tell me and he never turned me down. The tape on his fingers he says &#8220;Well, &#8216;cause it feels good.&#8221; It was like a batter in a batters box. The hands have to feel a certain way. But then it was also that if he throws his hand that way, the white, your eye goes to it. So there&#8217;s no wasted moment. It&#8217;s a show biz thing. You just go &#8220;Bam!&#8221; You&#8217;re looking at his movement but that eye, that white will always catch you. You just &#8230; So you&#8217;re on stage doing that. It&#8217;s just one of his show biz tricks that he learned when he was a kid.

Q: We saw him in the auditions with the dancers, how involved was he with the band? The Australian guitarist, Orianthi (Panagaris), was amazing.

MB: I&#8217;ll tell you that story. One of my first meetings with MJ was about the band. We chose his drummer. We call him Foot. His name is Jonathan Moffett. He&#8217;s been working with MJ for 30 years. I said, &#8220;Okay, you can have&#8230;&#8221; My thing was I wanted to come in and clean house, just do everything like a new start. We&#8217;re going to be together for two years. It had to feel like a family. So I didn&#8217;t want any agenda, any fire starters, anything like that. If you want to be on the road for two years, with an extension of may 3-5 which is what MJ wanted, you&#8217;d better like the people that you&#8217;re going to be around and so that&#8217;s how we chose them. I asked him &#8220;How did you choose Foot&#8221; and he said &#8220;Well, when Jonathan plays, he makes me want to dance.&#8221; Anytime a dancer says that to you, that&#8217;s the highest endorsement ever. So he was put there. My bassist, Alex Al, was also put there. We had worked with Michael on the 30th anniversary at the Garden right before 9/11 so he really liked Alex. He pretty much trusted me and let me put the band together but he wanted a guitarist. He wanted a female. He wanted her to be blonde. I put the feelers out and her name came back five times so I actually went on MySpace, sent her a note &#8211; &#8220;I am Michael Jackson&#8217;s musical director&#8221; &#8211; this is true. And, of course, she did not believe it. Her manager called me and he was not &#8211; her former manager (laughs) &#8211; he was sort of rude. So I said, &#8220;You know what? You&#8217;re going to blow an opportunity for your client. Just give me her personal number. I will call her.&#8221; I called her personally and then I said, &#8220;Come down. I&#8217;ll let you meet Michael.&#8221; She met Michael. Of course, she knew it was real then. She just couldn&#8217;t believe she was found on MySpace. And then the rest&#8230;our other guitarist, Tommy Organ, he was the only one that auditioned. He came in and he just blew Michael away. Michael&#8217;s regular guitarist, David Williams, the great Davey Williams, had passed away maybe about a month before we were going to start. So we needed somebody to get that kind of flavor and Tommy came in and just did his thing. MJ handpicked everybody and blessed what I brought in and that was that. He was hands on in everything he did. There was not one thing that he didn&#8217;t touch &#8211; wardrobe, lighting. He even designed the ticket for the show. We were there when he did it. He was amazing. I don&#8217;t see how he did it. There was just so much going on.

Q: Was he specific about why he wanted a woman in the band?

MB: He always had one and he just liked that energy on guitar. It&#8217;s not that traditional. His prerequisite was &#8220;She&#8217;s got to really be able to shred. She&#8217;s got to really be able to play.&#8221; He didn&#8217;t just want a woman there. He wanted somebody that could really play. And Ori can really play. She&#8217;s an artist on Geffen (Records) now and her career&#8217;s about to launch. I&#8217;ve seen videos of her and her record and she&#8217;s amazing. You will be hearing about her. He just liked that energy. That&#8217;s all.

Q: Are you on his album? Someone mentioned that he was working on an album at the same time as the concert. Was it going to be separate?

MB: We were working on an album and it was definitely going to be separate. He was working on an album, new material, all of that.

Q: And that&#8217;s going to be released at some point?

MB: I don&#8217;t know. Will.i.am was going to do some things. There were a lot of new producers too. MJ never sang anything. He just had it in his head so I don&#8217;t know. We never got that far.

Q: Are you planning a tribute concert tour? There was an idea for one but it was cancelled a couple months ago.

MB: Well that particular one was something that Jermaine (Jackson) was trying to do on his own and that wasn&#8217;t really sanctioned by all of us so we had nothing to do with that. Hopefully, sometime next year around his birthday we&#8217;ll do something but it&#8217;s not definitive.

Q: From your perspective, what is Michael&#8217;s legacy?

MB: Michael&#8217;s legacy from my perspective is love. That&#8217;s what he wanted the world to have. He said we need more of it in the film. That&#8217;s what we were able to do with this honor project that his children will be able to see in perpetuity. They will love it. They will appreciate what daddy did which is why he wanted to do it. He said he wanted to do it while he was still young enough to do it and his children were old enough to appreciate it. And his legacy is secure. He loved his fans and he loved the world and he wanted to put more love in it

Thanks loveforever for this.
Part 1

Fil-Am dancer recounts rehearsals with MJ
By Ruben V. Nepales
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 02:18:00 10/25/2009

Filed Under: Entertainment (general), Music, Celebrities
Most Read Most Read

(First of two parts)

FIL-AM Charles &#8220;Chucky&#8221; Klapow (in green) and fellow dancers with Michael Jackson.

