Aug 04 2012

“I laughed every day until he died”

Category: Art,Books,Friends,Quotes About MJ,VideosSeven @ 10:02 am

Michael to MLB: “I needed your help”

If you haven’t heard, Michael Lee Bush, Michael Jackson’s designer/costumer for 26 years, through the worst times of his life, and right up to the very end, has a book coming out.

The King of Style: Dressing Michael Jackson” is due out October 30th, and is undoubtedly a must-have for die-hard fans as well as the simply fashion-curious.

SOURCE: http://www.newsday.com/entertainment/michael-jackson-s-longtime-costumer-unveils-book-1.3872272

What most people don’t know about Jackson is he was a joker — a playful prankster who loved to laugh and often teased those closest to him the most.

[Michael Lee] Bush tells of meeting Jackson for the first time in 1983, when both men were 25. The King of Pop hadn’t retained a costumer yet, and Bush was up for consideration. Jackson had been holed up for hours in his trailer on the set of “Captain EO.” Bush could hear a monkey squealing as he approached. It was dark inside and “like 120 degrees.” Jackson was snacking.

Eager to please as he prepped the pop star’s clothes, Bush felt something hit him gently in the head. A cherry stem. A few seconds later, it happened again. When it happened a third time, Bush lobbed a cherry at the rising superstar. Jackson tossed a handful back, and thus began a close professional and personal relationship that spanned the remainder of Jackson’s life.

I think he wanted someone he could play with. He just wanted to see, ‘Am I going to have fun with this person?‘” said Bush, now 54, an almost sheepish, informally trained clothier from Ohio who learned his craft from his mom and grandmother, who made wedding gowns, prom dresses and quilts.

And I laughed every day until he died.

. . .

Jackson had a childlike fascination with rhinestones, Bush said.

Sometimes I’d drive three hours to retrieve loose rhinestones straight from the factory, just because looking at them in that raw form pleased Michael to no end. Every time I opened the swatch of white felt that encased the rhinestones, he’d gasp,” he writes. “He’d take them from me and delicately move them around with his fingertips and whisper… ‘Can you imagine being a pirate opening a treasure chest? And seeing all the glitter inside? What a fascinating life, to be a pirate like that.’

Speaking of pirate ships .. this portrait entitled “Peter Pan” was created in 1998 on Michael’s request and was presented to him in 1999. It is Michael’s very first commission from artist Céline Lavail. At first attracted by a preliminary sketch picturing him under the personification of JM Barrie’s famous character, Michael Jackson asked for a finalized portrait of him inspired by the Peter Pan theme. This artwork adorned Neverland Ranch’s walls and was reproduced upon Michael’s request on one of the golf carts he used to drive in his California property.

More about Céline Lavail and her Michael Jackson artwork here: http://www.mj-777.com/?p=6572.  Below, a video of Michael Lee Bush at work with Michael Jackson during the HIStory tour:

_ _ _

{ Thanks to my friends at UK Loves MJ for locating and sharing this article about MLB’s new book and to Angela for finding the video! -Seven }

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Jul 28 2012

Michael’s old school, Montclair Prep, sadly closed down

Category: Friends,InterviewsSeven @ 10:09 pm

Michael at Montclair Prep

I learned just a few days ago that the preparatory school that Michael attended, Montclair Prep, has sadly closed down as of July 15th of this year. This school has had a long proud history of helping to educate some of the best-known names in Hollywood and the entertainment industry.

Quite a while back, I featured a piece on Michael’s time at Montclair Prep. An article I referred to in that piece, originally published in the Toronto Sun, referred to a Mark Simpson as the school’s principal who allegedly knew Michael.

