Michael Jackson "Unplugged": Would We Have Bought It?

guitarMore aptly, would we have been content with it? Would Michael have been content with it?

“Unplugged,” as I’m sure most of you know, was a very popular MTV show in the 90’s whose premise was to get big name rock stars to simply unplug from their amplifiers, sit on a stool with an acoustic guitar and prove to the world that they could perform just fine without all of the glitz, pomp, and circumstance. The show became immensely popular. The public loved the very intimate, coffeehouse feel of the performances. Of course, grunge rockers like Nirvana and Pearl Jam were a natural for this sort of thing, as were aged blues rockers like Eric Clapton. But Michael Jackson?

Okay, before I go any further, I had better explain where I’m going with this. A few weeks ago, the viewing of a recent performance by Burton Cummings of the Guess Who, sparked a conversation between Shane and I. Burton Cummings is 65 years old, a senior citizen by most standards. Yet he still managed to put on a very entertaining show, if albeit scaled back. Musical talent doesn’t abandon one just because we age. But sometimes, performers do have to make certain accomodations and readjustments. After all, the body simply can’t do certain things that it used to do, and a senior citizen can’t expect the same things from their bodies that they did at 25, or even 35-no matter how great physical shape they are in. Case in point: Madonna’s very sad and tired Superbowl performance. Sure, it got stupendous ratings because, well, it was Madonna. And granted, Madonna is in great shape for a fifty-four-year-old. But watching her do those cheerleader squats and seriously wondering if she would be able to spring up out of them was a painful experience-probably moreso for us, her original generation of fans, than for her. I actually found myself a bit embarrassed for her. Is this the woman I am always trying to convince youngsters could do circles around Lady Gaga and eat her for breakfast?

I have seen some amazing shows from performers who were over fifty. But I have also seen some very pathetic ones. And honestly, the most pathetic ones seem to be from aged performers who simply haven’t learned that they can’t do what they used to do. They haven’t learned how to make their shows “age appropriate” (for themselves, if not for us).

Of course, there are exceptions. A few years ago, after seeing that very ragged and pitiable “reunion” performance of Led Zeppelin, I had pretty much written them off as being ever capable of doing a great live show again. Robert Plant and Jimmy Page slagged through most of the numbers as if they were doing them in their sleep, and even sitting on a stool, Plant just sounded…tired, pathetic, and unable to hit the high notes anymore.

The Surviving Members of Led Zeppelin Reminded Me Of Elder Statesmen At The Kennedy Center Honors Ceremony
The Surviving Members of Led Zeppelin Reminded Me Of Elder Statesmen At The Kennedy Honors Ceremony

But their recent, astounding Kennedy Center Honors performances showed that it’s never too late to turn things around. Yes, they all looked like those white-haired, aged wizards and sages that used to simply illustrate their album covers. But they owned that stage, proving that you’re never too old to bring down the house. However, they pulled off that performance with the dignity and style of elder statesmen. They didn’t do as I’ve seen a lot of aged hair bands recently trying to do, still coming out in their full 80’s regalia, makeup and hair and looking…well, ridiculous. Like grandpas playing dress-up. It was an age appropriate performance, and that’s why it worked.

All of this brings me to Michael, and the pressure he was facing as a 50-year-old performer with 50 sold out shows facing him. As we saw from This Is It, Michael had no intention of slowing down. His plan was to come out and do everything full steam ahead, just as he had always done, and to basically give the same show he had always given-only with the intensified pressure of proving he could not only still do it, but could do it better, greater, and with more spectacle-more “Wow!”- than anyone else. In Michael’s case, he not only had the pressure he always put on himself from within, as the perfectionst performer he was, but the added pressure of having the whole world watching, expectantly, for any slip up; any hint that he was no longer capable of being, well, “Michael Jackson.” And let’s face it, he was right to be worried. One screw up; one cancelled show; one missed step; one embarrassing moment like the one that haunted Whitney Houston the last year of her life (when she stumbled through the high notes of “I Will Always Love You” ) and the critics would have raked him over the coals. They were only too anxious to do it. We knew it. And you’d better believe, Michael knew it, too. As did AEG. And perhaps with the AEG trial coming up, this is as good a time as any to address this issue.

He Was All Smiles Here...But Make No Mistake About It, Michael Was Under A LOT Of Pressure To Do Those Shows, And To Do Them Perfectly!
He Was All Smiles Here…But Make No Mistake About It, Michael Was Under A LOT Of Pressure To Do Those Shows, And To Do Them Perfectly!

No matter how we slice it, the truth is that Michael Jackson died due to the intense pressure brought upon him by these shows. He spent sleepless nights creating ideas, yes; but also worrying and stressing over his ability to do 50 shows. He was stressing over his ability to deliver the kind of non-stop, hour and a half spectacle of non-stop dancing, singing, and movement that we had come to expect-and demand-of him since he was five years old. That kind of performing-and work ethic-had been instilled in him from the time he was a small child. “Whatever you do, don’t stop moving!” Joe used to say. From his early days with the Jackson 5 on up to his last rehearsal performances for This Is It, choreography and movement had always been as big a part of Michael’s performances as singing. In fact, one could probably argue as to whether Michael was a dancer first and singer second, or vice versa. He was both, of course. And that’s why the idea of separating the one from the other would probably have seemed as foreign to Michael as to us.

As A Dancer, Michael Was Always Prone To Injuries. But the Fractures Seemed To Become More Frequent In His Last Decade.
As A Dancer, Michael Was Always Prone To Injuries. But the Fractures Seemed To Become More Frequent In His Last Decade.

But for great dancers and singers both, age does take a toll on the body. For singers, it becomes more challenging to hit certain notes, and health regimens such as not smoking, and keeping hydrated become even more crucial. For dancers, they must deal with the inevitable problems of weakened joints and more brittle bones. In his last decade, Michael had become increasingly prone to accidents and fractures while rehearsing. While Michael’s autopsy revealed that his organs were remarkably healthy for a man his age, he did suffer from arthritis, which no doubt would have made some of his more demanding dance moves quite painful. He had inflammation of the lungs, so shortness of breath would have been a factor. And even from a very young age, maintaining proper levels of hydration during performances had always been a problem for him. His flexibility and agility-qualities so important for a dancer-would have been adversely affected by age. For sure, Michael had many compensating qualities that would have gotten him through-his sheer energy and drive, and that impalpable magic quality that always touched everything he did. But for how long? And at what cost?

We all know that Michael would have cancelled shows before allowing an audience to see him in less than stellar shape to perform. For him, the only alternative to a great show was…no show. This, too, was part of the work ethic that had been instilled in him from childhood. Be the best, be the greatest; don’t settle for second best. Michael took much heat throughout the years for the increasing number of cancelled shows, but what many failed to recognize (including those disappointed fans) was that this was due to the intense pressure Michael felt to never give a second-rate show. Or even a show that would have been “okay” by anyone else’s standards.

The problem with many performers as they age is that sometimes, well, second best is as good as it’s going to get. But second best doesn’t have to mean second rate. It may mean, as I said before, that certain adjustments have to be made, and expectations lowered-that goes for us as well as them.

I’ve often said that Michael really didn’t have to beat himself up trying to do 50 shows just as he’d always performed his shows. Frankly, Michael could have sat on a stool, belted out “I’ll Be There” or a gospel, acoustic rendition of “Man In The Mirror” and we would have loved him just as much. In fact, some of Michael’s most powerful and memorable performances were those where all of the pomp and circumstance was stripped away, and he simply sang or performed. A good case in point is his Brunei performance of Earth Song, which is one of my favorite performances of this number. By that time, Earth Song had evolved into a huge performance showpiece, replete with rolling tanks onstage, a full back drop of video images, “villagers” in costume, and Michael being lifted onto a cherry picker for dazzling effect. For the Brunei performance, he had none of these tricks to fall back on. The performance is simply Michael, by himself, on a stage-and incidentally, one of the few times he sang this song live, with no backing track. In place of rolling tanks with soldiers popping out,  raised bridges, and all of the other theatrics that had become such an intrinsic part of this number, he was forced to simply ad lib much of the instrumental bridge section of the song. Yet this is precisely why this performance has the power that it does. This is Michael, the raw performer, digging deep within himself and connecting to that inner consciousness that he wrote about in “Dancing The Dream.”

[tube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KEGV8czGrq0[/tube]

When Michael was “on” (or “in his zone,” as some have referred to it) it was the most powerful thing to ever witness on a stage. And the beauty of it was that he needed no fancy tricks, no bells or whistles, to do it. He just needed a stage and a reason to be on it. Heck, he didn’t even need musicians…he could make his own music out of his head!

Or witness again that magical moment in This Is It when he sings I’ll Be There acapella. Or his raw, impromptu rendition of Billie Jean. For that matter, you can pretty much single out most any performance from This Is It as proof that Michael’s magic as a performer wasn’t reliant on the amount of theatrics or fancy dance moves he was able to bring to it. In fact, throughout most of This Is It, his dance moves are far from perfect (remember, this was rehearsal footage, and he was simply walking through a lot of it!). We see him stopping and starting; we see him playing around with silly moves like “The Penguin” (I still LOL at all of those who actually thought this was a brand new MJ dance move he planned to introduce); we see him executing some clumsy, less than smooth steps. Yet the critics were almost universal in their praise of this film, and how in their minds it reestablished Michael Jackson as a true performer. Why is that?

[tube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tJ-nbd3r3f4[/tube]

I think I can tell you why. Because it allowed the world to see, for perhaps the first time in many years, that Michael’s true talent as a performer wasn’t reliant on having tanks, fireworks, a full scale orchestra and lines of perfectly choreographed backup dancers. Go back to Motown 25. Some of Michael’s greatest moments onstage were when it was just him and a spotlight. That’s all that was ever needed. But somewhere along the way, he-or perhaps he along with all of us-lost touch with that fact.

 

So maybe as Michael aged, it might have eventually become just himself, a spotlight, a microphone, and maybe a stool on which to rest those wearied, deserving limbs that had given us so much throughout the years.  But I guarantee you, that’s all he would have needed to still blow many performers half his age off the stage. Age, after all, can shrink our bones and take the sping out of our step. But age can’t take away magic.

The big question, however, is: Would Michael have been content with that? And perhaps the even bigger question: Would we have been content with it? Would we have allowed Michael Jackson to age gracefully, with no further demands to moonwalk, or do that crazy en pointe thing just one more time?

