Nov 01 2010

David Nordahl Reflects on 20 years with Michael Jackson


David Nordahl and Sketch of Michael

David Nordahl and Sketch of Michael

Michael’s personal artist David Nordahl had been featured here a few times many months ago, well before many knew much about who he was. You can read those posts about him here, here, and here.

When Michael was alive, Nordahl was never one to talk to the media, especially about Michael, during their 20-year friendship. His friendship with Michael was private and though he had plenty of media trying to get him to speak badly of Michael, he never spoke to them.

Now, Nordahl lovingly remembers his friend and as he said earlier regarding the media’s penchant for wanting negative stories about Michael, “they wanted to talk about negative stuff, and I don’t know anything bad about Michael.

After the posts here about David Nordahl, AllForLoveBlog interviewed him, and that interview was discussed briefly here. It’s an amazing read, so if you missed it, do take time to read that one.

Most recently, Reflections on the Dance has interviewed David Nordahl and I want to share some excerpts of that interview with you here. The interview at Reflections also includes audio, which is a very special treat, so do have a listen. Deborah will have a written transcript up soon, but meanwhile she has provided the audio and some amazing quotes from her conversation with Nordahl:

In regards to to the constant barrage of extortion attempts against Michael:

Michael would get between 50 and 60 extortion attempts per year. Most of them were paternity. Women claiming that Michael was the father of their child, and a whole bunch of other ones were over music. Somebody had written a song or something and they claimed that Michael had stolen their music or their words. All of those things got thrown out of court because once they got to court, they couldn’t back it up.

He was so much fun to be around. It wasn’t all darkness. We’d laugh so much. He had a great sense of humor, loved practical jokes….We’d be walking along and he’d break out into song. But not like Michael Jackson. He would sing like it was a man in the shower, just singing. I hated to see that joy go out of his life because he was a very joyful person. He was a happy person and just great fun to be around.

About Michael’s behavior and his parenting abilities:

I’ve never met anybody who was more well-adjusted or more normal. He was just such a normal guy. So intellectual and so bright and so normal.

He was an absolutely fabulous father. I’ve never met a parent that is as good or better than Michael. Those kids were an absolute delight! I’ve never met kids in my life that were like those kids. I spent a lot of extended time around them. I never heard them cry, I never heard them beg for anything, never saw or heard them throw a fit.

David knew Michael for almost 20 years:

He was just so genuine and so warm and so caring. All of the time I knew Michael, almost 20 years, I never ever heard him raise his voice at anybody. Never happened. He was just such a good person. Just a really deep-down good person.

First Meeting:

He had a red corduroy shirt and black pants on and loafers that were kind of broken down in back. That’s the way he dressed most of the time when I knew him. When he wasn’t in public. He lived so simply. Michael never wore any jewelry, no rings, no belts, no watches, nothing, ever. The only time he wore those things were onstage. I was just so impressed with how simply he lived.

(About a cream-colored Bentley as a gift from the Korean Government & Michael’s true nature): When David asked Michael if he had ever driven it….”no, no, no, I’ve never driven it”. It was too flashy. That just wasn’t Michael. It wasn’t the way Michael was.

David Nordahl's 'Field of Dreams'

David Nordahl's 'Field of Dreams'

The Difference He Made:

Michael spent a third of a billion dollars on helping children, paying for surgeries, building hospital wings, orphanages, a burn center and on and on and on. The good things he did he would never talk about them. You’d always have to hear it from people who were around him because Michael always thought if you did a charitable act and then you talked about it or bragged about it or something, all of the good you’re trying to do, that it negated all of that. So he never would talk about those things.

I asked him, ‘Michael, how can you do that? How can you spend the time with these children who are dying and then go from that, on stage and give that kind of performance?’ He said, ‘How could I not? If these children want to see me. I know I’m not important, but Michael Jackson the superstar is, and if I can make a child live an extra minute or an hour or a day or a month, then wouldn’t that be worth it?’