LOS ANGELES&#8212;&#8220;When he walked into a room, you knew it before you even saw him. It was a magical scent.&#8221;

Michael Jackson&#8217;s fragrance is one of his heretofore-unknown sides recently shared with us by Charles &#8220;Chucky&#8221; Klapow. The Filipino-American was one of the 12 backup dancers chosen from over 200 hopefuls to perform with the King of Pop in &#8220;This Is It&#8221;&#8212; his 50 sold-out concerts that would have taken place in the UK from last July to March next year.
&#8220;I don&#8217;t think I&#8217;ve ever danced harder or more passionately in my life,&#8221; Chucky said of the audition.

But that tragic day on June 25&#8212;when Michael died of cardiac arrest after reportedly being administered a combination of sedatives (the LA coroner later ruled his death as a homicide)&#8212;cut short Chucky&#8217;s dream to perform with his childhood idol. The son of a Filipina, Sylvia Klapow, Chucky turned down a big break&#8212;to choreograph the musical remake of &#8220;Footloose&#8221; with Chace Crawford&#8212;and instead opted to dance with Michael for the London shows.

Chucky co-choreographed the three &#8220;High School Musical&#8221; movies (the first of which won an Emmy Award) with his mentor, Kenny Ortega, and Bonnie Story. But the aborted &#8220;Footloose&#8221; stint would have been his first major solo choreographing credit.

For Chucky, however, the chance to be onstage with Michael was the opportunity of a lifetime. So the news of Michael&#8217;s death was understandably a heavy blow. In our e-mail conversation with the LA-based dancer-choreographer, he recounted how emotionally painful it was to perform a number during the memorial service in the very same place, Staples Center, where they had been rehearsing &#8220;This Is It.&#8221;
Chucky will fly to LA to attend this Wednesday&#8217;s world premiere of &#8220;This Is It,&#8221; the much-awaited movie culled from over 100 hours of footage filmed during the four-month rehearsals.

The film is being described as a cross between a concert movie and a documentary. It would be hard to miss Chucky in one of the numbers&#8212;he&#8217;s wearing a green jacket with white piping in a rehearsal footage that was shown repeatedly on TV when MJ&#8217;s death was announced.

How were you picked by Michael Jackson to be one of the 12 dancers for the &#8220;This Is It&#8221; concerts in England?

I couldn&#8217;t believe it when they called my name

... The audition process was so tough and the competition was incredible ... They narrowed it down from 250 guys to about 150. They had us all come back two days later for one more full day of auditions, which were done with Michael watching us and helping pick who he wanted to be his dancers. I don&#8217;t think I&#8217;ve ever danced harder or more passionately in my life. I wanted this so bad, being a big fan of Michael&#8217;s.

How did your mother react when you told her you got the gig?

My mom had been more nervous than me! My sister auditioned as well, but she was also more nervous for me than she was for herself. Everyone in my family knew how much this was going to mean to me if I actually got the chance to perform with Michael ... My mom was very proud of me, as always.

What are your memories of hearing Michael&#8217;s music for the very first time?

I was three years old when my mom played the &#8220;Thriller&#8221; album on our record player. I just loved that my mom knew the words to &#8220;Wanna Be Startin&#8217; Somethin&#8217;&#8221; and I would make her sing &#8220;Mama-se, mama-sa, ma-ma-coo-sa&#8221; over and over ...

When did you first see him perform live? And when did you first meet him in person?

2001, Madison Square Garden was the first time I ever saw him perform live. It was the 30th anniversary concert he did with his brothers and that evening was electric! The first time I met him in person was when he brought his children to see &#8220;High School Musical: The Concert&#8221; tour in Las Vegas. This was in January of 2007. We met him backstage before the show and saw him in the audience during the entire performance.

How influential was Michael to you (as a dancer and a choreographer)?

Very influential! Nearly everything I do as a performer and as a choreographer is inspired by Michael. You can see a bit of his flavor in everything I do.

You were asked by your friend and mentor, Kenny Ortega, to choreograph the remake of &#8220;Footloose&#8221; but you turned that down for the opportunity to dance with Michael.

I helped audition the actors for &#8220;Footloose&#8221; when Chace Crawford was picked. I was very excited about the opportunity to choreograph another feature film but when I found out that Michael was going back on tour, I couldn&#8217;t help but audition for the chance of a lifetime ...

What was it like to be rehearsing the show with Michael?

Rehearsals were very surreal. It was like being on a front row seat to one of his shows, and getting to see it six days a week! I was very nervous. No one wanted to make a mistake in front of Michael ... We wanted to help Michael put on the best concert ever.

As the rehearsal days progressed, in what ways did he surprise you?

I think the biggest surprise for me was how great his vocals sounded. He was in great singing shape, sounding better than he did on the &#8220;HIStory&#8221; tour back in 1996. He also moved well. The new dance vocabulary in his arsenal was pretty surprising.

What were the most memorable moments during the rehearsals that you will always remember Michael by?

I will always remember the way he smelled. He wore so much cologne and when he walked into a room, you knew it before you even saw him. It was a magical scent and no one wore it quite like Mike.
There was one moment right out of the blue when Michael said to everyone, &#8220;Thank you all for being wonderful adventurers.&#8221; He emphasized the word &#8220;adventurers.&#8221; He said this all so slowly. It was as if he wanted to reiterate it enough to make sure we all understood how much he appreciated all of us ...

