Breaking Down A Michael Jackson Concert

The "Heroic Pose" Was Perfected During The Dangerous Tour

If you’ve never thought about it before, Michael Jackson’s concerts were highly conceptualized affairs. Maybe not so much in the early days, when it was simply all about the singing and dancing. But beginning in the late 80′s and extending into the 90′s,  as his concerts became more than just concerts, but huge, theatrical extravaganzas, it became very clear that every show was built around a specific concept. The Dangerous and HIStory world tours set the precedence. And from what we saw in This Is It, it’s obvious that the This Is It shows would have been merely a continuation of the same concept he had perfected in the early 90′s, with but a few tweaks here and there to the format.

But have you ever really thought about the messages Michael was conveying as he moved through each stage of a typical MJ concert, or the different personaes and “characters” he was creating, or why the songs were arranged in the specific order that they were?

This is an attempt to break down and analyze the segments of a Michael Jackson concert. For this purpose, I’m relying mostly on the Dangerous and HIStory concerts as the models, since like I said, it was primarily those two tours in which his vision/concept really took shape and became solidified.  And the Live at Bucharest show from 1992 is probably the epitome of what I consider the perfect Michael Jackson concert, in which we see every element of his concept played out to perfection.

Because it was a Michael Jackson concert, of course, a Larger-Than-Life opening wasn’t just expected, but required. For the Dangerous tour, Michael came up with an idea that was sheer genius. Simply come out, strike a heroic pose, and hold it for minutes on end, while the crowd slowly goes nuts. Jim Morrison, who had a theatrical background and also understood the concept of bringing theatre to the concert stage, had a phrase for this technique that I like to fall back on: The Pregnant Pause. Michael also fully understood that “The Pregnant Pause” could be used to great effect, to build crowd tension and expectations. Remember what Michael said in This Is It? “You have to let it simmer.” Part of being a great performer is in knowing how to let it simmer; how to hold a pause just long enough, but not too long, allowing the tension to build like a slow pressure cooker, until just at the point of boiling over-BAM! You give them what they want.

Heroic Pose/Pregnant Pause/Whatever You Want To Call It, It Was Quite Effective For Driving An Audience To A State Of Orgasmic Hysteria:

The wardrobe choices for Michael’s Grande Entrances were always interesting, as well. For the Dangerous tour, he adopted what I call (for lack of a more specific name for it) his Space Lord or War Lord look. Wearing a very futuristic, military-esque look of black and gold, replete with a gold leotard worn OUTSIDE his pants (as if to better emphasize his manly “assets”) he would go into the very upbeat Jam, followed by Wanna Be Starting Something, with a series of mechanical yet sexual moves, including extensive crotch grabbing and “the finger” gestures, all usually performed with an unrelenting, angry snarl.

For The HIStory tour, Michael Changed His Opening Personae To An Invading Spaceman, But It Was The Same Concept

The message here was clear: I am a superhuman being, come from out of this world, and I am here to dominate and conquer you. The message at this point is overtly sexual, aggressive, and non-feeling. This personae displays no real emotion, other than domination. He is dazzling, but cold.

For the HIStory tour, Michael tweaked his opening personae into that of an arriving spaceman. The space ship would land onstage and the doors open, to reveal a Michael clad head to toe in gold metallic. Again, he would employ “The Pregnant Pause” to great effect (though I don’t think nearly as well as the Dangerous tour) before launching into Scream. In this instance, he is basically reenacting his character from the space-age Scream video, but like the Space Lord from Dangerous, it is the same concept. The dance moves at this point are very angular, sharp, with military-like precision, keeping with the heavy, industrial, staccato beat. Everything at this point is all about harsh, irregular lines, flatlined emotion, and acting in an almost dominatrix kind of way.

After a couple of such upbeat numbers, the mood would be broken with a soft, lilting ballad. During most of Dangerous, it was Human Nature. For HIStory, Human Nature was replaced by Stranger In Moscow. Judging from This Is It, it looked as though he was planning to once again use Human Nature.

During this segment, he engages in much softer and more fluid dance moves-the first hint that this larger-than-life, conquering being does have a beating heart, after all. But not quite; not just yet. Michael still maintains a purposeful sense of distance throughout these ballads. With Stranger In Moscow, he is finally giving us-the audience-a glimpse into his soul, but still being careful not to be too trusting; too open. And though the dance moves become more fluid now, there is still an aura of someone who is still holding something in check; not quite letting go.