Michael was always that way. If he would get a call from somebody and a child was dying, he would get on a plane and go and he would tell them, ‘I’m going to be back in 2 weeks to see you,’ and a lot of times he extended little kids’ lives that way. It gave them something to look forward to down the line. You have to admire something like that.

Michael disparaged his own looks…His Inner Light & Those Eyes:

Oh God no. We had many talks about that (his looks). He had that inner light and he always considered himself to be extremely ugly. He said he’s not a handsome man. ‘That’s why I don’t do interviews and I don’t go on talk shows.’ He said ‘First of all, I don’t lead an interesting life, I work all of the time’ (and that’s what he did, he worked all of the time).

He never did really understand that he had that inner light.

Sitting and talking to Michael I would look into his eyes and I could see for 1,000 miles. He had these most incredible eyes. They come off good on film, but nothing like in person. When you’re actually sitting across there looking at him. Those eyes were unbelievable. There were times it would just stop me in my tracks and there were times I’d be around him where I’d kind of forget who he was and then it would dawn on me….’I’m sitting here next to Michael Jackson.’ I never really got over that. There were times he would do these quick little step things and they were like lightening. It was just so quick, so precise and just amazing.

Michael, the Media, Friendship and the question about drug use:

I don’t know if people are making things up or if they’ve been paid to say things, to give interviews. (Mr. Nordahl was offered many paid interviews, which he declined). “(They wanted to do the interview) as long as what I talked about was what they wanted to talk about. So there was a lot of money floating around. Like Star Magazine was traveling around with briefcases full of cash.

I never saw Michael with the effects of doing any kinds of drug or alcohol or anything like that, and I saw him all different times of the day. Early in the morning, late at night, all during the day. He was always totally normal. Totally there. So I don’t know.

The last couple of years, if that happened to him, I don’t know. There’s so much misinformation about Michael, except for anything I know personally, I just don’t trust it. People are so willing to, I guess to get on TV. I don’t know what it is, but they’re just so willing to offer information.

It used to piss Michael off because he would say things like ‘I saw an interview with my hairdresser and she’s talking about me and my hairdresser doesn’t know anything about me!’

He kept himself really separated and I got to be really good friends with him so we talked about just about everything that was possible, but for most people, Michael did not do that, just out of fear of people turning around and talking with someone else about it. Private things. I never did. I never gave into those interviews or anything during that time. He felt comfortable with me. He felt we could talk about things and I wouldn’t turn around and talk about things that we were talking about, to other people.

(I would say to him) ‘Why do you let them make up all of this crap about you?’ and he said, ‘first of all, if you’re going to be in this business and you’re going to be as visible as I am, these are the things they do. No matter what you say, you’re not going to stop these people from doing this stuff.’ But, that also led to his downfall because he did not speak up early enough. . .They treated him without any respect for the fact that he’s a human being and his whole life has been based on doing good deeds. Like, how can you do that to this poor man?

Accusations, Insomnia & True Friendship:

I spent a lot of time with him during that time, especially after that 2003 thing, and he couldn’t sleep. Michael usually tried to turn in around 11 o’clock and sometimes he’d fall asleep, but even if he did, he’d wake up again and so he’d always ask me, ‘is it okay if I wake you up?’ and I said ‘Hell, yah, come bang on my door,” which he would do, and then he would always worry. He said, ‘Oh, you’re not getting any sleep,’ and I said ‘Well, if I’m too tired, I’ll go grab a nap in the afternoon.’ We’d just hang out like that in the middle of the night until morning came.

Michael's Vitiligo

Michael's Vitiligo

Vitiligo, Makeup & The Press:

Then of course, I noticed, because he didn’t have any makeup on, I noticed the Vitiligo. It was on the right hand side of his face and down his neck and also on the back of his hand. I don’t remember which one. I don’t know how far it went up his arm because he had a long sleeve shirt on, but I noticed the Vitiligo and as time went on, the Vitiligo spread and spread and spread and it was difficult for him when he had to appear in public or perform, to get the right kind of makeup, because…that skin was white, not like Caucasian white. It was white like a refrigerator, snow white. In the beginning, he did use darker makeup to cover that, but then as it spread, it got more and more difficult to make that white skin the color of the rest of his skin, so he would have to go to lighter and lighter and lighter makeup.

