My Surprise Secret Private Meeting with Michael Jackson


True Story: My Surprise Secret Private Meeting with Michael Jackson!

NOTICE: You're listening to Linda Roberts' first single song titled 'Top secret", available on iTunes keyword "Top Secret Linda Roberts". This song was inspired by Michael Jackson. Scroll down to see the video now playing on this page and or pause it if needed. Thank you for reading my story, Linda Roberts


It was a Thrilling Year 1983, late November, Thriller had hit the scene and slammed to #1 for over a year and Michael was on top of the world! I was singing in my band, "Double Vision" working the Florida local club scene. Being a Disney girl from way back, born and raised in Florida and worked at Disney World Magic Kingdom in the mid-1970's, I was extremely comfortable performing for the Florida crowd!

As many people had been, I too was a huge fan of Michael Jackson! I had been a fan since he (and I) were little children back in the days of the Jackson five. I had Jackson 5 & Michael Jackson Posters plastered all over my bedroom walls by the time I was in (I think) about 2nd grade! I watched their TV show, along with millions of others across the US and the world! We all watched Michael grow and develop, and become the powerful King of Pop! When he went solo, was about the time I was 19 and got into my first traveling band. I was very fortunate to be able to sing some of Michaels songs and learn more about his solo career, during my early band days. My thoughts and attitude about Michael had change from School Girl crush, to legitimate colleague in the industry (on a smaller scale than him, but none the less), I was in the same industry and had hopes to cross paths with him someday!!

So back to 1983, when I had the surprise and best day of my life! Michael Jackson was always in Love with Disney World (as am I) and when the Royal Plaza Hotel in Lake Buena Vista Florida opened, Michael had a suite designed in the penthouse where he displayed all of his Grammy's and Awards and costumes, etc... in the suite. Now this suite is not just for Michael, other people could pay (a very large nightly cost) to stay in the Michael Jackson Suite at the Royal Plaza. The deal Michael made with Disney was that he would store his awards there in the suite if he could come and stay anytime he wanted. Of course Disney agreed!

The Royal Plaza had a small nightclub called "The Giraffe", I believe the Giraffe is still there only now-a-days it's a cafe. Well, the Giraffe brought in Local bands to play 5 sets a night 6 nights a week and it was a real hotspot for the local Kissimmee crowd back then. My Top-40 band was fortunate enough to have a local agent who booked The Giraffe and so he booked us in there late November 1983. We had a 2 week engagement. At that time I was not aware of the plans for the Michael Jackson suite to open at the end of that year, and had no idea that Michael himself would be there.

My band and I spent hours each day in the Lounge rehearsing new songs, and of course Michael had so many chart toppers at that time, that many of the songs on our set list were Michael's songs! My birthday just so happened to be occurring during our gig at The Giraffe and so my band guys had some fun plans and presents for my birthday. I was turning "22" and my birthday falls on the 11/22, and the year was 83 (in numerology equals 11), so it was a very magical birthday. And I was performing at Disney's Royal Plaza hotel in the Giraffe so it was all very magical! I had no idea just how magical it would all turn out! I'm so thankful for the meeting and feel very fortunate and honored that the universe allowed Michael and I to meet!

We arrived at "The Giraffe" early, as usual, to get setup and warmed up before the 9:00pm 1st set. It was a Tuesday night, so the club was not too busy (yet). My band had some fun presents for me, and started the alcohol flowing as well, to kick off my Birthday celebration. Now, I don't drink at all these days (I actually developed a toxic allergy to alcohol in 1988), but back then touring with bands, gigging nightclubs, and partying until dawn, I drank my share of cocktails and shooters.

I had been of legal age for only a couple of years, and in bands for only a couple of years, so this entire scene was so new and fresh to me, I was naive and very easily influenced.... The 1st set began and my band had bought me this incredible percussion tree filled with cowbells, chimes, clackers, and a new tambourine, so I was in my glory!! The first set went great and the crowd was starting to fill up the place. We ended the set and went off stage for a 15 minute break. Of course many of my family and friends had come in to celebrate with me so the party had started!

We downed a shot and got back on stage. This was my favorite set because I got to sing "Wanna be Starting Somethin' Michael's hit song on the Thriller album! Yes, this was the days when vinyl records and cassette tapes were still being used, CD's did not come out for another few years. So, we broke into the song "Starting Something" and the crowd packed the dance floor! We jammed it long and hard and I really sang my heart out that night. I must have because on the next break, a waiter from the El Sid restaurant next door came through the backstage section to the side of the backstage area and gave me a message...

It was from Michael!!!! He had this little piece of paper (like the back of an order ticket) and Michael had written "I love how you sang my song, "Wanna be starting somethin'"!! MJ". The waiter told me it was a huge secret that Michael was there so not to announce it or tell anyone (except maybe my band if they could keep it secret). Of course I told my band, and my Mom (who was there), but no one else. I was ecstatic!! I was on cloud nine, Michael Jackson had just told me he loved the way I sang his song!!! Nothing else mattered, I was living a dream!!

