Mar 10 2012

“In order to live forever, you have to stop time.”

Category: Art,Dreams,Ecstasy,PhotosSeven @ 4:41 pm

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Feb 26 2012

‘Meditations’ on the iconic women who fascinated Michael Jackson

Category: Art,Friends,MJ Quotes,Photos,Quotes About MJSeven @ 8:53 pm

There was quite a discussion recently on my MJJ-777 Facebook page about a particular painting that Michael acquired as part of what is called the ‘Jackson Seven‘. At least one person insists this painting reminded Michael of  a brunette Marilyn Monroe in her ‘Norma Jean’ days, since Michael had a life-size statue of Monroe in his home, as well as the name ‘Monroe‘ emblazoned on at least one jacket he wore early on. Yet others, including the Whelan Gallery itself, believe that Michael found the painting fascinating because it reminded him of Lisa Marie Presley.

I purchased a print of the painting in question titled ‘Meditations‘, and inquired as to what the gallery thought may have been Michael’s interest in the painting. Their response was as follows:

Michael Jackson didn’t make any comments about the painting to Patrick Whelan at the time, but he did speak to his associates about the painting. He indicated to them that he thought the painting resembled Lisa Marie Presley. His statements were recorded in a book by Randy Taraborrelli called “Michael Jackson, The Magic, The Madness, The Whole Story” The following is an excerpt from that book on the bottom of page #730:

“Michael was mesmerized by the painting and, according to someone very close to him, said, “This is how I imagine Lisa in my mind. In fact, when I dream about her, this is how she looks. I have to have this painting”

'Meditations' by Patrick Whelan

Marilyn Monroe statue Michael had at Neverland

Victory Tour Jacket with 'Monroe' on the sleeve

In my previous article about ‘The Jackson Seven‘, Patrick Whelan also had some comments about the likeness of the painting to LMP. When someone asked him about the resemblance, Patrick replied:

Thank-you for your lovely comments about the art. I do appreciate that. Meditations was one of my personal favorite paintings, so it was particularly gratifying for me when an artist of Michael’s stature was also drawn to it. I was very slow to see the connection to Lisa Marie because, of course, I know the model who actually posed for it. Nevertheless, I have heard this from so many people, including many who have come into the gallery and seen the print there, that it is finally becoming apparent to me.

But the clincher for me occurred a couple of weeks ago when I ran across an article that was published in a newspaper in Taiwan. They featured the Meditations painting alongside three photos of Lisa Marie which had been taken at the time she was with MJ. The resemblance was indeed striking. I am now convinced absolutely that this was the reason for his connection to it. He may have been planning to show it to her, or even to present it to her as a gift. But unfortunately, he passed so soon after it’s purchase that we can never know these things for sure.

I doubt very much if Lisa Marie is even aware of it’s existence. I think it would be a very wonderful thing though, if she did see this work, because then she would know that she was still in Michael’s heart even to the end.

Perhaps one day she will see it. I certainly hope so. I really think Michael would have liked that.

Best always,


As for the jacket, a few people wondered if it had been given to Michael by someone else but according to Julien’s, it was part of his personal collection. And, Michael liked to put little symbols on his clothing such as the number ‘7’, ‘CTE’, etc. in order to keep people guessing, so it’s not certain that ‘Monroe‘ on this jacket necessarily referred to Marilyn.

In an interesting twist to this puzzle, Lisa Marie did a photoshoot (I believe in Vanity Fair but it could be another magazine) as Marylin Monroe. The pictures are quite amazing. Her hooded eyes and especially her mouth are a dead ringer for Marilyn. Some people have wondered if the picture Aphrodite Jones wrote that Michael had was actually a picture of Lisa Marie or a picture of Marilyn.

Many women have done magazine covers, photo shoots or films as Marilyn Monroe, among them Madonna, Lindsay Lohan, Britney Spears, Megan Fox, etc. Lisa Marie is yet another name on that list. I timeless icon, Marilyn Monroe is still imitated by many women and idolized by many men years after her death.