Of course the press got on him about that, about trying to be white. Which is the farthest thing from the truth. Michael never wanted to be white. He was proud of who he was and where he came from, but he had no choice. He one thing he never ever did, he never complained about it. He had every right to.

A painting and perfectionism (David was working on a painting for Michael at the time):

He asked if I finished it and I said that I’m just about done. I’m just kind of wrapping it up and he said, ‘Would you mind driving it over so I can see it?’

I said ‘Sure, I’ll do that.’ So I drove over to the recording studio and when I walked in there he grabbed me and said, ‘Come on in here,” and there was like a store room. So we’re standing in this store room and he said ‘Those guys are mad at me,’ and I said, ‘What happened?’

This is Slash, Jimmy Jam was there. All these top flight musicians and these guys are used to laying down a track one time. The first time they nail it. Michael’s keeping them there till 3 or 4 o’clock in the morning! Going over and over and over the same passages, you know? Just wearing them out. Michael didn’t feel comfortable until he had explored every avenue, you know what I mean?

He had to know if there was a way he could make it a little bit better. He did that not for himself. He did it for his fans. I never met a man who was so consumed with how his fans were being treated. The shows he put on, the concerts, they had to be the best they could possibly be. He wanted people to get their money’s worth.

Michael thought of everything, including the safety of all of the kids who visited Neverland:

The children that came to the ranch…all the rides and everything there was wheelchair accessible. Everything was modified. All the rides were modified too. He had extra cages built so arms couldn’t flop out or hair couldn’t flop out and get caught in something. He was concerned about the safety. Hte guys that ran the rides…they went to Kansas City every 6 months and took special training to be able to extracate physically challenged children. All those bases were covered and even up in the theatre, there were 2 rooms and there were glass walls that had hospital beds set up so that critically ill children could sit in the hospital bed and watch the movie. He thought of everything.

The children that came to the ranch…all the rides and everything there was wheelchair accessible. Everything was modified. All the rides were modified too. He had extra cages built so arms couldn’t flop out or hair couldn’t flop out and get caught in something. He was concerned about the safety. Hte guys that ran the rides…they went to Kansas City every 6 months and took special training to be able to extracate physically challenged children. All those bases were covered and even up in the theatre, there were 2 rooms and there were glass walls that had hospital beds set up so that critically ill children could sit in the hospital bed and watch the movie. He thought of everything.


I assure you there is much more of this amazing interview to be seen and heard on the ‘Reflections on the Dance‘ website. Please be sure to listen to the entire thing and for God’s sake share this interview with anyone you can, because contrary to the negative definition of him from the media, this is who Michael Jackson really was, from one of his closest friends who knew him almost 20 years.

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26 Responses to “David Nordahl Reflects on 20 years with Michael Jackson”

  1. Richie says:

    May the good GoD BleSS u
    LegenD never dies Long Lives The KInG Long Lives Michael
    We Love u………. 🙂
    “KiNg oF PoP IrReplaceAble”

  2. Susan T says:

    All I can say is God bless you, David Nordahl! You were a true friend. To put aside your own needs to be there for him when he couldn’t sleep well… it just speaks volumes for how much he meant to you.

    Michael may have had far too many leeches and sycophants in his life but by his very nature, he also attracted people of character who possessed genuine love and caring for him. Knowing he had you, David, to be himself in your presence, brings us all a sense of contentment.

    Your painting, Field of Dreams, could be the defining painting of Michael to show the world who he really was. I absolutely love it.

    Thanks so much, Seven, for sharing with us.

  3. lmmortal says:

    @Kozi, i think it was because of vitiligo. Even though vitiligo is not a life threatening disease, it’s emotionally and mentally damaging. It’s known that vitiligo patients have extremely low self-esteem and they look at themselves as monster and thought they are extremely ugly. It’s common among vitiligo patients.