Smooth Criminal, usually inserted about this point in the show, gave him his first opportunity to change up the personae a little bit. Coming out in his white fedora and white Smooth Criminal jacket, but usually only thrown over his gold suit, it was the first indication that a metamorphosis would be slowly taking shape. However, for the most part, the Smooth Crimonal personae is still an ultra cool, suave guy, a cock-of-the-walk with little to say. He’s smooth and faster than the eye, but would still just as soon shoot you as seduce you.

He Always broke Down During She's Out of My Life or You Are Not Alone. Of course, The Showman In Him Knew How Women Would Respond-And We usually Didn't Disappoint!

But finally comes the moment for “The Big Ballads” and suddenly this unthinking, unfeeling creature becomes vulnerable before our eyes-he has fallen in love, and love brings out the humanity in all of us. I Just Can’t Stop Loving You would be followed by She’s Out of My Life, in which the joy of the found love in IJCSTLY is suddenly gone. Still dressed in his metallic War Lord suit, the transformation is nevertheless complete. He pines with a broken heart; he acknowledges us for the first time (“Can i come down there?”). He bends to his knees and cries (and of course, being the ultimate showman, knew a thousand female hearts would be breaking every time he struck the pose).

It was during this time that the tradition was born of bringing a random girl from the audeince onstage to dance with him during the song (though these selections really weren’t so random, but the girls did come from among the fans at the show). For the HIStory tour, She’s Out of My Life was replaced with You Are Not Alone, and the random girls picked to come onstage would be known from then on as The Yana Girls. I have wondered which ballad they planned to use for This Is It. Since we see a brief glimpse of him rehearsing Speechless, I’ve often wondered if Speechless might have been planned to replace You Are Not Alone. I would imagine if an Invincible tour had ever materialized, this would have been the case (either Speechless or You Are My Life).

Once the shell has been broken, the show moves into the nostalgic pieces. A Jackson 5 medley of I Want You Back and The Love You Save would be capped off with I’ll Be There, replete with childhood images of the young and innocent Michael singing with his brothers.

This part of the show allowed him to pay homage to his past, but as to be expected, it was only a brief step back in time to “pay his respects.” Following in the same tradition of the Motown 25th Anniversary special, when he announced that “I especially like the new songs” there followed the de rigour trilogy of Thriller, Beat It, and Billie Jean.

Rather Than Saving Billie jean For The Finale Or Encore-As Most Performers Would Have Done-Michael very Cleverly Worked It Into A Centerpiece For The Show

It’s interesting that instead of saving his most anticipated showpiece performances for the finale, as most performers do, Michael instead very cleverly worked them into the centerpiece of his shows, especially the electrifying Billie Jean performance which was always his dance masterpiece. These three songs, especially Billie Jean and Beat It, became in essence the “catharisis pieces” of the show. Billie Jean, with its dark tale of a sexual tryst gone wrong, could be said to be the culmination of the unfeeling War Lord’s penance. Beat It emphasized that peace could ultimately win out over violence and aggression, thus setting the stage for Part Two.

Usually following a brief intermission after the high-octane triple whammy of Thriller, Beat It and Billie Jean, the second phase of the show would kick off with a completely morphed Michael. No longer the cold, military-like War Lord with his snarl and hard, industrial beat movements, the personae that emerged now would be an ethereal, almost angelic being in a soft, flowing white shirt and skinny black pants, symbolizing his song Black or White and the message it conveyed. With his hair flowing, his expression an open mirror of emotion, his dance moves flowing and ethereal, he is the complete opposite of the unfeeling, aggressively sexual personae of the show’s first half. Gone are the crotch grabs and the excessive, blatant displays of sexuality. He is not here to conquer us now, but to love us and to be as one with us-and to preach the importance of love, for ourselves, for each other, for our children and our planet.

In short, Part Two would become all about “The Message.” Throughout the Dangerous and HIStory tours, this concept remained pretty much the same, with only slight variations. Black or White usually heralded this turning point in the show. Will You Be There was replaced by Earth Song (which brought with it its whole, unique theatrical concept) and Man In The Mirror by Heal The World. But other than these tweaks, the basic forumla never changed. Michael wanted his shows to be a journey for every audience member, and he wanted the end of that journey to be a message of love that we would take beyond the arena and apply to the rest of our lives. Heal The World always, invariably, ended as a Grande Finale number with children representing nationalities from all over the world taking the stage.

This Is It shows Michael rehearsing Man In The Mirror, but Heal The World was planned to be included in the shows, so I don’t know if there were plans to include both songs. If they had, it would have been a first. I think Michael wisely knew that both of those songs together would be overkill, and usually opted for one or the other. However, maybe since This Is It was supposed to be “the final curtain call” there was sentimental pressure to do both. It’s hard to say since the shows never materialized. We’ll never know exactly what Michael’s final vision was.