What was your favorite number during the rehearsals? What was your biggest number with Michael?

My favorite number would definitely have to be &#8220;Beat It.&#8221; It&#8217;s funny because when I was younger, I always used to fast forward to skip that because the performance of it seemed like a dull moment. But as a dancer and performer on his tour, I finally realized why he always performed &#8220;Beat It&#8221; the way we were doing it ... It wasn&#8217;t even about the song. It was about the energy toward the end of the piece that was unlike any other feeling I&#8217;ve ever felt on stage before. There are old performances of &#8220;Beat It&#8221; from his &#8220;Dangerous&#8221; tour on YouTube. The improvisational energy at the end of the number is what I&#8217;m referring to.

(Conclusion Tomorrow)


&#8216;It hasn&#8217;t sunk in that he&#8217;s gone&#8217;


In Sunday&#8217;s column, we started this e-mail interview with Charles &#8220;Chucky&#8221; Klapow, a Fil-Am choreographer who made it as one of Michael Jackson&#8217;s 12 backup dancers for the ill-fated &#8220;This Is It&#8221; concert tour. This is part 2 of the exclusive exchange, in which Chucky recounts Michael&#8217;s last rehearsal days.

Did Michael know you were a choreographer, too?
Kenny (Ortega, director of the concert and the documentary) told me that during the audition, he didn&#8217;t tell Michael who I was or what I have accomplished as a choreographer. Whether or not Michael was informed later, I was strictly a dancer on &#8220;This Is It.&#8221; I was a soldier, in a way, and I accepted the job, making sure I wouldn&#8217;t overstep anyone.

As a dancer-choreographer, what did you learn from Michael, who was a consummate entertainer?
Watching and working with Michael during the rehearsals, I observed more than I consciously [studied]. I think I have learned it all from him throughout all my years as his fan, so that, by the time I got the chance to dance for him, there wasn&#8217;t that much more to grab from him. But I was in awe of his attention to detail and his constant striving for perfection.

What do you remember most about Michael during your last rehearsal with him?
When you see us on stage with him in our full masks and &#8220;Thriller&#8221; costumes, you&#8217;re looking at his final night alive. He passed away less than 12 hours later. It&#8217;s very hard to think about that because he was very inspired and excited by doing &#8220;Thriller&#8221; with the lights, costumes, smoke effect and set pieces. He was so lively when we left him at Staples Center that night.

Where were you when you heard the sad news? What were the first thoughts that came to your mind?
We were at Staples Center, rehearsing his show on his stage, when we heard the tragic news. I can&#8217;t remember what came to my mind. I was disgusted, angry, confused and lost when I found out. Tears all around.

When did it sink in that Michael was really gone?
It still hasn&#8217;t really sunk in. I don&#8217;t know when it will.
The grief and mourning throughout the world over Michael&#8217;s passing was unprecedented.

I felt all of it. I couldn&#8217;t sleep for about a month and a half after he died. I&#8217;d wake up five or six times, and have Michael-related dreams every night. Not a single night went by without me dreaming about Michael, or rehearsals, or the dancers, or Neverland. I was very shocked by my reaction. I&#8217;m glad it has finally stopped.

What was the most touching expression of grief and mourning that you saw or heard?
This will sound weird, but I thought the most touching was that, as soon as Michael died, the media finally had nice things to say about this tragic genius, who had spent most of his life dealing with ridicule and [hasty] allegations from these same reporters.

It must have been a poignant experience for you to perform &#8220;Will You Be There&#8221; with Jennifer Hudson and the 11 other dancers at the memorial service for Michael, especially since, just days before, you were rehearsing that same number with Michael in that same place.
It was pure nightmare. We were supposed to be celebrating his life during that memorial but to me it was just a nightmare that no one was about to wake up from. Toward the end of the performance, we had to stand there and listen to Michael&#8217;s voice and bow our heads. I held my tears in as long as I could, trying to be strong and positive for his friends and family. But as we exited the stage I actually had to run off because the tears just started pouring out.

Did you attend the burial?
I did attend the burial. All of his dancers served as ushers. We all walked up to his casket inside the mausoleum and had our own final moments with Michael.

How do you think the show in England would have been, if such a tragedy did not come to pass?
It would&#8217;ve been his best concert ever. I&#8217;m a huge fan and I&#8217;ve memorized footage of all of his tours inside and out. I really believed we would&#8217;ve taken our show to other corners of the world. And when the timing was right, I was going to suggest that we go to the Philippines and call it the &#8220;Thrilla in Manila 2010&#8221;!

What can you share about Michael that most of us do not know?
I think &#8220;This Is It&#8221; (the documentary) will reveal a lot about what Michael was really like. You&#8217;ll get to see the Michael Jackson with the low voice! The man people don&#8217;t ever hear about. Michael was nothing like the tabloids made him out to be. His nose wasn&#8217;t falling off, his skin disorder was very real and evident on his arms&#8212;[I saw it] every time he changed his shirt. He wasn&#8217;t deathly thin. And he wasn&#8217;t too old to do the tour.

Source. Inquirer.Net
TheChosenOne;3400719 said:
What were the most memorable moments during the rehearsals that you will always remember Michael by?