From all indications, Michael was ready to retire from live performing. He wanted to move on and pursue other interests. That’s why he called these shows the “This Is It” tour. Of course, whether he would have stuck to that plan is something we’ll never know. Many performers “claim” they are doing their final tour, only to tour again…and again. Until the whole “this is it” thing really becomes a kind of joke. After all, the biggest selling point of every nostalgia act now is that this is “the last time he/she/they will ever tour.” Usually, we know better. Money is often a factor. But sometimes it may just be that…well, it’s hard to say good-bye to doing something you love, especially if that thing you love has been a part of your life for half a century.

14uxh0kSomehow I can’t imagine Michael ever not performing, or not wanting to sing again. And when I stop to think about it, there is really no reason why he should have had to ever give it up, no more than anyone should ever have to give up something they love. The problem is that he needed to get past the idea that his shows and his performances always had to be spectacles-the biggest and the best. And the world needed to let go of that expectation, as well. Deep down inside of Michael Jackson-the greatest live performer and entertainer of our time-was simply a little boy who had loved to sing. He loved it so much that it was he-not his parents, who insisted he was too young-who begged and pleaded to be part of his brothers’ singing group. He loved it so much that it was he, at five years old, who craftily volunteered to do his kindergarten talent show so that he could wow his parents with his ability, and convince them to let him front his brother’s group.

When I was in Gary this past August, we stood outside former Garnett Elementary, which is literally just a stone’s throw away (a few paces down the back alley) from the Jackson house. I thought of that performance, when 5-year-old Michael, with nothing but a piano accompaniment, stood stock still on a stage and brought his family members to tears with his rendition of “Climb Ev’ry Mountain.”

Ganett Elementary, Where Michael gave His First Public Performance
Garnett Elementary, Where Michael gave His First Public Performance

Fast forward a few years, and we have 14-year-old Michael giving this amazing performance of “Ben” at the 1973 Oscars-again, this is Michael raw, pure and unembellished.

[tube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T1dAQN5QcZU[/tube]

And let’s not forget how Michael managed to give one of his best performances when an ankle fracture forced him to perform Remember The Time sitting down!

[tube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=47JfN925ay0[/tube]

There are singers who simply love to sing, and musicians who simply love to jam. There are musicians who will often sit in on sessions, for no pay and no glory, simply for the love of making music with fellow musicians. There is all of that. And then there are PERFORMERS, which is a whole other breed. Michael Jackson was a performer, and had been for his entire life.  He loved singing and dancing, but he also thrived on the appreciation of an audience and the warmth of the spotlight. But I don’t doubt for a minute that he was still, deep down, that little boy who simply loved to sing. Many of his closest friends and those who worked for him have written about the sheer joy and privilege of just being able to listen through the walls and hear him singing to himself in the next room, as he went about some daily chore. There are stories of him during the time he was in Ireland, going into the local pubs, partaking in the local drinks, and joining the locals in song, or sitting in with whoever just happened to be playing in the club that night. What a rare and wonderful treat those people were privy to! One could only wish that someone had had the foresight to record some of those impromptu performances, but then, if they had, they probably would have lost much of their magic-for Michael and for those lucky enough to have witnessed them. Once again, what had been something merely fun and spontaneous would have become…well, performing again. For the judging eyes of the world.

Michael's House In Ireland. From All Accounts, It Was A Charmed And Laidback Life. He Was Said To Sometimes Join The Locals At The Pub, Where They Got A Rare Treat...Completely Impromptu Performances.
Michael’s House In Ireland. From All Accounts, It Was A Charmed And Laidback Life. He Was Said To Sometimes Join The Locals At The Pub, Where They Got A Rare Treat…Completely Impromptu Performances.

Who knows, maybe some of those impromptu performances weren’t even that good. Did it matter? Michael was simply having fun-something that his all too short and work-filled life had allowed precious little time for.

Had Michael continued performing into his 60’s and beyond, for sure some changes would have had to been made, and some expectations lowered. I can imagine he would have started to lean more heavily towards ballads and gospel numbers, and less on huge, theatrical spectacles like Earth Song (though he probably could have come up with inventive ways to perform it more low-key) and hard driving, choreograph-heavy numbers like Beat It and Thriller. Even stand-bys like Billie Jean would have probably become reinvented; perhaps with the tempo slowed down and no longer as reliant on all the dazzling spins and moonwalking. Then again, he may have eventually retired it from his reportoire altogether, preferring to keep that performance ever preserved in our memory as it was in its glory.

Mick Jagger Used To Say He Didn’t Want To Be Performing “Satisafction” At 50. These Days, He’s Still Performing It, While Pushing 70!

Mick Jagger used to say the worst thing he could envision was himself still performing “Satisafaction” at age fifty. Well, he’s now pushing 70 and, guess what? Yep, still performing “Satisfaction.” And, judging by some of the recent Stones performances I’ve seen via clips of the most recent tour, sounding pretty darn good doing it. The Stones are another band that, a year ago, I would have said needed to just retire gracefully while they’re ahead. But a recent performance I heard of “Gimme Shelter” with Mary J. Blige blew me away, and proved once again the folly of underestimating these artists. There is, after all, a good reason why most of the great artists of my generation have endured. Because they were great artists. And as Michael himself said, “Good art never dies.”

No, and nor does it ever grow old. It is ageless. But sometimes, it does have to slow down a little.

Michael died far too young. He died under the intense pressure of trying to prove to the world that he could still put on the same show he had put on at age twenty-five. The saddest part about it is-he didn’t have to. If only he could have lived to see the praise he got over a few hours’ worth of raw rehearsal footage! If only he could have allowed himself to see that his greatest gift to the world was just being himself, and that all he ever had to do for us was sing.

Were we too hard on Michael, or was he simply too hard on himself? And what part did the pressures of AEG play in all of this? These are not easy questions, and they have no easy answers. The upcoming trial may answer a few, but it won’t settle the question of whether, ultimately, Michael’s drive for perfection and the need to  always outdo himself played the ultimate hand. And what if he had told AEG, look, I’ll do these shows but I  just want to go out onstage, sit on a stool, and sing a few numbers? What do you think the reaction would have been? Not too happy, I would imagine.

For as long as he lived, Michael’s battle would have always been between being the performer he once was vs. the performer he was now capable of being. And I am not talking at age fifty, necessarily, because I believe that he still had it in him, for sure, and could have easily pulled off the “This Is It” shows…for a little while. But eventually, it would have caught up to him. And what then? Would the world have been content to lower its expectations for Michael Jackson? More importantly, would he have ever been content to lower them for himself? As someone who now knows what it is like to inhabit a fifty-year-old body, I can tell you exactly what Michael was going through. There are days when you still feel capable of taking on the whole world…and days when the world lands you flat on your ass, reminding you in the worst and most embarrassing ways possible that you are no longer sixteen, even if you still feel like that 16-year-old in every other way. The mirror reminds us otherwise, as does our bodies. I have only to look around, and see many of the friends I have grown up with who are either already dying out, or suffering the effects of arthritis, fibromyalgia, diabetes, heart and liver ailments, and so many of the other debilitating ailments that come with living in an ageing body.

As Stevie Nicks sang:

Well, I’ve been afraid of changing…
But time makes you bolder
Children get older
I’m getting older too
I’m getting older too

Even Prince (the singer) has had hip replacement surgery!

Michael was of our generation, too. Somehow, we could never envision him as growing old, which would imply the same mortality as the rest of us. We wanted to keep him forever young, forever moonwalking, forever “Bad,” so that a small part of ourselves could live on in perpetual immortality.

mj1996bruneitour9

It seemed to be what Michael wanted, too. At least to be able to give us that much.

We could say, he gave his life doing just that.

ETA: These are some great MJ acoustic performances suggested by sanemjfan!

[tube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UFbrq9OFQAM[/tube]

[tube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mdsb6zByWfY[/tube]

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xj9zz0_michael-jackson-be-not-always_music#.UT0BmM4o600 (Be Not Always-beautiful!)

http://vimeo.com/37094601 (She’s Out Of My Life)

 

93 thoughts on “Michael Jackson "Unplugged": Would We Have Bought It?”

  1. This is a great post Raven! It reminds me of the acoustic demo version of “She’s Out Of My Life”, which was included on the This Is It soundtrack. Just imagine if he sung an acoustic version of this song (and many, many others!) LIVE in an uplugged concert!!

    1. Thanks, sanemjfan! I love all of these performances. Be Not Always has always been an especial favorite of mine. This is exactly the sort of material that I could have seen him leaning more towards in his mature performances.

        1. I will add them today as soon as I get a chance!

          PS. I can only embed the YT videos. The others I will add the links to the post.

          1. Beautifully written article. I recently saw the Led Zeppelin video that was released several months ago of their 2007 performance. I’m not sure if that’s the video you are referencing, Raven, but I was pleasantly surprised how well they did. Of course I was immensely thankful they didn’t come out dressed as they were in the 70’s. That would have been wrong on so many levels! I thought their appearance and presentation showed a very classy, respectful and mature performance, although later in the concert Page tended to look like a chemo patient especially when he was back-lit…oh well. That aside his guitar playing was excellent and that was the critical part. I was most impressed with Plant and the subtle adjustments he made to his vocals. He pushed it just enough but not enough to embarrass himself. He knew his boundaries which spoke well of him and his performance. Although he can’t “summon the vikings from the Fjords” as he famously once could he and his band mates presented a very enjoyable mature performance…probably for the last time.

            I would like to mention another performer that I don’t think has been mentioned here and that is Tina Turner. When I think of performers that maintained a high level of quality in their performance well into their 50’s Tina always comes to mind. Whatever adjustments she probably did have to make you never got the impression she was slowing down. Her voice did become more raspy over time but somehow she managed to make it work and turn it to her advantage….especially since she wasn’t one to sing soft pretty ballads. Her brand of vocal expressiveness always had a certain edge to it and a soft pretty voice would not have worked.

            I’d also like to give a nod to Diana Ross regarding her continued performing ability. I saw her perform live just over 2 years ago and was impressed with the quality of her 66 year old voice. I’m sure she had to make some adjustments but in the moment I really couldn’t tell where those adjustments were made. Her voice sounded beautiful and strong and everyone in that theatre thoroughly enjoyed her presentation of several Supremes songs sung full length!…not just as medleys as she normally would have done.

            At 50 Michael clearly still had the ability to perform at or near the level he had done before but certainly the clock was ticking not to mention bearing the weight of his own perfectionism and the intensely stressful events of his recent past. This Is It would have been a fabulous way to close one chapter of his life and open a new chapter with the promise of new possibilities and accomplishments. As for unadorned MJ performances I’d like to strongly suggest his tribute to Sammy Davis Jr. for Sammy’s 60th birthday. This is a beautiful, subtle and powerful performance with Michael on stage solo with a spot light and virtually no dancing except for a dramatic flourish at the end of the song. Mr. Davis was understandably moved to tears by Michael’s beautifully inspired performance. I would have loved to see Michael perform this song live!! Or any other song for that matter!!

