May 23 2012

‘You can’t go to a premiere with a n**ger.’

Category: Friends,JusticeSeven @ 10:22 am

Michael with Tatum O'neal

Unfortunately, my friendship with Michael came to an abrupt ending. He’d played the Scarecrow in The Wiz, the urban remake of the Wizard of Oz, which starred Diana Ross as Dorothy. For the film’s premiere, Michael invited me to be his date. I asked my dad, who didn’t care one way or another if I went, but my talent agency was dead set against it. I was told, in exactly these words: ‘You can’t go to a premiere with a n**ger.’

-Tatum O’neal, “A Paper Life

“Boy, is that girl with you?”, “Yes, we’re one and the same!”  -from ‘Black or White’

Just to be perfectly clear, I publish such a tasteless comment only to illustrate what Michael had to deal with during his life, and to illustrate how little has changed, at least in the United States. The advent of having the first black President here has not budged the issue one iota, except to further incense those who are revolted by a black man in the Oval Office, causing them to continually demand his “papers“, even after three years and on the eve of the next election. And, even after they have been produced time and time again, they are still not accepted by certain factions. It’s sheer lunacy and a shameful history topped off by a shameful present-day, where these attitudes remain but only the methods change. The remark made to Ms. O’neal was over 3 decades ago.

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{ Thanks to my friends at The Michael Jackson Academia Project, who tweeted this quote and photo this morning.  -Seven }

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May 20 2012

How Can You Mend a Broken Heart?

Category: Friends,VideosSeven @ 10:36 pm

It’s heartbreaking today that another musical icon surrounding Michael, and another icon from many of his fan’s teen and young adult years has left us. In fact many of Michael’s friends have left us:  Elizabeth Taylor, Dennis Tomkins, Don Cornelius, Dick Clark, Whitney Houston, Donna Summer (Queen of Disco) just a few days ago and now, Robin Gibb of the BeeGees. It could almost cause one to become suspicious that wherever he is, Michael is gathering many of his friends around him with so many of them leaving us in such a short time.

Michael was fairly close to the Gibb Brothers, with Barry having named his own son Michael. And Michael Jackson was Michael Gibb’s godfather. Michael loved the BeeGees and their music. They understood each other, musically. His favorite song from the BeeGees (or one of his favorite songs) was ‘How Can You Mend a Broken Heart‘.  In memory of both Robin Gibb, who lost his battle with cancer today, and Michael, here’s that song:

And of course Barry, sadly the only Gibb brother left now, just a bit over a year ago released a very sweet song with video footage that he’d worked on with Michael, called ‘All In Your Name‘.

For those of us who grew up in the Disco era and with Michael Jackson, this is a particularly tough time. I know that Michael will welcome both Donna Summer and Robin Gibb home with open arms. My sincerest condolences go out to their families at this most difficult time. Little did we know that this was our Last Dance with these memory-makers. In Robin’s case, we had hoped that he would somehow pull through but this was not to be. Rest in Peace, dear Robin and Donna and thank you both immensely for the memories and the music.

Robin Gibb’s tribute to Michael in 2009:

We’ve not only lost a great friend in Michael but also lost a wonderful sensitive human being. The Bee Gees heard music with the same ears. Michael had a great voice and millions of people yet to be born will sing his songs.

This tragedy should teach us a lesson to value and praise those gifts while we still have them in the world. If even a small portion of the praise that is bestowed on Michael Jackson now in death was given to him last year in life, he might well still be with us. That is the sad truth. One consolation is that he will triumph by his legacy.

-Robin Gibb

Donna Summer sweetly sang ‘Smile‘ in memory of Michael after his death:

I hope that wherever all of these friends of Michael are, that they are together with him. As for the rest of us, all we have left are memories and — Words.

~~~UPDATE~~~

Monday afternoon (5/21/2012), Barry Gibb tweeted the link to this very touching video in memory of his brother Robin. “Bodding” was an affectionate childhood nickname for Robin:

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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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Apr 18 2012

A sad goodbye to the world’s oldest teenager

Category: Friends,Quotes About MJ,VideosSeven @ 11:35 pm

Michael and Dick Clark, both gone now.

What a sad day this is. Some people you somehow expect to live forever, even though logistically you know that’s impossible. Dick Clark was one of those people. He seemed ageless. Who would have ever thought he’d leave us? But alas, mortality has stricken another of this generation’s unforgettable icons.

When Michael died in June 2009, Dick Clark remarked: “Of all the thousands of entertainers I have worked with, Michael was the most outstanding. Many have tried and will try to copy him, but his talent will never be matched.

And Clark, whose own contributions to the music and television broadcasting world are also unmatched, would know. He was a key figure in helping to provide many black artists and black musical groups priceless exposure on American television. Exposure and airplay that most mainstream DJs and music programs would not give them due to racism. Here is a video of the Jackson 5 playing on American Bandstand for the first time, in 1970:

Below, Jack Cafferty on CNN talks more about how Chuck Berry, Aretha Franklin, The Temptations, Little Richard, The Jacksons, The Supremes – so many black artists would not have been heard at all or have been as widely heard, had it not been for the exposure they received on American Bandstand. Had it not been for Dick Clark exposing these artists to white audiences, we all may have missed their incredible music – and they would have missed out on the level of professional success that could only be had by exposure to white audiences at the time. Who can imagine life without the music of these artists? Who can imagine life without Dick Clark – a man with whom Americans have welcomed the New Year for three decades (New Years Rockin’ Eve)?

Cafferty also talks about how white artists then in turn modeled some of their music after the music of the black artists. Their influence was remarkable and their exposure by Dick Clark certainly changed the musical landscape in America. I feel blessed to have been alive to witness all this and to be a part of it.

Jermaine and Janet Jackson shared their sadness today about Dick Clark’s passing:

Dick Clark always came to our dressing pre-show to make sure we were okay and catered for. Big hearted. One-of-a-kind. Will be missed… #DickClark played a very special role in our lives, involved in our first concerts as J5. He was like family. What a man. RIP my friend. Another sad day. This world is losing too many fine people. Live for the moment. Treasure your memories. Blessings to you all” -Jermaine Jackson

Dick Clark changed the face of musical television. He was wonderful to many artists including our family. We will miss him. God bless.” -Janet Jackson

Below you can enjoy an early American Bandstand interview with young Michael in 1972. This is one of more than a few interviews Dick Clark did with Michael and the Jacksons. You can find more on YouTube.

Here is the Jackson’s 1979 American Bandstand appearance:

And below, Michael performs on American Bandstand’s 50th Anniversary show in 2002:

He wasn’t only known for American Bandstand. In the 1980s Dick Clark Productions had shows on 3 networks. Among them were $25,000 Pyramid, TV’s Bloopers and Practical Jokes and the American Music Awards. His remarkable career spanned several decades. He was a savvy host, producer, and curator of music and television broadcasting who leaves an incredible history-changing legacy behind, along with the equally accomplished Don Cornelius of Soul Train, whom we also just lost a short while ago on February 1 of this year.

Music is the soundtrack of your life.” -Dick Clark

And Dick Clark brought us a whole lot of great music to live and remember the times of our lives by. It’s so sad to lose him now too. I hope he and Michael, Don, Elizabeth, Whitney, and Frank are all having a huge party up there. And I hope that Robin Gibb who has fallen very ill and is in a coma, doesn’t join them now. We’ve lost too many great people in the past 3 years.

Dick Clark and Michael Jackson, 2002

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Mar 28 2012

Albert Watson Photo Inspired Michael Jackson’s Invincible Cover

Category: Art,Friends,Photos,Quotes About MJSeven @ 7:00 pm

Albert Watson photo that inspired the cover of 'Invincible'

According to Karen Faye, Michael’s make-up artist and hair stylist for several decades, this Albert Watson photo is what inspired the ‘Invincible‘ cover.

Karen says she had done Michael’s makeup and hair all in gold similar to the photo above for the photoshoot for the Invincible cover. But after Sony altered it, it looked nothing like they had intended. After someone located this photo, Karen tweeted:

Yes. That was the photo that inspired the shoot with Michael. You can see why MJ liked it.

What prompted the search for the photo was that she had shared previously, in response to another question:

The Invincible cover (the head shot) was retouched into something that was no where near the original photo shot by Albert Watson. I had painted Michael gold and he was wearing a hairpiece that was completely gold. I was very disappointed at what Sony did to the photo. The original photo was quite amazing.

She also added:

Photo shoots were always a collaboration by all the artists involved…all inspired by Michael. It was a magical event. The closest feeling I have had, to that “artistic happening”, since Michael has died, is when I work with David LaChapelle. You know you are a part of creating artistic history.

It must have been incredibly fascinating creating artistic history with Michael. I wonder where the original un-altered photo that Michael and Karen had worked on is located, and if we’ll ever see it. In my personal opinion, the cover of ‘Invincible‘ would have been much more interesting had Sony left the photo as intended. They should have left art to the artists, and simply done their bit to promote the work, instead.

As we know, below is what the cover instead ended up looking like. Not bad, but certainly not as rich and captivating as as it might have been if it had been left in its original, golden form.

 

Invincible Cover inspired by an Albert Watson photo, but altered by Sony such that it looked much different than intended.

Below, the uncropped Invincible cover. Imagine it golden like the first photo above.

Uncropped Invincible cover. Imagine it golden.

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{ Thanks as always to Karen Faye for generously sharing these priceless memories with us. -Seven }

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