Part Of His Message Was That We Have To Embrace Our Humanity

But for sure, every Michael Jackson concert was the result of “The Man’s” unique vision and genius. A show was always more than just a show. He said it best himself-”It’s an adventure. A great adventure.” Sure, he was a great singer and dancer. But like all the best artists, he wanted to take it a step further. He wanted to make you feel, and to THINK. He wanted to shake us out of the apathy of our small lives and make us realize the enormity of the world around us-and perhaps to get across the message that we cannot continue to go through life as unthinking, unfeeling beings that are here only to dominate and conquer. We must embrace our humanity if we are to survive.

But most of all, Michael Jackson simply knew how to give a show like no other.

Comments: 9 Comments

Purging Youtube Hate This Saturday!

This Is What Hate Unchecked Leads To.

Because I’m always happy to promote good causes for MJ, here’s a campaign I saw that I wanted to pass along. There is only one small catch: I do not wish to in any shape, form or fashion promote the videos and Youtube hate channels that are being targeted by this campaign, and unfortunately, publishing their links does just that. To get the list of links, send me an email notification and I’ll send you a reply with the links. I watched only a few of these, and was angry enough to bite nails. Yes, we have freedom of speech but most of these clearly cross the line into hate speech, which is NOT a First Amendment right.

http://mjfanclub.net/home/index.php?option=com_content&view=articl e&id=4405:stop-the-hate&catid=85:latest-news&Itemid=82

(4-2-2011) In their ongoing efforts to stop the hate and gain the respect for Michael Jackson that he deserves, MJJJusticeProject has brought to our attention a major, mass campaign aimed at ridding YouTube of many hatefilled, hurtful videos.

A simultaneous targeting of the videos in question is planned for Saturday, Febuary 5, in a strategized, well-thought-out action designed to remove certain videos and users from YouTube.

The campaign is being promoted mainly via Twitter but, we urge you to get involved. Spread the word and participate! Remember that together we have power!

The simple instructions are as follows:

WHEN and WHERE

WHERE: YouTube
DATE: Saturday, Febuary 5, 2011
TIME: ONE HOUR WINDOW

12:00 PM — 1:00 PM EST

11:00 AM — 12:00 PM CST

09:00 AM — 10:00 AM PST

5:00 PM — 6:00 PM GMT

WHAT

After you have signed in and/or created your YouTube account, please go to the links below & follow these instructions:

1. Dislike the video (thumbs down)

2. Move across to the Flag icon to your right & click it.

3. A drop down box will appear. Select ‘hateful or abusive content.’

4. From there, move your cursor across to the right and select: ‘Promotes Hatred or Violence.’

5. A further drop down list will appear:

- age
- colour
- disability
- ethnic origin
- gender identity
- national origin
- race
- religion
- sex
- sexual orientation
- veteran status

6. Press Flag again

The above list is double-talk by YouTube as reporting these kind of videos does not really fit into the categories they show. You are, in a way, being forced to select something. We suggest selecting either race or sexual orientation as these YouTube users are promoting an untrue and false lie about Michael Jackson and sexual abuse and are often racist. Your choices here are not ideal but YouTube will not accept your report if you do not make a selection.

WHO
 

Email me:

emailraven@comcast.net  or refer to this link:

http://mjfanclub.net/home/index.php?option=com_content&view=articl e&id=4405:stop-the-hate&catid=85:latest-news&Itemid=82

Please Note:

Results will not show immediately as it takes time for youtube to process reports of abuse. But if we all do this on the same day and at other organized dates in the future, we may seriously impact the effort to cleanup the hate on YouTube. Other efforts to deal with persistent YouTube abusers in relation to MJ are also happening offline.

Remember that UNITY is power!

Source: MJFC / MJJJusticeProject.com

UPDATE: Just came away from doing my part this morning, and boy did it feel good! You would not believe the extent of hate and filth that is on Youtube unless you actually take some time to wade through the muck. I will say that, much as I admire the effort of such a campaign as this, it will take a much longer and much more sustained effort to really make a dent. The unfortunate reality is that even if a Youtube user’s account is suspended, they can still come right back with a different account and start all over again. So it’s not as if a “one time” mass reporting can keep them off Youtube. As I said, it will take a long-term sustained effort but I understand that such efforts are in progress, so that is good.

