May 13 2012

Happy 2nd Anniversary Sunflowers for Michael!

Category: Friends,PhotosSeven @ 12:15 pm

 

A couple of years ago, when Lisa Marie Presley mentioned that Michael loved Sunflowers, a reader here (Sandy Lee Scott) got an idea to provide Michael with fresh flowers of all kinds each week, funded by his fans. I agreed to kickstart the program via this website and viola! – Sunflowers for Michael was born! That was exactly two years ago today. For the first couple of months, photos of each week’s delivery were posted here on MJ-777.com and Michael’s fan-mily were thrilled!

But due to the number of photos each week, this process became onerous for both of us, so Sandy re-opened her personal Facebook page, then subsequently a separate ‘Sunflowers for Michael‘ Facebook group to post the photos each week, to keep people updated on progress and changes, and to further promote the program. Now, this Facebook group is where you can find all the photos, news and updates about Sunflowers for Michael, straight from Sandy, its founder.

Happy Birthday Sunflowers for Michael – and HUGE hugs to our gorgeous angel Sandy, who thought up this whole idea of making sure Michael’s beautiful spirit has weekly reminders of how much his fans love him.

UPDATE: You can see all the photos of Sunday’s 2nd Anniversary “Special Delivery” at the Sunflowers for Michael Facebook group: http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.430744546944348.101542.100000264198606&type=1

Beautiful artwork for the occasion by Sunflowers for Michael's Christine Wallden. To see the full set, click on the image!

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May 04 2012

Sheryl Crow: “I could always hear him giggling through the wall”

Category: Photos,Quotes About MJSeven @ 2:35 am

Michael on stage with Sheryl Crow

Sheryl Crow was a backup singer for Michael during his first solo tour, Bad, in 1987. After Michael’s death, Sheryl shared her memories of working with him:

Our quick-change tents shared a side, and as we were rushing to change our wardrobe in between songs, invariably, a grape or a carrot would come rocketing over the top at me. I could always hear him giggling through the wall. He rented out amusement parks a lot. I remember riding a swinging-pirate-ship ride with him somewhere in Germany, and because we were the only ones on the ride, he wouldn’t let the operator stop the ride, as I got sicker and sicker. He thought it was hilarious! When we were in Tokyo, I got a call from him at night inviting me to come to his hotel, where we watched Amos ‘n’ Andy shows. He laughed and threw popcorn the whole time. My most beloved memory, however, was watching him perform “Human Nature” every night from the side of the stage. There was something so genuinely vulnerable in his voice on that song, and watching the freedom with which he danced, doing the moves he invented only made me more keenly aware of the greatness I was blessed to be witnessing.

SOURCE: http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1907409_1907413_1907489,00.html

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{ Thanks to my friends at UK Loves MJ for finding this sweet memory from Sheryl.  -Seven }

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May 01 2012

Impression from Michael’s single visit to India: “I don’t have any more words to explain his impact.”

Category: Interviews,MJ Quotes,Photos,Quotes About MJ,VideosSeven @ 1:52 am

Michael's arrival in Mumbai, 1996

Michael only visited India once and performed there on November 1st 1996 at the Andheri Sports Complex as part of his HIStory World Tour. While in India, Michael stayed at the Oberoi Hotel.

The King of Pop arrived in Mumbai on October 30th, 1996 at Mumbai’s Sahar airport in his private jet. People had thronged the airport to catch a glimpse of him. Jackson was greeted by Sonali Bendre clad in a nine-yard sari and a Maharashtrian nathni (nose ring), standing with an aarti thali to welcome MJ, along with Raj Thackeray, Sharmila Thackeray and innumerable politicians who were there to receive Jackson. The actress welcomed Jackson by performing ‘aarti’ and applying ’tilak’ on his forehead, at the Mumbai airport. Outside, Raj had organised a performance by a troupe of lezhim dancers with dholaks, and they wore traditional Maharashtrian clothes.