I will always remember the way he smelled. He wore so much cologne and when he walked into a room, you knew it before you even saw him. It was a magical scent and no one wore it quite like Mike.
There was one moment right out of the blue when Michael said to everyone, &#8220;Thank you all for being wonderful adventurers.&#8221; He emphasized the word &#8220;adventurers.&#8221; He said this all so slowly. It was as if he wanted to reiterate it enough to make sure we all understood how much he appreciated all of us

Source. Inquirer.Net

This is also posted in the Positive Websites thread but I wanted to borrow for this thread!

But then there was Michael

. . and he was nothing like the demonic persona the media created of him. Not at all.

Some of the best stories we get of what Michael was really like as a person and a performer are those from sound engineers, lighting crew, dancers, make-up artists, costume designers, musicians, directors, artists, and others who worked closely with him on various videos, albums, tours or other creative endeavors.

The following article, from Philips Vari-Lite, a production lighting company whose crew worked with Michael Jackson on quite a few of his major tours, reveals some amusing and amazing things about our Prince of Peace.


Michael may not have known technically what he was asking for, but he knew in his head artistically what he wanted. Sometimes he would say &#8216;Can I have lots of white light here?&#8217; or &#8216;Can I have a white light over my head?&#8217; and of course we would do what we could to make it happen. It got to a point where I could guess what he wanted because I knew how he was thinking as far as lighting goes. The beauty of our working relationship was that I could reach deep into my imagination and know that I wasn&#8217;t going too far. Nothing was too outlandish for him.

&#8211;Peter Morse

Michael was different than anyone else I had ever worked with, said Waits. He was thoroughly involved but not necessarily at the very beginning of something. He waited until we had something established and he would edit, comment, and ask for additions. And he&#8217;d ask for them very quickly. In the first days of rehearsals I was asked to program as many chase effects that I could, and I got up to about 140 chases before Michael showed up ready to see what we had. After all the chase sequences and a brief conversation the lighting designer informed me Michael wanted to use all 140 chases in a single song. So at that point we learned maybe we should only show him a little bit at a time.

&#8211;Benny Kirkham

In 1988, the year prior to the wall coming down in Germany, we played the Reichstag, the old Parliament. Concerts were performed on the front grounds and you could hit the Berlin Wall with a rock from the back door of the venue. We raised extra lighting and sound gear so something could be heard and seen on the other side. We were told that the size of the audience listening in the street on the other side of the wall was 10 times the size of what was out front, which was a complete sell-out. That was one of the most memorable moments that I have ever been a part of and to be a part of it with a Michael Jackson tour makes it even more so.

&#8211;Jim Waits

On our tour, Michael was definitely an international ambassador of peace. We had some moments in the show that were just incredible. We had a scene where there was this huge bombed out city, with smoke drifting between the destroyed buildings. We had a lot of local people mixed in with our dancers and then they&#8217;d sing Earth Song. The chorus was &#8216;What about us. What about us.&#8217; and at the end of the song this blinding light and a tank would come through from upstage. This tank was truly one of a kind and Michael would stand in front of the tank as if he were in Tiananmen Square stopping it in its tracks. The tank driver then jumped out of the tank, the gun turret would turn, the hatch popped open and the driver would point a gun at Michael. Michael would reach out and lower the gun causing the tank driver to become overwhelmed with emotion and then a little girl, a local, would come up to the driver and give him a flower as everyone began to sing &#8216;Heal the World.&#8217; That was followed up by flags of every nation waving around as they played the classic tune &#8216;Pictures at an Exhibition&#8217; with big, bombastic horns as the dancers and the performers would wave these enormous banners with all the flags of all the nations that we were going to tour. It was extraordinary. You can not underestimate what Michael&#8217;s popularity was and still is overseas no matter where we went, and we went to some places in Eastern Europe that not too many years before there actually were tanks in the streets. There were people becoming quite emotional all over the world, and that is one memory that will stay with me forever.

&#8211;Benny Kirkham

One memory I will always have of Michael Jackson is the very first meeting I had with him which was kind of an early production meeting to discuss ideas for the &#8216;Dangerous&#8217; tour. In Michael I found a guy who was one of the warmest and most funny people I had ever met which was not quite the image others saw publically. He was full of jokes while relating some great stories from his past and he was extremely down to earth. My first connection with him told me that he was approachable and definitely had big eyes for big things; not only for his career, but for his shows. He was such a creative person which is a dream come true for a lighting designer.

One day in rehearsals, Michael was ready to practice the opening number and he came catapulting out of what we called the &#8216;toaster&#8217; flying out of a hole and landing on both feet. He was wearing that iconic metallic suit with the sunglasses and long hair with a rigid stare off into the distance. The first day he did this with about 50 of the crew and dancers watching and he just stood there for about four minutes. We were all looking nervously at each other, wondering what he was doing. Then, he very slowly raised his hand up, grabbed his sunglasses and took them off. It felt like forever and then he did a spin kick and the music started. So of course I&#8217;m wondering why he takes such a long pause. Well, the reason is he knew exactly how long he needed to hold that pose for the crowd. The first time we did it live in front of Munich stadium his pause was exactly to the second, the same amount of time that he was doing in rehearsal, and the crowd was going wild. He just knew.

&#8211;Peter Morse

I think he&#8217;ll be remembered well and a lot of the controversy surrounding his life will subside. In the end, he will simply be remembered for what he did best, which was perform his music as only he could.