            Source:
            You Were There – Michael Jackson

          2. Something that was addressed recently in relation to the presentation I did on Dancing The Dream was Michael’s sincerity and his ability to CONNECT with people. That was his magic ingredient as a performer, and no amount of years would have ever taken that quality away from him. The reason that was brought up was because I was mentioning how, yes, some of the pieces in DTD hold up better than others. There are some trite, overly cliched/sentimental pieces in that book, but then if you go to any of the many YT videos of those pieces and hear them actually read/performed, they come alive and touch the soul. Planet Earth is a wonderful example of a piece that LOOKS very trite and a bit mawkish on the page, but when you hear him read it, the work transcends those qualities to become something so much more. He makes us feel what he is feeling; his emotions become ours.

            There may have come a time when he could no longer dance all over a stage for ninety minutes; his moonwalks may have eventually lost their grace and he may no longer have been able to hit some notes as time progressed. But he would have never lost that ability to connect and move an audience.

          3. Yes, Michael’s ability to connect to an audience is really the key to his success and the success of any entertainer for that matter. But of course Michael had a unique magic that set him apart from just any entertainer. (It’ll take me too long to explain why but I’ve seen Jermaine perform live once and I tell ya’, outside of his memorial performance, the man lacks passion and honesty, ugh.) As you said, although advancing years would eventually take away Micheal’s nimbleness and vocal prowess it would never take away his charm, passion, humor and the exquisite honesty of his artistic expression. Earth Song comes alive when Michael sings it (or speaks it) because you know that he means it and believes every word to his core. That said it’s interesting you should bring up how some of his words in DTD can sound trite on paper. When I read DTD I had to read it with Michael’s voice, in a matter of speaking, because at times it just didn’t sound right with my voice…:-)

            Raven, the fact that you’re an educator always brings a smile to my face because of the connections that you’re able to make with a generation that didn’t “grow up” with Michael. Articulate voices like yours are an invaluable counter balance to the ignorance spewed by Dimond, Orth, Sneddon and their ilk.

  2. beautifully written. I was very worried about Michael not being able perform the This is It concerts up to his own high standards. I wonder – could he have done it? And if he failed, as you said, he would have been horribly beaten up.

  3. Thanks, Raven. One thing I noticed in TII when Michael is talking about the ‘like you’re dragging yourself out of bed’ opening to TWYMMF, he says he wants it to sound like the record–‘whatever the record’s doing’ is what he wants it to sound like. And maybe trying to make it sound like the record was too hard b/c what was done in the studio, sometimes taking years to perfect, was too hard to reproduce in a live performance??? Yes, he could have lip-synched the songs at the O2 and I think that was always a fallback position if need be. What he said in the Murray illicit recording re ‘he’s the greatest entertainer” was an indication of how high he set his goals.

    I just wish they had left it at 10 concerts. I wish I knew how exactly it went to 50. I think Mike told fans he went to bed with 10 and woke up with 50. Maybe we’ll find out at the upcoming trial.

    Can you say mopre about the fractures in his later years, please??

    1. I just know that he seemed to get a LOT of them. And a lot of the injuries came from dance practicing sessions. Apparently he was still going very hard at those practice sessions, even during a time when most people “assumed” he wasn’t actively working anymore or keeping himself in shape. Every place that he lived-including his Las Vegas home-there was always a dance studio and that studio was always in heavy use. He tended to have a lot of ankle fractures in his later years. The small bones of his feet were probably fragile from all those years of hard dancing.

      This is why he was still able to perform his moves so well in TII. I remember so many people marveling that he was still able to dance so well after being offstage for so long. They don’t realize that he was never out of practice.

      Yes, Michael was one of those performers who wanted his live performances to sound as close to the record as possible. Yet, for many artists and many concertgoers, the imperfection of a live performance-the “warts and all” that go with a live performance-is part of the charm. I’ve heard many say, “If I just wanted to hear the record, I could sit at home and hear that.” But with Michael, it was always as much about “The Show” as the performance. While some acts can get away with the “warts and all” because it is just expected, Michael was coming from a different sensibility as a performer, one that was much more old school in many ways, and with roots that harkened back to the days when “The Grande Illusion” was as much a part of giving a show as simply giving a great performance.

      1. Thanks, Raven. Maybe the ankle fractures were from trying to do those multiple spins? Certainly the side moonwalk and those turns while remaining still in the rest of his body involved a lot of ankle work as well. Usually with a fracture (hairline) you are ok after a few weeks.

  4. I’ve often thought the same…that he died trying to please his fans and offering the world a chance to love again. If only he knew that a stage, a stool and just him would have brought the same joy. You always offer something new to think about, Raven, and I certainly will after reading this. With everything swirling around him, can’t help but think that the most crushing pressure originated inside himself.

  5. Raven,

    I’ve often thought that same thing about the “mature Michael” sitting on a stool and just singing. It makes me get goose bumps just thinking about it.

    I’ve often discussed with friends that I thought that Michael could have done Vegas for as long as he wanted sitting on a stool singing ballads. We all would have gone (repeatedly) to hear and see Michael sing love songs to us.

    Whenever I listen to Rod Stewart’s The Best of the Great American Songbook, it makes me very sad. I think of Michael and wish that he would have done similar covers or stripped versions of his own ballads, because it would have made billions of people deliriously happy to have him sing these love songs to us. If it were heaven for us, it could have been heaven and a different kind of peace and love on earth for him.

    Thanks for this great post.

    1. I agree very much! I love his ballads. He was thinking bigger and better and maybe didn’t consider smaller and slower. When he did YANA and it was just him singing and he would have a female fan come on stage and hug her–that was the best!!

    2. Apparently the Vegas route was something he was considering, according to many sources. I don’t know how I would have felt about seeing him go that route. I get images in my mind of “fat Elvis” and burlesque Cher. Vegas seems to be the last bastion of artists who are no longer relevant. Yet for many it can be a great way to earn a comfortable, steady income while remaining in the public eye and doing what they love.

      Michael performed a lot of great cover songs when he was younger, with the Jackson 5 and as a teenage solo artist. As an adult, he had steered very far in another direction, as an original songwriter who had stamped out his own identity. But it would have been nice if, perhaps, he could have returned to those roots with a classic cover album. If Rod Stewart can do it and make a mint at it, you know darn well Michael could have.

  6. Hi Raven: Thank you for this touching article. Everything you mentioned is so true but, I do believe that we, as Michael’s fans would have been able to accept what Michael could give at whatever stage he was in his life. Of course Michael would have had to bring us to that point gradually, and I think he would have known that but, I don’t think it was something that could have never happened.

    For example, when Tina Turner continued to tour as she got older she ntually stopped dancing and allowed her back up dancers to do the dancing, her fans grew to accept what she had to offer and still love her to this day.

    I think the same thing would have happened with Michael. None of Michael’s fans would have wanted him to hurt himself just to perform for us. And hearing Michael sing without all of the pomp and circumstance might have turned out to be very nice. That would have been the most intimimate experience many of us would have ever gotten to experience with Michael and how special would that have been.

    I saw a couple of scenarios for Michael for the next chapter in his life. He could have pursued his other interest and let the money roll in from the Cirque De Soleil shows.

    If he still wanted to perform after the This is it series he could have set up a show like Celine Dione did in Las Vegas and let his fans come to him. It could have been more intimate and less energetic than his shows when he was younger.

    Or he could have pursued his other interest and also do what Barbara Streisand does and just perform periodically when the mood suited him.

    Oh well these are just theories that will never come to life but, just thinking about them are fun. If only, …… Love you always MJ, RIP.

    Thank you again for the article Raven. It was trully touching.

    1. I don’t think he would have ever given it up altogether. He loved it too much. But I think he was in very much need of a good, long rest, just to pursue other interests and recharge his creative batteries. Unfortunately, the time he had spent away from performing in the 2000’s was not a time of restoration for him, but rather, a time of fighting legal problems, court appearances, and dealing with all the ramifications of the Arvizos. He was badly in need of serious DOWN time-from everything. He needed much more time like the time he had in Ireland, just to relax with no worries for awhile.

      I think if he’d had that luxury, the love of performing would have returned to him naturally, and he would have been eager to work again rather than seeing it as a burdensome chore. Some say he was excited about doing the TII shows. I think part of him, was, perhaps. But he was also experiencing a lot of anxiety and the feeling of just not being ready to do it. It was all being done under pressure and that is usually not the best way for an artist to work. Despite all the claims to the contrary, I didn’t see anything especially new or innovative that he was planning for the shows, other than the new films. In all honesty, I don’t think he was putting that much effort into it, and was allowing Ortega and others to pretty much take charge (despite what they tried to portray in TII). From all appearances, it was basically elements of the Bad, Dangerous, and HIStory tours all over again, with only a few surprise twists. I believe if Michael had been 100% on top of his game, we would have seen a lot more surprise innovations for this tour. TII seemed much more like a nostalgia tour than anything. Perhaps that was the whole idea, but I would like to have seen more in the way of true innovation.

      Which brings up another point. So many of Michael’s performance pieces had become traditions, having always been performed the same way for many years. They would say, well, you can’t mess with Billie Jean. People expect to see it performed a certain way. Same with Smooth Criminal, The Way You Make Me Feel, Beat It, etc. There were just certain things people came to associate and expect with those numbers, and if they didn’t get them (I mean, what would Smooth Criminal be without the lean?) they would be disappointed. So I think in a way, for Michael, there WAS a certain pressure to perform his songs exactly as he had always performed them. He didn’t want to tamper too much with what had become proven formulas, or to change a performance that was now considered classic-to the point that fans migt feel cheated if they didn’t see them done a certain way. However, I think to some extent Michael probably put more pressure on himself by worrying what fans would think, when in reality his fans were always happy with whatever he could give.

      1. Daryl Hall of Hall & Oates fame developed a new way of connecting with his fans in the digital age. He produces and stars in a free monthly web show called “Live From Daryl’s House”. In the show he performs musical numbers by himself and with friends. This show is only shown on the web.

        This might have been another scaled down way Michael could have connected with his fans without killing himself.

        The more I think about it, the more I think you are right, Michael did put a lot of pressure on himself to meet what he thought his fans were expecting of him. I wish he could have felt that in reality we would have been happy with whatever he could provide knowing that whatever he gave was going to be the best that he could give.

        Dear Michael, you did not have to kill yourself to keep your fans happy. Just knowing you were alive and happy would have enough.

