Hot topic Brad Sundberg Seminars: Making Music With Michael Jackson

Paris78

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Beano Wild

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Set on going to the London seminar in November, any suggestions of songs I should request to hear?
 

Amaya

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Seems he'll be returning to the US with a seminar in Minneapolis. Wonder if I should go to that or wait for one that's closer... doesn't help that airline tickets are ungodly expensive for that week/weekend for some reason. X_X
 

Paris78

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Greetings and Merry Christmas!!
I am doing a very quick trip to NYC and I wanted to get your input on our 2023 schedule. It feels like the world is opening up very quickly, and our MJ weekends are jammed-packed with new material!
So... where to go?
Here is a short list of locations we are considering AFTER Brussels and Minneapolis:
Orlando
Warsaw
New York
Atlanta
Amsterdam
LA
Reykjavik
Dublin
Munich
Mexico City
Stockholm
Hamburg
Who's in??

 

staywild23

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Greetings and Merry Christmas!!
I am doing a very quick trip to NYC and I wanted to get your input on our 2023 schedule. It feels like the world is opening up very quickly, and our MJ weekends are jammed-packed with new material!
So... where to go?
Here is a short list of locations we are considering AFTER Brussels and Minneapolis:
Orlando
Warsaw
New York
Atlanta
Amsterdam
LA
Reykjavik
Dublin
Munich
Mexico City
Stockholm
Hamburg
Who's in??


I'm on Facebook begging for a NYC or Philadelphia seminar. I will go to these seminars every time it is humanly possible.

Also, I'm realizing as people like my previous posts that I never actually wrote a Part 3 of my experience in Orlando and there's so much still to say. Sorry, friends. I'd like to say I'm going to do it now, but I don't like to lie. There is a 99% chance I will forget about it the second I post this reply.
 

zinniabooklover

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I'm on Facebook begging for a NYC or Philadelphia seminar. I will go to these seminars every time it is humanly possible.

Also, I'm realizing as people like my previous posts that I never actually wrote a Part 3 of my experience in Orlando and there's so much still to say. Sorry, friends. I'd like to say I'm going to do it now, but I don't like to lie. There is a 99% chance I will forget about it the second I post this reply.
Highly unlikely. Bc once you reminded us that Part 3 never materialised I decided I would hound you - HOUND YOU - until you produce something. Doesn't have to be mega or hugely detailed. Just anything at all will do. :D

There IS a chance I will forget to 'hound' you, lol. Apparently, it's Christmas next week which I only just realised yesterday. How did that happen? How does this happen every year? Answer came there none.

But what are the chances I *will* remember to hound you and then get horribly behind on my Christmas prep? Quite good, I would say, lol.
 

laconcombremasque

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I’ll share more soon! 😊
Staywild,
I must say that your two posts relating Brad Sundberg’s seminar are amongst the most informative and detailed that I’ve read on this forum. Many many thanks for taking the time to share your notes and feelings with us, much appreciated for sure !
Definitely looking forward to reading Part 3 (and so on !!)

On a side note, if any other reader recognize any of the unreleased versions mentioned, and that some of them might be listenable for example on YouTube, it would be great to point us in the good direction, for us to listen at least to some of what you are so perfectly describing.

Many thanks again, and take your time for part 3 but do know that you will have enthusiastic readers !!
 

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Last Saturday I attended Brad Sundberg’s “In the Studio with Michael Jackson” seminar in Orlando, Florida. What I experienced at this event was nothing short of magical. I know I can’t capture even a whisper of all that magic in this write up, but I thought I could share a bit from my experience so that those of you who are interested but unable to attend one of these seminars can share in some of the lesser known elements of Michael’s artistry and personality that I had the privilege of learning about. It should go without saying that if you ARE planning to attend one of these events somewhat soon, this will definitely contain "spoilers" for lack of a better term. So if you want to remain completely surprised, I would not read this. That said, even having attended the entire event, I would 100% attend again and again and again, even if I knew every story already. It was that good.