Just to give you an idea of how bad it really is-and to salve the consciences of anyone who thinks they are infringeing on someone’s right to free speech-many of these videos use images of Michael’s children in the most vile ways imaginable. While “pretending” to “justify” their hate by feigning concern for children supposedly molested by Michael, they have no conscience whatsoever about abusing his own children and using their images in hateful, disgusting ways. They use images of Paris crying at her daddy’s funeral and impose over it some of the most vile hate jargon you can imagine. As I moved through several videos and began taking notice of this trend, I also noticed there is a “hate” category when you flag videos that pertains to the “abuse of vulnerable persons.” I strongly urge you to click that option whenever the video involves Michael’s children in any way.

There are two users in particular, House of Pain and Ultrapropofol, who are particularly nasty, evil, repeat offenders, and seem to be the ringleaders in some of the worst of the worst. Most of these cowards have also disabled the ratings functions on their videos. (Hmm, I wonder why that could be!). But not to worry, they cannot disable the function to flag and report them.

Also, you should be aware that many of these clips do promote hatred and intolerance, and not just against Michael. Ultrapropofol, in particular, has an entire series of videos that constantly use the word “faggot.” This is an offensive hate word whether directed at Michael or anyone else.  I want to make you all aware of this to let you know that yes, in every sense, this is a justified campaign (not just because our wittle feelings are hurt that they have said some mean things about Michael). When you click that option that says this video is promoting hate speech, you can feel perfectly justified in doing so. These clips really and truly are promoting hatred and abuse.

Comments: 28 Comments

Another One

Remember those sexy, preveiously unreleased shots from Invincible that we all loved so much? Well, I keep running across more of these all the time. Apparently, that was quite a prolific shoot! This beauty was sent to me courtesy of NoLimit from MJFC:

 

 

To see the other photos from this shoot:

http://allforloveblog.com/?p=4422

Comments: 17 Comments

Would You Deliberately Hurt This Little Boy?

Look at that sweet face and bright smile! Listen to that voice as he sings Ben. It is the voice of an angel, coming from the depths of a soul so sweet, so pure, it could only be from God.

Would you hurt him? Would you give him reason to cry at night?

No, you say? You cannot imagine it? But you did!

You started even then. You denied his gift, and tried to say he must be a 42-year-old midget. That remark hurt him because he didn’t understand. He cried over it.

Still, he kept smiling sweetly and singing his heart out for you. He was like a little songbird trapped in a cage. He could not get out or fly free. All he knew to do was sing, sing his little heart out for you.

Of course, he was already a cunning little showman, too. Jermaine said at about age three he was already looking into the mirror, copying Jermaine’s moves-which, of course, he would soon master, and then surpass.

All was forgiven. How could you not? All he had to do was grin that mischevous smile, and remind you with a song of why he was special, what a shining little star he was.

Did you know he paid for all that joy he gave you with bruises, and the loss of a childhood that most take for granted? It was a childhood where the joy of performing was mixed with smoke-filled nights in seedy, rough bars, and sleep that consisted of a few snatched hours on buses and planes.

 

Still, he kept smiling and singing for you, beating his wings against that cage.

Would you deliberately hurt this little boy?

No, you say? Look at that face, that smile, listen to that voice! No, this child was a precious gift. Anyone who would hurt this child and give him reason to cry would have to be an evil person indeed. So you say.

Oh, but you did! You hurt this little boy, not once, not twice, but over and over again. He cried himself to sleep, so many more nights than you’ll ever know. You took the smile from his face and the joy from his heart, not all at once, of course, but slowly and deliberately, in the way the most insidious evil works. You battered him with your lies, with your accusations, with your cruel jokes that you thought were funny. I hope it all gave you amusement, because while you were laughing, this little boy was not only crying, but slowly dying inside.

This smiling, sweet little boy with the voice of an angel grew sad, withdrawn, and sometimes angry. His wings beat harder against the cage. But still, he could not break free.

He never lost his smile or his sweet ways. But some days he just felt so battered, so bruised. Yes, some days he did question whether it was worth it, to go on this way.

But he went on. He kept smiling and singing and giving his all, for you. Even when you gave him nothing but your hate, he kept hoping you would love him again. Because that’s all he ever really wanted, was your love. When that was taken from him, it killed him inside.

And that pain grew, until it became a crushing stone on his heart. Every performance became haunted by fear; anxiety. Would you love him enough? Or crush him further with your blows?

He still beat his wings, but the cage only grew smaller; his heart heavier.

Sometimes he ran away from you, searching to find that happy little boy again. There were times when he was so close, yet somehow you always managed to hunt him down, and stick him back in that cage again. You always found yet one more way to hurt him.

What could he do? If he sang for you, you scorned him. When he didn’t sing for you, you scorned him. When he fought fiercely, battering his fragile wings against that cage, you laughed at the spectacle. When he gave up, you called him a coward, a quitter,  and many things much worse.