  4. AMB says:

    Thank you Seven for this great and beautiful article to read. David Nordahl’s words show that he was a true friend.
    And I/we would like more of Michael’s true friends to come forward and share similar articles/words.

  5. kozi says:

    Thank you seven for this beautiful post.

    Why is that Michael thinks he is not handsome and not recognizes his extraordinary attractiveness that gravitate anyone?

    Anyone knows?

    By the way, his eyes are to die for.

  6. Seven says:

    @Joyce – welcome back!

    Now that you mention it I do remember reading that about the wolf howls as I have that book! I may add it to the post. It’s very cool!

  7. Joyce says:

    Hi Seven,
    Glad to be back in town and catch up again on these wonderful posts. This interview (written and audio) with David Nordahl is so wonderful. You can feel the love and respect that he had for Michael in every word. It makes me smile to know that Michael shared this special friendship over so many years with such a caring man. I just love to hear stories about Michael from those who knew and loved him for the real person that he was. Their love and loyalty is genuine and palpable.
    I absolutely love looking at the artwork that Mr. Nordahl did with Michael. “The Michael Jackson Opus” has some incredible large photo’s of several of his works with interesting commentary. I think my favorite line from the above excerpts is the one about Michael’s eyes! How incredible it must have been to actually look into those gorgeous “windows to his amazing soul”! The picture of Michael looking at himself in the mirror with his vitiligo is heartbreaking but also inspiring to think of the strength and courage that Michael had to not let it stop him from sharing his incredible gifts and pursuing all of his goals. I often think that I can’t possibly love or admire this amazing man any more and then I read or hear something else and my heart just bursts!

    I loved the Thriller post with all the interesting info. Here is my little addition to the Thriller tidbit file.
    It is from Bruce Swedien’s book “In the Studio with Michael Jackson” Mr. Swedien had a large dog named Max who was a Great Dane. He apparently tried for several days to get Max to do the wolf howls that they wanted for the intro on “Thriller”. To quote from the book “We bribed Max with hamburgers, we put him out by the barn to listen to the coyotes at night, but Max wasn’t interested in being part of “Thriller”. In the end, we had to have Michael do the wolf howls!”
    Every time I listen to Thriller now I just picture Michael doing those wolf howls. Another hidden talent! Poor Max, at least he got hamburgers out of the deal.
    Thought you might enjoy that interesting tidbit!
    Thanks again Seven for brightening my week and keeping me informed.

  8. Carmina Brasil says:

    Some people seem afraid to admit that the media all the time was wrong in his remarks about Michael Jackson and then get on the road.

    Do not manifest themselves for or against. A middle ground. Neither hot nor cold, but warm as befits those who dare not admit their own mistakes, or how much had been induced into error! There is much pride in this “failure”!

    These are people who care not to contradict the more in some than to acknowledge what is crystal clear to anyone who wants to see the truth. However, the lie needs reinforcements at any time while the truth sooner or later is required by the facts.

    I firmly believe that Michael will be vindicated one day, when many of the masks will fall!

    God bless you Michael!

  9. SandyK says:

    BTW, you may already be aware, but just in case, here is an update concerning Oprah’s interview with Katherine Jackson. On many levels I’m apposed to Oprah stepping foot in Mrs. Katherine Jackson’s house concidering her negative views on Michael, however, I also understand that O still has one of the largest audiences out there despite her ratings slip in recent years.

    Katherine is a strong lady and I don’t under estimate her, however I don’t under estimate O either. God bless you Katherine and I pray that you will be able to tell your story with out O putting a negative spin on it somehow. One can hope.:

    Oprah show with Katherine, Joe and children to air November 8th.


  10. Lulu (Q.C.) says:

    Thanks to you, Seven for posting this here. And thanks too to Deborah Kunesh for a most heart-warming interview.

    There is nothing like actually hearing someone who got real up close to MJ talk about how good and caring and regular and simple he really was. Mr. Nordahl, you were truly blessed with the times you spent with him and the trust he had in you. Thanks for honoring that trust with the genuine friendship, sense of normalcy and privacy you gave him.