Also, before I get started, I want to preface this by saying I have only written up about half of the notes I’ve taken so far and am already at well over 5,000 words. So, I anticipate once I finish I will have at least 10,000 words of reflection. I know that is insane. So, with that said, I am only including excerpts of my notes and what I have written 1) to keep this post from being a literal novella length and 2) to not truly spoil the event for other people. If people privately ask, I may be willing to share the full write up with others once I complete it.

So, this should be considered an Abridged PART 1 of my experience -- I'll be sharing more soon!

Format:
For the first half of the day (10am-4pm) the event covered the standard “In the Studio with MJ” session. This included going through the Bad, Dangerous, and HIStory album (with the least amount on HIStory). Then, from 5pm-9pm, Brad debuted a new segment with the working title “Day in the Life of” which is meant to capture Michael’s perspective in the studio. So, in essence, this was an 11-hour day devoted entirely to Michael which, for me (and I’m sure many other fans), is a literal dream come true.

I woke up in the morning weirdly nervous. I had butterflies in my stomach and I couldn’t quite explain why. When I arrived at the studio, Brad and his team were still setting up as attendees were checking in. It was immediately apparent that this was a MICHAEL JACKSON event, because almost every person was wearing some kind of MJ clothing. There was a Captain EO shirt, MJ One shirt, a Dangerous zip up hoodie, a Bad t-shirt, a concert tee, etc. People were representing our man.

The event itself was held at a studio where Michael had recorded at some point, I believe in the 2000s. Despite asking about a thousand questions throughout the seminar, I somehow didn’t ask what he was recording there. However, it was hard not to think about the fact that this space we were in did not only at one point contain Michael himself, but also acted as witness to his brilliance. This is a thought I could get lost in if I let myself. Anyway, the room was set up so that three rows of folding chairs were formulated in almost a half-moon shape facing Brad. These folding chairs would, over the course of 11 hours, prove to get the best of several people. Brad was set up in front of the glass pane separating the artist from the studio engineers. He had a large projector and screen, a desk with computer equipment, speakers, and a microphone. As we waited for the seminar to begin, Brad was playing MJ music, primarily from Off the Wall and Invincible.

Though Brad didn’t begin working with Michael until 1986, in order to help “introduce” us to Michael and the team he worked with for years, he started with a brief discussion of Off the Wall. He told us that neither Michael or Bruce Swedien really liked to use the word “demo” for early recordings. Michael used to say “a demo is a promise and you can’t break the promise.” Meaning it represents a sound, energy, and spirit to fight for throughout the recording process. Brad then shared the “promise” for “I can’t help it.” I realize this demo was leaked online at some point, but I’m not sure if this is actually the same one that I heard. Either way, when he played it during the seminar this was the first time I had ever heard it. I was swept away. Michael’s voice was so free and angelic, with the song so unformed and unproduced that it actually made me cry.

Skipping past several funny anecdotes about Michael (I can definitely share these if people are interested), I’m going to move to the Bad album of which Brad spent a huge portion of time discussing. Here are some highlights from that:

  • Brad clarified that despite rumors repeated over and over by some YouTubers and fans online, no one ever set up a microphone by Michael’s feet to record him dancing. All of the footwork we hear is caught from the main microphone set up for him to sing into. Brad emphasized this by saying that while he personally would have found it really cool to do that, it’s not the kind of thing Bruce Swedian ever would have considered doing.
  • Just as Michael said in the Ebony Jet interview, he really did record the intro to “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You” in a bed. As a huge fan of that intro, I have always wondered how this happened. Apparently, they brought in a bed (covers and everything lol) and had Michael lay in the bed with a microphone shaped like an ear and had him whisper into it. He showed us a photo of the setup and it was adorable to imagine this whole scenario.
  • Somehow, Brad ended up talking about this intro at length. First, however, he played the intro for us at top volume and, let me tell you, listening to that intro with a room full of people was…something. I’m not going to say anything else about my own response to this, but those who know KNOW. Anyway, after he played this he told the story. Essentially, Michael wanted to release IJCSLY “for the girls” and wanted to include a spoken intro for the same reason (adorable). Except, he didn’t know exactly what to say in it. So, Bruce and some of the other guys came up with a list of possible phrases for him to recite. Brad pulled up a scan of a piece of paper dated 5/23/1987 with notes of all the possible directions Michael could go with this little introduction. This included options like “do you love me?” and “your eyes are star like” and “I was so lonely until I met you…” and a few of the phrases that end up in the intro. Brad shared that between the intro, how they recorded it, and the content of the song itself, all the guys on the production team referred to it behind the scenes as “I Just Can’t Stop Rubbing You” lol. I wasn’t clear on if Michael was a part of this joke, but Brad did admit he rarely tells groups that part.
  • One of the first great “shares” of the day was when Brad played a very early version of Smooth Criminal. What was most noticeable about this was Michael’s vocal play on the line “Annie are you ok?” Where in the final version we hear a very consistent driving style, in this early version Michael messed around with his voice, singing it in all different tones, attitudes, and moods. It was so dynamic.
  • Later Brad shared the Speed Demon demo – AMAZING. So much better than the album cut, in my opinion, because it had way more variation and funkiness to it. In this demo, Michael is heard beatboxing, singing into a megaphone, singing the synth string parts in an almost haunting way. I asked how attached Michael seemed to his own ideas. Specifically, I was interested in knowing how a demo like this might turn into a much more polished version. I wondered how often he fought for specific sounds, or ideas, to make it into the final cut of a song, or if he was just comfortable laying down whatever came to him and working from there. Brad said that Michael was very flexible, but had certain things he would fight for, with an increase in attachment over the years, which Brad saw as a good thing. Almost like a sign of his continued growth as an artist. Someone else asked if Speed Demon was really written about Michael getting a speeding ticket on the way to the studio and Brad said he’s not sure how true that is, however, Michael did get a speeding ticket and was extremely upset and embarrassed about it. Despite the fact that everyone told him it was not a big deal and everyone gets speeding tickets, Michael seemed alarmingly upset about it and almost couldn’t even talk about it.
  • Streetwalker – early version – the Bill Bottrell version. Incredibly funky. So much funkier than what ends up on Bad 25.
  • Next, he shared how during the Bad tour, Michael was dealing with a lot of racism, especially in Australia. He had a really rough time and needed to reset when he came back. This led to him discussing the rehearsals in Pensacola. According to Brad, it was during these couple of weeks that they recorded the jazzy intro of TWYMMF for the Grammys. He explained how MJ was staying on the top floor of the hotel across from where they were doing rehearsals. So, to record this intro, they took all the mattresses from multiple rooms and lined them up against the walls around Michael’s bedroom and they ran wiring and cables literally from the window of his top floor suite down to the portable studio they had in a truck below. Apparently, Michael was so happy with this take that he never wanted to edit it again. Brad said how whenever this happened, Michael would say “Bible” which meant “rock solid” or even sometimes “Bible Bible” which meant even better than rock solid. Basically, if Michael called something “Bible” it meant that he didn’t want to change a single thing about it.
  • Family Thing Demo – full demo played. Michael’s voice in the verses was pretty low, but it was rhythmic and exciting. I didn’t take many notes on this song, but I loved it.
That’s all I’m going to share for now. There were several other things about the Bad era that were shared, but honestly, this is me legitimately trying to trim it down and that’s very hard for me (obviously). If this is too much detail for people, I will try to trim down the info about Dangerous even more, but I can’t make any promises haha.

One thing I want to note:

Brad didn’t really share any behind-the-scenes video footage, either in the studio, or otherwise from the Bad era. He did however share studio footage (both Michael recording songs, producing other singers, and casually hanging out) when discussing Dangerous and HIStory, as well as in the new segment. Maybe it's because I am such a fan of the Bad era, but I found I learned more totally new stuff after

@zinniabooklover @SmoothCriminal1995 @Jesionka @filmandmusic @MacMandy90

^ I tagged specific people who mentioned to me that they would like to read my review of the seminar. If you would prefer I don't tag you OR if you are interested and would like me to tag you in the future, just let me know! I don't want to annoy anyone OR leave anyone out. Just limiting it to specific people who seemed especially interested :)
Please put me on that list, will you? Fantastic write-up.
 

zinniabooklover

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One of the first great “shares” of the day was when Brad played a very early version of Smooth Criminal. What was most noticeable about this was Michael’s vocal play on the line “Annie are you ok?” Where in the final version we hear a very consistent driving style, in this early version Michael messed around with his voice, singing it in all different tones, attitudes, and moods. It was so dynamic.
I want box sets and I want them loaded up with stuff like this.