The popstar, when being driven in a 20-car motorcade from the air port, stopped his Toyota to meet the urchins lined up along the highway to catch a glimpse of him. He picked up several children and hugged and kissed them. He then spent a few minutes with them before he proceeded to the Shiv Sena chief, Bal Thackeray’s residence, Matushree, in Bandra East. Here he was presented with a silver tabla and tanpura, which are musical instruments from India.

During his stay at The Oberoi Hotel, Jackson surprised the entire staff by mingling freely among his fans, who thronged at the hotel to catch a glimpse of the ‘King of Pop’.”He greeted his fans with smiles and by blowing kisses and shook hands with as many of them as possible,” hotel sources recount.

According to Butler Manager, Sandeep Walia, who was attending to him with a team of three butlers, Michael loves sweet white wine. That is probably the only kind of alcohol that he consumed during his stay at the Oberoi. Apart from that, he loves orange drinks, Fanta being his favorite and a special German orange drink, Gatorade, which he carries with him. Michael drinks a lot of Diet Coke as well, prefers his drinks at room temperature. Jackson has a penchant for chocolates too, so The Oberoi made sure there were chocolates, of all shapes, sizes and flavours kept in every reachable corner of his room.

Michael Jackson likes a lot of festivity around him. The Kohinoor Suite at the Oberoi was decorated with flowers, balloons, confetti and bowls of sweets and chocolates to give it a spirit of celebration. While in his room, Jackson does not like to use the air-conditioner. He also likes his space. His body-guards have been instructed not to come close to him to give him enough space to move around. During his stay in Mumbai, Jackson relished several Indian cuisine, including South Indian and Mughlai.

SOURCE: http://www.fulldhamaal.com/image-gallery/rare-pictures-of-michael-jackson-india-tour1996-18-pics-and-video-its-all-about-michael-part-7-8463.htm

The following is from various sources:

Michael asked The Oberoi Hotel for an LLD player and a television, as well as a CD player for his personal use. He travels with his own library of CDs and LDs and spends most of the time indoors, watching films.

At Michael’s request, a high tea was organized at the pool side of the Oberoi where kids from orphanages were invited to meet and play with him. He gave them gifts and chocolates that he had brought with him. There was a party for kids organized in his room as well, on the day of the show itself. About 50 children were invited and he ordered cakes and burgers for them. He had the kids sit on his lap and played with them. He had asked the hotel to provide him with a few saris which he wanted draped around the sofas during the photo session with the kids, to give his pictures the ethnic effect.

Michael definitely had a predilection for Indian food. On his first morning at the Oberoi, he ate masala dosa and the day after that, he had spicy alu paranthas with butter. His other meals mainly comprised of butter naans, butter chicken, tandoori chicken and spicy vegetable curries. His personal chef was of Indian origin and she coordinated his meals with the other chefs at the hotel. According to the hotel staff, he got naans (enough for an army!), tandoori chicken, dishes cooked in butter gravy and lots of paranthas packed on the morning he was flying out of India.

Michael surprised the staff at the Oberoi hotel as he spent a lot of his time greeting and shaking hands with his fans who were swarming the lobby.

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Below is video of Michael in India from the time he arrived at the airport. He is seen with the street children at 2.55 and receiving gifts at 5.32 along with footage of the concert. Michael is also seen at an evening event to meet dignitaries but only stayed a few minutes as he was saving his energy for the show later that evening. At the end of the video (7.15) is the pillow that Michael wrote on in the hotel room along with a message that he also wrote on a mirror in the hotel room that said “God Bless India My Special Love Michael Jackson“.

When Michael left the Oberoi Hotel while the hotel was preparing his suite for the next VIP guest, they found Michael’s gift to them: rather mischievously Michael had scribbled on the pillow he had slept on.

India, all my life I have longed to see your face. I met you and your people and fell in love with you. Now my heart is filled with sorrow and despair for I have to leave, but I promise I shall return to love you and caress you again. Your kindness has overwhelmed me, your spiritual awareness has moved me, and your children have truly touched my heart. They are the face of God. I truly love and adore you India. Forever, continue to love, heal and educate the children, the future shines on them. You are my special love, India. Forever, may God always bless you.  -Michael Jackson

Bharat Shah, jeweller and film-financier, bought the pillow for a unstated amount of money in an auction held for charity.