&#8211;Gregg Brooks

It&#8217;s hard to say where Michael will fall in the hierarchy of musical artists. People thought there would never be anybody who could surpass Elvis, and then there were The Beatles. People thought no one would surpass The Beatles, but then there was Michael.

&#8211;Benny Kirkham

Source: http://www.mj-777.com/
I borrowed this from MJJLaugh's thread Positive Websites.

This excellent article highlights Michael's business genius. I wonder if a positive reaction on our part is due here.

3 Lessons In Brand Management From Michael Jackson

July 13, 2010 by Larissa
Just 3 weeks prior, on the 25th of June, many around the world gathered to mark the one year death anniversary of the legendary singer who was the self-styled &#8220;King of Pop&#8221;. Whatever mud his name may have been dragged through in recent years because of his personal and very public eccentricities, what is undeniable is this: Michael Jackson was and continues to be a highly successful brand that has revolutionized the music industry in ways that no one has come close to doing in recent years.

Michael Jackson, the brand, also remains highly lucrative after his death. Billboard magazine estimates that Michael Jackson&#8217;s estate raised approximately $1 billion (£670 million) since his death one year ago.

So what&#8217;s all this talk about Michael Jackson again? Well, his succcessful singing career can teach us valuable lessons on brand management. Here are 3 key lessons that we oursevles have learnt.


(1) Build A Global Brand

To build a global brand, in entrepreneur speak, would mean to build a product/service that is replicable and scalable such that it can gain market traction rapidly. Think Michael Jackson&#8217;s worldwide phenomenon was a fluke? Wrong.

Before releasing his first solo album &#8220;Off the Wall&#8221;, record studio executives were already planning for it to be released on the global stage. &#8220;Our whole mind-set was that we were making music for the masses, and part of the big picture was to get the record company to turn around and market and promote to a mass market,&#8221; says Ron Weisner, who was co-managing Jackson with Freddy DeMann at the time. &#8220;Our attitude was, &#8216;Let the public decide &#8212; don&#8217;t just present it to a black market only.&#8217;&#8221;

Black artists were being sidelined during the 1970&#8217;s as a result of the Album Oriented Rock (AOR) format that radio stations across America adopted. AOR meant that program directors of radio stations discarded the wide range of musical genres embraced in earlier periods and focused almost entirely on a rock &#8211; centric sound. As such, folk, jazz and blues selections became rarer and program directors also blocked out black artists from having airtime.

This is why Michael Jackson elbowing himself into global consciousness is so phenomenal in itself because he was the first ever black artist to break down the racial and musical barriers and carve a place for himself as the &#8220;King Of Pop&#8221;.

How Michael Jackson and his team achieved that was to simultaneously release his singles across different platforms instead of carrying out promotion in a stepwise manner. After Epic Record&#8217;s (Michael Jackson&#8217;s recording label at that time) pop and R&B promotion teams heard &#8220;Don&#8217;t Stop &#8216;Til You Get Enough,&#8221; they knew that the record was going to be worldwide hit and the team therefore took the unprecedented step of promoting singles to R&B and pop radio at the same time. &#8220;It wasn&#8217;t the usual &#8216;Build up the artist at urban radio first and then go to pop,&#8217;&#8221; said Maurice Warfield (former West Coast regional urban promotion manager).

Moreover, when &#8220;Thriller&#8221; was released 1982, Epic&#8217;s head of promotion, Frank Dielo, decided to release two singles concurrently in order to broaden the album&#8217;s audience. Eventually, 7 of the album&#8217;s 9 tracks hit Billboard&#8217;s Top 10 and his hit song &#8220;Thriller&#8221; stayed at No. 1 for 37 nonconsecutive weeks.

More than tactical strategizing, Michael Jackson made music which would appeal to a global audience. Who wouldn&#8217;t groove along to &#8220;Thriller&#8221; or be mesmerized by the magic of his James Brown inspired moonwalk? National, racial, age and gender boundaries ceased to exists with his music. And in 1985, We Are the World&#8221;, written by Jackson and Lionel Ritchie in 1985, cemented his global appeal.

I guess the message embedded here is to find a product or service that fulfils a fundamental human need &#8211; be it whether it is a human desire for connection (as social networks have taken care of) or whether it is a need for zippers (as zipper brand YKK has seen to). In coming up with a new product, the foremost concern shouldn&#8217;t be how &#8220;sexy&#8221; the technology is but more importantly, is this product relevant to people and how does it fit into their everyday lives?

Remember: it is always people before technology.


(2) Take Risks and Be Visible

Michael Jackson was not only a talented singer but he innately understood the visual dynamics that would lend dimensions to his performance. As with brands, it is important to have certain visual hallmarks that are easily recognizable, distinct and resonate with the language of your brand. Michael Jackson as a performer understood this well.

Visual hallmarks of Michael Jackson includes his iconic crystal studded gloves, his eye catching costumes like the red ensemble worn in &#8220;Thriller&#8221; and of course, who could forget the white socks worn as Jackson moonwalked his way to history in &#8220;Billie Jean&#8221;? The white socks against his black loafers were arguably a calculated visual ploy on his part as they eyes would have been drawn to the stark contrast of white and black thereby concentrating the viewer on his now legendary dance moves. No, this combination was not new as even as early as 1951 Gene Kelly, wearing white socks and loafers, danced and charmed the world in &#8220;American in Paris.&#8221; But Michael Jackson borrowed well and achieved his objectives.