My fantasy life is quite lively, lol. :D
 

Paris78

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In The Studio With MJ


TBT
Vodka, Marlboros and Baby Blankets
I've written about Family Fridays before, but let me refresh your memory just a bit.
During the "Bad" album Michael Jackson started a tradition where every Friday his personal chefs Catherine and Laura (aka "The Slam Dunk Sisters") would bring the Westlake Studio crew an enormous feast mid-afternoon.
Bruce, Quincy, Rod and the crew would watch the security cameras early afternoon, waiting for Catherine's car to pull up, and several of us (Miko B., Mark H., Matt F., Wayne N. and me) would jump to our feet and go out to start bringing the food in.
Fried chicken, mashed potatoes, roast beef, lasagne, ham, collard greens, corn, and of course banana puddin'.
But you likely already know that.
Fast forward to the next project, which we called "Decade", but you know as "Dangerous".
For most of "Dangerous" we were at a different studio, Record One, in Sherman Oaks.
And our production team lost Quincy and Rod but gained Bill Bottrell. (Teddy Riley was also part of the team, but he stayed mostly at Larrabee North Studios).
But Catherine and Laura (Slam Dunk) still brought our Family Friday feasts every week.
One of the nice things about Family Fridays (aside from the amazing food) was that we could bring in our spouses and kids to join us. As I was working nearly insane hours in the studio, this was a treat as I could spend time with my wife Debbie and our young daughter Amanda, who was less than a year old when the project started. (And nearly two when it was released!)
Deb would bring Amanda periodically to Family Fridays so we could be together. A little toddler doesn't really fit into the image most people have a recording studio, but everyone loved when Deb brought her for visits. Michael in particular would lay on the floor offering her toys and laughing with her as she played.
He was once one the floor with her as she played with her little toys and he looked at Deb and said, "She's in her own little world, isn't she?"
One particular Friday we were expecting a special guest for some guitar overdubs. You've maybe heard of him - his name is Slash.
Musicians sometimes have something called a "rider", which is simply a request of things they want in the studio. It might be a certain type of headphones or a guitar amp - it depends on them.
Slash had a pretty simple rider: A carton of Marlboro cigarettes, two liters of vodka and a couple large bottles of cranberry juice.
Easy enough - we sent a runner to the store to shop the day before.
I knew from experience that musicians are also very cheap, so this is a nice way for them to ease up on their shopping costs, and it was all part of the experience.
Rock stars don't usually work early in the day, so I think we scheduled Slash for around 4pm, which just happened to be when the Family Friday feast was in full gear. Perfect!
I was on the floor with Deb, Michael and Amanda (who was on a baby blanket playing with one of those A-Frame toys, batting at the little characters. People were in various parts of the studio eating their dinners, sharing stories and laughs.
So to set the scene, Record One was set up with two studios: A and B. Between the two studios is a beautiful living room, complete with working gas fireplace, sofas, easy chairs, a glass desk, tables, artwork, plush carpet, etc. It was really nice.
On the other side of the fireplace was a giant kitchen where we often cooked, made coffee (we were very picky about our coffee) and snacks, etc. This was where Catherine and Laura could do final prep on the food on Fridays, and set up the buffet.
The living room was a great area to take a break, chat with musicians, and of course spread out and eat, which is exactly what we were doing on this particular afternoon, when the receptionist (Patti) walked back.
"Umm, Slash is here... should I let him in?"
Michael - "Yes, let him in!"
Now, you have to try to remember that as hard as we tried, we were not really a rock-star group. Well... except for Michael.
The rest of us dressed like it was casual Friday at the insurance office. Jeans and button-down shirts and such. And of course there was baby Amanda likely in some sort of a pink outfit, on the floor, playing with Michael.
In walks Slash.
He was a rockstar.
The hat.
The boots.
The necklaces.
The sunglasses.
The bracelets and rings.
The sleeveless denim jacket.
He was just cool.
And we were... us.
We greeting him warmly (Michael and Slash were already friends), and offered him dinner, which he politely declined.
I just remember his looking around the room at these clean-cut folks eating chicken and veggies, with a little red-head baby on the floor playing with an A-Frame toy.
I can only imagine this was a bit of a different scene than on Guns N' Roses sessions.
Michael jumped up and told him how excited he was to let Slash hear some of the songs, and I showed him where his vodka, cranberry juice and cigs were. It was all a bit surreal, but also just another day.
Slash got more comfortable with everyone and we set him up in the studio with Bill Bottrell to start recording his guitar overdubs, likely on Black Or White.
Deb packed up Amanda while Catherine and Laura cleaned up post-feast, and we resumed into our normal evening of overdubs, deafening playbacks and a few more cups of coffee.
Slash sipped on his vodka and cranberry juice and also got to work.
It was all part of what made that album so incredible.
Enjoy your weekend.
Brad
<><><><><><><><>
Don't forget - I'll be in Brussels with 7-time Grammy winning engineer Brian Vibberts Jan 27 - 29!
Will You Be There?
Tickets www.inthestudiowithmj.com
 