        Love you always MJ, RIP

        For more information on “Live From Daryl’s House” click on the following link: http://www.livefromdarylshouse.com/

        1. The web has definitely opened up a whole new realm of possibilities for performers today! However, Michael was so old school when it came to performing, I don’t know how something like that might have gone over with him. Michael firmly believed that there was a certain mystique that performers were supposed to maintain. The web has done a lot to strip away that mystique, now that almost every celebrity has a Twitter and that whole barrier that used to exist between performers and fans has gradually eroded away in this era of social media and instantaneous communication. However, I also know Michael wasn’t totally opposed to these innovations-he did, for example, hold an internet chat session once, and he did use the internet (I’ve heard, sometimes, even ‘chatting” with fans under various usernames) so eventually the times might have caught up to him, or enough pressure might have been put on him (lol) to cave in to this new digital era and its opportunities.

          1. Yes, I forget, Michael was old school in a lot of ways but, I think his children would have helped to bring him up to speed. When his cook (Kai Chase) first started working for him, his children noticed that she was still using a walkman. They talked Michael into getting her in Ipod for christmas so that she could have the latest technology. His children and any other young person that he cared about would have helped him accept and embrace new technology.

          1. Yes, exactly. Going in another direction. That is what I said. I never said he wanted to give up show business, or even performing. I am simply raising the question of whether, as Michael aged, he would have been content-and would his fans have been content for him-to go in a different direction.

            Michael himself said he was ready to take that step, but obviously was planning to go out with one great bang (which, who knows, might have ultimately stretched to an infinite number of bangs). Michael wasn’t a young man anymore, and he was well aware of that. He had been working non-stop since he was five years old. He was ready to move on. He was still, and always would be, a brilliant performer. But I do think he always felt that pressure to be “Michael Jackson”-and that involved performing at a near superhuman level.

  7. Raven, you said “In all honesty, I don’t think he was putting that much effort into it, and was allowing Ortega and others to pretty much take charge (despite what they tried to portray in TII).” I felt this way the first time I saw TII, particularly Ortega’s somewhat condescending attitude toward Michael, and have watched TII only one time since. We surely could see Michael still had “it”, but having compared his TII “rehearsal footage” to his rehearsal footage (on YT) from the Dangerous Tour, it’s painfully obvious at least to me that Michael’s heart and soul were not into the TII tour, perhaps from self-inflicted pressure, weariness and fatigue, depression and anxiety, and/or the actions of C. Murray. While Michael was always kind and generous to the other performers, he didn’t come across as the artistic driving force behind the performances. Michael said on March 5, 2009 in announcing the tour that he would be performing the songs his fans wanted to hear (knowing the full-out performances which would have been involved). In hindsight I think most of us feel “less” would have been more than enough.

  8. I think the songs selected to be performed for TII were chosen from a fan poll. There were some innovations, though, for example, the use of 3D. Wasn’t that a big innovation? He was also going to use the pole dancers–that was new. Earth Song got a beautiful new 3D film with Earth Girl; the production of Thriller I thought was amazing–with the 3D and the figures coming down from the ceiling (incorporating Ghosts). The backup dancers were way better than the dancers he had ever had before IMO. The band was phenomental.

    The point has been made about TII that considering they had scheduled the opening night for July 13th, the show wasn’t ready by the time Michael died. I don’t know how they could have expected to meet that opening date (from what we saw in TII), so that is kind of a mystery. The opening that was shown in TII with Light Man could have been amazing too.

    1. Those were new techniques planned to sort of “spice things up” per se, but the overall, core concept of the show and of the numbers was basically the same. It was for the most part the same setlist, sequencing, and choreography that had been used in all three previous tours, only for this one, it looked like they were definitely planning to up the spectacle ante a but with all of the new innovations. Thus, what I see would have been a lot of razzle dazzle, but basically the same show at the core. But yes, the setlist was chosen from a fan poll, which meant from that list, Michael probably felt a sense of obligation to give the fans what they exected from those numbers. And since he hadn’t performed them publicly in awhile, there may have been an even greater pressure to ensure that new fans would get to see the classic performances they had heard about and only seen on video.

      This show did have the advantage of a lot of “new blood” and no doubt, those kids would have raised the energy level of the shows (and no doubt, Michael would have fed off that energy and vice versa) so I definitely think the TII shows would have been great, but definitely not a terribly radical departure from what had been done before.

  9. Raven, are you sure that Michael is singing live in the Brunei Earth Song? Some people are saying on dancingwiththeelephant that it’s a playback until the adlibs. Just wondering if you have some more info that led you to say it’s live. It does look live to me, but I don’t know for sure except for the adlibs. People say it sounds exactly like the CD, but so do other live performances, like “Human Nature” in TII.

    1. It’s hard for me to say with 100% certainty. Michael would often use playbacks and then cleverly insert live, ad libbed segments. But sometimes even his playback tracks were live tracks from other performances, so even sometimes when he sounded “live” it wasn’t always the case-whereas sometimes when he sounded “just like the record” he could, in fact, be singing live. Billie Jean, for example, was a track where he often used these live playbacks.

      I do not know for sure if the entire Brunei Earth Song performance is live, but for sure, the ad lib portion is live. I was essentially referring more to how he stripped the number completely down for this performance, with none of the usual theatrics he always employed for it.

    1. Yes, Michael could always do more with a few gestures than many performers in an entire two hour show. What a great birthday tribute that was!

  10. >>>But watching her do those cheerleader squats and seriously wondering if she would be able to spring up out of them was a painful experience-probably moreso for us, her original generation of fans, than for her. I actually found myself a bit embarrassed for her. Is this the woman I am always trying to convince youngsters could do circles around Lady Gaga and eat her for breakfast?<<<

    This is hilarious, I thought the same while watching it. Yet she had the highest grossing tour last year and she looks very well …. for her age.
    I have seen many older acts, Tina Turner, Rolling Stones, and last week the Jackson brothers who were amazingly good after so many years not touring. Even Fleetwood Mac is touring again.
    And today I read in a local newspaper that a 3 days annual pop /rock festival previously held near a camping, is now located near a holiday park with lodges and all kind of facilities because of the advanced age of the target group ..lol. So the oldies are still going strong but also adjusting to the circumstances.

    Aging is painful when you are in the spotlights as Michael was for 40yrs. The moment he went solo everything depended on him alone, he was the centre of everything and was involved with every aspect of his show. Most of the time he was single( as far as we know)and alone.
    Fleetwood Mac is doing 48 shows in 3 months, which is a lot.They have their troubles, but when you are in a group you share the stage so you don’t do everything alone and you can slack sometimes. Not so when you are solo and sing AND dance the way Michael does.
    Solo performers are the most vulnerable as you can see through history. I see it even now with Chris Brown, Justin Bieber, Rihanna and Gaga. Madonna and Prince are the few who could stand the pressure and are still in business after 30 years.
    However, no way will I blame only Michael or his perfectionism for crushing under supposed self-inflicted stress. Its true he was extra sensitive and after the trial was not ready for such a huge production. What is mindboggling is the contrast between how he was in the studio in Ireland ,relaxed, enjoyed working in the studio in his own pace and how he had changed in This is it, stressed out and insecure. But he was also in need of cash and Neverland was facing foreclosure.
    Then he had this natural attraction for toxic people and the encounter with AEG and Murray in the middle turned out to be deadly. A mentally and financially vulnerable perfectionist with noone to confide to or maybe ashamed to share what he was going through, a conscienceless doctor desperate for cash and incompetent for the task, a ruthless concert promoter who had no qualms to use criminal methods(bullying, instructing an incompetent doctor) to keep the artists to his duties, was a disaster in the making.
    AEG has alot to explain and also bears responsibility for the circumstances that led to Michaels death.
    It upsets me that a man who could have retired at 30 ended like this.

    Back to Michael unplugged. I love him acapella and Who is it is my favorite.
    I would have loved to see him without pyrotechnics or cherry picker but just jamming like he did in the Irish pubs.
    Or telling stories on stage about his amazing life .In Moonwalk he says how much he loves to tell stories. He could be a guest lecturer or motivational speaker like many celebrities or former politicians do. Bill Clinton lives of it.
    Las Vegas is not a place where I would like to see him, but he seemed to love it there. If he had had good management he could have retired a long time ago and only do things that he liked,film and a concert every now and then. He still enjoyed performing, though I think much of it was the attention and fan adulation that he thrived on.
    For me he could have sold the damn catalog. It brought so much negativity and in the end was not worth it.

    You wrote a beautiful article as always Raven. Kudos.

    1. I have seen people literally sit, mesmerized, to Michael’s speeches. I don’t think most people realize just what a great motivational speaker he was.

      I’m sure I will be having much more to say about AEG in the weeks ahead. Although I dread the prospect of another trial, part of me is glad that the family has taken this step. Although theirs was a business deal, I nevertheless believe there are some who need to be held accountable for the part they played in this. I suspect, just as there were many who changed their mind about Murray’s guilt when all of the details came out in that trial, there will be some who will start to see AEG in a very different light as well. I am not one of those who goes around making excuses for Michael and saying he bears no burden of blame whatsoever. He did, after all, make the conscious choice to have a very dangerous anesthetic given to him in his home. But I believe just as you have said, it was the totality of the situation-all of these forces coming together at once-that ultimately led to the tragedy. Chernoff said that Murray was just a small fish in a big, dirty pond and-while I know he was just trying to get Murray off-I do believe that.

    1. I just saw the interview. She basically says the same as what Raven is saying here. You cannot expect to repeat what youve done when you were much younger or try to top an extraordinary accomplishment, especially not when you get older.I dont know if Michael really tried to top thriller, but Ive heard it many times.
      She gives the example of lionel Richie who says that he cant and doesnt try to hit the high notes anymore, but has adjusted his performance.
      And his audience has no problem with it.
      There is a sad coincidence that 2 of the best performers of their time Michael and Whitney died while trying to make a come back.

    2. What is Oprah’s take on Oprah? She’s trying desperately to turn her failing network into the kind of success she had in syndication, which will never be matched. It’s very distasteful for her to comment on Michael, considering how she used her show to disparage him, in death as well as life, and it’s hypocritical of her to be expressing concern for his ambitions. She has often said that she “doesn’t want to be like Michael Jackson”, but that’s a lie. She obviously longs to be just like Michael Jackson. The tragedy of her life is that no matter how much she achieves, she will never be “better” than Michael Jackson, and will never replace him in the hearts of people around the world.

      1. The comments for that interview are all saying MJ was a drug addict. So tired of that. I think the comments are heavily moderated to only accept the Oprah party line. Also they allk say he was addicted to fame, a sad, washed-up case, etc. When will Oprah ever leave him alone and stop the MJ bashing? At least she is consistent!!