Michael's love note to India, left on his pillow at the Oberoi Hotel

Below, photojournalist Mahesh Bhat recalls Michael Jackson’s 1996 tour of India:

Upcoming concert of Michael Jackson in Mumbai was the big news. I had no plans of going for it. Few days before the concert, I got a call from my friend Shantanu Sheoreyi. He was involved in the event on an advisory capacity. “Mahesh, we need someone to document MJ’s visit and the concert, will you do it?” he asked me. “Will I do it? Whoa….I was on the next plane to Mumbai.”

Well, I reached a day before MJ’s scheduled arrival. I had discussions with people concerend which was followed by a visit to the stadium in Andheri where the performance was to be held. A large wooden platform was built. The entire stage would be transported in 2 Antonovs. I was told that his crew would put it up in 24 hours.

On the day of his arrival, we reached the airport ahead of time. I was to document his visit from his first step out of the plane. Few of us were escorted to the door of the skybridge. Actor Sonali Bendre had the honour of welcoming MJ. One page 3 type business tycoon wanted to be there too but he was unceremoniouly shoved away by the cops. The plane carrying MJ landed. Immigration officials went into the aircraft to complete the formalities. People started coming out. Suddenly I see a familiar face…my friend photographer John Isaac! – Hugs and “hey what are you doing here” exchanged. I learnt that John had accepted the assignment of documenting the life and work of MJ and was travelling with him!

Then MJ himself comes out. Wow the legend right in front of me, few feet away. He rushes out and I shoot pictures. Cars are waiting to whisk him away. A luxury van was waiting for him. I got into a SUV with a skyroof, so that I could stand up and shoot the motorcade. Yes, I rode in the motorcade with MJ. As we left the airport, MJ saw a whole lot of kids from the slums and asked the car to be stopped. We all jumped out. He wanted to get some video footage with them. There were three videographers shooting every move he made. Kids rushed and picked whatever they could find on the road – soiled cigarette packets, pieces of paper…and all for autographs. MJ was merrily signing on them, he didn’t forget to tell his video crew not to miss recording any of it ‘Make sure you are getting everything…..‘ he kept saying.

All roads cordoned off and we zipped to Bal Thackrey’s residence, that was MJ’s first port of call. There chaos reigned. Machine gun toting cops with walkie-talkies that had meter long antennae were not able to stop the horde of waiting press photographres from breaking the cordon and going inside. John and I were left out. Later, they took us inside. MJ got some gifts and nothing much was said. He sat with a distant expression on his face.

That evening, a dinner was organised at the Oberoi Towers where he was staying. Who’s who of Mumbai and entire Bollywood was invited. Menu was totally vegetarian. MJ was there on time, most of the who’s who weren’t. There was a small fucntion. MJ received a diamond-studded miniature Taj Mahal. Someone made a speech. A well-known character actor jumped to the dias, shook MJ’s hand and jumped like a monkey!! And MJ went back to his room. Neither did he talk to anyone nor did he touch the laid out food. Then the who’s who started landing up and they had to eat that vegetarian food! People hung around and ate muttering under their breath. The next day I read in newspapers how one of the music directors of Bollywood (The man who has a penchant for gold…no prizes for guessing who!!) was going to collaborate with MJ to produce an album and that MJ showed keen interest in his gold necklace. The fact was that he arrived fashionably late for the dinner and didn’t even get to glimpse MJ.

On his way out, MJ shook hands with one of the waiters. That chap fainted!