Lisa Marie Presley as Marilyn Monroe

Lisa Marie Presley as Marilyn Monroe

The photos above were shot by photographer Herb Ritts, director of ‘In The Closet‘.

It certainly wouldn’t be surprising if Michael was intriqued by the resemblance between Monroe and Lisa Marie Presley. A lot of men liked Marilyn Monroe so why wouldn’t Michael Jackson? He was of an age to have known and remembered her well. Michael seemed to be especially fascinated with many iconic women such as Elizabeth Taylor, Sophia Loren, Jackie Onassis, Princess Diana, Diana Ross (whom many insist he was in love with), the late Whitney Houston, etc., so Marilyn Monroe would be a fitting fascination for him as well. As for Marilyn’s “Norma Jean” days, Michael swooned over an early photo of Elizabeth Taylor on a magazine when “shopping” in his home movies, so it wouldn’t be surprising if he also liked early Marilyn Monroe. On the other hand, he had an interest in Lisa Marie Presley from early on as well and Lisa Marie did have that same classic beauty.

It’s possible we may never know for sure what fascinated Michael about that ‘Meditations‘ painting, which he also called ‘The Blue Painting‘; and we may never know what ‘Monroe‘ really referred to on his early jackets. My personal takeaway from this discussion is that no matter what fascinated Michael about the ‘Meditations‘ painting, it’s a beautiful painting – winsome, charming, and innocent-looking. I’m not sure where I’ll put the print I purchased, but it will be lovely almost anywhere in my home.

Here are some photos of Michael with a few of the other female icons he seemed fascinated with and/or had relationships with during his lifetime:

Michael with Elizabeth Taylor - one of his very best friends

Michael with the lovely Sophia Loren

Michael with his dear friend Lady Diana

Michael with Diana Ross, his mother/sister/lover, he had said at one time.

Michael with the late Whitney Houston whom he has recently welcomed Home, sadly.

As a compliment to this discussion about Marilyn Monroe in particular, I ran across an article about what’s called ‘The Marilyn Meme‘  No doubt many women on Facebook have seen photos of Marilyn in a bathing suit with her thighs touching and insisting one can still be “adored by thousands of men” even if their thighs touch. In other words, it’s OK to be curvier because one can still be sexy or a ‘sex symbol‘ even when heavier set. Nothing wrong with that right? Women should have a healthy self-image.

The Marilyn Meme

But Marilyn Monroe didn’t have a healthy self-image, so holding her up as a poster-girl for a healthy self-image is very inappropriate if not downright ironic. It ignores a major problem in our society that simply should not go ignored. Once Norma Jean became Marilyn the sex symbol, her humanness and intelligence went altogether ignored no doubt causing her a great deal of emotional distress and likely contributing to her depression and ultimate death. The problem remains at epidemic levels: many girls and women today are anything but healthy because they work so hard trying to win men’s approval for their appearance and “sexiness“, while completely neglecting their own emotional, spiritual, and physical health as well as their intellectual and professional development – all so that men will approve of them and how they look and find them sexually attractive.

Here’s what the article says about this dangerous ‘Marilyn Meme‘:

here’s the thing: you are worth more than what men think of you. Marilyn Monroe was, to put it mildly, very sad, very often. She was a sex symbol, and thus, stopped existing as human being, a regular girl. Almost everything that f**ked up Marilyn’s later life had to do with being “adored” by men. Men used her, or deified her (and that’s a hard come-down for those dudes when they found a human being in their bed the morning after). Political brothers purportedly passed her around like a toy. Conventional wisdom, political conspiracy aside, has it that Monroe killed herself. Being “adored by thousands of men” didn’t stop her demons from consuming her. It angers me to no end that, again, in the name of self-esteem we’re going to make a poster girl (literally) out of a woman who was notoriously down on herself.

I want very much for us to stop thinking that there is only one body type that is acceptable. I would prefer the focus be on health, rather than appearance. The Monroe Meme seems about the furthest thing from healthy. This is a woman who abused alcohol and sleeping pills later in her life, this is a woman who (probably) died due to depression. But, hey, as long as someone thinks she looks good, I guess that’s what matters.