  11. Ali says:

    Thanks Seven,those are lovely words, i will listen to the audio soon too.
    Its so sad though that Michael thought he was ugly, and that he couldn’t trust people except for a few – then so often the few turned out not to be trustworthy either. Mr Nordahl sounds like a real treasure.

    Samba, I know, its so hard to get your head round that some people operate that way. But in recent years I’ve come to realise many ordinary people do as well, and a lot of the time we don’t realise it, but there are some people who really seem not to have a conscience and who are just totally self serving. For the rest of us who aren’t like that it takes ages to realise this is just true, and sometimes only when its been done to you can you see it. Michael was so much a huge star that people like that just upped their game and everything had so much higher prices.

  12. SandyK says:

    Mr. Nordahl is a breath of fresh air!

    His account of the media pestering him for dirt on Michael over the years is heartbreaking and all too common. Bravo to you Mr. Nordahl for sending them packing!! Aphrodite Jones said the very same thing when she tried to publish her book, “Conspiracy.” A book that defended Michael brilliantly…and it contained NO dirt. She eventually did publish it but not with out struggle. Of course we know there were plenty of people who claimed to have some ties to Michael that rushed out after his death with “dirt” on him and of course the publishers happily obliged. I truly don’t have the vocabulary to fully express my utter disgust in the media and the publishing industry. To me they collectively have the blood lust of a pack of hyenas!

    Mr. Nordahl, thank you for being a friend to Michael. God bless you!

  13. Carolyn says:

    It is so refreshing to read these words yet it makes missing Michael so much more unbearable. This sweet dear man was subjected to so much ridicule and had a revolving door of con artists, fake friends (including LMP). It is so good to know he had a true friendship with Mr. Nordahl.

    Thanks Mr Nordahl for being a REAL friend to our beloved Michael Jackson.

    Love and miss you so very much Michael.

  14. gigi says:

    Seven, this is a beautiful post. I just got finished listening to the audio interview with Deborah and David Nordahl. I completely agree with what Deborah had said to David. That listening to those people who actually knew Michael and spent real time with him is a complete polar opposite of what the medialoids tried and still tries to portray. When David talked about his experiences of seeing Michael as a dad. The way Michael raised his children and described how much Michael loved, cared for, a real hands on father and protected them. Oh man…sigh. I can’t even begin to image how much Prince, Paris and Blanket miss their dad.

  15. SandyK says:


    I wanted to commend you for your beautiful blog. I follow it regularly and enjoy it thoroughly!!!! Excellent in presentation and content!!!! Thank you for this latest post on Mr. Nordahl.

    God bless you,


  16. Chanel says:

    Thanks for this article,thanks a lot,for the firts time one of Michael’s friends is talking about him with sincerity(without making money).
    We love him so much,there was no need to read something good about his life,we know he is “normal”,even if who could say what is normal and what isn’t?

  17. Samba says:

    Reading these transcripts is making me so mad…how can the world be this blind and ignorant? Have the people who were and still are so determined to bring Michael down forgotten all humanity and their own conscience? I just cant believe that they are actually people in the world who can be this way. And for what? Just a bunch of green paper. It disgusts me beyond words.

    Coming back to this interview….i have no words to say really…just L.O.V.E!!!

  18. Solar says:

    What God has blessed, let NO man put asunder. The Truth will out!

    “Lies run sprints, but the Truth runs marathons.” Michael Jackson

  19. Seven says:

    @Leanne – the media didn’t want to hear from Nordahl unless he was willing to say negative things about Michael. Largely, that’s still the case. So, that’s why he didn’t talk to them much. After Michael died, he did an interview, but that’s it. And he did not say one negative thing about Michael.

    Deborah’s site is up and down under heavy load. She’s working on the issue with her hosting provider so if you can’t get to the audio or to her site, please be patient. It’s an interview worth hearing.

    @David – thank you for that quote! I’ll add it in later today or tonight. It is important.