Michael Jackson performing the moonwalk

Aside from his visual extravaganza as a performer, Michael Jackson one of the forerunners of the MTV generation and one of the very few who executed it well. As what Weisner says, Jackson&#8217;s vision for &#8220;Thriller&#8221; was to &#8220;take it to the next giant level&#8230; It was about how we were going to marry the album with the visual extension.&#8221;

Videos enabled Michael Jackson to create a whole new way of experiencing his music. The audience could now experience music combined with sleek dance moves and visual effects. His videos were &#8220;not so much promotional vehicles for his songs as they were mini-movies, big-budget showcases for Michael Jackson: The Icon&#8221;.

MTV wasn&#8217;t the only TV exposure that changed the course of Jackson&#8217;s career. On May 16, 1983, NBC broadcast &#8220;Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever,&#8221; and Jackson performed an instantly iconic rendition of &#8220;Billie Jean&#8221; and unveiled his sequined glove and the James Brown-inspired moonwalk. The next day, Fred Astaire called Jackson to congratulate him.

Fundamentally, the way Michael Jackson managed to control the media to amplify his brand is what&#8217;s noteworthy here. He was the part 24/7 be it on stage or off. This lesson is important as we arrive at a time where it is no longer possible for CEO&#8217;s and company bigwigs to direct consumers from within their gilded cages. We have moved past the stage where companies could find success organizing expensive advertising campaigns which essentially shout at the consumer in order to get their attention. With social networking, companies are moving forward with consumer engagement whereby spreading the brand&#8217;s message is now about tapping into the conversations that one&#8217;s customers are having about one&#8217;s brand.

As such, companies have now begun to put a human face to their brands with CEO&#8217;s and other executives blogging, tweeting and even starring in their company&#8217;s videos as they find new ways to communicate with their customers. In this respect, we can take a leaf from Michael Jackson&#8217;s book &#8211; by creating iconic visual hallmarks and engaging people through mediums which he could command, Michael Jackson ensured that the reach of his music extended as far as it could and in the process, cemented his place in pop history.


(3) Talk Is Free, Ideas Are Cheap. Building A Brand Is HARD WORK

For those of who are sitting at your office desks, daydreaming about one day becoming your own boss so that you can point some middle fingers at your current employer? Wake up from your reverie &#8211; this lesson is for you.

Building an enduring brand goes beyond just having a good idea. What it takes is many years of hard work and perseverance before one can even get a crack of success. Michael Jackson began performing by the age of 4, as the lead singer of Jackson&#8217;s 5 which formed in 1964. 8 years later, at the tender age of 12, launched his solo career by releasing his first No. 1 solo single &#8220;Ben&#8221;, an ode to his pet rat.

Michael Jackson as part of the Jackson 5 in 1968

The point is this: Michael Jackson had undeniable talent but the success he attained was not because of his talent alone or through mere &#8220;luck&#8221;. Michael Jackson worked hard to build his brand, slaving away during his childhood years in recording studios, hauling himself across the state to play at unknown venues with the Jackson 5 such that by the time he was 19, he was already on the top of his game and ready to take on the world stage with his music.

The fact is that building a brand means a lot of sacrifice but no one wants to acknowledge the dirty work.

When MJ passed, and especially during the release of TII was extremely impressed with the glowing and sincere comments from behind the scene folks in the music and film industry. All were bursting to express their respect for MJ as a gentleman and genius artist.
This is different from Tom's Bahler memories.I hope it's ok to post here.:heart:

Memories with the &#8216;Groove King&#8217;: John Bähler remembers Michael Jackson

&#8220;The one thing I try to impress upon people is that Michael was the epitome of love. He was the most loving, kind human being I have ever met in my entire life.&#8221;
&#8211; John Bähler (May 31, 2011)

DAYTON, Ohio &#8211; John Bähler is a composer, producer, songwriter and arranger. He and his brother Tom Bähler have been surrounded by music for most of their life. John said he&#8217;s felt blessed to work with multiple artists throughout the years, but according to him, one person who will always stand out is Michael Jackson.

In 1972, John and Tom joined Motown Records as a team of arrangers. The Bählers worked with multiple groups at Motown, and among their musical list was the Jackson 5, [Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, Marlon and Michael]. &#8220;The Jacksons were the sweetest, quietest, humblest people I have ever met in my entire life,&#8221; he said. &#8220;The boys in the group were all quiet, but once they hit the stage, it was like flipping on a switch.&#8221; Despite their quiet personalities, John said they were a group of professionals, but remembers a time when they struggled to master a song arrangement.

&#8220;I can&#8217;t remember what song we were doing, but the arrangement wasn&#8217;t easy to sing,&#8221; he said. &#8220;When it came time to record the song, the producer said I can&#8217;t sing on the track with the group. So, I went into the back and turned on a figure-8 microphone. Only the boys, engineer and myself knew I was singing on the record.&#8221;

John said he treasured his time with the group and always looked forward to working with them, and said he had great side-conversations with them. One of his memories involves a conversation with Michael around the age of 13. John said Michael approached him and asked him, &#8220;[Do] you know who the best dancer of the group is? Jackie. Jackie&#8217;s the best dancer.&#8221; John said when he asked him why Jackie doesn&#8217;t move toward the front to dance, Michael said, &#8220;He&#8217;s shy, so he makes me do it.&#8221; Michael then told John that Jackie choreographed a lot of the group&#8217;s dance routines while living in Gary, Ind.