The last sentence of this quote is obviously sarcasm and serves to illustrate the point.

As a woman, do you really want to be “adored by thousands of men” (or any man) for your looks and little to nothing else? I think it’s a healthier attitude to respect one’s self, and insist that any man appreciate you for who you are and not (just) what you look like. Because if men can’t see you as anything other than what you look like, they can’t see you. You can’t have a meaningful relationship with someone who can’t (or doesn’t want to) see you. That’s what happened to Marilyn and she ended up devalued, lonely, depressed and finally dead.  And that’s not because she had good self-esteem! Norma Jean the human being was imprisoned inside the shell of Marilyn Monroe the sex symbol and she died in there. I have always felt sad for the ‘sex symbol‘ prison she ended up in, while her humanity and considerable intelligence went all but discounted and ignored by men and society until after she was gone. What a shame and what a terrible loss.

An MJ quote about this you might want to consider:

A young lady’s physical beauty can by no means outshine the inner beauty that radiates from her heart and spirit.” -Michael Jackson (1976)

With all due respect to poor Marilyn, if a guy wants a sex symbol or a Barbie, and a woman’s looks are primarily what’s important to him, let him more appropriately go to the toy store than chasing after an actual human. What a woman thinks of herself  is more important than what any man or men think of her, particularly if the male opinion is based solely on appearance. This is a huge problem in our society. More women need to work on loving and respecting themselves enough to separate their own self-image from what men think. Otherwise, you’re inviting a lifetime of abuse, sadness, and possibly emotional and physical illness. Forget being a sex symbol and forget worrying so much about what men think. Having their approval is obviously not all it’s cracked up to be. Work on being human and demand that others accept you as such, especially men.  If they can’t – lose ’em.

_ _ _

NOTE:  Hateful or abusive comments about Lisa Marie Presley or other women mentioned in this piece will not be posted. Such comments are not relevant to the subject of this article.

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Dec 31 2011

Happy New Year – “there will never be a time when we will cease to be”

"The birds, the bees, the infinite galaxies, rivers, mountains, clouds and valleys are all a pulsating pattern, living, breathing, alive with cosmic energy...There never was a time when I was not, or you were not, there never will be a time when we will cease to be."   Michael Jackson

"The birds, the bees, the infinite galaxies, rivers, mountains, clouds and valleys are all a pulsating pattern, living, breathing, alive with cosmic energy...There never was a time when I was not, or you were not, there never will be a time when we will cease to be." -Michael Jackson

In view of the new year, I’d like to share with you some end-of-year highlights:

You may have heard that half of the two-man team who designed Michael’s performance wardrobe for well over two decades passed away December 2nd. Dennis Tompkins wished for his passing to remain private and so it was. We were all shocked to learn almost two weeks later that he had passed. Our sympathies and compassion go out to his family and friends, not least of all his partner in business Michael Lee Bush. In memory of Dennis, MLB had some exciting news to share and left this message recently on his facebook page:

thank you all for the kind words with the passing of Dennis Tompkins I’m pround to announce “POP REGALIA-The Style of Michael Jackson” an art book dedicated to the memory of Dennis….. it will be a behind the scenes look at the art form of designing and tailoring of Michael’s costumes from our time working with The King of Pop. It will be kinda like your personal museum of his clothing. A visual feast for the eyes!!!! Fasten your seatbelts!!!!!!!! look for the upcoming page here on facebook…..

If you haven’t seen Eliza Lo’s MJ artwork you’re in for a treat. This amazing artist is a regular contributor to the Sunflowers for Michael group, donating her drawings each week to the week’s flower deliveries. Eliza also has an art book for sale containing many of her articulately detailed drawings of Michael. You can find details about “A Loving Tribute to the King of Pophere:

One of Eliza Lo's drawings of Michael

One of Eliza Lo's drawings of Michael

This hard cover book contains 137 drawings Eliza has done to honor Michael Jackson. In keeping with Michael’s legacy, all proceeds from this book will go to help underprivileged children. For information on ordering, please email: [email protected]. You can also email Marie Lim: [email protected] and Pat Peterson: [email protected]

A while back, Seth Riggs shared a bit about Michael the humanitarian – a subject oft-ignored by the establishment media, but often mentioned by those who knew him:

At one of many hospitals Michael visited.