I asked the waiter about Michael being next door and he said that Michael was staying in his New Suite there at the hotel and he had slipped down a back elevator at 10:00pm when the restaurant closed. He told me that they had prepared Michael a very special vegetarian meal, and that Michael was ready to leave, but stayed a bit longer when he heard me singing his song! Then he left after writing this little message and asking the waiter to deliver it to me. I was just, well you can imagine, there are no words to describe how I felt!!....

True Story: My Surprise Private Secret Meeting with Michael Jackson

So, of course, it's my birthday, I had a few drinks in me, and I had just received a message from my Idol, and the next set is starting! I sang like I'd never sang before, the entire set, my feet were off the ground and I was floating on cloud nine! The next break (3rd), this tall handsome young man (maybe 25 to 30's) was in the club near the end of the bar closest to the stage. He was very tall (I'm petite 5 foot tall, so everyone's tall to me), he was taller than most, his head stuck out above the crowd it seemed. He had blonde hair if I remember correctly, and he came up to me on the next break and introduced himself. "Hi, I'm Angus, can I buy you a birthday drink?" he said. "Well, sure!", I said "Thanks!".

He bought me an exotic shot I had never heard of before, and then another. Before I knew it, this guy had tossed 3 shots down my belly and I was getting very drunk! I had 2 more sets to do, and wow, I was having too much fun! I got back on stage after the fifteen minute, drunk break, and sang and danced like I'd never, again! I was just in the zone, and of course everyone in the crowd always requested Michael Jackson songs, so I sang more of his songs throughout the night!

When you sing a 45 minute set, you use a lot of energy and sweat a lot due to the hot lights on the stage. So, it usually would help me to sober up a bit. The bad thing is, everyone by that time was sending shots up to the stage during our set, as well as Angus sending his exotic shots up, so I did not get the chance to work off any of the alcohol, and I was lit! The last break before the final set, was more drinking and a potty break, then right back on stage for the final set! And oh the drinks were rolling, people always buy tons of drinks before last call, and tonight was even worse.

Angus, the mysterious guy who was buying me more drinks than my little body could handle, seemed innocent and just wanting to party and get to know me. I was used to this, being the lead singer in the band, people (especially men) always wanted to get to know me and buy me drinks. I never even considered, all night long, that he was in Michael's entourage.

So the night was finally over, and OMG, I am too drunk! I had fun and the night was incredibly magical, but now it was over. Angus, came up to me and asked me what I was doing after work. Well, of course I got asked that a lot too by wanting men. So, I told him, "Well, after wearing high heels all night, I'm going to go and put my feet in the Jacuzzi after I say good night to everyone and change my clothes.". He asked me if he could hang out and talk with me while I did that, and to be nice I said ok, but only for a short while. If I only knew what was to come next!!!

Oh God, why wasn't I smarter then, why did I drink so much, UGH! It was my birthday, and well, I was partying! But, what happened in the end, it was all planned and I did not know it at all. So, I got finished saying goodnight to all my friends and family, the band was finishing up with their friends and packing gear up, etc... So I went to the ladies room to change into my jeans so I could go out to the pool area where there were several hot tubs that I would soak my aching feet in after work, before heading back to the band house that my band and I were put up in by the Royal Plaza.

Michael Jackson True StoryAs I came out of the ladies room, there was Angus waiting for me. By this time it is about 3:00am in the morning and I'm seeing double vision (the name of my band but no pun intended and it was not the band I was seeing). I bopped out and saw Angus and said "Come on, let's go!!" and he followed me out the side door to the pool area. If you knew me, you'd know that I talk a lot (I'm a vocalist, what can I say). So I'm babbling to Angus, and he says, "Hey, wait, before you go to the hot tub, come over here, there's someone over here who wants to meet you!". And once again, I'm so naive, it did not dawn on me that I was getting ready to meet Michael Jackson. I thought maybe one of Angus' friends was over there or something, and so we veered over to the last hot tub at the end of the row of hot tubs, back in a private alcove in the back corner of the pool area.

As I turned the corner into the alcove, keep in mind I'm still very drunk and happy from the great night, I see Michael Jackson in the hot tub. In the Hot Tub, with only shorts on!! I had this instant incredible rush of excitement come over me and without thinking and before I knew it, I was in the hot tub with Michael (in my jeans and all)!! Oh, I am still to this day, so embarrassed and upset at myself about this!! If Angus had not bought me all those drinks, and had I been smart enough not to drink them all, I would have never done that!! I scared Michael!!! And the instant I was in the water, I sobered up a bit and said emphatically to Michael "I am sooo sorry!, It's my birthday and everyone bought me too many drinks, I'm so sorry please don't let me scare you!" and I got out of the water. Again I said" Oh Michael, I'm so sorry to scare you!! I didn't mean to, I Love You!" and he said "I Love you more!"