However an inside source who was very close to Dr. Vernon E. Simpson, Executive Director and Founder of Montclair Prep, says that could not have been true. This source provided the following information in dispute of the Toronto Sun article (and thus my previous feature on the school as well):

It’s a lovely story and for the most part pretty accurate. But the man quoted, Mark Simpson, was never the “principal” of Montclair Prep. He is the nephew of this once great school’s founder, Dr. Vernon E. Simpson, who passed away in 2008. “Doc” as he was known, was very close with Michael and the Jackson Family. Mark Simpson wasn’t at the Prep in 1973. He was himself a high school age teenager at the time attending some school…somewhere…but NOT MCP. He didn’t hang around Michael. He wasn’t his classmate or his friend and wasn’t old enough to have possibly been on staff at the school…That dubious affiliation occurred more than 20 years later. Doc died and Mark, utterly without qualification (without even a college degree…let alone a PhD like his uncle) took over as “executive director” of the school, firing Doc’s hand-chosen successor Dr. Mike McDonnell – and by 2012, the 56-year-old “Prep”…once one of LA’s top prep schools, closed its doors…broke. I am sure that Dr. Simpson and Michael Jackson (RIP both) would equally as sad and angry as many of us. Another of life’s tragedies. We never seem to run out of them. Michael and his family wouldn’t know Mark [Simpson] if they tripped over him.

. . .

NO ONE wore uniforms at MCP in 1973. Michael as well as two other brothers (Marlon and Randy I believe) were given some latitude on the length of their hair (the Prep still had haircut standards then)but Michael dressed like every other boy on campus…Collared shirt…NO blue jeans…no jerseys, etc. But that stuff about being “excused” from wearing a uniform is bogus.

The source continued:

The school had a lot of interesting students:

Cher (I worked with Sonny back in the 1980s and 1990s) who got tossed out of school but would have been class of 1963 (I think Sonny, who was a good deal older, used to pick her up off campus/after school);
Frank Sinatra Jr., whose dad sometime made him hitchhike home without a nickel in his pocket; and people like
Danny Bonaduce (“Partridge Family”)
Eve Plumb (“The Brady Bunch”)
Steven Dorff (“Blade”, among others); and
-Oscar Winner Curtis Hanson (screenplay for “LA Confidential”); and
Paul Thomas Anderson (directed feature films: Hard Eight (1996), Boogie Nights (1997), Magnolia (1999), Punch-Drunk Love (2002), There Will Be Blood (2007), and The Master (2012). He has been nominated for five Academy Awards — There Will Be Blood for Best Achievement in Directing, Best Motion Picture of the Year, and Best Adapted Screenplay; Magnolia for Best Original Screenplay; and Boogie Nights for Best Original Screenplay.)
-The amazing pastry chef Nancy Silverton was in my class of 36 graduates. It was, to say the least, an amazing school.

I will tell you that the Jacksons took school seriously enough that Michael’s Mom was not above coming to campus for a sit down with Dr. Simpson if and when there was reason to do so. Doc treated ALL of his students alike. Michael and his brothers were expected to fulfill all of the same academic requirements as anyone else attending MCP. When the Jackson brothers professional commitments resulted in them missing too many days of school, Dr. Simpson (with a deep sense of regret) told them they would have to withdraw from the school if they could not meet the academic standards. And, so they left.

I spoke to Joe Jackson a couple days after Michael died ( I had been working on a deal for the 5 other Jackson Brothers to do some shows in the UK at that time…the deal ultimately falling apart) and we talked about MCP for a couple of minutes. Joe said it had been “good for him”.  I think time there might have allowed for Michael to be a normal teenager, at least for a little while. Jon Blosdale (http://fineartmanagementnews.com/artists-biographies/beatles-animation-art/) , mentioned in the article is still a friend of mine.

I can tell you that Dr. Simpson DID think he was a great kid and it saddened him that Michael’s life away from the spotlight was so difficult. I never got the details (though I do know about a few things from other friends of Michael’s) but Doc said that “(his) dad was very hard on him”…Pity….not very fair.