When his heart finally gave up and his wings were stilled, it was not enough. You beat and pummeled his heart, trying to make it start up for you one more time. Why? Just so you could hurt it some more? Even in death, his body was battered and bruised, so many trying to force him to give it his all one last time.

But by then he had spent a lifetime-fifty years-of giving it his all. His body, his soul, his crushed heart, simply had no more left to give.

If asked in 1970 would you deliberately hurt this little boy, I’m sure you would have said no way. Who could possibly be so cruel?

Yet you did just that! You not only hurt him, you killed him. I’m sure you would never have dreamed yourself capable of it in 1970. Maybe you didn’t mean to. But you did.

Who is the “you” of this piece?

Look in your heart after you have read this. Listen to what it says. If it’s troubling you, then you know who “you” are.

But at least if your heart is speaking to you, that’s a good sign. It means you are not a lost cause. The little boy is dead, but his spirit lives on. There are still many things you can do to help make things right again. You can start by helping to clear his name that you blackened-the thing you did that hurt him the most. You can stop contributing to the hurt and slander. You can help to create a new day in which his children will never have to endure the hurt that he did.

If your heart speaks to you not at all, then you are a lost cause and damned. God loves all of His children. One child, in particular, He gave the gift of song, so that he might sing it to you and bring joy to your heart.

God does not like His precious gifts to be rejected. Or hurt.

I know already what some of you will say, those hateful cynics who always defend their hateful actions.  You will say, yes but…

That little boy grew up. He made choices. Yes, but…

His heart; his spirit; his sweet soul was still the same-still as vulnerable; still as capable of feeling the brunt of your stones.

My heart leaps up when I behold
              A rainbow in the sky:
          So was it when my life began;
          So is it now I am a man;
          So be it when I shall grow old,
              Or let me die!
          The Child is father of the Man;
              I could wish my days to be
          Bound each to each by natural piety.-William Wordsworth

This man, that you hurt and drove to his grave with your lies and your “Wacko Jacko”  taunts and your endless humiliation, was that little boy. You hurt him, you abused him, and, yes, you killed him.

You may not pay for it on earth. But one day, you will.

Comments: 37 Comments

Help A Good Cause! It Costs Nothing But A Click!

This video needs to reach 10,000 views!  I’ve embedded the video here, but I encourage you to click on the Youtube link so that they can get their views up to the much-needed 10,000 mark. They are already very close!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DrjjU1Wej98

This is a cause very close to my heart. Let’s make this happen!

http://allforloveblog.com/?p=5070

Comments: 15 Comments

Michael’s Death May Not Be Completely In Vain: Great New Huffington Post Article Discusses Much Needed Medical Care Reforms That May Result

This was posted on another MJ site and I wanted to share it here. The Huffington Post, which has slowly been evolving over the past few months as one of the few trustworthy media outlets when it comes to Michael Jackson news, recently ran this terrific article from Matt Semino, Dr. Conrad Murray Trial, A Bitter Pill To Swallow.

Many have been dreading this trial, and the recent news that Judge Pasor may consider TV cameras inside the courtoom is a mixed blessing that could have obvious advanatges and disadvanatges. I think I can speak for most fans in saying what we dread is simply the spectacle of Michael being dragged through yet another trial. It will be bad enough reliving all of the details of his death. But I know, deep down, what it is we really fear-the public character assasination that is bound to ensue! For those who stuck with Michael throughout the 2005 trial, you already know what that’s like. Even I, a mostly (back then) casual observer to events, could not help cringeing at the endless media potshots, comedian’s jokes, and blabbering, yapping heads like Nancy Grace and Diane Dimond. We already know how this trial is going to play out. It will not be about what Murray did or didn’t do wrong. It should be. After all, he is the one who is on trial. But somehow, I think most fans cannot shake off the impending gut feeling that the burden of proof is going to somehow fall on Michael Jackson-again. Even though he is the victim. Or supposed to be.

But Semino’s article brings up some interesting points. What exactly are we nervous about, really? What do we fear? I have really been thinking about this for some time. The fact that so many fans “appear” to be sweating bricks over this trial is in itself ammunition for haters, cynics, and anyone who is going to be judging the reactions of fans throughout this process. It gives the appearance that we just may fear there really and truly IS something to hide, and that perhaps we are more concerned about what “skeletons” in Michael’s closet or “dirty secrets” will be revealed than we are about justice.

I am not saying I don’t understand where the fear comes from. I understand completely. I’m just saying, though, that it’s a fear that plays right into the hands of the media and the haters, who will view it as a weakness and will relish every opportunity to exploit it.