  11. Hi Raven;

    In fitting in with your theme regarding Michael’s performing “unplugged” and performing in general, as he aged, here is a piece where another “expert” discusses with Oprah her theory on what really caused Michael’s and Whitney’s deaths – the pressure they put on themselves to hit the “high C”. Of course, Oprah once again reiterates that in an article she read in Vanity Fair, Michael’s friends stated that he was forever trying to top “Thriller”. I’m guessing, she is relying on the reporting of Maureen Orth, since it’s Vanity Fair. So what, if Michael strived to top “Thriller”. He was a perfectionist and aimed high. But he was not paralyzed by not surpassing the “Thriller” sales, as Oprah likes to imply. I’m sure the Beatles and every other great artist always wants to improve on what is perceived as their best. I think Oprah is just bitter that Michael is still so beloved.

    I had the same thought as techlilinu, seeing Michael perform similar to the way Barbra Streisand does – on his own terms, when and where he wanted, once in a blue moon. As witnessed by the demand for the TII ticket sales, there was a strong hunger to see Michael again, and if he only performed very rarely, while living his life, pursuing whatever other creative interests he had, that was how I always envisioned him growing older. It’s heartbreakingly sad that such a sweet, gentle man was taken advantage of by so many cruel people.

  12. I’ve always thought that Michael would be absolutely amazing “unplugged”. Just the raw, real sounds of his voice and the music that we all know and love. I would’ve loved to have seen some of those impromptu performances in Ireland that you mentioned, but somehow them having been unrecorded makes them seem even more special and in a way I’m glad they remain so mysterious.

    Thanks to today’s technology, people have been able to create mocked-up “unplugged” versions of some of Michael’s songs, and they are just incredible. Truly a look at what could have been. Here are some of my favorites:

    Give In to Me: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yJsVlo1ds0c
    Billie Jean: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=89S1xyZi66g
    Man In the Mirror: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BAKPg-1Ghq0

    1. Yes, that version of Billie Jean is very similar to what I was hearing in my head when I said he might have had to reinvent the number, take down the tempo and just do something very raw like this. It would have still worked. I’m still listening to the others. Thanks for posting.

  13. I have a hard time dealing with these 2 psychoanalyzing someone neither were close to. I doubt Michael when he was planning TII was trying to top Thriller–how was the O2 series going to sell over 100 million the way Thriller did? They are 2 different things–a show and an album. I don’t like comparing him to WH either, as their deaths were very different. Michael could still hit the high notes, both vocally and metaphorically, IMO.

    1. I agree with you completely IUTD. Again, everything comes back to Oprah and how it effects her. She didn’t know Michael. Please someone stop her psyco babble! In my opinion he was always very competitive with himself, but in the case of TII, he had so much to prove to himself, his fans and his investors with this comeback. I don’t know how he got through all he did. I had a hard enough time going through a divorce, a really stressful time for me, but my life wasn’t on the line. I admired the strength and the determination he showed by always trying to move forward. Ultimately, the pressure was too much…an accumulation of all that he had been through caught up with him, I kind of doubt the sales of Thriller were in the forefront of his mind during this terribly stressful time. Again, Raven you have outdone yourself with the research and commentary. I always look forward to the topics you present. A beautiful piece. I hope you know how much all of Michael’s fans appreciate your time and effort. Michael would so appreciate the respect and intellectual discussion you present time and time again.

    2. about oprah’s comment, her source about the thriller thing is probably quincy jones, she and gail are good friends with quincy. I woudn’t be surprised if they gossip about him when they get together. Lionel R has always been known as a balladeer he was never a dancer so its easy for him to stay on his zone without any pressure as he age. Cirque will not dedicate a double show featuring MJ if there was not enough good material beyond Thriller.

      1. Cirque’s Immortal show features many, many songs beyond just Thriller era. They did an excellent job representing ALL eras of Michael’s career, considering the relatively limited amount of time given any show.

  14. Raven, thanks for a beautiful, thoughtful post. I do believe most of Michael’s true admirers would have been accepting of much stripped down version of his performances. A mic, chair, and spotlight would have been welcomed. I agree with you, techlilinu, Michael would have been happy with performing in Las Vegas similar to Celine Dione’s shows. In fact, isn’t that why he chose to live there upon returning to the US from Europe? I know he had attended Celine’s performance and was impressed with her show. Would have been a great alternative to touring.

    By the way, Brunei “Earth Song” performance is also one of my favorites. Stripped and raw. The call and response at the end gives me chills every time.

    1. To me, that is how I can tell AEG did not care about him. With all that Michael had been through in the last 20 years of his life, if they really wanted a mutually beneficial partnership with him, they could have set up something like Celine’s show for Michael. Celine’s show was set up for her by the shows sponsors to entice her to come to Vegas.

      AEG is in the concert promotion business, they had to have known that this type of set up was possible and might have been better for Michael. If AEG could have looked pass the dollar signs they would have been able to see the win win in this type of set up, Michael not draining himself because he would not have had to worry about touring and AEG still making money because Michael’s fans would have been flocking to Vegas as long as he was there. They didn’t care about his health or well being, all they could see was the money they could bring in making Michael dance until they got enough.

      FYI:
      I will be following the next trial beginning on 4/2/13 and I will be praying that Katherine gets what she wants from AEG.

      4/2/13 – Jackson v. AEG Trial Begins
      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/02/katherine-jacksons-lawsuit-aeg-live_n_2796308.html

      http://teammichaeljackson.com/archives/7954

  15. I understand Michael looked at options in Las Vegas for some time before he went with AEG’s London idea. Jack Wishna, who later committed suicide, was the one who persuaded him to return to Vegas from Ireland and MJ met with him and others looking over deals in Las Vegas for some time in 2008. So I think that idea is something that he examined pretty well before passing on it. I am not sure why but we have to consider he needed lots of $$ to get out of the debt situation–unless he was going to sell assets or go bankrupt, in which case a judge would have probably sold the assets to cover debts??

    1. I kind of wish the Cirque De Soleil people would have gotten to Michael before AEG. I think that would have also been a better partnership for Michael.

      The Cirque De Soleil – Michael Jackson shows are raking in the money. Michael would not have even had to work. He could have just watched these show celebrating him and performing impromptu when he wanted to. Once his debt was paid off he would have been set for life just receiving money from these enterprises. That way he could have spent the next few years recouping, raising his children and pursuing other interest.

      Plus I think the Cirque De Soleil people would have treated Michael better. They understand the business of performing. They would have known better how to work with a performing artist like Michael. They liked him and he liked them.

      If only,….

  16. Raven, I hope to be able to communicate well, because I want to better express what I’m saying.

    You know, I always imagined a kind of dream that is (accepting the reasoning with if and with the but) that This is it, or rather the return to the scene of Michael has been a missed opportunity for him. Not in the sense that he is, unfortunately dead, but in the sense of conception of the show upstream.

    It could be an opportunity to present himself naked, being a Michael Jackson stripped of theatricality, dry all the bells and whistles to highlight the exquisite art that he personified and take advantage of being on stage one last time to make it clear to the whole world do what it was really capable of to do, though everything.

    I imagined Michael no scenery, no tricks, able to proudly wear the marks of his face altered, singing with his beatbox, singing with his stellar voice, in short, I imagined an impossible Michael , which would have stunned everyone with sincerity and with a new nakedness.

    Because, after all, the risk of This is it, if he went on, was to appear as a faded photocopy of the great tour of the past.

    I think he knew this and feared him, I believe this was a further reason for anxiety.

    But Michael could not help but be a celebration of the greatest showman in the world, I think it was really his obsession.

    It was his powerful alter ego.
    He wanted to, I believe, to overcome all the records and, if he succeeded, go past the public image of himself, like the over icon of the living icon.

    It is partly understandable in the light of all the slander and all attempts to ridiculous that in recent years he had suffered.

    I think This is it, actually represented for him, something that could redeem him in the eyes of all.
    That’s why perhaps it had to be the representation of a Michael Jackson raised to the hundredth power.
    I believe that it was for this reason and convinced that his little sleep had become impossible.

    Think of what he faced if he had failed! Imagine if the media had caught what you have felt in the Zeppelin or Madonna … No one would forgive him, maybe even us, his beloved audience. Sorry for the long post.

  17. Hi, Nicoletta–he would NOT have failed IMO. As we could see in TII he could sing beautifully and dance beautifully. Obviously, he was practicing a lot b/c he was NOT stiff, hoarse, etc. 50 is NOT THAT OLD! The reason TII was so powerful and transformed people’s understanding of Michael is that what it showed was NOT what the media was telling us–a has-been, washed up person who could not do what he did before. I remember he was in his limo on the way to rehearsals and a journalist asked him “Can you still do the Moonwalk?” I thought his answer was perfect: “Why couldn’t I do the Moonwalk?” Why would we ever think he couldn’t do the MOONWALK??? He practiced dancing in Ireland–singing in Ireland–as he told us in the Ireland interview–“I never stopped.” People still don’t believe him.

    IMO what happened re pressure was way more than the concerts at the O2. Yes, that was part of it but not all.

    On the other hand, I am all in favor of seeing Michael naked on stage (only joking!).

    1. Iudt Hello, thank you for your kind answer.
      No, I never thought that TII could be a failure! Never, I love TII to the point that, when I lose my image of Michael, I see TII and find him, always, in my deep.

      I believe that Michael thought it might be a risk and was afraid of falling into the usual critics.

      Obsessed with perfectionism, the desire to make a spectacle of the greatest in the world, I (that’s just my opinion), I find in many ways TII something that he does not go, I can not explain rationally.

      I feel his discontent and sarcasm, I feel in many ways his great dissatisfaction and sadness.

      For the rest, I know well that it was able to sing, to dance, to do the moonwalk, to leave all spellbound with his talent and his genius!
      Even dressed! LOL

      1. Thanks, Nicoletta. Reading your comment makes me want to watch TII again.I watched it over and over when it was released. It was so fascinating to see him in action. As you say, I could find him there in a deep way.

        Thanks for your comment!!

  18. Great article and I agree. Actually I’d have loved to see Michael go unplugged – it would have been magic! He could have retired Billie Jean but introduced songs into his concert repertoire that weren’t performed live in the past, but would fit better into that intimate atmosphere. Like Be Not Always, Who Is It, The Lady In My Life, Smile, Little Susie, I can’t help it, Someone In The Dark etc. And that way actually he could have even made new fans – I’m sure of that. I’m sure many people would have been impressed with that side of his – because that too was a very impressive, but a lesser known side of his. And definitely could have made the general public and casual fans more aware of those hidden gems in his catalog!