zinniabooklover

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Staywild,
I must say that your two posts relating Brad Sundberg’s seminar are amongst the most informative and detailed that I’ve read on this forum. Many many thanks for taking the time to share your notes and feelings with us, much appreciated for sure !
Definitely looking forward to reading Part 3 (and so on !!)
Anytime you're ready, @staywild23! Anytime this side of Easter works for me, lol.
 

zinniabooklover

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Now, you have to try to remember that as hard as we tried, we were not really a rock-star group. Well... except for Michael.
The rest of us dressed like it was casual Friday at the insurance office. Jeans and button-down shirts and such. And of course there was baby Amanda likely in some sort of a pink outfit, on the floor, playing with Michael.
In walks Slash.
He was a rockstar.
The hat.
The boots.
The necklaces.
The sunglasses.
The bracelets and rings.
The sleeveless denim jacket.
He was just cool.

And we were... us.
I loved this whole post but this bit in particular. Awesome! :)
 

staywild23

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Anytime you're ready, @staywild23! Anytime this side of Easter works for me, lol.
I am glad in that other thread you mentioned tagging me here because I most definitely did not get a notification lol.

I'm still thinking about how and when. But I hope to do it before the semester starts!
 

Mister_Jay_Tee

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In The Studio With MJ


TBT
Vodka, Marlboros and Baby Blankets
I've written about Family Fridays before, but let me refresh your memory just a bit.
During the "Bad" album Michael Jackson started a tradition where every Friday his personal chefs Catherine and Laura (aka "The Slam Dunk Sisters") would bring the Westlake Studio crew an enormous feast mid-afternoon.
Bruce, Quincy, Rod and the crew would watch the security cameras early afternoon, waiting for Catherine's car to pull up, and several of us (Miko B., Mark H., Matt F., Wayne N. and me) would jump to our feet and go out to start bringing the food in.
Fried chicken, mashed potatoes, roast beef, lasagne, ham, collard greens, corn, and of course banana puddin'.
But you likely already know that.
Fast forward to the next project, which we called "Decade", but you know as "Dangerous".
For most of "Dangerous" we were at a different studio, Record One, in Sherman Oaks.
And our production team lost Quincy and Rod but gained Bill Bottrell. (Teddy Riley was also part of the team, but he stayed mostly at Larrabee North Studios).
But Catherine and Laura (Slam Dunk) still brought our Family Friday feasts every week.
One of the nice things about Family Fridays (aside from the amazing food) was that we could bring in our spouses and kids to join us. As I was working nearly insane hours in the studio, this was a treat as I could spend time with my wife Debbie and our young daughter Amanda, who was less than a year old when the project started. (And nearly two when it was released!)
Deb would bring Amanda periodically to Family Fridays so we could be together. A little toddler doesn't really fit into the image most people have a recording studio, but everyone loved when Deb brought her for visits. Michael in particular would lay on the floor offering her toys and laughing with her as she played.
He was once one the floor with her as she played with her little toys and he looked at Deb and said, "She's in her own little world, isn't she?"
One particular Friday we were expecting a special guest for some guitar overdubs. You've maybe heard of him - his name is Slash.