So maybe it’s time to ask the question…what exactly is there to fear about this trial? This is where I think Semino’s article does a great job of putting this trial in perspective. He reminds us that Michael is the victim this time. And that is the thought we have to keep uppermost in mind.

What is the worst that the media can do to Michael in this case? The worst case scenario is that the defense will try to portray him as a drug addict. But we already know that is their plan. Sure, the media will delight in reporting everything the defense claims, true or not. But if you truly think about the fact that this is really the worst they can do to Michael this go-round, the threat loses much of its power.

Both Michael AND His Fans Faced The Worst In 2005. Justice Prevailed Then. We Have To Keep The Faith It Will Prevail Again.

Think back to 2005. At that time, the worst thing that could happen would be that Michael was found guilty of child molestation and sentenced to prison.  Even if the worst thing that comes out of this trial in 2011  is that the media portrays him as an addict, this is relatively mild stuff as compared to 2005. Being an addict is not a crime; it’s an illness. If the worst thing that can come out of this trial is an awakening to the idea that Michael was a victim and that victims still have rights-including the right to competent medical care and to life itself-then that just might be a very positive outcome, after all.

Understand I am not saying that Michael was an addict. I am just saying this as someone who already has full knowledge of how this case is going to be played out in the media.

But if we go into this trial with the full realization that that is the WORST possible case scenario that can come out of it, it just might help keep things in perspective.  I know that we don’t like to think of Michael that way. We want the world to remember the great artist and humanitarian, not  “the victim.”

However, in this instance, Semino is right. Michael was a victim in this case. He was a victim of (I think) many things, including greed, incompetence and all of the things that Semino so accurately points out in his article.

Semino’s point is that this case-and its resulting trial-may be “a bitter pill to swallow” but, hopefully, a bitter pill that will nevertheless bring about much needed legal reforms in the medical profession. And I agree with him. If Michael had to die such a senseless, tragic death that could have been prevented, I think he would want to at least know that it wasn’t completely in vain, but had helped to bring about positive social change.

Dr. Conrad Murray Trial, A Bitter Pill To Swallow

By: Matt Semino

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/matt-semino/dr-conrad-murray-trial-a-_b_814401.html

Brace yourself. It’s starting again. The stage has been set for another legal drama featuring the King of Pop. Dr. Conrad Murray, Michael Jackson’s personal physician, was arraigned on Tuesday morning in Los Angeles Superior Court. Stating, “Your honor, I am an innocent man,” Murray pled not guilty to the charge of involuntary manslaughter in connection with the star’s death. Jury selection for his trial is set to commence on March 28. If convicted, the maligned doctor could face a maximum of up to four years in prison.

Can anyone bear to watch Michael Jackson be dissected yet again in the court of public opinion? Fortunately, unlike the child molestation cases, there are socially prescient issues that will be addressed by a Dr. Conrad Murray trial. Issues that have the potential to generate useful policy discourse.

Michael Jackson will now be presented by the prosecution as the victim rather than the victimizer. This trial will unfold without the star ever having to personally defend his actions or perceived predilections. Instead, the focus will be on Dr. Murray, the man who was privy to Jackson’s exclusive daily life leading up to precise moments of his death. Murray’s attorneys will need to explain what exactly happened on June 25, 2009. Why did Michael Jackson die and who was responsible? The tables have turned, not out of vengeance brought by “crazy” Jackson fans, but by the law seeking truth where injustice has occurred.

Confident and seeking a speedy trial, Dr. Murray’s defense team has already begun to draw their Michael Jackson portrait. Predictably, they will argue that he was a demanding, drug dependent pop star who was sick, suicidal and ultimately responsible for his own fate. Inevitably, certain media outlets will jump on this characterization with stories that blur the line between honest journalism and tabloid sensationalism. Of course, some will argue that every human being, including Jackson, should be held accountable for their personal decisions, actions and even their own death. But come on now! Let’s not fool ourselves into believing that mantra is really the crux of this debacle.

While there are many actors in this story, the Michael Jackson tragedy is foremost a tale of the abysmal ethical choices, disastrous professional judgment and horrendous medical practices of a trusted caretaker. Dr. Conrad Murray exploited loopholes in the system, turned a blind eye, became sloppy, tried to cover up his mistakes and then got caught. It certainly could have ended differently.

Giving Murray the benefit of the doubt, perhaps he was working in the wrong place, at the wrong time and with the wrong man. The cash and Hollywood allure though were too seductive for him to resist. Dr. Murray’s reputation, livelihood and career now hang in abeyance. Even if acquitted, what he will have sorely learned is that when playing carelessly with a raging fire, you are guaranteed to get scorched.

