Memories of Michael

Family, friends and colleagues on the King of Pop


Katherine Jackson

On her son, the child performer

"Every time I'd go to a concert I'd worry, because sometimes the girls would get on stage and I'd have to watch them tearing at Michael. He was so small, and they were so big."

Joe Jackson

On his ever-generous son

"He wasn't ever really interested in money. I'd give him his share of a night's earnings and the next day he'd buy ice cream or candy for all the kids in neighbourhood."

Quincy Jones

Who worked closely with Jackson on three of his best-selling albums, on how they teamed up

"I saw another kind of depth in Michael that was not obvious in his beautiful but bubble-gum music that he was doing at Motown. And I said to him one day, 'You got your producer. I'd like to take a shot.'"

Stevie Wonder

On the essence of his friend

"Michael's a natural. He's a very hard worker and a super performer. But most of all, he's a real human being."

Eddie Van Halen

On recording the guitar solo to 'Beat It'

"Michael said, 'I love that high fast stuff you do.' So I played two solos over it and said, 'You guys pick the one you want.' It was 20 minutes out of my day. I did it for free and later everybody was telling me, you could have got a royalty point out of that record."

Martin Scorsese

On directing one of his videos



"When we worked together on the video for 'Bad', I was in awe of his absolute mastery of movement on the one hand, and of the music on the other. Every step he took was absolutely precise and fluid at the same time. It was like watching quicksilver in motion."

Elizabeth Taylor

On his singularity

"What is a genius? What is a living legend? What is a megastar? Michael Jackson – that's all. And when you think you know him, he gives you more. I think he is one of the finest people to hit this planet and, in my estimation, he is the true King of Pop, Rock and Soul."

Reverend Al Sharpton

On his friend's influence

"We went back about 35 years. We've marched together, we've fought together. Michael Jackson made culture accept a person of colour way before Tiger Woods, way before Oprah Winfrey, way before Barack Obama. Michael did with music what they did in sports, in television, and in politics. No controversy will erase the historic impact."

Kenny Ortega

The friend who was directing Jackson's This Is It tour in London, on what he will miss

"This was the most exciting collaboration of my life with a man who has inspired me like no other. This was the world's greatest performer and the world will miss him."

Jennifer Batten

Michael Jackson's guitarist, on preparing for her first live tour with him

"I ended up with this mile-high mohawk for the first part of the tour. It took two and a half hours every night to get me looking like that."

Sidney Lumet

Film director, on a real one-off performer

"Michael Jackson is the most gifted entertainer to come down the pike since, I guess, James Dean. He's a brilliant actor and dancer, probably one of the rarest entertainers I have ever worked with. His talent is awesome."

Freddie Perren

Late member of the music production team known as The Corporation, and co-producer of The Jacksons' early hits, on a natural talent

"We were singing the song, and all the time I was showing it to him I was wondering, 'Can he reach those high notes?' Finally we took a try at it – and he just reached it first time, no effort at all."

James Earl Jones

The actor on Jackson's performances

"Michael Jackson has redefined the term professional entertainer."

Slash

Former Guns N' Roses guitarist on contributing a guitar solo to the song 'Black or White'

"I basically went in and started to play it — that was it. It was really spontaneous in that way. Michael just wanted whatever was in my style. He just wanted me to do that. No pressure. He was really in sync with me. I don't come from this heavy-metal school of guitar playing. All the stuff that I do or dig is from the same place that Michael Jackson comes from. We may go in separate directions or be on different sides of the fence, but when it comes down to it, it all comes from the same shit."

Jane Fonda

On Jackson's special friend

"I remember driving with him one day, and I said, 'God, Michael, I wish I could find a movie I could produce for you.' And suddenly I knew. I said, 'I know what you've got to do. It's Peter Pan.' Tears welled up in his eyes and he said, 'Why did you say that?' with this ferocity. I said, 'I realise you're Peter Pan.' And he started to cry and said, 'You know, all over the walls of my room are pictures of Peter Pan. I've read everything that [author J M] Barrie wrote. I totally identify with Peter Pan, the lost boy of Never Never Land."

Sheryl Crow

Former Jackson backing singer on his sense of innovation

"Every single night, he was unbelievable. You really got a sense of somebody whose creativity is just not definable. He was going out every night and doing dance moves that we had never seen before. He really changed things and came up with very original ideas. I give him a lot of credit for that."

Don Cornelius

'Soul Train' founder, on his lovability

"My first impression was that he was a genius and that he was so lovable as a person. If you were ever backstage with Michael and witnessed how other female singers, fellow recording artists and dancers lavished affection on him by hugging and kissing him you'd understand their reaction. Most kids would get tired of it but he never complained and seemed to enjoy it."

Lenny Henry

Comedian, on a phenomenon

"We're gonna miss you, Michael. We loved your strange, bony, talented, moonwalking, monkey-owning, amusement-park-livin', crotch-grabbin', high-voice-yelping, brilliant video-makin', Elizabeth Taylor-lovin', body-poppin', prodigiously talented, legendary ass."

Life of a legend

How a boy from Indiana became one of the world's biggest stars

1958 26 August: Michael Joseph Jackson born in Gary, Indiana

1963 Gives his first public performance aged five, singing "Climb Ev'ry Mountain"

1964 Joins his brothers in The Jackson 5. They sign to Motown in 1968

1975 The Jackson 5 leave Motown for Epic Records, renaming themselves The Jacksons for legal reasons

1979 Releases the solo album Off the Wall

1982 Releases Thriller, which went on to become the world's best-selling album, with an estimated 109 million copies sold

1983 Jackson performs live on the Motown 25th anniversary special, debuting his moonwalk

1984 While he is filming a Pepsi-Cola commercial, pyrotechnics accidentally set his hair on fire

1985 Jackson pays $47m for the publishing rights to The Beatles' back catalogue

1987 Releases Bad and buys the Neverland ranch

1991 Jackson renews his contract with Sony for $65m – a record-breaking deal at the time

1993 A 13-year-old boy, Jordan Chandler, claims Jackson sexually abused him during a visit to the star's ranch

1994 Marries Lisa Marie Presley, daughter of Elvis Presley. The marriage ends in divorce after only 19 months

1996 He marries for the second time to Debbie Rowe, an Australian-born nurse. They divorce three years later

2000 Listed in Guinness World Records for his support of 39 charities, more than any other entertainer or personality

2005 Acquitted of sexually molesting 12-year-old Gavin Arvizo

2009 25 June: dies after a heart attack in Los Angeles weeks before his London concerts

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