I must have looked like a drowned rat! Michael, was so quiet and shy, he looked like a young boy of about 13 years old, even though he was 25 at this time. His long ringlet curls were dangling in the water, and he had no makeup on, and he was, well the way he looked on the Thriller album, very very handsome! In my opinion, he was the most handsome, talented man on the planet and I had just made a big fool of myself! I was so sorry, and he said "It's ok, I understand, it's your Birthday" "Happy Birthday, Linda" very quietly. He spoke in almost a whisper, it was so faint. He was there with two bodyguard guys and he motioned to one to come over to him. He said very quietly, "Please have some dry clothes sent down for her from my suite."

Angus was still there, standing off to the side, not saying a word. He knew all night that Michael wanted to meet me and had planned to, but never told me. Instead of telling me, he kept it a surprise and he got me so drunk, now it seems on purpose, that he was intentionally sabotaging me so I would not impress Michael. Michael was so amazingly sweet and kind, he did not actually seem to be offended by my actions. He was just apprehensive because he did not know what to expect from me once I was in the water with him.

So, Michael says "Wait, I'll have some dry clothes for you in a minute". As if I was going to leave! I never wanted to be apart from him, I just wanted to stay near him. His presence was so powerful and radiating. Like a warm summer breeze in a field of wild flowers! I then said, "Oh gosh thank you, that's ok, please don't go to any trouble." He said, "It's no trouble, I don't want you to catch a cold.". What a thoughtful guy, this megastar who doesn't know me other than I jumped in a hot tub with him (fully clothed) and he was worried that I'd catch cold!

One other thing about me, I am not an autograph hound. I feel like stars like Michael are so hammered for their autograph all the time, that I don't want to bother about an autograph. But because, I knew my Mother was a big MJ fan as well, I decided to ask Michael for his autograph for my Mother. Of course, out at a hot tub, no one had any paper, but I had a dollar bill and a pen in my purse, so I gave it to him and he signed the dollar bill for my Mom. She was ecstatic the next day when I gave it to her!!

The guy with the dry clothes got there and handed them to me. A Mickey Mouse Towel, a pair of grey Mickey Mouse sweat pants and Mickey Mouse sweat shirt. I didn't leave to go and put them on, I just stayed wet and wrapped the sweat shirt around my shoulders. I didn't want to part from Michael Jackson any sooner than I had to. Oddly enough, nobody in the area had a camera! This must have been one of the only times in Michael's life that there were no camera's around and he probably loved it, but what I would have done for a camera. I remember saying at one point, "Oh, I wish I had my camera!!".

As you realize, this occurred 26 years ago, and as I indicated, I was very drunk. It's not strange, but it is strange, that I cannot remember another thing. Not just about this night, but about the entire rest of the week. I don't remember going home that night, I don't know how I got home. I don't remember performing the rest of the gig at the Giraffe. My mind is so blank, I don't remember much at all from the time while I was still with Michael, until about a week later, when I start remembering my life again.

It's as if my memory has been removed, what happened next is a complete mystery to me. It's as if time stopped or changed or didn't exist. You would think, how could anyone forget part of what occurred during their meeting with Michael Jackson. And I wonder the same thing. How could I possibly not know what happened?

I know that my Mom was excited with her Dollar bill signed by Michael Jackson. I gave it to her, but I honestly don't remember giving it to her. Not only that, but I never really talked about it much to anyone. I don't even remember telling my band that I met him and got in the hot tub with him. I'm sure I did, but I don't remember doing it. And also, it has taken me 26 years to reflect on this amazing meeting with Michael. I was on the road for about 15 years, and never even thought about my meeting with him much!! Why not? I can't explain it, it doesn't make any sense to me at all.

Now, after all this time, the day he died has brought the memory of the meeting to the surface and I can't stop thinking about it because the way I got to meet him and because of the memory loss I am still experiencing. I have done some research and found that I am not the only girl who Michael tried to be friends with, that his entourage sabotaged one way or another. I guess everyone around him did everything they could to keep him single. It was probably what they thought was best for PR and his career. But he was very lonely and wanted friends, I feel so sorry for him that they kept him so alone. And he probably never even realized how many times his people around him pushed girls, friends of all kinds, away from getting too close to Michael...

More to come...

Jan. 2010 UPDATE: The death of Michael Jackson has been so hard for me to think about or talk about! When Michael Jackson passed over to the afterlife, heaven, it affected us all in different ways!! We are all sad, that's one thing we all have in common. But for some of us, there's a much more life enriching experience going on. Michael is inspiring us, even after his human life has ended!!