At one of many hospitals Michael visited.

Every night the kids would come in on stretchers, so sick they could hardly hold their little heads up. Michael would kneel down at the stretchers and put his face right down beside theirs so that he could have his picture taken with them, and then give them a copy to remember the moment.

I’m a sixty-year-old man, and I couldn’t take it. I’d be in the bathroom crying. But Michael could take it, right before going on stage no less. The kids would perk right up in his presence. If it gave them a couple days’ more energy, to Michael that was worth it. As far as I’m concerned he’s a prince of the world.

He’s the most natural, loving person I’ve ever known, a very good person, as corny as that sounds,” continued Riggs, “He’ll see a picture of a baby, and if it’s a cute kid, he will go absolutely gaga over the picture.

During the tour, on his nights off, he would go into a toy store and buy ten of this and ten of that and then stay up all night long putting batteries into toys, making certain each and every one worked so that he could have them ready to give to kids backstage the next day. As if he didn’t have enough to worry about.

-Seth Riggs, Michael’s vocal coach for over 30 years

Speaking of Seth Riggs, Riggs plans to open a school in Russia. Says Riggs: “I will find a new Michael Jackson in Moscow”. I don’t believe there will ever be another Michael Jackson, but I’m sure he will find some very good talent in Russia to keep him busy and to add to the constellation of stars currently in vogue in the entertainment world.

Seth Riggs had worked with Michael Jackson for 30 years. Among those who attended his vocal studio in Hollywood were Steve Wonder, Madonna, Jenifer Lopez, Julio Iglesias, Christina Aguilera. Many Hollywood actors were also among his students. In total his students account for 135 Grammy awards and, according to Seth Riggs, “eight or nine Oscars”. Now the legendary vocal coach plans to open his school in Moscow.

Seth Riggs is very enthusiastic about Russia. It is not only some Russian songs but first of all great number of talented people he admires here. That is why I want to open my school in Moscow, he says.

Seth Riggs began to work as a vocal coach simply because he was to keep his family. When coaching many actors and pop-singers he developed his own unique technique known as Speech Level singing.

By the way when Seth was young and performed as a singer he was accompanies by a young pianist who later became known as Van Cliburn, the winner do the first Tchaikovsky piano contest in Moscow and one of the favorites of the Russian music lovers.

Seth Riggs’s school in Moscow will be headed by Victoria Belova, an actress and a vocal coach of the Gnessin State Musical academy, who undertook internship in Seth Riggs’ studio in LA. Seth also plans to come to Moscow as often as possible and besides that it is possible to give lessons via Skype. Seth recalls that he trained Michael Jackson 2 hours a day 6 days a week and on tour 3 times a day. This is the training I want for those talented people who come to our school, he says.

By the way Seth Riggs has a chance to find not only a new Michael Jackson in Russia but future Madonnas too. In particular during his visit in Moscow Riggs was impressed by a unique talent of singer Angelica Agurbash.


Michael looking a bit perturbed about being asked to sign a stack of napkins.

Michael looking a bit perturbed about being asked to sign a stack of napkins.

Who knew that Michael didn’t like signing his autograph on disposable napkins? I guess it makes sense that he’d rather sign something that will last such as a pillowcase or cloth napkin, all of which he used to sign and write sweet notes to fans on.

Here’s the story told by Rusty Lee Golden (William Lee Golden’s son) of the Oak Ridge Boys:

When Michael and his brothers came out of their dressing room and saw Dad, they all broke into the chorus of “ELVIRA” as it was the #1 song in the nation at that time (pop and country). BUT…after the singing was over, Michael turned to me and said “I remember when the Oak Ridge Boys were the #1 Gospel Group. Do they still sing Gospel??” I told him that yes they did and then he went onto tell me that he LOVED Gospel music…mentioning Andrae Crouch, Rev. James Cleveland and a few others. Yes, I know that those were NOT SG artists, but remember, MJ was after all black and that’ s the type gospel music they knew. He mentioned how much his mother Katherine was also a huge fan of “Gospel Music”.