    Maybe it sounds strange, but I have the feeling that Michael was a bit insecure about himself and what the audience expected from him. He thought that they always wanted the same old things – the Moonwalk, the Beat It and Thriller dance etc. and therefore when you look at his tours, they actually did not change much since Victory. Yes, some old songs went out and some new songs came in, but the backbone, choregoraphy etc. remained more or less the same. It’s not a criticism, because it was still magical every time. And as the 50 sold out This Is It shows prove, the audience could never get enough of it. But I wonder if Michael was kind of afraid to change or to experiment. Since his tours were always successful, he maybe thought he should not change the winning forumla.

    But I’m sure had he gone to an unplugged tour it would have been just as big of a success, but maybe Michael wasn’t confident about that. Just look at the success of when he beatboxed Who Is It in the Oprah interview! Or the magic he could create even in a police deposition, like that 1993 Mexico deposition! We as fans know this side of him, but many don’t, so IMO he actually would have positively surprised and impressed a lot of people with an unplugged tour.

    There’s one thing about unplugged shows though: they work in an intimate atmosphere, not in big arenas. And I’m sure any promoter would have wanted to sell many tickets and so wanted Michael to play in front of ten thousands of people, not a couple of hundred or 1000-2000 at max. So I don’t think AEG would have been happy with the idea. (And honestly, for Michael too This Is It was about making money to reduce his debt.) Though, in case of an unplugged tour they could have sold the tickets for a higher price – because of their exclusivity.

    1. “Though, in case of an unplugged tour they could have sold the tickets for a higher price – because of their exclusivity.”

      And who wouldn’t have paid to see that! Just you and Michael and some of your closest friends, in one room together. What an unforgettable evening that could have been!

  19. The last 2 rehearsals everyone said were great, so if he could do those, that’s a sign he could have done the concerts. Maybe not with the one show, one day off, one show pattern they had. Maybe they would have had to change the schedule as it was too hard. I just wish he could have done a few concerts to show the world he could.

    IMO the pressure he was under was more than the pressure of doing the shows. He had financial pressures, he had lawsuits pressure (Raymone Bain filed a $44 million lawsuit before he died, etc. I read he had 15 lawsuits ongoing). There were family pressures to perform with the AllGood concerts. Then there were the health pressures–the insomnia. Then I think AEG was not treating him with deferenece and respect and letting him shape the way the concerts would go.

    I saw the Beach Boys live last summer–phenomenal (older than 50). I saw Bob Dylan this summer (outrageously good and very energetic). I saw an 80 year old Leonard Cohen last fall–he was incredible and the arena–Madison Square Garden–was packed. He was still doing encores when we left. I am convinced Michael could have done it too.

    1. Michael is a master at his craft and its not surprising that he never lost it. But with all due respect for these legends , you cannot compare their show to a singer dancer who was losing pounds on stage while performing.
      A band is different from a solo singer/ dancer in a theatrical act who is the center of the show.
      And anyway noone who needs anaestetics to sleep is fit for the kind of production that This is it was supposed to be(but was far from because of bad logistics and production)

      Nothing in his entire life was more stressful and devastating than the trial and the prospect of going to jail and lose his children. Yet it wasnt untill he was contracted by AEG that the pressure became skyhigh causing his sleepmanagement to get out of control.

      ‘Then I think AEG was not treating him with deferenece and respect and letting him shape the way the concerts would go.’
      I think you missed a thing or two.

      1. What I am saying is that there was pressure from multiple directions converging once he returned to USA, a lot of people wanting something from him and not just AEG. That is my opinion. Clearly, you have a different concept and that’s fine–no need to agree with each other– or put each other down.

        What we are talking about here–whether Mike could have designed a different show, with a smaller venue, unplugged, I think is something that a good manager would have considered. Where was Thome on this? What about Dileo or Leonard Rowe–what was the motivation? Putting all the blame on AEG is missing something too IMO.

        Here is what Steven Ivory says–

        “People talk about Michael Jackson making a comeback. Come back and do what–levitate? Comebacks are for mortals. You don’t comeback after being Michael Jackson. Michael Jackson just is. He is his own global culture, his own musical manifestation. Come back and do what? He’s done it all.”

        A good manager could have helped him find the right venue and format–someone on his side. Who was really on his side in his last years?? Someone who could have talked him down a bit from the ideas he expressed in the CM tape:

        “MJ: Elvis didn’t do it. Beatles didn’t do it. We have to be phenomenal. When people leave the show, when people leave the show, I want them to say, “I’ve never seen nothing like this in my life. Go. Go. I’ve never seen nothing like this. Go. It’s amazing. He’s the greatest entertainer in the world”.

      2. He almost died during the trial, so you can’t really say he somehow was ok there there but not with AEG. Dick Gregory took him to a hospital during the trial and they gave him IV’s overnight and the doc told DG that Mike would have died if he hadn’t gotten the fluids. (It’s on youtube where DG tells this story).

        Both Leonard Cohen (80) and Dylan (70-ish) are solo singers. Both had fantastic bands but they sang all the songs for over 2 hours. Yes, MJ was a dancer, but the songs could have been paced so that there were ballads and when there were the faster songs, he could have relied on his backup dancers to do more while he did a bit less than his usual workout on stage. Things could have been paced such that he could have done the 2 hour show and not made it as strenuous as when he was doing the Bad tour, for example.

        1. The big “if” is whether Michael would have been content to go that route, and if fans/critics would have been content to allow him that. We don’t really know, of course, what reactions might have ensued. His “new” performances might have been universally praised as a true revisionism of his abilities as a performer, in the same way that TII was. Then again (the much more likely scenario) is that he would have been ripped to shreds and mocked for not being able to do what he did 20/30 years ago. The critics were always all too ready to tear Michael down. It is likely they might not have even praised TII so generously had it not been for the fact that Michael had just died and everyone at that point was caught up in the wave of nostalgia for him-and even then, there were a few snide critics who came away less than impressed, seemingly ignoring the fact that this was rehearsal footage and not a full blown concert. Michael never seemed to be judged by the same standards as other artists. In a world where selling 10 million copies of an album is a phenomenal success by any standards, Michael’s albums were dubbed failures if they sold 30 million. In a world where celebrities who are noted (and very publicly confessed) heroin addicts and alcoholics, they are still lauded as heros and icons, but Michael Jackson is treated like a horrible human being because he took prescription medications. In a world that never seemed to cut him the slack that so many performers get, I just wonder how any direction he might have pursued as he aged would have been viewed.

          Ultimately, of course, Michael would have had to learn to do what worked for HIM, and stop worrying about what the world wanted/expected. I think when a performer can do that, and make it very clear to the world that from this time forward things are on THEIR terms and that is just the way it is, people tend to respect that

          1. Hi, Raven, I agree very much with your last paragraph. And who knows? maybe part of him didn’t care any more about the critics or the media talking heads as he had seen how they were for so long. What he is saying to CM on the tape seems to refer to the fans (“when people leave the show”), so he wanted to please us, his fans (maybe) more than anyone else–what do you think?

        2. Its not my intent to bring anyone down. Sorry if you feel that way.
          I am just not buying the qualification of AEGs conduct as not respectful.
          Michael was bullied(riot act,cynically called tough love)and blackmailed (threatening to pull the plug, telling him he had no way out, reminding him who was paying the bills). And its all on record!
          The Bahraini prince was told by the judge that he was taking advantage of a vulnerable man and he was vilified by fans. But he was using the justice system to keep Michael to the contract.
          AEG were using mafia methods to get the same result.
          Is there any artist in our time who was treated this way by a concert promotor?
          Imagine the outrage if this was done to Leonard Cohen or Bob Dylan.
          The trial was the worst experience of Michaels life, he was broken,dehydrated, traumatized, still he didnt use anaestetics.
          I am not one of those fans who think he is without a fault. At 50 he should have had the self awareness to know what would work for him or not and the consequence of his choices. But for what he did wrong he paid with his life.
          The other parties involved have to take responsibility for their choices and the outcome of it.Fact is his death is directly related to working for AEG.
          These are Michaels word that I quoted in another comment

          ” The tradition of great performers from Sammy Davis jr to James Brown to Jacky Wilson, Fred Astaire, Gene kelly. The story is usually the same though. These guys work realy hard at their craft, but the story ends the same. They usually are broken torn, and just sad and the story is very sad at the end because the companies take advantage of them. We cant let them get away with that”

          1. As more and more details come to light, I am getting much the same feeling about AEG. I used to be more willing to give them the benfit of the doubt, but with so many of their words/actions now out there in black and white, for the world to see, it makes it hard to ignore this truth any further. Of course, from a legal standpoint, the big question will come down to whether Randy Philips, Paul Gongaware and AEG in general are just cold-hearted bastards (as most succesful people in show business are, frankly) or if they can legally be held accountable for contributing to Michael’s death. For example, I may think Phillips is a rotten bastard for saying, as he so coldly did right after Michael’s passing, that “the show must go on” and saying AEG pays for the toilet paper Michael wipes his a** with. But does that make him criminally liable? All I can say is, they had probably best be glad I’m not the judge or jury in this case!

            I always find myself a bit torn on this issue because part of me wants to believe the fairy tale that AEG was feeding us at the time, how Michael was so excited about these shows and the prospect of performing again. Perhaps there IS some truth to that. I pondered this same issue-how much of that hype to believe-when I did this post several months ago:

            http://www.allforloveblog.com/?p=7013

            There were moments in TII when we could certainly see that the old spark was there. I think it was the shock of, as he said, waking up one morning to discover 10 shows had ballooned to 50 that really sent him over the edge with panic. For me, it’s not so much a question of whether he could have done them, but the sheer fact of how things were handled.

            Re the propofol use: Michael did have insomnia, but without the pressure of touring, he had fallen into a kind of natural rhythm that worked for him and his body. After all, it was not being awake all night that killed him. It was when the stress of being awake all night clashed with the demands of a rigorous rehearsal schedule that it became problematic. Prior to that, Michael had had several years of just being able to go with the flow of the routine his body had become accustomed to. He knew from long experience the toll that touring took on his body, and I think there was a bit of “shock factor” in realizing he was now, after eleven years, facing that same ordeal again.