. . .for Michael, it was a refuge. Once place in the world where he was “just another kid”

Montclair was like a family. I am sure Michael would be saddened that “his old school” is no more.

So there you go, straight from a real insider at Montclair Prep who knew its founder very well. No doubt Michael would be very sad about this school’s closing.

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Jul 15 2012

“Come back and see me, and don’t bring him.”

Category: Friends,MJ Quotes,Photos,Quotes About MJSeven @ 12:06 pm

 

Michael with Hazel George, Walt Disney’s long-time nurse.

SOURCE: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2009389050_apusmichaeljacksondisney.html

(added emphasis mine)

“Hello, Bob, this is Michael.”

The wispy voice caused me to review the Michaels I knew. I was stymied until the voice asked, “Did you write a book about Walt Disney?”

I admitted I had authored “Walt Disney, An American Original.” I also recognized the voice by now – Michael Jackson – remembering he had a passion for all things Disney.

“I’d like to talk to you about Walt,” he said urgently, and I agreed. The date was set for the following evening at his family compound in the San Fernando Valley community of Encino, which is just a few blocks from my house.

I arrived at the property and announced myself to a receptionist on the other end of an intercom. A massive gate opened slowly and I drove down a narrow passageway and stopped in front of a building containing offices. I looked around and thought I saw a tall tree nearby. I looked again; it was a real-life giraffe.

An assistant said Jackson would be ready soon, and I spent 20 minutes inspecting a wall full of Jackson photographs with Frank Sinatra, Ronald Reagan, Elizabeth Taylor, Elvis Presley and other celebrities.

Finally, Michael was ready. I was introduced to him in an elaborate dining room and then followed him upstairs to the library, which featured a life-sized studio portrait of Walt Disney.

“Do you mind if I record our talk?” he asked.

“Not if you don’t use it commercially,” I replied.

He started by asking a few questions and I explained how I approached an interview with Walt. When he ran out of queries, I provided some memories of Walt.

Toward the end of the conversation, Michael hesitantly asked whether Walt ever used a certain expletive. Without thinking, I replied I had never heard him utter it.

The interview was over and Michael escorted me to the photographs I had already perused.

He was busy in the mid-1980s and I didn’t expect to see him again. Yet a few months later he called. “Hello Bob, this is Michael,” he said. “Do you think Hazel George is still alive?”

I said I didn’t know but would find out. George was Disney’s longtime nurse who also exchanged studio gossip with him. I found out that Hazel was retired yet still living near the Disney lot in Burbank.

“I’d love to talk to her,” Jackson said. “Can you arrange it?”

I did, and a few days later, Jackson picked me up at my house in his chauffeured limo and I directed the driver to Hazel’s bungalow.

Hazel had aged since I interviewed her for the biography and I found that I would have to prompt her. I had recorded the stories she once gave me and had brought the tapes along, so I played them back and let her deliver the punchlines.

Jackson was fascinated but scarcely said a word. When we finished, Hazel said to Jackson, “Come back and see me, and don’t bring him.” She meant me.

A few months passed and then another call: “Hello Bob, this is Michael.”

He wanted to know more about Walt Disney and wanted me to join him at a San Fernando Valley recording studio. I arrived on time and waited an hour until he finished a session. We sat down in an office and he again asked questions about Walt, most of which he had asked in our first visit.

He also asked again whether Walt had ever used a certain expletive. This time I remembered that he had on at least one occasion and I proceeded to explain the humorous circumstance.

“Oh,” he said.

I never saw Michael after that.

Bob Thomas, Associated Press writer

UPDATE: I had a bit of a Twitter exchange about this with Joe Vogel. Joe said:

Great find, Seven. Buz Kohan spoke to me a bit about this but this fleshes it out much more. Fascinating.

I told Joe that I wondered what word it was that Michael had questioned Bob Thomas about, wanting to know if Walt Disney had ever used it. Joe’s response:

I think it was the N-word.