Seconds before the camera flash went off, a Jackson’s aide rushed up to MJ and handed him a Sharpie pen and about 25 or so cocktail sized napkins into his “GLOVE” and then said “Hey Mikey….the promoter wants you to sign these”. I well remember the aide getting out of the way of the shot but MJ is looking straight at him and no….not too happy. More mad than sad. After the flashes of about 10 cameras went off, Michael just sorta’ said to anyone who could hear…”Don’t we have any regular pictures to sign? I mean c’mon man…NAPKINS????”

This picture was taken on 7/31/81.

SOURCE: (see Rusty’s remarks in the comments below the photo)

Drawing by Christine Wallden, another very talented Sunflowers for Michael contributor.

Drawing by Christine Wallden, another very talented Sunflowers for Michael contributor.

If you have a few bucks that you want to donate to a wonderful project in Michael’s name, Gardner St. Elementary is collecting funds to build a Michael Jackson Music Room. Sandy Lee Scott of the very successful Sunflowers for Michael project has agreed to help raise funds for the school and has set up a facebook page to help with the effort. It’s important to note that any money donated goes straight to the school – no “middlemen”.

Sandy said:

The main item that they need is a projector which costs $3000.00. We met with Principal Kenneth Urbina at the School last week and promised him that the NYC fans will do the best we can to get this projector for the school. Once they have all the items they need, they will also have a small area in the back of the classroom set up as a Museum to honor Michael. We would appreciate any amount that you can donate to this project.

Please send your check or money order to (NO PAYPAL):

Gardner St. Elementary School
7450 Hawthorn Avenue
Hollywood, CA 90046

Attention: Marielena Armaginal

Phone: (323) 876-4710



If you have any questions, you may call Marielena at the above number or email Sandy at [email protected].

If you remember the incredible video called “Man Behind the Mythcreated by Walking Moon Studios, you might be interested to know that WMS is working on another incredible video project aiming to highlight Michael’s genius and creativity. A new video is being produced for Joe Vogel’s book “Man in the Music-The Creative Life and Work of Michel Jackson”. The producers of the video are asking for participation from the MJ community. For more information about the project and how to participate, please go to for information. Also, please pass on this information to anyone else who you think would be interested.

Heal the World for Children is an amazing charity quietly doing the work of carrying on Michael’s legacy.  They recently shared some highlights of their work in 2011:


For Earth Day, our teams all over the world cleaned up parks, planted trees with the kids and held educational sessions.

To mark Universal Children's Day or the December holiday season, our teams went to hospitals to visit the sick children with smiles and toys.

To mark Universal Children's Day or the December holiday season, our teams went to hospitals to visit the sick children with smiles and toys.

On Michael's birthday, all the cities joined in bringing joy to the children during our biggest event of the year, Children's Festival.

On Michael's birthday, all the cities joined in bringing joy to the children during our biggest event of the year, Children's Festival.

You can find Heal the World for Children on Facebook, twitter, and at their website.

Happy New Year Everyone.

For all of you, I wish you a safe, happy, healthy, prosperous New Year.

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Nov 18 2011

“I found him very polite, but he was not breathing joy, he was not happy”

Category: Art,MJ Quotes,Photos,Quotes About MJSeven @ 4:00 am

I have always detected an undercurrent of sadness in Michael, even when he (and I) was young. I distinctly remember hearing and feeling it when listening to him sing as far back as the late 1960s or so. It was always there. There was always the feeling that some deep pain was hidden just beneath the surface of who the public saw and heard, even before he struck out on his own from his brothers. But, maybe that was just Michael’s incredible ability to make others feel what he was singing; to emotionally sweep an audience or listener up into the song or performance, and maybe I was swept up in that. Maybe it was just his magic as an entertainer. But if it was real sadness and pain, then I suspect that maybe performing and entertaining was the only release Michael ever felt from it, because it was the only time he felt at ease in fully expressing it – through his art, on stage – where he once said he felt most comfortable and safe.