Musicians sometimes have something called a "rider", which is simply a request of things they want in the studio. It might be a certain type of headphones or a guitar amp - it depends on them.
Slash had a pretty simple rider: A carton of Marlboro cigarettes, two liters of vodka and a couple large bottles of cranberry juice.
Easy enough - we sent a runner to the store to shop the day before.
I knew from experience that musicians are also very cheap, so this is a nice way for them to ease up on their shopping costs, and it was all part of the experience.
Rock stars don't usually work early in the day, so I think we scheduled Slash for around 4pm, which just happened to be when the Family Friday feast was in full gear. Perfect!
I was on the floor with Deb, Michael and Amanda (who was on a baby blanket playing with one of those A-Frame toys, batting at the little characters. People were in various parts of the studio eating their dinners, sharing stories and laughs.
So to set the scene, Record One was set up with two studios: A and B. Between the two studios is a beautiful living room, complete with working gas fireplace, sofas, easy chairs, a glass desk, tables, artwork, plush carpet, etc. It was really nice.
On the other side of the fireplace was a giant kitchen where we often cooked, made coffee (we were very picky about our coffee) and snacks, etc. This was where Catherine and Laura could do final prep on the food on Fridays, and set up the buffet.
The living room was a great area to take a break, chat with musicians, and of course spread out and eat, which is exactly what we were doing on this particular afternoon, when the receptionist (Patti) walked back.
"Umm, Slash is here... should I let him in?"
Michael - "Yes, let him in!"
Now, you have to try to remember that as hard as we tried, we were not really a rock-star group. Well... except for Michael.
The rest of us dressed like it was casual Friday at the insurance office. Jeans and button-down shirts and such. And of course there was baby Amanda likely in some sort of a pink outfit, on the floor, playing with Michael.
In walks Slash.
He was a rockstar.
The hat.
The boots.
The necklaces.
The sunglasses.
The bracelets and rings.
The sleeveless denim jacket.
He was just cool.
And we were... us.
We greeting him warmly (Michael and Slash were already friends), and offered him dinner, which he politely declined.
I just remember his looking around the room at these clean-cut folks eating chicken and veggies, with a little red-head baby on the floor playing with an A-Frame toy.
I can only imagine this was a bit of a different scene than on Guns N' Roses sessions.
Michael jumped up and told him how excited he was to let Slash hear some of the songs, and I showed him where his vodka, cranberry juice and cigs were. It was all a bit surreal, but also just another day.
Slash got more comfortable with everyone and we set him up in the studio with Bill Bottrell to start recording his guitar overdubs, likely on Black Or White.
Deb packed up Amanda while Catherine and Laura cleaned up post-feast, and we resumed into our normal evening of overdubs, deafening playbacks and a few more cups of coffee.
Slash sipped on his vodka and cranberry juice and also got to work.
It was all part of what made that album so incredible.
Enjoy your weekend.
Brad
<><><><><><><><>
Don't forget - I'll be in Brussels with 7-time Grammy winning engineer Brian Vibberts Jan 27 - 29!
Will You Be There?
Tickets www.inthestudiowithmj.com
Probably my favorite story so far. It just sounds sweet.
 

Paris78

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Facebook / inthestudiowithmj