I am an entertainer singer/songwriter. I have worked with bands and shows since I was a teenager and have always loved all of Michael's music and been very inspired by it. This time, I am more inspired by Michael than just his music. I have been writing songs like a crazy person, over 100 songs in less than a month and I am exuberated!! I have written some that are fantastic, I hope everyone else will feel the same way!!

Everyday, I hear more songs in my head and have tons of little papers with lyrics on them springing up all over my house!!! I have never written like this before, AND I'm not a fluent musician on any one instrument but am writing ALL of the music as well as the lyrics!! WOW, I feel like I'm being touched by an angel, an angel named Michael Jackson!!

Is anyone else out there feeling like Michael is reaching out to you from beyond? I can't express how enriched and happy I feel, all the time! I was extremely sad and cried a lot when he first passed, but the songs started flowing in me right away and the tears and sadness had to go!!

About 1 month before he passed away, Michael came to me in a dream and asked me to play with him. He was in a long dark wide wooden hallway, I guess in Neverland. As I walked down the long dark hallway, he kept saying won't you play with me Linda, and I kept saying yes oh yes Michael, I'd love to play with you what do you want to play? He said "anything you want, let's just play together! Do you like it here?". As I got closer, he seemed, I hate to say it, but scary to me. He was sitting on the floor with his hat on and his face turned downward. I Love him, so I'm not sure why I got scared but I told him "But you're scaring me Michael" and he put his head down and said I know, I'm sorry. I was sad in the dream and scared for some reason and he said, it's because I'm trapped and it scares me too. I love it here, but I love it there too! Then He said "Don't be scared, we can always play here and never get hurt!" And always go back. I didn't know what he meant and I started to cry... I'm trying to remember what happened next I just can't remember (maybe I will soon), but finally I woke up I guess. The next time I heard about him 1 month later he had died (and I'm crying now as I write this).

I'm glad Michael is no longer trapped (in whatever it is he meant, maybe his drug addiction or his fame also trapped him), but I miss him terribly and wish he was still here with us to sing and dance (even if only for his children). But since he's in heaven now, he may be able to do more than he could ever do on Earth, even though he did so much to inspire us and make us question life and the way we live it. He loved all of us and our glorious Earth full of Animals!! Let's make him proud and take care of the animals, the planet and ourselves!

I would love to hear comments from others. Please share your stories and thoughts with me on my youtube channel .

May 2011 UPDATE:
It's been years since Michael's passing. This is my first music video "Top Secret"! Michael is guiding me from the other side, I feel. This is one of over 100 songs I wrote the month after Michael passed away... He actually came to me in a dream 1 month before he passed away, and now I realize what he wanted to play, "Let's play make some music together"! That was what he loved to do and play!! I have written so many songs since he passed away and am on the verge of neglecting my work (that pays the bills) for the songs. I am so inspired and want to share this music with the world! I am still remembering sketches of the dream and have been so touched!!
I'll be releasing more of them as soon as I can afford to finish recording and making videos for them all. I have this first song on iTunes now, "Top Secret by Linda Roberts". If you like the song, please buy it (only $1) and become a part of my global recording company to help me finish my first album inspired and guided by Michael jackson!!

New music video Featured today on youtube:


About Me: I am an entertainer, singer, and producer. I also run a web design firm and have a marketing company. I've been in the presence of many "Stars" in the entertainment business, but none to compare to Michael Jackson, whom I met in 1983. As all of us fans and colleagues know, he was, is, and always will be the most talented, tolerable, loving human being who ever lived on the planet Earth. I am yet another human who was touched so deeply by Michael, to my very soul, and influenced by his music and his greatness, that I will never, ever forget how he helped shape me to be who I am today! God Bless you Michael, may you rest in PEACE!

I have also had the amazing pleasure of meeting Steven Tyler and Aerosmith AND I wrote a screenplay for them. It's called "Pandora's Box The Screenplay" and you can find out more about it at my website for it. I have not worked on it in a long time. When I gave the synopsis of the screenplay to Steven Tyler in 1994 he called me and said "I Love this, it's exactly what we've been looking for, but..." "We're going out of our Geffen contract and into our Sony contract and so things are booked solid for the next 10 years!! I'll send it to my people and see what happens". And that was the last I heard. Of course I own the copyright, so maybe now that they're OLD MEN and things are maybe slower for them than they were back then, maybe Steven will have a flashback and remember "Pandora's Box The Screenplay" and realize how it would be the Movie of the century! And they even already have some aspects in their videos over the years that could be magically incorporated into the movie; Like Joe Perry is a Centaur in one of the last scenes in "Pandora's Box The Screenplay" and when they made Pink in 1997, Guess who plays his guitar solo as a centaur!! You guessed it Joe Perry. Then in other videos are other little aspects like that, so the movie could be made with the magic of computers and technology and material already filmed as well as new material, it could be a marketing dream come true!