Of course as years went by, it became worse as we began to see at least some of the reasons for Michael’s intense sadness, namely the media bullying and abuse, extortion attempts and surrounding scandal that seemed to always exist once he became a household name. Nati Canada, the artist featured below, also mentions detecting this sadness in Michael when she met him off the stage. The painting she did of Michael below has him looking very intense, but also accompanied by a gentle spirit which seems to be comforting him. It’s quite a portrait.

The article below was translated and edited from by UK Loves MJ who says: “This is an edited translation and I have added Text where necessary to make sense of the translation. Have kept it as close to the translation as I can.

With Nati Canada and the portrait she did for him

With Nati Canada and the portrait she did for him

The first time the Aragonese painter Nati Cañada saw Michael Jackson in person was on September 23, 1992 in Madrid’s Vicente Calderon stadium, but the two are separated by a huge stage and thousands of crazed fans.

Two years earlier, Michael had commissioned a portrait and she wanted to see how he moved and what mass he conveyed on stage. [Michael] was immersed in his Dangerous World Tour and the image conveyed to Canada was that he was “an aggressive person and strong.

Her opinion completely changed when she met him in Los Angeles the day he posed in 1993. Because of Michael’s busy schedule the meeting was delayed for almost two years, but finally took place at the home of Steven Hoefflin, who was responsible for this event, a great friend of the singer and Canada had painted several years ago. “Michael knew my job thanks to the doctor. I made a portrait in white and when he saw him said that’s what I was looking for, a painting appearing all white,” says Nati, who can not help smiling at the comments this statement may raise.

The scheduled appointment was with the representative Evy, Michael came in at seven in the morning and at nine had to be recording in the studios so 2 hours was the time available for this first and only sitting. Michael arrived wearing a hat and black-colored glasses and a clear raincoat His curly hair was tied back in a ponytail, but then in the original box the artist appears with his hair down. In just 2 hrs Michael is changed and wore a white shirt and jeans, he chats with the painter and sees photographs of other portraits the artist has done. It appears that Nati then took an entire reel of photos of Michael despite the representatives (bodyguards) saying not to. She says of the photoreel that she took “they will never see the light because I gave my word they will remain forever hidden in my house.

During the session, he spoke a little about painting as he posed sitting in a chair with arms dangling. “Just twenty minutes we were alone, and during that time was very kind to me. I found him very polite, but he was not breathing joy, he was not happy,

In early 1996, Nati went to Los Angeles to deliver the painting to Michael. A portrait in white color with the image of Michael appears in a small box on the painting and a spirit that she painted over the artist at one end of the canvas which is 120 x 90 cm.

Accompanied by her driver,she went to deliver the picture. “I had to go to a hotel and ask for Garry Horne, who was the person who received me. and took me to a second elevator. All very mysterious. But when I came to the room and knocked on the door who came out to meet with me but Michael himself his eldest son in his arms, and in the background is heard to cry another baby, it must be your child. Again he was very kind to me, said he loved the portrait and the idea of putting the spirit had seemed very successful, she says. The fears that the painting was not to his liking disappeared at a stroke “You’re a great artist, you’re a great artist”,  just as the doctor had warned, Hoefflin and his medical team, who she showed the finished work to a day earlier to get their opinion.

As they took leave Michael invited Nati to spend a day at Neverland. Some time later and the impossibility of their agenda’s coinciding Nati decided to accept the invitation and visited Neverland on Sept 28th 1996. Neverland Park staff told me that Michael had ordered that everything was in place for her when she arrived, wells, popcorn machine… There, the artist visited the park on a special train and was able to see this world of magic and fantasy dear to Jackson, which he shared with children of schools and hospitals. “It was a kind of Disney miniature, filled with candy and toys for children. A magical place, as reflected in the book in which guests left signatures, thanking Michael for his kindness.