Next day – it was the day before the concert, MJ didn’t come out of his suite. I hung out with John Isaac in his room. The floor of the Oberoi Towers was occupied by MJ entourage and no one was else was allowed. John Isaac was born in Chennai. He worked briefly for Air India and went to NYC to become a guitar player. Instead he became a photographer and rose to be the chief photographer of the United Nations and a celebrated photojournalist. John was doing a lot of work for UNICEF. Audrey Hepburn, the then goodwill ambassador of UNICEF and a friend of John introduced him to MJ. John told me about MJ’s love for poetry and that they were planning on a book of MJ’s poems and John’s pictures. It didn’t materialise finally.

All day long the glitterati of Bollywood was descending to the hotel to ‘meet’ MJ. But no one was allowed to get into the lift even. Heartbreaks all over. Suddenly there was commotion. In the midst of tight security, a chap from Bihar managed to get into the hotel with a nicely packed muzzle loader on his shoulder! Don’t ask me how. So cops took him away and found out that he had come to Mumbai in search of a job. And he landed up in the hotel because some one told him he might find a job here.

MJ’s security detail comprising of several ex-marines was always very tough. After this incident they became paranoid. There was a lot of friction and temperature was always on the boil. Later we asked them why were they so worried. ‘Well, he is our bread and butter..we can’t let anything happen to him’, said the security in-charge. They were protecting him to safeguard themselves.

There was a plan of taking MJ to Madh Island. He wanted to visit the Mumbai centre of Nirmal Hriday. But some joker faxed a death threat. Security clamped down and vetoed any visit. MJ was inconsolable. He began to cry uncontrollably in his suite. It took some of his friends almost an hour to console him. That’s when I thought that he was trapped in a diamond studded platinum cage. However the death threat did not deter some of his crew from hitting the town. I think even some of his bodyguards took an evening off. The boss couldn’t step out of his room!

That evening there was photo shoot with a whole lot of kids. It was on the terrace of the hotel and then later we moved into his suite. I did a lot of portraits of his there. He didn’t interact with any adult. But did talk to many kids. Some of them didn’t talk to him. ‘Dadu he looks like ghost’, said a kid and refused to sit on his lap. That kid must be about 18-20 now! MJ had this massive 3D collage made from B&W pictures of his family. I heard him tell someone that he carried it with him everywhere.

MJ didn’t want to be disturbed. He meditated and just before the concert, met with the key people from the Indian side and took pictures. I had reached the venue well in advance. Had a choice of two places to shoot from – the ‘pit’ at the bottom of the stage or in front of the sound console. It had a direct view and I didn’t have to jostle for space. I chose the latter. VIP box too was there. Asha Bhosle, Sunil Gavaskar, Prabhu Deva.. and the thousands of fans were waiting for the performance to begin.

MJ’s stage was air conditioned and maintained at 16 degree centigrade. There were two massive AC plants pumping cool air. Massive air curtains in the front were keeping warm air out. There was a meditation room, if he chose to meditate during the break. It didn’t matter where he performed; the stage was exactly the same.

The performance was amazing. He was truly a great entertainer. Ashaji was on her feet, dancing! She asked all the younger women in the VIP box to dance along. I turned around to see Sunny Gavaskar grooving! Prabhu Deva told his fans that it was like watching his god!

I don’t have any more words to explain his impact.

SOURCE: http://entertainment.in.msn.com/hollywood/article.aspx?cp-documentid=3069357#page=1

One of Mahesh Bhat's photos of Michael in 1996

Really nice profile shot of Michael by Mahesh Bhat in 1996

In the story and video below, a Mumbai girl talks about her dance with Michael. “I just wish he’d died with all the legacy he deserved“, she laments.

Thirteen-years ago (now 16 years), when Piya Thakkar stood in line to watch the historic Michael Jackson concert in Mumbai, little did she know that she’d come out a mini-celebrity herself.

It was an act Michael Jackson performed in every city during his History tour – dancing with a girl to his hit song ‘You Are Not Alone‘ and in Mumbai Piya was the lucky girl.

Suddenly I was known as the girl who danced with Michael Jackson and I lost all other identity. I hugged him and he was trying to slow dance with me and then he just went down on his knees and I was so shocked,” says Piya Thakkar.