Hired in 2009 by concert promoters AEG to serve as Michael Jackson’s personal physician, Murray was paid the exorbitant sum of $150,000 a month for his position. He was charged with caring for the star and ensuring that Jackson was healthy enough to attend rigorous rehearsals as he prepared for a comeback tour. That spring, Murray promptly closed his Houston and Las Vegas medical practices and moved to Los Angeles to care for the music legend on a full-time basis at his rented Holmby Hills mansion. What eventually developed turned out to be a highly destructive patient-physician relationship.

The Los Angeles County coroner’s office determined that Michael Jackson died of acute propofol poisoning. A powerful surgical anesthetic which is only to be administered in a hospital, propofol was being given to Jackson in his home as a sleep aid to combat chronic insomnia. Dr. Murray has claimed that he was unaware of Jackson’s propofol use prior to accepting his post and that he eventually became concerned the star was becoming addicted to the drug.

Despite glaring red flags and against his sound professional judgment, Murray continued to administer propofol to Jackson regularly during the two months leading up to and on the day of his death. He allegedly left Jackson unattended under the influence of the drug on that fateful morning, failed to properly resuscitate the star when he stopped breathing and then delayed calling 911, all while seeking to hide evidence. When help finally arrived, Murray did not inform medics that he had ever given Jackson propofol. Negligence?

According to witness testimony from Murray’s preliminary hearing, the doctor also crossed clear ethical boundaries on a number of occasions during the time period when he was caring for the star. Such testimony revealed that Murray employed tactics of blatant misrepresentation to obtain excessive amounts of propofol and other sedatives from a Las Vegas pharmacy for Michael Jackson’s use. Large quantities of these drugs were later found in Jackson’s home after his death. Fraud?

If Dr. Murray believed that Michael Jackson was becoming an addict, why did he continue to administer potentially harmful and addictive drugs? If Dr. Murray was so concerned for Jackson’s welfare, why didn’t he proactively seek help from family members or handlers to stage an intervention on the star’s behalf? Why didn’t Dr. Murray just remove himself as Michael Jackson’s physician? Whether or not Jackson demanded propofol, his “milk,” is irrelevant in this case. Dr. Conrad Murray, a medical professional once licensed in three states, should have never given the drug to Michael Jackson.

The question of whether Murray was negligent in administering propofol to the pop icon will be the central legal issue in this case. However, this saga extends far beyond the universe of esoteric drug names, technical medical evidence and narrow interpretations of law. At its heart, it is a morality play ripe with classic, Shakespearean themes. The opiates of money and power, combined with the lust for celebrity and fame, drove a once respected member of the medical community to breach his responsibilities to his patient, his profession and ultimately to society. How did this happen?

Getting to the nut of the Dr. Conrad Murray case is going to be a dizzying affair. Enduring it though will possibly unearth a precedential jewel. Guilty or not guilty, it is highly questionable whether emotional justice will ever be served to the millions who seek it.

What can be the certain outcome of a Dr. Murray trial is that the legal system, the medical establishment and the public will begin to address some pressing policy questions. What are the acceptable parameters of the private patient-physician relationship? How can the fraudulent trafficking of potentially lethal pharmaceutical drugs be stopped? Through what institutional mechanisms can proper standards of medical professional ethics and practice be effectively enforced? Michael Jackson would undoubtedly want an element of humanity and positive social change to come from this imperfect storm. That is its simple potential.

By the way, while I am on the subject of The Huffington Post, the Rev. Barbara Kaufmann is now one of the featured bloggers, guaranteeing yet one more positive voice in Michael’s corner at Huffington. I think you will like this article, if you have not seen it already. Please take a moment to drop by and leave a comment for her (no fan names, please!).

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rev-barbara-kaufmann/bullying-not-just-for-pla_b_807389.html

Also, while I am on the subject of the media, I would like to remind everyone to please not get lax on our boycott of TMZ. I know it will be tempting in the weeks ahead with so much trial news coming out, but keep in mind the dirty tactics they have engaged in, and will no doubt continue to engage in throughout the trial:

http://allforloveblog.com/?p=5096

Remember: No clicks=No hits!

If you absolutely MUST keep up with TMZ, here is the best alternative:

http://home.mjnewsalerts.com/

Comments: 41 Comments

Michael Jackson’s Native American Heritage

Michael Was More At Home With These Native Dancers Than Most People Realized

Little is known about this part of Michael’s heritage. However, according to Joe Jackson, Michael’s Native heritage (which was Choctaw on Joseph’s side) included a very gifted healer, a shaman, a succesful businessman long before it was the norm for either a slave OR an Indian, and a dancer who defied a public ordinance against dancing.  Is it any wonder that July (Jack) and Nero (Jack’s son or Son of Jack) would one day have a great-great grandson who would combine all those qualities?