The pace of work of both artists prevented further meetings, but after the trial in which Jackson was acquitted of molesting a minor, the Aragonese painter sent a letter of support to Michael. Although the constant movements of Michael the letter was returned. .

When Nati learned of the death of the artist, it came to her mind the both times they met. I was lucky enough to know the person and the character and I can say out loud that I always believed in that rare person, and away from his people, spoke kindly to me four times, to sign an autograph and worried about my work and my interests, concludes the artist.

Nati is writing a book of her memories of this meeting with Michael and other influential people who she has portrayed throughout her life.

Nati's portrait of Michael, with the spirit

Nati's portrait of Michael, with the spirit

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Oct 31 2011

Happy Halloween to Michael and MJ-777 Readers!

Category: Art,Books,Photos,Quotes About MJSeven @ 7:52 pm

I wanted to share just one example of the magnificent artwork of Sunflowers for Michael’s Eliza Lo, who every week creates magnificent drawings to accompany the stunning flowers fans help deliver to Michael. For more about Sunflowers for Michael, visit this page:, and join Sunflowers for Michael on Facebook!

Happy Howwwloweeen to Michael and Fan-mily!

Happy Howwwloweeen to Michael and Fan-mily!

Thriller‘ has of course become pretty much a standard part of Halloween, so don’t miss this piece I did quite a while back all about Thriller, which includes details about the spooky house in the video, where the dance sequence was filmed, information about the Palace Threater whose marquee bore the words “Vincent Price Thriller” in the film, and best of all – the actual recording of all three verses of Vincent Price’s spooky rap in the song, including Michael, Vincent Price, and Michael’s sound engineer Bruce Swedien. Rod Temperton wrote three verses of that rap, but we only typically hear two of them!  You can hear all three here.

But wait, there’s more. . .

Michael’s messy room was scary!

During the filming of ‘Thriller‘, photography director Bob Paynter learned that Michael was a messy boy.

Bob Paynter, from Yarmouth UK remembers filming Michael Jackson’s music video for Thriller, which went on to become one of the greatest ever made.

Back in 1983, cameraman Bob Paynter was asked to film the music video for Thriller. The offer came from Hollywood director John Landis, who had taken on the project after Michael Jackson had seen John’s film American Werewolf in London and asked him to re-create it for one of his records.

Bob’s notes on Jackson 25 years later Bob, didn’t know who Michael Jackson was at the time, but he’d previously worked with John Landis on films such as Trading Places, and enjoyed their partnership, so took the job.

Electrifying” Bob first met Michael in the Betty Reynolds rehearsal rooms in Los Angeles rehearsing the famous dance routine for Thriller – in full make-up and prosthetics. He remembers: “Michael seemed shy with a quiet disposition, but his dancing was electrifying and had to be seen to be believed. He was just so talented.

He was very pleasant and polite – asking me about my family and the other films I had made. Michael was a real movie buff and absolutely loved Disney films.

After the rehearsals those working on the video went back to Michael’s house where Bob got a full tour and was very impressed with the fairytale decor and atmosphere.

He was not impressed however with [Michaels] bedroom, which he says was: “untidy, full of loads of souvenirs he’d collected through his career and had a huge pet boa constrictor in the corner!”

Bob laughs at the memories of John Landis being made to hold the snake and of them all watching a Chevy Chase film together on Michael’s projector.

Bob says: “I’m proud to have worked on Thriller – but I’m never totally happy with my work. I can always find things that I would have done differently.

Not only did he film the memorable video – he was also an extra in it. In the cinema scenes Bob sat next to Michael and actress, Ola Ray – who played his girlfriend on screen. The director, John Landis, gave Bob the job of making Ola act more scared!

Working with Michael had a profound effect on me. I’ve filmed many icons but none made me want to write down my memories of meeting them like he did.

SOURCE: Victoria Bartlett, BBC –

Whats in the bag?

Douglas Kirkland shares: On the second or third day, someone brought a bag in, and out came Michael’s pet snake Muscles. We didn’t know what was in the bag, so some people were a little less than comfortable when he came out. And Michael got a giggle from how people responded to Muscles. He liked to hold him in his lap, and it made him feel in control. He was totally at ease when Muscles was there.