Don’t miss Joe’s latest book ‘Featuring Michael Jackson‘. It’s a must-have for fans and curious non-fans alike. Just like his other books, it’s extremely well-researched and well-written, giving readers a much better understanding of who Michael Jackson really was.

More about Buz Kohan:

To read more about Michael’s relationship with Buz Kohan or ‘Buzzie Wuzzie‘, as Michael called him, see Joe’s ‘Gone Too Soon’: The Many Lives of Michael Jackson’s Elegy in the Atlantic, written by Joe on the 3rd anniversary of Michael’s death. And don’t miss my  touching ‘Two Birds, A Remembrance‘ piece here on MJ-777.com from January 2012.

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Jul 09 2012

Michael Gave Whitney Houston a Monkey for Her Birthday

Category: Friends,Photos,Quotes About MJSeven @ 10:51 pm

Michael with Whitney Houston

Does that sound strange? Well maybe it is. But before you judge such a gift too harshly, try to understand the life of the person it came from.

BeBe Winans wrote a book about Whitney Houston called ‘The Whitney I Knew‘. There are some exclusive excerpts of the book in an article on RollingStone.com. I want to share a few of them here in the interest of understanding what the Whitney Houstons and the Michael Jacksons of our society go through in order to share their gifts with us.  It’s heartwrenching that these people are so judged and crucified by our society and its tabloids and media as they  give our souls life through their gift of music or other talents. There truly must be a special place in Heaven for these people, monkeys and all.

Here are the excerpts, but please do read the entire article at RollingStone:

Hers was a tangible gift that audibly and even visibly set her apart. That’s what Whitney possessed. There was no gimmick to her, only giftedness. But with that giftedness came great promise and great responsibility, the weight of which can be too much for even the most pure in heart.

The world saw Whitney in the tabloids just like it sees Madonna or Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. Our mistake is that we make our assumptions about the kind of people they are based on the manipulative lenses of photographers scrambling to land their photo on the front page of TMZ. We watch Being Bobby Brown and think that the scenes caught on tape constitute Whitney as a person, a mom, and a wife. True, the reality show was not Whitney’s (or Bobby’s) shining moment. But are we really that eager to remember someone for their worst moments when they’ve given us so many of their best?

The truth is, those images never constituted Whitney’s reality. Her life was not lived at the reality-show/tabloid level. And yet, because that’s all so many people saw, it’s all they allowed themselves to believe. The public formed their opinion of her through writers and photographers who never met her. To me, that’s a tragedy.

Imagine yourself in this situation. You can’t escape the expectations of the mob. And it kills you.

• • •

To give you an idea of how the media twists reality, allow me to expound on the Mariah Carey situation. Now, this story would probably embarrass Whitney a little, but I have to tell it. I think she’d understand that it’s all in good fun.

When Mariah debuted, I’m sure people in the media couldn’t wait to compare her to Whitney. I had heard of Mariah early on because my good friend, Rhett Lawrence, produced her first big single. I was at his house in California when he was raving about this new singer.

Well, as we all know, when Mariah came on the scene, she hit hard. And instantly the media created a “hate” between Whitney and Mariah. They were both going to be at the American Music Awards, and people were expecting some kind of fireworks because supposedly there was this massive tension between them. Again, this was a fabrication. They didn’t hate each other; they didn’t even know each other.

I could convince Whitney to do anything – pranks or whatever. We’d be hanging out and I’d tell her to do something, and she’d say, “You are not my father. Why do you think you my father? You think I’ll just do whatever you tell me?” To which I’d reply, “Shut up, I am your father” – all in good fun, of course.

Well, we were at the American Music Awards, and I had persuaded Whitney that after her performance and her category were over, we would go to dinner. I’d also informed her that when we exited our seats, she would be the last one out, and that we were going to pass Mariah Carey on the way out.

“Here’s what you do,” I said. “You gonna stop and you gonna put out your hand and you gonna speak to her.”