  20. Michelle says:

    David’s words about Michael are so true and beautiful. That’s the man he really was!! The stupid media was just too blind to see that. Thanks, Seven.

  21. Simona says:

    Aww, Seven,
    thank you for speaking about David Nordahl – again – here.
    I’, like many others, although vaguely knowing his name and recalling his (beautiful!! marvellous!! vibrant!!) portrays for Michael, have had the pleasure of getting to know more about him just here on your site, and I loved what I read.
    Then the Allforlove interview came after the Fanvention in August, and now this special treat at Reflections…. well, I have to say, the more I read the more I am touched by the Michael we see through his friend’s eyes. And having been able to actually listen to him, to hear his voice, the way he says those things – it really touched my very heart and, well, it got me so emotional…..
    What he had to say about Michael’s eyes, for example. That is just so telling, isn’t it.
    Here we are, daily averwhelmed by biased (or worse, far worse) stories trying to portray Michael as this desperate figure, an addict, totally not there, full of contradictions, impossible to comprehend in its lunacy….
    And then here comes this gentle man, who speaks with a warmth in his voice and a twinkle in his eyes (it shows through the voice) – and suddenly he gives back to Michael all of his beauty, his inner light, his innocent soul and his brilliant mind.

    I am filled with gratefulness for all of you who brought us these gifts, and for Mr. Nordahl who is a true friend and a kind soul.
    Love you all more

  22. Ieva says:

    Beautiful friendship! David is so lucky, because he can call Michael his friend! 🙂

  23. David says:

    Seven, I think that you should the following quote from Nordahl to the article above. Here is his defense of MJ’s 1993 extortion attempt:

    “I was working on sketches for his film production company, called “Lost Boys Productions”….Sony had given him (Michael) $40 million to start this production company and that little boy’s dad (Evan Chandler), who considered himself to be show business material, because he had written part of a script….after that he considered himself a Hollywood screenwriter, and being friends with Michael and his son being friends with Michael, this guy had assumed that Michael was going to make him a partner in this film production company and that’s where the $20 million figure came from. He wanted ½ of that Sony money. It was proven. It was an extortion. Michael listened to his business advisors and they all told him to keep his mouth shut and to go on to Korea, go on with your tour, you’re in the middle of a tour. We’ll take care of it….”

    It’s a shame that he defended MJ better than LMP and Carl Douglas! (When you read part 3 of the Frozen in Time transcript, you’ll see what I mean!)

  24. Leanne says:

    I almost wish Mr Nordahl had gone to the mainstream media groups, every last one of them and told the story he’s told in these interviews and showed that photo of Michaels vitiligo and mentioned Mr Evan Chandlers fury at not being included in the Lost Boys Production group and the ensuing extortion by that man. I want everyone, everywhere to know all that was told in these interviews. Its imperative. Oh, wouldn’t there be an awful lot of people ‘changing their tune’!
    Thank you for yet again, another brilliant post.


  25. Greet says:

    Since I heard about this interview, I have listening to it, and reading all about it on “Reflections on the Dance” It is beautiful. Seven, thank you for putting it here too. But since yesterday evening, the Reflections site is not reachable anymore, at least not for me. Has anybody else also the experience ? I get the message : “Due to high volume of traffic, this site is temporarily unavailable. Plse try again later”. Could it be that there are so many people interested and looking at the site that it is overcrowded ??? Iam happy I can read again some parts here, but the audio is really wonderful. Seven, Brace yourself, maybe this site too will get the same message soon. I really wish the whole world would read/hear it. Why is it that we, those who love Michael so much, who are “touched” by him, so desperately want to spread his message, want to get everybody to know him. I try to convince my children, but it is no use. Very frustrating. I thas to come from the people themselves, or Michael…… I don’t know. It is magic. I know you all will understand, only people around me don’t…..But let’s keep the faith. And above all : “live” his messages. And Seven, you are in my daily life….Thanks.

  26. Jackie says:

    You Can Feel Michael With David Nordahi’s Words!
    It’s So Beautiful.