Some fans had to be pulled away by security, others cried, and still more sat down on the stage in disbelief. Piya showed her loyalty by refusing to bathe or change clothes she’d worn at the concert for days.

I didn’t bathe for just about one-and-a-half days, but the number of days was exaggerated a little in reports, but then I realised I couldn’t go on like this so I got over it after two days,” says she.

It’s no wonder then that when the news of Jackson’s death flashed on TV screens across the world, Piya felt an almost personal loss.

I’m not that much of a cry baby but for the past two-three days it’s been consuming me. I just wish he’d died with all the legacy he deserved,” she said.

And in making that wish for the late King of Pop, Piya is certainly not alone in the world.

Choreographer Ganesh Hegde, who did the opening act at Michael’s concert in 1996, recalls his meeting with Jackson “as the best one minute of his life”. “I met Mr Jackson in his green room which was pitch-dark, with a light flickering in one corner. He shook my hand and told me that he liked my performance very much. It was my biggest moment.” “Pop culture began with Michael Jackson and ends with him.”

Shobhaa De wrote later: “Those of us who were lucky enough to catch his concert will never ever forget the magic of those golden hours when Jackson enthralled a crowd with a performance that was staggering in its impact. It still makes my hair stand on end. I have never seen such energy, such commitment and such excellence. He was stupendously brilliant and I watched his final encore with tears steaming down my face.

When he repeatedly whispered, ‘I love you’ to the mesmerised crowd, you believed him of course, he loved us all. Individually, at that. It was one glorious evening. And I went away with the feeling, I had been privileged enough to witness a historic performance by one of the world’s greatest entertainers.

I remember him alighting from his private jet and his entourage came in four other planes. The airport came to a standstill for an hour with officers, aircraft crew and passengers coming to greet him,” says Sabbas Joseph, director, Wizcraft, which organised the concert. Even Anil Ambani lent his open roof car to the star.

Jackson’s entry into the hotel here was a grand affair with people from nearby offices coming to get a glimpse of him. “He asked for a free-standing, full-length mirror in the room and he signed it at the time of his departure. He also signed a pillow slip from his room.

Jackson mesmerised the crowd and this is what made him so popular says Duane Woodman, a commercial pilot who attended his concert in Mumbai. “My most vivid memory of the concert is Jackson circling the stadium in a helicopter and then making an entry from a rocket capsule,” he says.

His moonwalk, in a gold and black suit, had girls gasping, says actor Prashant Raj. “But it was his Thriller, a youth anthem then, that got everyone going.

Rony D’Costa, creative supervisor, Zee Motion Pictures, grew up listening to Jackson. “I knew I couldn’t miss it, but then I couldn’t afford the ticket. So a friend and I gate-crashed and stood near the barricade close to the stage. Michael was just five feet away from us. It was magical,” he says, recalling more funny instances from the concert. “There was an ambulance kept for emergency but it was at work throughout. Every time Michael screamed ‘I love you very much’ there were girls fainting,” he smiles.

As Raj Thackeray’s guest, MJ also visited Sena chief Bal Thackeray’s residence, Matoshree, in Bandra. The Thackerays presented him with a silver tabla and tanpura. There’s a lovely story connected with the visit. MJ had to go to the loo (bathroom) and was zapped when he stepped into the Tiger’s Indian-style toilet. No knowing how to use it, he had to seek Raj’s help to relieve himself!

To this day, choreographer Ganesh Hegde still remembers and honors Michael. In June 2011 with a new album coming out, he said:

Michael Jackson has been my biggest inspiration for music as well as choreography. He gave me the reason to believe that even people like myself, who come from a very humble background can make it big with talent and hardwork.” Ganesh remembers: “In 1996, MJ had come to Mumbai for a concert and I was performing as the opening act. When he came backstage, there was a sudden commotion and all my dancers on stage turned their backs towards the audience to look at him! Later, he called for us in his room, where I told him that I was the choreographer for the act and he shook hands with me. I also told him ‘I love you’ to which he replied ‘I love you too’. He was really a great personality.”