“I’m not gonna speak to her,” Whitney replied.

“Yes, you are. You’re going to be bigger than this whole situation.” “I’m not . . .” “Yes, you are.”

Her category finished and our little foursome started marching out to go to dinner – CeCe in front of me, Whitney’s assistant, Robin, in front of her, and Whitney at the end of the line – just like I said. And Whitney did exactly as I told her to do. I didn’t stop to listen to or watch their interaction; I just kept moving. The three of us piled into the car, and then Whitney blew in like a storm and slammed the door behind her. She was clearly upset and embarrassed.

“I’m going to kick your tail!” she said to me. “What happened?” “I’ll never listen to you again.” “Tell me what happened!”

“I did everything you said: I stopped. I put out my hand and said, ‘Hi Mariah, I’m Whitney.’ And when I stuck out my hand, she turned her head like she didn’t hear anything I said and looked up at the sky.”

“Oh no,” I said. “Tell me that’s not true.”

“Oh, it’s true. I was so embarrassed. There I stood, looking like an idiot. I’m never going to do what you tell me to do again.” Thank God the media didn’t see this. If they had, Whitney’s and Mariah’s brief exchange (or lack of it) would have been blown into epic proportions. They would have hated each other and not even known why – and all because it may have been so chaotic in that moment that Mariah didn’t even hear Whitney. Unbelievable. Well, my idea didn’t go very well, but we laughed at that whole awkward affair years later. And this incident didn’t end up stopping those two from getting together in the future . . . after some further persuasion. When Whitney was approached with the opportunity to record a duet with Mariah, I encouraged her to do it. She wouldn’t hear of it. “You crazy,” she responded. “You know what happened last time I tried to do something nice. You don’t know what you’re saying, boy. You’ve lost your mind.”

It wasn’t that she disliked Mariah; she just didn’t want to be embarrassed again. We talked a little more about it, but she finally said, “That ain’t going to happen, BeBe.” Then, only a few months later, she called me and sheepishly informed me of her latest news.

“Well,” she began, dragging it out a bit, “you said it a few months ago – that I should do a duet with Mariah.”

“No,” I interrupted, “don’t tell me you’re doing it!”

“Yeah, Babyface wrote the song, and it’s on.”

I could tell she was very happy about the whole thing.

“Wow,” I replied, “ain’t that something! That’s going to be incredible! But wait, you said you were never going to do something like that.” We both laughed and laughed. Oh, how Whitney loved to laugh. Finally the two superstars met – two musical powerhouses who knew who they were outside of the pop world. And when they performed that Oscar-winning song together (“When You Believe” from the Prince of Egypt soundtrack), it was the catalyst for a great friendship between them. When I looked at Mariah at Whitney’s funeral, all those memories came flooding back.

I share that story for two reasons. First, as an example of the gross exaggerations the media likes to spin on celebrities and also to communicate Whitney’s honest love for her peers. She loved other singers and was always up on who was new and fresh. Second, I wanted to depict the scene within the church the day of her funeral. Each person sitting in that sanctuary represented both the good and the bad of Whitney’s life.

When I say good and bad, I simply mean the wonderful make-up of this life in general. That’s what makes life so beautiful: the fun and the boring, the misunderstandings and the epiphanies. All of it mixes together on the canvas of our lives. When I saw Mariah at Whitney’s homegoing, I saw a specific brushstroke of Whitney’s life. That brushstroke touched other brushstrokes. Together the strokes formed a masterpiece.

All masterpieces have certain tensions or contrasts on display – that’s what makes the painting dynamic and memorable. Whitney’s life told a dramatic story filled with contrast and beauty, a life truly lived.

The seclusion of fame damages people the most. Fame causes its inhabitants to live afraid – to fear their reputation being marred – which makes seclusion seem the only real alternative. Look at how Michael Jackson faded into eerie reclusiveness, buying a monkey and other exotic animals as pets. For me, that seems far removed from reality and true human connection. But he also endured a level of celebrity that few people on earth can relate to.