325444511_516473353657321_1387792559566881979_n.jpg


Farewell Lisa
As you get a bit older it's sometimes hard to pin specific events to specific years, but 1994 is not that way with me.
Starting in January of 1994 I spent approximately 16 months flying back and forth between LA and New York, as we were doing primary production of Michael Jackson's HIStory album at the Hit Factory in New York following the tragic Northridge Earthquake. That's why we moved the project to New York.
Early in the project there was a new face in the studio: Lisa Marie Presley.
This was notable for a couple reasons.
First of all, most album projects I had worked on to that point were very male dominated, so when a female was in the room it was... noticed.
Next, when that female happens to be Elvis Presley's daughter, it does take a moment or two for your brain to process it all, but then it's back to work.
There are unwritten "Studio Etiquette" rules that are well-known by people who routinely work on high budget projects, so having both Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley in the room together needs to fade into the background of your mind.
Thankfully selfies, Instagram and social media didn't exist yet, so there was no pressure to prove to the world that you were in a really cool spot with some really interesting people, rather it was just another day in the studio.
The day turned into weeks and the weeks turned into months, and Lisa Marie just became Lisa, a part-time member of our little MJ Studio Family.
I think she loved being in the studio.
Being in a world-class studio like Hit Factory makes one feel very special. Our sessions were welcoming, well-orchestrated and fun. The studios were impeccably clean and there was a trust that was evident almost immediately. These were seasoned pros working on a major project who were more interested in getting great drum sounds than watching her and Michael snuggle on the sofa. She was in a very safe place.
She was a bit like a little girl, yet at the same time exuded great confidence.
She would sit right next to Michael - or sometimes in his lap.
They would laugh and whisper and call each other silly names, almost like a pair of seventh-graders.
"Doo-doo head, what do you want for dinner?"
They were cute, funny and very comfortable with each other. It was all very real.
She would eat with us, laugh with us, joke with us.
They might disappear into Michael's lounge for a while, but it was none of our business - we were there to help him create his album.
I was chatting with my buddy Brian Vibberts (who was one of the staff engineers at Hit Factory during that project) about his memories of having Lisa in the studio. He reminded me how Michael and Lisa often held hands.
It's a little thing, but when you see a couple walking together holding hands down the hallway it sends a very sweet message. They weren't on a red carpet or leaving a restaurant with the press watching - the studio was their little cocoon where they could be themselves.
And they often held hands.
They were safe.
In late May 1994 I boarded my flight from LA to NY and was given a USA Today newspaper. The headline became almost a catch-phrase in the media: "King Of Pop Marries The Queen Of Rock". Michael and Lisa had flown to the Dominican Republic and "secretly" wed on May 26th.
I arrived at Hit Factory and walked into Studio 4 with the newspaper under my arm. There was Michael, sitting on the sofa. He had a silly grin on his face and walked up to him, rolled up the newspaper and hit him on the head with it. He laughed and covered his head, and said, "What did I do??" I opened the paper and held it up for the team to see. I said, "It might be nice if you're going to get married to tell your friends! Or maybe invite us to the wedding!"
He laughed and was clearly a bit embarrassed, but I gave him a hug and said how happy we were for him - for them!
No one in the studio knew up until then - he hadn't said a word to anyone.
Lisa continued visiting us in the studio from time to time, and it was always a pleasure seeing her.
The press claimed it was all a publicity stunt, but not only do I disagree, I whole-heartedly disagree.
They were two young people who came from remarkably different and difficult childhoods, and they found each other.
Whether it would last a week or a year or a lifetime doesn't change what I saw: Two people in love. It was no stunt.
We were all happy to see Michael and Lisa happy.
My friend Judi Brisse was on staff at Neverland during that time and she tells a story of Lisa bringing her children Riley and Benjamin to the ranch. Judi was part of the housekeeping staff and one of the beds needed to be made up for them. She brought in sheets and blankets, and there was Michael, Lisa and the kids.
The kids were tired, so Lisa cared for them while Michael helped Judi make the bed. Judi was startled that Michael Jackson would want to help her make a bed, but Michael did it with a smile - hospital corners and all!
He truly loved Lisa and her little family. The whole scene was innocent, safe and loving.
Michael and Lisa were each pulled in 27 directions every day, and the press was relentless. I don't pretend to know all of the details over that next year, but their marriage came to an end in early 1996.
When I read the news of her passing yesterday I immediately thought of her kids (she lost Benjamin just a few years ago), and her mom. Clearly she was lost for much of her adult life, but the Lisa I knew back in the mid-90's was a kind, sweet and gentle person.
I consider myself fortunate having known her, hearing her laugh, seeing her happy and watching she and Michael hold hands.
It was a moment in time, and one where I think she could feel safe with him, and he with her.
Rest In Peace Young Lisa.
Rest In Peace.
 
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