I believe there were a couple of sundry Jacksons sessions over the next couple of years, but by that time, Michael was hugely popular and I didn't see him as much. The next time was really in 1995, when Robmix and I worked on the HIStory album. Rob worked on this for quite a long time (2 years?), while I worked on it for a few months. We were all holed up in Larrabee North, where Bruce had a room (or were you guys at Record One, Rob?)...Eddie Delena was recording quite a lot Michael's vocals at Larrabee in one room, and I was put in another room to engineer for whomever needed it...my most memorable session being some days with Dallas Austin and on one day, recording The Notorious B.I.G. for his rap on "This Time Around". There I was, standing in a room with Dallas, Biggie and Michael. I'll never forget it.
The final days of that album were made interesting, by Bruce giving me the task to sequence the album and edit it down to a size that we could fit onto a CD. This was no small undertaking, as about 7 minutes needed to be trimmed somewhere. I laid this all out in Sound Tools and came to know every bar of every song very intimately. I found places where songs could be tightened up and came up with many suggestions. On the night of mastering, I was put in a room at Bernie Grundman's with my Sound Tools rig, and in this room, I would have to "negotiate" with Michael about what to take out. I'll never forget this night...Michael came in, and Bruce told MJ that we would have to remove either 1) one whole song or 2) edit the others to fit onto a CD. We chose the latter...I started with song one and played Michael my edits, "Oh no, we can't take THAT out...it's my favorite part of the album!". OK. Let's try another, "Oh no, we MUST keep those four bars". OK...let's go to the vamp, which carries on for two minutes...how about removing these eight bars, "Oh no, that's my favorite part of the vamp!". Well, you get the picture. Meanwhile, Jimmy Jam was in with us, telling Michael that all these edits were killer and actually make things better. And over the course of about 5 hours, we got it down. By this time, it was probably 3:00am, and I was wiped out. Bruce walked in..."Okay, John, I want you to make all these edits on the 1/2" masters right now!". My first thought was, "You've GOT to be kidding!" I had used some crossfades in Tools and such, plus I was worn out from "bartering" with Michael. But, into Bernie's room we went, and with Bruce over my shoulder, I cut the 1/2" tapes. As I recall, this took a couple of hours, and we were done. By the way, video footage of my "bartering session" with Michael exists, although I was never able to get a copy. Perhaps someday!
After that album's completion, we were all invited to The Neverland Ranch with spouses and kids for a day of fun, with Michael as our host. What a memorable day that I will recount in another post...my arms hurt now!