One year Whitney threw an exclusive party – a BIG party. You may ask, who throws a party for their 26th birthday – complete with a who’s who of attendees, loads of food, a beautifully decorated tent, and excellent music? Well, she did, because she was on the road during her 25th birthday.

The invitation had a spectacular picture of Whitney on the cover. You had to be on a list, and there were different security checkpoints. CeCe and I just stayed on the sidelines of the party, watching her enjoy the evening and all the love as she mingled with everyone.

That was also the night we discovered that Michael Jackson had given Whitney a monkey as her birthday present. Everyone seemed amused, but I’m sure they were all thinking the same thing I was – This is crazy! Who gives monkeys to people for their birthdays?

The thought is funny and ridiculous at the same time. Of course Whitney didn’t need a monkey! It was all she could do to take care of her cat! But perhaps Michael was so far removed from people that he thought Whitney could use the companionship of a monkey.

Whitney couldn’t believe it. She read Michael’s card, looked at me, and said, “What am I going to do with a monkey?”

We both laughed.

“As soon as this party’s over, that monkey is getting dropped off at the zoo!” Did this gift make sense to Michael? I don’t know. Perhaps. The amount of fame that Whitney had garnered already as a 26- year-old had propelled her into a lonely way of life. But can you imagine thinking that another person would be so lonely that they’d need a pet monkey? This was someone’s reality?

This is what seclusion does to a person. Whitney didn’t struggle with the inclination toward extreme reclusivenes like Michael did, though I can see now how that gift from Michael was a foreshadowing of darker days ahead for Whitney.

• • •

Rest in Peace Michael and Whitney. At long last, Rest in Peace. ♡

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Jun 04 2012

Seen, Read, Heard . . .

Category: Art,Family,Friends,Interviews,Justice,Quotes About MJ,VideosSeven @ 2:06 am

I’ve got a slew of things to share today. You may have heard, read or seen some or all of them already, but I’ll put them here anyway. First, I want to share a touching interview that Piers Morgan (who is typically not one of my favorite people) did with Katherine Jackson a few weeks ago. Click here to see the entire interview (embedding is disabled). You can just see the emotional pain on her face during some parts of the interview. One of the most heartbreaking and touching things Mrs. Jackson said during the interview was the following – and during parts of this she appeared to break into tears:

Every morning, all through the day-I think about Michael. If  I wake up through the night, my mind is there. I just miss him, but being a Christian and believing in the Resurrection, I feel that I’ll see him again.  I’m sorry I just … When they told me that he had 50 shows going on, I was concerned about those shows, I thought it was a little bit too much, because Michael hadn’t been on stage for about 10 years. And I called him and I told him, ’cause the way they had it structured, they said every other night that he’d be working … I just kept calling him telling him they had to change that schedule … They didn’t care about him, all they cared about was money.

-Katherine Jackson

Though I generally dislike Mr. Morgan, this was a very good interview, although difficult to watch at times because the deep grief Mrs. Jackson still feels is very evident.

This next item has to do with a rather personal letter that Michael wrote to Lisa Marie Presley during their relationship. The letter suddenly surfaced at Juliens for auction. Someone tweeted a very surprised Lisa Marie Presley about the letter and she asked them where they had found it. When she found out it was at Juliens, she immediately acted to have it removed from auction. I witnessed myself the twitter exchange between her and the person who had asked her about the letter. I will not post the letter itself here but I will post a letter/message from Juliens to someone who inquired about the letter’s source ie: who gave it to them. They clearly state that, contrary to wild accusations against Lisa Marie Presley, they did not obtain the letter from her. Judging by her reaction to the person who presented it to her, and by the letter/message from Juliens, I personally find it more than a laboriously contorted fantasy to believe that LMP somehow gave the letter to Juliens herself for sale. Such an accusation doesn’t even make any sense, as there is no logical reason she would do such a thing.