SOURCE: Book, ‘The Making of Thriller

Michael on the set of 'Thriller' with Muscles and Bill Bray

Michael on the set of 'Thriller' with Muscles and Bill Bray

Michael’s locked in his room!

When shooting was finished, [John] Landis and Folsey worked every night in an editing room on the Universal Studios lot; after the original editor departed for another project, Folsey took over cutting. Jackson liked to hang out with Landis and Folsey while they worked, driving himself and arriving in the editing room at about nine P.M. They’d bring in his preferred dinner of salad and brown rice and vegetables. “We’d look at cut footage and talk about things, and it was always fun,” says Folsey. “He was very appreciative and had good ideas.” All three were pleased with the way the short film was shaping up, and looked forward to the premiere at the Crest Theatre, in Westwood, on November 14. When Jackson departed at one or two in the morning, he’d find mash notes on the windshield of his Rolls.

About two weeks before the premiere, Michael called Branca and, hyperventilating and speaking in a halting voice, ordered him to destroy the negative of “Thriller.” After much cajoling he revealed the reason for his decision. “He said the Jehovah’s Witnesses heard he was doing a werewolf video,” Branca recalls. “They told him that it promoted demonology and they were going to excommunicate him.” Branca conferred with Folsey and Landis, and all agreed that the “Thriller” negative had to be safeguarded. Landis immediately removed the film canisters from the lab and delivered them to Branca’s office, where they were locked up.

Next, according to Landis, he got a call from Jackson’s security chief, Bill Bray, who reported that the singer had been in his room with the door locked for three days, refusing to come out. Landis drove to the Encino estate. “Bill and I kicked in the door, knocked it down, and Michael was lying there. He said, ‘I feel so bad.’ I said, ‘Michael, have you eaten?’ He hadn’t eaten. It was weird. I just said, ‘Look, I want you to see a doctor right now.’”

Landis returned to see Jackson the next day and found him at Frank DiLeo’s house, a few blocks from the Encino estate, in a more cheerful state. He apologized for issuing the order to destroy “Thriller”: “I’m sorry, John. I’m embarrassed.” Landis then informed the star that his directive had been ignored. “I said, ‘Michael, I wouldn’t let it be destroyed.’ He went, ‘Really? Because I think it’s really good.’ I go, ‘Michael, it’s great and you’re great.’

Still, Jackson was concerned about the video’s content. Branca, desperate to mollify his client, invented a ruse. “I said, ‘Mike, did you ever watch Bela Lugosi in Dracula ?’ He goes, ‘Why?’ I said, ‘Do you know that he was a devout Christian?’ I was just making it up. And I said, ‘Did you ever notice there were, like, disclaimers on those movies?’ He goes, ‘No.’ ‘So, Michael, before we destroy this film, let’s put a disclaimer on it saying that this does not reflect the personal convictions of Michael Jackson.’ ‘Oh!’ He liked it.” Problem solved. Says Landis, “You know, what’s wonderful about Michael—this is where genius comes in. No matter how wacky something was, it always had some amazing benefit. That disclaimer caused a lot of talk, and it generated a lot of interest.

The A-list turned out for the premiere at the 500-seat historic Crest Theatre: Diana Ross, Warren Beatty, Prince, Eddie Murphy. “I’ve been to the Oscars, the BAFTAs, the Emmys, and the Golden Globes, and I had never seen anything like this,” remembers Landis. Ola Ray looked for Jackson before the lights went down and found him in the projection booth. He told her that she looked beautiful, but refused her entreaty to come sit in the audience. “This is your night,” he told her. “You go enjoy yourself.” Landis warmed up the audience with a new print of the Mickey Mouse cartoon “The Band Concert.” Then came “Thriller,” with its sound mix cranked up to top volume. Fourteen minutes later the crowd was on its feet, applauding and crying, “Encore! Encore!” Eddie Murphy shouted, “Show the goddamn thing again!” And they did.

SOURCE: The Thriller Diaries

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