Linda Roberts, published to the web July 5th, 2009 - I have many friends I made all over the USA and world while I was traveling with bands for 15 years. If you know me and would like to contact me, please visit my Youtube Channel, where you can watch a selection of my Live Performance videos of me singing on the road with bands in Gigs like Ceasars in Atlantic City, a Cruise Ship, Night clubs and more, and contact me and become my friend (again)!! Check it out here: Linda's Youtube Channel. If you like the way I designed this website and graphics and would like a website designed by me or if you would just like to ask a question or give me some feedback, please contact me directly here: Email Linda Directly.

Updates will be performed as I remember more about the story! And as I continue to release more of the songs Michael is influencing me to record. I am currently at work on one that hopefully will blow everyone away and make Michael proud, and it's scary just like he liked! Stay tuned folks!

By the way, if you'd like to hear my next song, inspired directly by Michael Jackson, please buy my current MP3 single "Top Secret" at keyword "Top Secret Linda Roberts", to help me fund my upcoming recording and video taping sessions. Unfortunately, I'm not rich like Michael, so all these inspirations and visions I'm getting about my music videos are very costly. I need the funds to produce this work and currently am a struggling artist with a day job (web programming and marketing). Check out my music website if you'd like:

IT'S THE FULL VERSION OF: Michael Jackson's "Ghosts" 35 mins.
It's a movie with a powerful message (Take it full screen for best viewing!)!

Watch the making of Ghosts below:

And this one!! If you have not seen it you really must see it now!! Michael Jackson's SCREAM! will really grab you! It's about 6 minutes and wow is it a powerful 6 minutes! Enjoy!





Michael Jackson     

  Michael Jackson was unquestionably the biggest pop star of the '80s, and certainly one of the most popular recording artists of all time. In his prime, Jackson was an unstoppable juggernaut, possessed of all the tools to dominate the charts seemingly at will: an instantly identifiable voice, eye-popping dance moves, stunning musical versatility, and loads of sheer star power. His 1982 blockbuster Thriller became the biggest-selling album of all time (probably his best-known accomplishment), and he was the first black artist to find stardom on MTV, breaking down innumerable boundaries both for his race and for music video as an art form.  Yet as Jackson's career began, very gradually, to descend from the dizzying heights of his peak years, most of the media's attention focused on his increasingly bizarre eccentricities; he was often depicted as an arrested man-child, completely sheltered from adult reality by a life spent in show business. The snickering turned to scandal in 1993,...

  Michael Jackson was unquestionably the biggest pop star of the '80s, and certainly one of the most popular recording artists of all time. In his prime, Jackson was an unstoppable juggernaut, possessed of all the tools to dominate the charts seemingly at will: an instantly identifiable voice, eye-popping dance moves, stunning musical versatility, and loads of sheer star power. His 1982 blockbuster Thriller became the biggest-selling album of all time (probably his best-known accomplishment), and he was the first black artist to find stardom on MTV, breaking down innumerable boundaries both for his race and for music video as an art form.  Yet as Jackson's career began, very gradually, to descend from the dizzying heights of his peak years, most of the media's attention focused on his increasingly bizarre eccentricities; he was often depicted as an arrested man-child, completely sheltered from adult reality by a life spent in show business. The snickering turned to scandal in 1993, when Jackson was accused of molesting a 13-year-old boy; although he categorically denied the charges, his out-of-court settlement failed to restore his tarnished image. He never quite escaped the stigma of those allegations, and while he continued to sell records at superstar-like levels, he didn't release them with enough frequency (or, many critics thought, inspiration) to once again become better known for his music than his private life. Whether as a pop icon or a tabloid caricature, Jackson always remained bigger than life.

Michael Joseph Jackson was born August 29, 1958, in Gary, IN. The fifth son of steelworker Joe Jackson, Michael displayed a talent for music and dance from an extremely young age. His childhood was strictly regimented; from the start, he was to an extent sheltered from the outside world by his mother's Jehovah's Witness faith, and his father was by all accounts an often ill-tempered disciplinarian. Joe began to organize a family musical group around his three eldest sons in 1962, and Michael joined them the following year, quickly establishing himself as a dynamic stage performer. His dead-on mastery of James Brown's dance moves and soulful, mature-beyond-his-years vocals made him a natural focal point, especially given his incredibly young age. Dubbed the Jackson 5, the group signed to Motown in 1968 and issued their debut single in October 1969, when Michael was just 11 years old. "I Want You Back," "ABC," "The Love You Save," and "I'll Be There" all hit number one in 1970, making the Jackson 5 the first group in pop history to have their first four singles top the charts. Motown began priming Michael for a solo career in 1971, and his first single, "Got to Be There," was issued toward the end of the year; it hit the Top Five, as did the follow-up, a cover of Bobby Day's "Rockin' Robin." Later in 1972, Jackson had his first number one solo single, "Ben," the title song from a children's thriller about a young boy who befriends Ben, the highly intelligent leader of a gang of homicidal rats. Given the subject matter, the song was surprisingly sincere and sentimental, and even earned an Oscar nomination. However, the momentum of Jackson's solo career (much like that of the Jackson 5) soon stalled. He released his fourth and final album on Motown in 1975, and the following year, he and his brothers (save Jermaine) signed to Epic and became the Jacksons.