Despite the Jackson 5 ending their Motown career in 1975, Michael, John and Tom remained close. John said a solid factor to their friendship was the fact that he and Tom treated Michael like a &#8220;normal human being.&#8221; Throughout their years of working together, John said he was able to see a side of Michael that many knew of, but had never experienced first-hand. He said he was able to witness Michael create a melody and watch it evolve into a song over time.

John said he nicknamed Michael the &#8220;Groove King,&#8221; because, &#8220;He came up with the most incredible grooves. He&#8217;d call me and we would go into the studio and do songs. He&#8217;d play one and it would walk you out of the room.&#8221; According to John, Michael enjoyed creating infectious rhythms, but loved writing a wide variety of songs. He said Michael noted &#8220;Heal the World&#8221; as one of his favorite tracks. Knowing how highly Michael thought of the song, John said he takes pride in the fact that he wrote the vocal arrangement and directed the choir.

Michael&#8217;s song &#8220;Heal the World&#8221; &#8211; the seventh song off his 1991 album Dangerous &#8211; was originally titled &#8220;Feed the World.&#8221; Keyboardist David Paich first presented the song idea to John over the phone. John said he then went to Paich&#8217;s home and recorded the chart arrangement. Though the song wasn&#8217;t finished, he said Michael heard some of it and called him saying, &#8220;I did it again. I fell on my knees and wept.&#8221;

When finalizing the arrangement and choir of the song, John said Michael was suppose to be present, but was sick with a cold and unavailable. According to John, they recorded the finished piece to play to Michael over the phone. &#8220;He flipped,&#8221; John said. &#8220;[Michael] was in tears.&#8221; John said without working on it every day, writing, arranging and finalizing the song took 6-7 months. He said from the time the song was originally titled &#8220;Feed the World,&#8221; and then later changed to &#8220;Heal the World,&#8221; several demos were recorded.

While thinking back through the years he spent in recording studios with him, John said Michael always looked up to him and saw him as a great singer and arranger. However, he said one of his favorite humorous times in the studio is when Michael heard him make a mistake. &#8220;I never put two headphones on when recording because the professionals have to hear themselves sing live,&#8221; he said. &#8220;While [recording] parts of a song with Michael, I put both of my headphones on. All of the sudden, we heard this ugly vocal part. I took my headphones off and Michael yelled while laughing, &#8216;It was you. I can&#8217;t believe it was you.&#8217; He couldn&#8217;t believe he had actually heard me sounding rotten.&#8221;

John said he considers his time spent with Michael as years he will never forget. According to him, he and Michael were always close. John said he remembers Michael calling him and Tom a lot while the Jackson 5 were touring. &#8220;He&#8217;d be so quiet on the phone, but loved talking,&#8221; John said.

According to John, he and Tom miss Michael and their friendship, but said he holds on to the qualities that made Michael unique. According to John, Michael&#8217;s sense of humor and quality of love stayed in him throughout the years. When asked what he wants everyone to remember about Michael, John said, &#8220;He had a great sense of humor. He was a kidder who loved being kidded.&#8221; In addition to Michael&#8217;s humor, John said, &#8220;He was the epitome of love. I don&#8217;t know of anyone I have ever met who has loved more than Michael.&#8221;

The one aspect John said he will never forget is, &#8220;When Michael said &#8216;I love you,&#8217; you felt it. He was that way his entire life.&#8221;

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&#8220;Black & White&#8221; - December, January and February issue 1994/1995 NY City Nov. 5th 1994 (Part I)

&#8220;Black &White: Bruce Swedien and MICHAEL JACKSONin studio inNew York, time has changed. After all those years of success in California, why is that change?

Bruce Swedien: New Yorkis,cuz we had to take a break. We recorded the rest of the albums back in L.A., it was time to take a step back.We needed something new for HISTORY. Everything is so different in here. The fact it self we are entering the studio felt good, the sounds the street scent &#8211; N.Y.CITY is a whole new source of inspiration. This is what we were looking for, and to tell you the truth the last earthquake was the last straw. ( Bob Jones who is about to leave the room interrupts Bruce laughing:&#8221;What you really like here in N.Y.is,that you are coming to the studio in a limo!&#8221;)

&#8220;Black &White: For how long have been in here?

Bruce Swedien: We came to the studio on February the 5th.

&#8220;Black &White:Compared to the studios in California, how is the &#8222;HIT FACTORY&#8221; doing?

Bruce Swedien: This is the best studio in the world...for real...

&#8220;Black &White: Even though it doesn't have your famoust mixer, this unbelievable machine, is known for the greatest in the world?
Bruce Swedien: Yes, it was the best in the world. It had 80 tracks for recording, but i built a new one, it is here in front of you. Now this is the biggest mixing table in the world, it has 96 tracks, which can be used for recording of a symphonic orchestra using a single track for each instrument.

&#8220;Black &White: When you leave NY you are taking it with you, correct?

Bruce Swedien: Nope, it stays here, i made it and it belongs to the studio.