India, like many other cities and countries around the world, has dedicated a statue of Michael, which they want to donate to Neverland. RC Golden Granites in Chennai, India has created a full size Michael Jackson Statue. The demise of Michael upset owner Mr.R. Chandrasekaran and so he decided to pay tribute to Michael by doing something different and made a statue.

We want to do something different in that, so we built a Michael Jackson statue in single black granite which weighs about 3.5 tonnes and we want to send the statue to Michael Jackson’s foundation at Neverland. The statue was sculpted out of a single block of granite rock – 12ft height and weighs 3.5 tons. It took 45 days to sculpt the legend’s statue with six highly experienced chennai craftsmen in granite working round the clock.

The Chennai-based granite firm spent $25,000 sculpting the statue out of a single block of huge rock that was quarried from a mine near Kanakapura, about 50 km from Bangalore. “We employed six artisans to chisel the granite into Jackson’s shape in 45 days at our factory in Kancheepuram. As black granite is brittle, the aesthetic art work was a test of patience, diligence and skill. His face and eyes were the most challenging as we wanted the statue to be expressive and poignant,” Chandrasekaran said.

It’s a personal tribute to the greatest pop singer of our times! He lives in our hearts as he was on stage for years.

You can see the statue briefly in this video:

Granite statue of Michael from RC Granite in Chennai, India

Finally, I’ll leave you with a Dubai Fountain presentation of ‘Thriller‘, courtesy of reader Nino Fincher:

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{ Many thanks to UK Loves MJ on Facebook for compiling this fantastic information about Michael’s only visit to India! -Seven }

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Apr 25 2012

“feel Believe” – Michael’s note about songwriting

Category: MJ Quotes,PhotosSeven @ 6:09 pm

Michael Jackson wrote this note in the late 1970’s about writing and composing songs . . . :

feel Believe
let the song write itself
let it tell you what to write
what instruments to use
what melody should be used
let feeling be your guide
feel feel as though as though
a prophet writing through
the thoughts of God
His penmanship
God’s thoughts
feel feel feel
feel feel feel Believe
the force!  -MJ

"feel Believe" - written by Michael Jackson

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Apr 13 2012

A classic image of Michael among his friends, peers, inspirations

Category: Art,PhotosSeven @ 11:19 pm

A while back I presented the work of Helena Kadlicova, who had completed several works commissioned by Michael before his death. But one piece remained unfinished. The concept for the work had started with Michael’s blessing back in 2006. Other things took precedence for a while, but Helena has now completed this painting.While some of those featured in the painting were still alive when she began the work, now they are all gone which makes the painting even more sentimental and more of an important part of Michael’s memory and legacy.

About the painting, Helena says:

In 2006 I have sent to MJ a concept of a painting I wanted to paint for him but because it was quite complex work I wanted to make sure he would like to have it. Later I received a reply from him to go on with the painting and finish it. Unfortunately there was always something else to do and the painting stayed unfinished. Until last year when I was asked to finish it as a commission. And here is the result. No other painting before took me so much time to paint as this one. And I’m glad I got to finally finish the artwork, the strange thing is, when I was sending the concept to Michael, most of the people in the painting were still alive…now they are all gone….

People painted in the painting from top to bottom:
Walt Disney, Charles Chaplin, Marlon Brando, James Brown, Fred Astaire, Michael Jackson, Elizabeth Taylor.

MJ & Co. ~ oil on canvas
80 x 75cm / 32 x 30in ~ 2012

I hope you like it… ~ Helena Kadlicova

SOURCE: http://www.helenakadlcikova.com/mj-co-novy-obraz-michaela-jacksona-olejomalba-na-platne/?lang=en
and
UKLovesMJ on Facebook

Helena's completed painting, begun in 2006. Featured in the painting from top to bottom: Walt Disney, Charles Chaplin, Marlon Brando, James Brown, Fred Astaire, Michael Jackson, Elizabeth Taylor.

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