In 1977, Jackson landed a starring role alongside Diana Ross in the all-black film musical The Wiz, a retelling of The Wizard of Oz; here he met producer/composer Quincy Jones for the first time. Encouraged by the success of the Jacksons' self-produced, mostly self-written 1978 album Destiny, Jackson elected to resume his solo career when his management contract with his father expired shortly thereafter. With Jones producing, Jackson recorded his first solo album as an adult, Off the Wall. An immaculately crafted set of funky disco-pop, smooth soul, and lush, sentimental pop ballads, Off the Wall made Jackson a star all over again. It produced four Top Ten singles, including the number one hits "Don't Stop 'til You Get Enough" and "Rock With You," and went platinum (it went on to sell over seven million copies); even so, Jackson remained loyal to his brothers and stayed with the group.

No group could have contained Jackson's rapidly rising star for long; however, there was still no sign (if there ever could be) that his next album would become the biggest in history. Released in 1982, the Quincy Jones-produced Thriller refined the strengths of Off the Wall; the dance and rock tracks were more driving, the pop tunes and ballads softer and more soulful, and all of it was recognizably Michael. Jackson brought in Paul McCartney for a duet, guitarist Eddie Van Halen for a jaw-dropping solo, and Vincent Price for a creepy recitation. It was no surprise that Thriller was a hit; what was a surprise was its staying power. Jackson's duet with McCartney, "The Girl Is Mine," was a natural single choice, and it peaked at number two; then "Billie Jean" and the Van Halen track "Beat It" both hit number one, for seven and three weeks respectively. Those latter two songs, as well as the future Top Five title track, had one important feature in common: Jackson supported them with elaborately conceived video clips that revolutionized the way music videos were made. Jackson treated them as song-length movies with structured narratives: "Billie Jean" set the song's tale of a paternity suit in a nightmarish dream world where Jackson was a solitary, sometimes invisible presence; the anti-gang-violence "Beat It" became an homage to West Side Story; and the ten-minute-plus clip for "Thriller" (routinely selected as the best video of all time) featured Jackson leading a dance troupe of rotting zombies, with loads of horror-film makeup and effects. Having never really accepted black artists in the past, MTV played the clips to death, garnering massive publicity for Jackson and droves of viewers for the fledgling cable network. Jackson sealed his own phenomenon by debuting his signature "moonwalk" dance step on May 16, 1983, on Motown's televised 25th anniversary special; though he didn't invent the moonwalk (as he himself was quick to point out), it became as much of a Jackson signature as his vocal hiccups or single white-sequined glove.

Showing no signs of slowing down, Thriller just kept spinning off singles, including "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'," the airy ballad "Human Nature," and "P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)"; in all, seven of its nine tracks wound up in the Top Ten, obliterating conventional ideas of how many singles could be released from an album before it ran its course. Thriller stayed on the charts for over two years, spent 37 nonconsecutive weeks at number one, and became the best-selling album of all time; it went on to sell 25 million copies in the U.S. alone, and around another 20 million overseas. Naturally, Jackson won a slew of awards, including a record eight Grammys in one night, and snagged the largest endorsement deal ever when he became a spokesman for Pepsi (he would later be burned in an accident while filming a commercial). At the end of 1983, Jackson was again on top of the singles charts, this time as part of a second duet with McCartney, "Say Say Say." In 1984, Jackson rejoined his brothers one last time for the album Victory, whose supporting tour was one of the biggest (and priciest) of the year. The following year, he and Lionel Richie co-wrote the anthemic "We Are the World" for the all-star famine-relief effort USA for Africa; it became one of the fastest-selling singles ever.