&#8220;Black &White:Isn't it weird to see you here atHIT FACTORY, when couple of blocks down the road is the brand new SONY studio?

Bruce Swedien: Some people expected us to be seen in there, it is true. The SONY studio is brand new, but it doesn`t mean it is better than this one. Michael prefers HIT FACTORYbecause of personal issues he has. When he is here, he knows no one will be here bothering him .At SONY's is way much more different. A lot of people are coming and going. This is not the surrounding of Michael.

&#8220;Black &White: You have been working on the new album for 9 months already. The project must have some kind of a shape already?

Bruce Swedien: For now we are talking about a double CD The first CD is going to be GREATEST HITS, the second one new songs.

&#8220;Black &White: I heard something about 5 - 7 new titles, but obviously they'll be more?

Bruce Swedien: It has always been possible for us to create a whole new album. We've always been leaving the door opened for that kind of stuff.

&#8220;Black &White:SONY MUSICmust be hurting because of that. Upon what conditions they might be able to built the promotional campaign, if you keep changing direction?

Bruce Swedien: We really drive them insane.

&#8220;Black &White: How is the selection for the new songs done? How's got the last word?

Bruce Swedien: Michael has it. &#1052;&#1072;&#1081;&#1082;&#1098;&#1083;. He's the only one who makes the decision. Im giving him my opinion, but he would not let anyone do the final cut. In the studio there is a little board over which we put stickers. On each one of them, there is a name of the new song. That board is the final selection of the songs the album will contain. Every day Michael changes the place of the stickers. He takes a song off, replaces it with another, changes the order of the titles... Every time I look at the board, something has been changed. That has been going on for months and it will be going until Michael makes the perfect selection.

&#8220;Black &White: So, HISTORYwill be 50% GREATEST HITSand 50% new material?

Bruce Swedien: In fact, yes, this is the point we are aiming at.

&#8220;Black &White: Is it possible for us to expect some versions of the Michael's classics remixed?

Bruce Swedien: I don`t believe that people who are buying the CD, would want to hear remixes. It wouldn't be loyal from us. Anyway, would be possible for a person to make a remix of a song like Billie Jean for example? No. That's not the deal...

&#8220;Black &White: What would you say about the remixed singles from theDANGEROUS album?

Bruce Swedien: Some of them are done well, but overall I don`t like them. Songs which have been remixed have the tendency to butcher the original.

&#8220;Black &White: So, the fans won't find anything new in the GREATEST HITS, which will be inHISTORY?

Bruce Swedien: It is not quite like that. if you are familiar with Michael's set list, you will be surprised. We haven't mixed the old classic versions, but what we did was - we took off the old tapes of the songs and re-recorded them again. The purity of the record is amazing. You are going to re-discover songs like Thriller, for example.

"Black &White:Isn't the selection of the classics which will be in HISTORYcheating, a lot of songs deserve to be in the album?

Bruce Swedien: This is a dilemma all the time. May be we could make something like a "to be continued" of HISTORY, so we won't cut off some of the really good songs.
Part II:

&#1042;LACK&WHITE: It is 3pm now, you showed up first in the studio, Michael hasn't come yet. How are your days look like since you started?

Bruce Swedien : Usually im coming around noon. I am setting the schedule and everything up. Michaelcomes at 1 o'clock. We start working almost right away. We are leaving the studio when it's already dark out. Most of the days we are not saying up until late.

&#1042;LACK&WHITE : Is Michael driving on his way here?

Bruce Swedien : Yes, but he never drives in New York. He is not familiar with the roads and there is a person who drives him.

&#1042;LACK&WHITE : For how long have you 2 been working together?

Bruce Swedien : The first song him and me worked on was &#8220;East on down the road&#8221; in 1978. Quincy Jones was writing the music for the movie &#8222;THE WIZ&#8221; and was his sound guy. This is how I met Michael.

&#1042;LACK&WHITE : In all these years, you've been able to see more than anyone else, what type of performer Michaelis, and how he is doing his job...

Bruce Swedien : There is something they say about Michael and it is true - he is perfectionist, and he is a hard worker.

&#1042;LACK&WHITE : How is he writing the songs? When he has the music in his head, what happens next?

Bruce Swedien : There are two ways when he has and idea for a song - he either sings it to a tape recorder and then plays it to everyone else afterwards, or he makes a demo playing it on the piano.

&#1042;LACK&WHITE : Does he play good?

Bruce Swedien : He is good enough to make a demo.

&#1042;LACK&WHITE : Then what?

Bruce Swedien : Then the musicians try to play whatever Michaelhas sung. Sometimes there is a professional who comes along to make touch-ups, like Stive Porkaro for example, who was here for the new album.

&#1042;LACK&WHITE : What does Michael expect from the musicians he works with?

Bruce Swedien : Actually, Michael is very simple and clear. He knows what exactly he wants to hear, but sometimes he has to give a right-a-way to some of the musicians, because he wants to hear something more different. That happened to Slash, Michael invited him in person.

&#1042;LACK&WHITE : What extent is Michael neat to in the producing of the songs?

Bruce Swedien : Michael presents from the beginning to the end of making of the songs. He tries to follow the stages, to understand everything...

&#1042;LACK&WHITE : Does he ever interfere with your field?

Bruce Swedien : He is interested, but never interferes. He wants to know everything, but doesn`t want to do everything! He understands the borders.