            I hear people say all the time that Michael’s fans seem to want it both ways: We want to believe Michael was a very intelligent and savvy businessman who was always, ultimately, the one in control of his own strings; yet on the other hand, when it is convenient for us, we want to believe he was this innocent, vulnerable lamb who allowed himself to be blindly led and manipulated by the evil powers that be. I can understand the logic behind this thinking because to an outsider looking in, it may seem that fans have two very different, contradictory views of Michael. But what they fail to see is that real life is never as simple, or as black and white, as saying Michael was either, A: A savvy businessman, or B: A naive, trusting, easily manipulated fool. The truth was that Michael WAS a sharply intelligent man with a keen, intuitive business sense, who had inarguably negotiated some of the most brilliant business deals for himself of any artist living. But over time-due to many inner and outer factors-his confidence had slowly eroded, and after so many years of bad management, listening to bad advice, etc., not to mention all of his legal woes and the toll taken by being accused TWICE of being a child molestor, he had slowly BECOME that very vulnerable man whose back was against the wall in his final months. At that point, it is not an issue of being smart or clever or intelligent, but of simply being in a no-win and no-way-out position, and I think that is what he found himself in those last few months.

            Of course, my purpose with this post was not so much to question Michael’s ability to do the London ’02 shows, but simply to question how his live stage performances might have evolved had he lived into his senior years. However, I knew going into this post that it would be inevitable to bring up the topic without acknowleding the pressure he was under with the London 02 shows, because again, the expectations of “being Michael Jackson” played such a huge hand in how things went down.

          2. There is also a flip side to the high expectations. Because Michael is larger than life, what is found intolerable and completely out of order for any other human being, with Michael it seems to be not a big deal, even kind of expectable.
            What AEG did to Michael would not even happen to a D list artist. All hell would break loose if this had happened to Barbara Streisand. Where is the outrage now?
            There was disrespect and fraudulent intent from the get go : presenting him gross figures to make him believe that is what he was going to earn, because ‘Mickey’ thinks he is worth more than he is. What a contrast with how they talked in the media like the adulating fans turned business partners, who cared so much for the man and his children , all looking forward to the return of the legend. Treacherous behavior is not liable, but contributing to or not preventing a homicide is.
            Even if the trial will be mostly about technicalities , a win or even a settlement will mean that they do bear responsibility .
            Before anyone compares a settlement in this case to the Chandlers , they should be reminded that with the Chandlers it was never proven that a crime was committed, while in this case the justice system unambiguously ruled it a homicide.
            So unlike with the Chandlers, a settlement in this case would be an admission of guilt.

          3. “There was disrespect and fraudulent intent from the get go : presenting him gross figures to make him believe that is what he was going to earn, because ‘Mickey’ thinks he is worth more than he is.”

            Yes! Thank you for reminding me of that. And how utterly condescending was that! Beyond manipulative; just totally disrespectful and dishonest.

    2. @iutd, I agree re your statements about the pressure Michael was under for the tour. I don’t think he had enough physical and emotional recuperative time post-trial. The law suits really started coming in as soon as word got out that he was even considering a tour. They all smelled money, didn’t they? Even with the monumental ticket sales, I think Michael still struggled with the question of how he would be accepted/received post trial (although fully acquitted). Michael was different than the other “aging” performers. Michael danced and sang simultaneously, fully choreographed numbers. When I watch the DVD’s I still am in awe and the last of these (History) he was still in his 30’s. IMO, no comparison to Beach Boys, Dylan, Stones and others as to past mental trauma issues (caused by bogus trial), and fan expectations.

      1. And this really gets to the heart of what I was saying here. In order for Michael to continue as a performer into his aged years, he would have seriously had to revamp the KIND of performer he was, and I think he would have had a lot of doubts/insecurities as to whether fans would have accepted this from him (or even if it could have been accepted by himself). Michael seemed to have an “all or nothing” approach to everything he did. While I know that I-and many, many others-would have loved seeing him performing more stripped down shows, I just wonder if Michael would have ever even considered that as a possibility. I am almost inclined to believe he would have preferred to go in another direction entirely-producing, directing, or even just painting-rather than go onstage and feel that he couldn’t do what he used to do, and knowing those measuring sticks would always be out to compare anything he did to “the way it used to be.”

        1. I also believe Michael was done with performing Billie Jean for the umpteenth time and wanted to go in another direction. Film was what he aspired as a next step.Maybe the trial will shed some light on that.
          I remember this interview with a chef who worked for Michael during the time when Murray was treating him. It always gives me the chills that so many people had seen the oxygen tanks and knew that something was wrong.
          What he says is that he never believed that Michael would be able to do the shows because of too much stress and pressure.
          ‘Its one thing if you are doing it for the love of it, its another if you are doing it to get yourself out of debt’.

  20. I still think that a good manager would have been able to negotiate a better situation for Michael. I read something last night about a guy called Mohamed Hadid, someone who built the Carolwood house, and he spent some time with Michael and his kids–there are some photos of them together. Anyway, this guy says that Mike did not want to do 50 concerts, and this is something he also told fans, but that he wanted to do one show that would be then broadcast, released on DVDs. etc., but that AEG exec’s nixxed it. I mean, where was Michael’s manager in negotiating the best deal with the artist’s needs and desires and capacities in the forefront and not the alminghty $$$?? I don’t see that he had the protection he needed–either legal or management. It was a very chaotic time in his life and I agree with June that the ‘smell of money’ got in the air and people were not ethical at all.

    As far as performing while singing and dancing–he often used playback, as Raven said. Even in the Grammy performances, he did the same, turning the mike on for the adlibs. I think he sang along as well as lipsynched to the background track, but this freed him up for the dancing. In the music videos, he wasn’t singing live. You can see that in some of the ‘making of’ footage. He recorded in the studio.

    I also stick by my previous words that he was not treated with deference and respect, the way he should have been, treated like a major artist, a creative genius, who needed a lot of support in all ways from the people who were lucky enough that he chose to work with them.

    1. @iutd, I’ve concluded that Michael really had no competent management in negotiating the TII contract. Tohme Tohme, I believe, was his “manager”. From the first time I viewed what purportedly was the contract, there was one very noticeable omission. All notices to the Artist (Michael) were to be sent to Tohme (his manager) and to an attorney named D. Hawk, at a specific address, the same addressed to which notices to The Michael Jackson Company were to be sent. There was no separate notification address for the “Artist”. So how was Michael able to receive legal notices under this contract? Only through Tohme and Hawk. This is most unusual in contract notification procedures. Just a small tip of the iceberg of the contract irregularities. And if his “manager” couldn’t even negotiate a contract to the advantage of his client, what motivation would his manager have to achieve a better performance aspect for Michael? After all, it wasn’t Tohme’s body being put through the rigors (or wringer) of rehearsals and performing under pressure, was it? And this was the same guy who consigned Michael’s Neverland possessions for auction in April 2009; Michael had to sue to pull the auction. I hope the Estate proceeds with it’s fraud suit against this man.

      1. I have always had a very, very bad vibe regarding Tohme. There is a lot I suspect, which I can’t go into because they are, after all, speculations and I am not one of those bloggers who gets off on stirring the pot with conspiracy theories that I can’t prove, other than my own suspicions. But I believe-and always will-that Tohme had a much bigger hand in all that went down than most people believe. And the more I learn of that contract, the more justified I feel my suspicions have become.

      2. Another thing about that contract that I read was that Michael’s signature could be ‘faxed’–not signed in person. He had given Thome 2 Power of Attorneys too. Not good. I hope the Estate wins their suit against him, claiming he made contracts favorable to himself and to the detriment of his client–vilolated his ‘fiduciary duty’ and the client’s trust.

  21. All Michael needed physically to perform were to meet the basic health requirements, especially sleep. He was in good health. I know when I don’t get a good night’s sleep I can’t function. However, when he was working with Cherilyn Lee, the nurse, he was getting 5 hours of natural sleep. To him, that was not enough for what he had to do. But actually 5 hours of natural sleep is better than being in a nightly coma from no sleep at all. The decision to go with the propofol and to use Murray and not an anasthesiologist has to be part of any consideration of Michael’s death IMO. There wasn’t enough communication going on between all the parties involved. Seems like people were being ruled by fears. I still think if he had gotten his phsyical and emotional needs met he could have done some concerts–maybe not 50–but maybe a smaller number. I still say 50 is not old!! (People are even saying that 70 is the new 50–LOL).

    What did the fans really want? a knock-out show? or just to see Michael again on stage? The man who was so loved?? Look at how they went bananas whe he walked across the stage–just that–at the 2006 World Music Awards.

  22. Loving the post Raven. I definitely would’ve liked to have seen MJ in a more relaxed, less stressful atmosphere where he had time to pace himself and do his own thing. What’s going on with the AEG trial exactly? I’m not sure I understand the details. About Oprah, she was just on ET talking about Prince Jackson. (sorry I don’t have a link). She spoke well of him and even Prince said that they tried to make her feel welcome during their 2010 interview when he was on ET. This is off topic but on ET, they spoke to someone at Buckley, a girl who said that Paris is very sweet. Remember when Prince and Paris first attended Buckley, and the kids weren’t allowed to ask them about Michael, and how there would be no pics and videos of them leaked to the media? What has happened to that? Oh, does anyone have any articles or videos of Michael’s home in Las Vegas? How long did he live there?

    1. Hi Gloved 1:

      Here are some links to the home that Michael was going to buy in Las Vegas. Blanket picked the home.

      techlilinu

      1. Thanks for sharing that. It looked like a lovely house! I could certainly see Michael turning that place into another Neverland-esque sanctuary.

    2. When I saw that clip of the home that he wanted to buy in Las Vegas, it convinced that Michael was looking to the future.

      Whenever I watch it now it makes me sad because he never got to buy it. He never got to enjoy it. He never got his chance to start over and leave the past where it belonged, in the past.

      Love you always MJ, RIP

      techlilinu

      1. technilulu – thank you for that videoclip of the home Michel wanted to purchase in Las Vegas. I just wince when I think how different his kids’ lives would be at this point in time if his dream had become reality.

        Gloved 1 – another “wince” seeing that someone infiltrated Buckley School to get those cheer pix of Paris, or, maybe worse, someone sold their own pix of Paris to the tabs for $$. Seems now these children are in the media every day. About the AEG trial, one cause of action remains, negligent hiring and supervision of Murray by AEG, which imo is the weakest of the charges, as AEG has already established he was independing contractor (making medical decisions on his own, not at direction of an “employer”), all others having been dismissed. Trial still set for April 2; however, AEG has gone to court of appeal for reconsideration of trial judge’s ruling to let neglient hiring count remain, I think that’s basically where it stands.