Even at this early stage, wild rumors about Jackson's private life were swirling. His shyness and reluctance to grant interviews (ironically, due in part to his concerns about being misrepresented) only encouraged more speculation. Some pointed to his soft-spoken, still girlish voice as evidence that he'd undergone hormone treatments to preserve the high, flexible range of his youth; stories were told about Jackson sleeping in a hyperbaric chamber to slow the aging process, and purchasing the skeleton of John Merrick, the Elephant Man (Jackson did view the bones in the London Hospital, but did not buy them). Jackson bought a large ranch in California which he dubbed Neverland, and filled it with amusement park rides and animals (including the notorious pet chimpanzee Bubbles), which only fueled the public's perception of him as a somewhat bizarre eccentric obsessed with recapturing his childhood. He also underwent cosmetic surgery several times, which led to accusations from the black community that his gradually lightening skin tone was the result of an intentional effort to become whiter; a few years later, Jackson revealed that he had a disorder called vitiligo, in which pigment disappears from the skin, leaving large white blotches and making direct sunlight dangerous. One of the rumors that was definitely true was that Jackson owned the rights to the Beatles' catalog; in 1985, he acquired ATV Publishing, the firm that controlled all the Lennon-McCartney copyrights (among others), which wound up costing him his friendship with McCartney.

During his long layoff between records, Jackson indulged his interest in film and video by working with George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola on the 3-D short film Captain Eo. The special-effects extravaganza was shown at the enormous widescreen IMAX theaters in Disney's amusement parks for 12 years, beginning in 1986. Finally, Jackson re-entered the studio with Quincy Jones to begin the near-impossible task of crafting a follow-up to Thriller. Bad was released to enormous public anticipation in 1987, and was accompanied by equally enormous publicity. It debuted at number one, and the first single, "I Just Can't Stop Loving You," with vocal accompaniment by Siedah Garrett, also shot up the charts to number one. Like Thriller, Bad continued to spin off singles for well over a year after its release, and became the first album ever to produce five number one hits; the others were "Bad," "The Way You Make Me Feel," "Man in the Mirror," and "Dirty Diana." Jackson supported the album with a lengthy world tour that featured a typically spectacular, elaborate stage show; it became the highest-grossing tour of all time. Although Jackson's success was still staggering, there were faint undercurrents of disappointment, partly because of the unparalleled phenomenon of Thriller (Bad "only" sold eight million copies), and partly because the album itself didn't seem quite as exuberant or uniformly consistent when compared to its predecessors.

Jackson took another long hiatus between albums, giving the media little to focus on besides his numerous eccentricities; by this time, the British tabloids delighted in calling him "Wacko Jacko," a name he detested. When Jackson returned in with a new album in late 1991, he'd come up with a different moniker: "the King of Pop." Dangerous found Jackson ending his collaboration with Quincy Jones in an effort to update his sound; accordingly, many of the tracks were helmed by the groundbreaking new jack swing producer Teddy Riley. As expected, the album debuted at number one, and its lead single, "Black or White," shot to the top as well. Jackson courted controversy with the song's video, however; after the song itself ended, there was a long dance sequence in which Jackson shouted, grabbed his crotch, and smashed car windows in a bizarre display that seemed at odds with the song's harmonious message. With the video given a high-profile, prime-time network premiere, Jackson was criticized for the inappropriate violence and the message it might send to his younger fans. However, Jackson would not be the biggest story in popular music for long. In early 1992, Nirvana's Nevermind symbolically knocked Dangerous out of the number one spot; after the alternative rock revolution, the pop charts would never be quite the same. Jackson scored several more hits off the album, including the Top Tens "Remember the Time" and "In the Closet," but the aggressive "Jam" and the saccharine "Heal the World" both performed disappointingly.

Jackson had long preferred the company of children over other adults, and befriended quite a few, inviting them to stay at his Neverland Ranch and enjoy the massive playground he'd assembled over the years. In 1993, Jackson was accused of molesting a 13-year-old boy who'd become a frequent guest at Neverland. Predictably, there was a tabloid feeding frenzy, and a mainstream media circus as well. In the court of public opinion, the charges seemed all too plausible: Jackson was near-universally perceived as a weirdo, and here was a handy explanation for his heretofore asexual persona and distaste for adult companions. Additionally, Jackson entered rehab for a short time, seeking treatment for an addiction to pain killers. Investigations were unsuccessful in turning up any other boys who echoed the allegations, and Jackson countersued his accusers for attempting extortion; however, in spite of the fact that no criminal charges were ever filed against Jackson, he settled the boy's family's suit out of court in early 1995, paying an estimated 18 to 20 million dollars. Many felt the settlement was tantamount to an admission of guilt, and when Jackson married Lisa Marie Presley in 1994, the move was perceived as a desperate ploy to rehabilitate his image; the marriage broke up just 19 months later, seemingly lending credence to the charge.