I am aware of some incredibly narcissistic jealousy and anger directed at Ms. Presley because she was Michael’s wife, and because in the heat of hurt and anger after their breakup she publicly said terrible things about him. I am aware that some people will latch onto any further excuse they can find or manufacture to justify that continued jealousy and anger towards her. However, it is both unfair and juvenile to demonize someone for something they did not do, no matter how you may dislike them, how jealous you may be of them, or how angry you may be at them for something else completely different that they did years ago.

All of Michael’s life, people demonized him for things he didn’t do. It ought to be obvious why this is not fair, ethical, or moral – no matter who the target of it is. Here is the message from Juliens stating that the letter did not come to them from LMP:

Message from Juliens regarding MJ to LMP personal letter

…you can tell them that it did not come from her and I can guarantee it.

-Darren Julien

That ought to be enough said about this issue. Those who wish to continue manufacturing speculation about this or continue to go on angry tirades against LMP may do so on their own websites, blogs, facebook pages or twitter accounts, but I won’t approve such comments here.

Moving on to the next debacle, Michael Jackson’s estate released a letter to fans regarding concerns about the quality of the upcoming ‘BAD25’ DVD of Michael’s 1988 Wembly Stadium performance. Though the concert was filmed using proper equipment and that high-quality footage is out there somewhere, the estate has not been able to locate it. Thus, the DVD will be sourced from a VHS tape that belonged to Michael, instead. The estate’s statement read as follows:

It is great to see the overwhelming support and excitement in the fan community for the upcoming BAD 25 release. A few questions have arisen regarding the Wembley concert DVD. Although the press release wasn’t the place for background details, here is more information:

• We know that Nocturne captured on Umatic tapes the footage projected onto the JumboTrons at the various concerts including Wembley. These tapes were turned over to Michael’s crew and we have confirmed with Patrick Kelly (who headed Michael’s film crew for the European tour) that everything from Europe was sent to LA to be put in Michael’s storage facilities. The same procedures were followed for the US shows.

• Unfortunately, record-keeping in the storage facilities was sporadic, at best, so we do not know what happened to a tape once it was sent for storage. In most cases, once a tape was pulled from the box it arrived in, it was not put back in the original box and where it wound up doesn’t always make sense. As a result, 25 years later not all of the Umatic tapes from the various shows can be located, notwithstanding that we have conducted an extensive survey of all of the storage facilities. So while we believe that the Umatic tape for Wembley was initially sent for storage, we have not been able to locate it. And with regard to the Umatic footage of other concerts, the audio is extremely problematic and therefore these concerts are unusable.

• We know that VHS copies of the Umatics were made when Michael wanted to view a particular concert, but because of the lack of record-keeping, we also didn’t know which concerts existed on VHS. We ultimately did find Michael’s personal VHS viewing copy of the Wembley show attended by Princess Diana and Prince Charles, but not the Umatic. Even finding this VHS felt like a miracle to us!

• So while we continued the search for the Wembley Umatic master, we also researched the audio recordings that existed from all of the concerts including Wembley. Fortunately, the Wembley audio recordings were made using a sound truck, and appear to be the only multi-track recordings from the tour. The other audio/visual recordings that exist, whether Umatic or VHS, are “front of house” mixes, and therefore there are no separate audio recordings that can be used to create a high quality listening experience. It is for this reason that the Wembley audio is the only one suitable to create a live album.

• If we were going to include a live concert DVD in the BAD 25 release package, we had only one choice, Wembley. And there were only two options for visual – the Umatics for a different show or the VHS for Wembley. It would certainly be less expensive for the Estate to be able to create a DVD from a Umatic tape than to spend the time and money to painstakingly restore/enhance the VHS footage, but then we would not be delivering a truly authentic experience and we truly believe that watching this concert with the high quality audio will create a magical experience for all the fans as it has for us. We ultimately chose a lab that has developed its own proprietary technology for doing this kind of work (including restoration for NASA of VHS footage) in order to make the visual experience the best it can be under the circumstances.