      2. @ June
        There is no difference in liability whether you hire an independent contractor to do a job or you let your own employee do it.
        It is not about the status of the worker but about the quality and safety of the work they deliver. If its your own employee you have a fair idea of his competence and capacity. If its an independent contractor who you know nothing of you have a legal obligation to do a background check and supervise him. Especially if he is working for someone else on your behalf. The least you do is check his credentials. Medical professionals are the easiest of all professions to check.
        Imo from a legal point of view negligent hiring is the strongest of all the claims and easiest to prove. Negligence by AEG is difficult to prove hindsight. the criminal trial only concentrated on Murray. Even if its proven, it doesnt mean that AEGs negigence caused his death. The cause of death is well documented.

        1. Sina, the difference between independent contractor and employee lies in the degree of control AEG had over how Murray rendered medical treatment to Michael. Independent contractor is less supervised than employee would be. Employee works under direction of employer. Independent contractor makes his own decisions on achieving a goal. My opinion remains the same, that “negligent hiring” is the weakest of the charges and was left in the case by the trial judge who did not want to eviscerate the case completely, thus giving Katherine Jackson her “day in court”. Depending on the court of appeal’s ruling, if AEG loses the appeal and the “negligent hiring” remains, I think the chance of settlement is slightly increased.

          1. Independent means not depending on one principal for employment. Usually Ics or free lancers are high professionals , specialists who do not require a lot of supervising. Example:
            Many airline pilots work as IC. Pricefighters hire them a lot. While they are on the flight there is no boss supervising them. They are with a co pilot or a board technician and one of them is captain on the flight. If the plane crashes its always the company that will be held accountable especially if it turns out that a pilot was not qualified to fly a certain aircraft or his license was not updated . Hiring a doctor is not different from this example.

            Contract law is very complicated, here is a very comprehensive definition from wiki that is a simplification, but comes close.

            “An independent contractor is a natural person, business, or corporation that provides goods or services to another entity under terms specified in a contract or within a verbal agreement. Unlike an employee, an independent contractor does not work regularly for an employer but works as and when required, during which time he or she may be subject to the >> Law of Agency<>>> authorized to act on behalf of another (called the principal) to create a legal relationship with a third party.[1] Succinctly, it may be referred to as the relationship between a principal and an agent whereby the principal, expressly or implicitly, authorizes the agent to work under his control and on his behalf. The agent is, thus, required to negotiate on behalf of the principal or bring him and third parties into contractual relationship. <<<<<<<<

            The law of agency is based on the Latin maxim "Qui facit per alium, facit per se," which means "he who acts through another is deemed in law to do it himself."

            A weak charge doesn’t make it to court. If there is not enough substance it will be thrown out. Judges hate frivolous claims that only constipate the system.

            ……who did not want to eviscerate the case completely, thus giving Katherine Jackson her “day in court”.
            This is a mockery of the justice system that gives me a strong feeling of déjà vu.

          2. Correction, part of the text was deleted

            The law of agency is an area of commercial law dealing with a set of contractual, quasi-contractual and non-contractual relationships that involve a person, called the agent, that is authorized to act on behalf of another (called the principal) to create a legal relationship with a third party.[1] Succinctly, it may be referred to as the relationship between a principal and an agent >>>>>>whereby the principal, expressly or implicitly, authorizes the agent to work under his control and on his behalf. The agent is, thus, required to negotiate on behalf of the principal or bring him and third parties into contractual relationship. <<<<<<<

  23. Thank you Techlilinu!!! This house is just so beautiful! Did u see what William Wagener and others posted in the comments section, Prince, Paris and Blanket should buy back the house (well, buy it to begin with) when they’re old enough! Thank you again for the video, I can just picture Blanket saying all that and running about all around the property with the secret passages and doors! Thank you also to Sina and June for clarifying the AEG trial.

  24. What a great commentary, Raven. I just finished reading it and I pretty much agree with everything you’ve said. Interesting comments, too. One in particular touched a nerve with me–June’s comment about Michael still being deeply affected by what the media and even his fans would think about his performances. Michael appeared agile and fit from a dancing standpoint and his singing was ever so beautiful in what we saw of him in TII. However, knowing how emotionally and physically invested he was in every single performance he gave, 50 concerts caused me to shutter the more I learned about Michael. After more than three years of intensive research, I’m pretty convinced he would not have been able to perform 50 concerts. Either the physical strain, or the mental torment from being eviscerated by a ruthless media, would have brought the concerts to an end. Actually, the thought of him ending his own life crossed my mind several times over the last two years, though I know it was Murray’s negligence that took his life. There is only so much a human being can take and even though Michael loved his children above all else, and lived for them, the kind of pressure he was under must have been crushing. When I see pictures of the house Michael lived in in Ireland, and read all the wonderful accounts of people who knew him there and saw how relaxed and joyful he was, I feel an intense sadness. If only he would have stayed in Ireland. There’s that powerful little word again….If.

    His Brunei performance was spell-binding. Michael’s graceful hand movements and sensuous rocking back and forth would be all the movement I’d need to be completely hypnotized. No need for fancy costumes, the way he’s dressed during the Brunei concert keeps me focused on him like an eagle zeroing in on a rabbit in a field a mile away. Black trousers, white tee and a billowing white shirt with arm band and epaulets–stunning! The Brunei performance is as good as the Wembley version of Man in the Mirror. I love when he gets so overcome with emotion and starts the gospel chanting. While I was watching the video, I caught myself moving in rhythm to his impassioned “Tell me what about its”. I never saw him in concert but if I did, I’d be talking about it with fiery emotion to this day. An experience to be remembered forever. You ladies and gents who saw him live–well, I hope you know just how lucky you are.

    As far as performing goes, I think Michael would have continued to perform as long as he was able to get up on stage and sing into a microphone. It was in his blood and that magic he possessed would have been all he needed. Perhaps we were underestimating his creativity regarding his next chapter. Oh, he wanted to make film and acting the focus of his future, but he loved singing. He loved the stage. He was “thoroughly nourished” by an enthusiastic audience and let’s face it, few audiences are as wild and enthusiastic about a celebrity as they were (are!) about Michael Jackson. Just the mention of his name caused one’s spine to tingle. I watched the Bee Gees’ One Night Only concert from 1997 on public tv recently. It was a great concert even though Barry couldn’t hit those high notes consistently. He knew had had to make adjustments and he did and they were wonderful. Every song they sang was lovely and the audience responded enthusiastically to each one. The Bee Gees songs were some of Michael’s favorites, especially How Deep Is Your Love.

    When Barbara Streisand sang The Way We Were at this year’s Academy Awards, I felt her performance was B+. It was like she was holding back, afraid she may not hit a note just perfectly. She didn’t realize that everyone was thrilled just to see her sing live again.

    Here’s a video of Robert Plant performing Little Angel Dance. It’s a very creative and interest-grabbing video. I think his voice sounds great and I love the song. I can think of many songs of Michael’s that could have been adapted to a similar unique and exciting stage performance and/or video as seen here:

    As for the upcoming trial regarding the lawsuit against AEG, even if AEG is found negligent, it will be years before any money is paid out. AEG’s big gun attorneys will appeal and drag it out as long as they can. Besides, AEG Live, the entertainment portion, was up for sale recently. I find that suspect. Not doing well, perhaps? I read where they’ve withdrawn the offer. I live in greater Sacramento and our star basketball team, the Kings, are up for sale and are rumored to be relocating to Seattle, WA. For a time, AEG was considering partnering with several key investors and the City of Sacramento to help build an arena to keep the Kings here. Well, guess what….they backed out!

    Even though Murray was “directly” responsible for Michael’s death, I believe that AEG is the real reason our world changed forever on June 25, 2009.

    Thanks, Raven. I always look forward to reading your interesting and well-written accounts.

    1. You made some great points re Barry Gibb, Streisand, Plant, etc. This is exactly what I was talking about with Michael. Sometimes an ageing performer does have to make those adjustments, but they can still perform just as effectively. Michael seemed to suffer, however, from a unique pressure, between the demands he put on himself as well as what was expected of him when he performed. For whatever reason, critics would never have been as forgiving to him (I don’t believe) as they have been to some of these other artists. Granted, not that anyone should really care what critics think but the sad truth is that, to a large extent, people do. Given enough negative reviews, a star can really crumble under that kind of pressure. It’s really hard to say how it might have gone down if Michael has revamped his performances and his performing style. People might have said “Brilliant!” or, then again, they might have cut him to shreds. I think, however, once a performer makes it very clear that they are doing things on THEIR terms, people tend to respect that. It’s the pathetic spectacle of seeing someone trying to be what they were twenty years ago that usually invites scoff and ridicule.

      So for Michael he had one of two options-either risk that scoff and ridicule in hopes of proving them wrong, or readjust his performances and allow them to become something quite different, with different expectations. To some extent, I think Michael got caught up with thinking he had to deliver the wow factor with every performance; that he had to do it with all his customary dazzle. But who knows? He might have found completely new and innovative ways to “razzle” us.

  25. I’ve been reading Helena’s article regarding AEG/Tohme/Barrack. Her second installment is up now. In the articles referenced, it mentions that Michael knew Ron Burkel, a billionaire investor. Burkle is now involved in the on-going quest to purchase the Sacramento Kings and keep them in Sacramento. From what I’ve read so far regarding how Tohme, AEG came into Michael’s life, it’s becoming clearer that financial troubles pushed Michael into some bad financial decisions. Yes, he kept Neverland and his valuable art and belongings from being put on the auction block, but at what a price. He really had little choice but to perform 50 concerts. No surprise at all that he sought sleep aid via a powerful sedative. I wonder just how much will be revealed during the trial. I just heard that the judge has not prohibited legal counsel from mentioning the child molestation trial. It will be their link to show that Michael Jackson was depressed and despondent and desperate to pull himself out of financial quicksand.

    1. It may be mentioned, but I doubt they will be going into the details of it. I know a lot of people are worrying over that, but I believe it’s a mountain out of a molehill. Of course, being a civil case this will be a bit different from the Murray criminal trial (people were concerned then, also and their worries proved unfounded). The reason I am not too concerned is that, from a legal standpoint, Michael’s trial in 2005 has no relevance to the current case. He isn’t going to be re-tried. I really think any such mention, if it occurs at all, will probably be very brief in passing. Of course, gossip sites like TMZ love to take any scrap of information and turn it into some twisted headline, so I’m fully prepared for that sort of thing.

  26. Just touching on Michael performing ‘unplugged’; when I watched him just sitting on a stool in a video singing ‘She’s Out Of My Life’ during a tribute evening on TV showing 40 of his top videos a week after he died, that was when I was ‘blown away, hooked’. It’s the one where he cries at the end. In the ‘This Is It’ rehearsals, his singing and performance in ‘The Way You Make Me Feel’ took my breath away; absolutely brilliant and very sexy too. His young lady partner certainly seemed to think so at one point when he follows her and ‘sizzles’ in front of her!

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