In 1995, Jackson attempted to put the focus back on his music by preparing HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book 1, a two-CD set featuring one disc of new material and one of his greatest hits. The album debuted at number one, but the format backfired on Jackson: his fans already owned the hits, and the new album simply wasn't strong enough to offset the added cost of the extra disc for many more casual listeners. There were some encouraging signs -- the lead single "Scream," a duet with sister Janet, debuted at number five, setting a new American chart record that was broken when the follow-up, "You Are Not Alone," became the first single ever to enter the Billboard Hot 100 at number one. But on the whole, HIStory was something of a disappointment. Additionally, Jackson collapsed during rehearsals for an awards show later that year, and had to be rushed to the hospital; what was more, the Eagles' Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975) was threatening to catch Thriller's American sales record (it eventually did, and the two continued to run neck and neck). There were signs that Jackson was grasping at his self-proclaimed King of Pop status; the cover of HIStory depicted an enormous statue of Jackson, and he performed at the 1996 BRIT Awards dressed as a Messiah, with children and a rabbi surrounding him worshipfully (Pulp lead singer Jarvis Cocker stormed the stage to protest Jackson's hubris during the middle of the song). The 1997 remix album Blood on the Dance Floor failed to even go platinum, although remix albums historically don't perform nearly as well as new material.

In late 1996, Jackson remarried, to nurse Debbie Rowe; over the next two years, the couple had two children, son Prince Michael Jackson, Jr. and daughter Paris Michael Katherine Jackson. However, Jackson and Rowe divorced in late 1999. In 2001, Jackson was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and later held a massive concert at Madison Square Garden celebrating the 30th anniversary of his first solo record. Among many other celebrity guests, the show featured the first on-stage reunion of the Jacksons since the Victory tour. In the wake of September 11, Jackson put together an all-star charity benefit single, "What More Can I Give." His new album, Invincible, was released late in the year, marking the first time he'd issued a collection of entirely new material since Dangerous; it found him working heavily with urban soul production wizard Rodney Jerkins. Invincible debuted at number one and quickly went double platinum; however, its initial singles, "You Rock My World" and "Butterflies," had rather disappointing showings on the charts, with the latter not even reaching the Top Ten. To compound matters, the expensive "What More Can I Give" single and video were canceled by Sony when executive producer Marc Schaffel was revealed to work in pornography. Jackson's camp tried to distance the singer from Schaffel, and the various corporations that were attached to it (McDonalds, Sony) claimed they had minimal involvement if any with the song. Sony and Jackson began a press war in the summer of 2002, starting with Jackson's claims that the label asked for 200 million dollars to pay them back for marketing costs. Although they had spent 55 million on his disappointing comeback, Sony released a statement saying that no such request had ever been made. Jackson stewed for a few weeks before launching a press attack on Sony Music chairman Tommy Mottola, calling him "devilish" and making claims that he used racist language and held down black artists. Many Sony artists, including Mariah Carey and Ricky Martin, defended Mottola, but Jackson and his family maintained that racism ended their professional relationship.

From that point, Jackson's career took an extreme turn toward the bizarre, starting with MTV's annual Video Awards. When Britney Spears presented him with a birthday cake, an offhand remark about being the artist of the millennium inspired a rambling Jackson to accept a meaningless trophy (which everyone presenting on-stage received) as an actual Artist of the Millennium award. Next came accusations from a promotional company over his promises of a tour and several appearances that he then canceled. Jackson arrived in court late, gave a drowsy testimony, and inspired gasps when he removed a surgical mask to reveal his nose had caved in from a botched cosmetic surgery. Only days later, German fans were horrified when Jackson came to the balcony of his hotel suite and briefly dangled his 11-month old baby Prince Michael II (nicknamed "Blanket" by Jackson) over the edge with one arm. Although he apologized the next day, claiming he had gotten caught up in the moment, this only did more to cement the King of Pop's public image as an out-of-control millionaire. 2003 turned out to not be Jackson's year as in November his Neverland Ranch was extensively searched by police, whereby he was subsequently arrested on charges of child molestation. That same month the single disc retrospective Number Ones hit the stands with one new song, "One More Chance". A year later - nearly to the day - the four CD and one DVD box set The Ultimate Collection appeared with numerous rarities including the original demo for "We Are the World". In January 2005 his child molestation trial began and by May he was acquitted on all counts. Jackson soon relocated to the Persian Gulf island of Bahrain and began working on new music including a charity single that would benefit victims of Hurricane Katrina. The single never appeared but the two disc The Essential Michael Jackson did and in 2006 the strange box set Visionary was released featuring 20 DualDiscs replicating 20 big hit singles with their videos included on the DVD side. In early 2007 it was announced that a comeback album was planned for late in the year; the album never materialized.

While in the middle of rehearsing for a series of 50 comeback concerts scheduled for the summer of 2009, Michael Jackson collapsed from a cardiac arrest on the afternoon of June 25, 2009 at his rented mansion in Bellaire, Ca.. He was rushed to the UCLA Medical Center where he was pronounced dead at the age of 50.

~ Steve Huey, All Music Guide.
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 Michael left us at approx. Noon on June 25th, 2009 - Memorial Service at the Staples Center California July 8, 2009

Michael Jackson 1958-2009

God Bless You Michael, Peace!