We also could have chosen to release the Japanese concert from the first leg of the tour as there is a master of that show; but that concert was essentially a reincarnation of the Victory Tour with only two songs – “Bad” and “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You” – added at the end. It isn’t what we believe the fans would want.

We could have elected not to release a DVD as part of the BAD 25 celebration (and hold out hope that someday we might find the Umatic of the Wembley concert) or we could share with the fans the chance to relive that magical night with pristine audio. We made the decision to go with the latter and provide the fans with the most authentic viewing experience. We believe that the fans will agree it was the right choice when the package is released in September.

John Branca/The Estate of Michael Jackson

It turns out that, contrary to what many of us had believed, ‘Dirty Diana‘ was performed at this concert. If you remember, Michael had initially considered omitting the song out of respect for Lady Diana who attended the concert, but it appears that he did in fact perform the song.

A previously unreleased song, ‘Don’t Be Messin’ ‘Round‘, will be accompanied by a June 5th CD release of ‘I Just Can’t Stop Loving You‘. This CD will be sold via Wal-Mart in the U.S. and will not be available digitally. More details about ‘BAD25‘ can be found here.

Speaking of ‘Don’t Be Messin’ ‘Round‘, Joe Vogel tweeted tonight that he will “have an article out on “Don’t Be Messin'” in the next day or so with fresh insights from those involved.” That is bound to be a treat, so if you haven’t yet, follow Joe on Twitter so you’ll know as soon as he publishes! If you haven’t heard it yet, here’s the demo, just as Michael left it:

If you haven’t read the interview MJJC did with DDA David Walgren yet, you might find it interesting. In case you didn’t know, DDA Walgren has now become a Superior Court Judge, so he’s moving up in the world. This man is extremely articulate and didn’t miss a beat during the Murray trial, so I’d not want to be a criminal in his courtroom! Here are a few quotes from that interview:

Before the trial, I had great respect for Michael Jackson as an artist and enjoyed his music. However, as I learned more about him and his life, I came to really enjoy two songs in particular: Human Nature and Earth Song.

• • • 

Prior to the trial, my perception of Michael Jackson was simply that he was a very gifted artist and, although I was aware of various media accounts regarding his personal life, I do not typically follow that type of reporting. Now that I have learned so much more about him as a person, I have come away with great admiration for him as a loving and dedicated father to his children.

• • • 

I have not been able to come up with any reason why Conrad Murray would have made and saved that voice recording other than, as Judge Pastor stated, it was to serve as an insurance policy that Conrad Murray could one day use against Michael Jackson.

Mark Ryden is an American painter born January 20, 1963. He was dubbed “the god-father of pop surrealism” by Interview Magazine.

There has been much speculation and suspicion about the meaning and symbolism of the Mark Ryden artwork on the cover of the ‘Dangerous’ album. Theories include messages about the occult to ‘Illuminati‘ and Freemasonry. I don’t personally subscribe to or pay much attention to all that, but the cover is certainly fascinating and it does, as Michael and Ryden evidently intended, leave people to wonder and interpret as they wish and they’ve certainly done that! This interview with Ryden is all over the internet, though I have been unable to find an original source for it.

Our friends at UK Loves MJ on Facebook has located one of the initial sketches considered for the cover. I’d never seen it before so thought I’d share it here:

One of the original 'Dangerous' cover sketches by Mark Ryden

I suppose the thing most people don’t know, and what surprised me, was how “normal” Michael Jackson was in person. His public image is so strange I did not know what to expect but when I met with him we had a very typical and relaxed conversation. We had many common interests we talked about. Maybe I am just a freak also.

-Mark Ryden, artist/creator of the Dangerous album cover

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