The acount is taken from a very rare book by Joe Jackson that I believe was printed only in Germany. This is a translation from the original German, which is why it reads a little rough in spots. However, from what I know of Choctaw history and growing up in the Southeastern US as a Native descendant myself, the story rings true to me. Perhaps, as family stories often are, some of it was embellished a little as they were passed down through the years. But it has the ring of truth. The mixing of Native people and Black slaves was quite common in the South during this era. The story of Michael’s ancestry is a fascinating glimpse into this unique period of American history.

Our Ancestors by Joe Jackson

The name Jackson was recieved by us from my great-grandfather on the part of the father, July Gale.
Nobody called him July, everybody called him just Jack.
Great-grandfather Jack was born in tribe Chostaw in the beginning of 19 centurie. He was an Indian shaman.
And he was very much appreciated for abilities for doctoring. Also Jack in his youth worked as a scout in the USA army.

A Choctaw Man From Early 1900's, Wearing The Traditonal Dress From The 1800's

Then great-grandfather has fallen in love with the fine girl by name Gina. In 1838 they gave birth to their first son, a boy whom they have named Israel. Unfortunately in past was so, that if one of the child’s perants was a slave, the child also was considered a slave.
Indian Jack was ” the free person “, but my great-grandmother unfortunately was a slave, that’s why Israel couldn’t hope for anything else, at least not yet.
When Israel has grown up, people have nicknamed him Nero. Nero, son of Jack, and eventually from this it has turned to Nero Jack-son.
As well as my great-grandfather, Nero was tall and light-skined, with high cheekbones and small sparkling eyes. And he was very proud of himself. Nero was still a boy when Jack started to transfer him his shaman knowledge. But despite of gift to doctoring and despite of his need for the tribe, to affliction of his parents, Nero has been sold to a plantation, to Louisiana. As well as other slaves, Nero had to eat there and then where it was told by the owners – kneeling before a low trough from which he scooped with a spoon. Soon Nero had enough of it and he ran away. The owner of a plantation immideately has sent people which searched all night long and have caught the fluent slave on the river, many miles away from the plantation. They have beaten Nero, up so bad, that he lost litres of his blood.
When some months later Nero has finally recovered, his owner wanted to sell him, but slaves which has previously escaped, were impossible to sell under the same high price, so instead of it owner of Nero has decided to force him to work as much as possible. My grandfather was tormented on crude cotton fields of the South, held down on hands and legs. Once fetters all the same have removed, and Nero has again dared to run away. This time the owner of a plantation himself has headed search group and has appointed the award to the one who will catch Nero. He was afraid, that other slaves will follow his example if he will not catch it him. And when he has really tracked down Nero, he has taken a heated chimney nipper and squeezed his nose with them until Nero has fallen without feelings. He has left my grandfather to lay on the ground because thought, that Nero was dead. But he was so strong, that has gone through also this awful punishment! But scars of the burn have remained with him up to the end of his days.

Unidentified, Young Mixed-Blood Choctaw Man, Circa 1860

For the time, that Nero has lived on a plantation in Louisiana, he had 6 children born from his girlfriend. Later he married an Indian Chostaw – well, she was an Indian only on 3/4 – my grandmother Emmaline. Probably, his life with my grandmother was some kind of a refuge from awful working conditions, and those who has enthralled him, could only be jelous at harmonies of his marriage and home life. They did not need many money to be happy because they loved each other. Emmaline was from Louisiana, she has gone to her mother slightly yellowish color of a skin.
When the president Lincoln released slaves on May, 31, 1865 Nero’s situation got better. At last he could earn for a life adequately – selling the Indian medicines. With time he became famous because he has cured hundreds of people. His abilities of the sorcerer became widely known, and people came from far away so he’d he help them.
Grandfather Nero conducted a simple life and has saved so much money, that he and my grandmother could get a farm in Sunnyvale in Missisippy. He has paid with cach for 120 hectares of the fertile ground. There Nero and Emmaline had 15 children (and in general Nero had 21 children). My grandfather, grandmother and all their huge clan was fed from this ground where they planted corn, tomatoes, other vegetables, held chickens, pigs and cows.
Nero then frequently wandered in the woods to collect grasses. From roots and other parts he made broth, spilled it in bottles and gave it to the patients to drink, he made also ointments of various wood grasses. With this things he treated Indians and former slaves, and they paid for it to him with what they could.

Nero also liked to sing and frequently executed old military dances of Chostaw. Once Saturday evening the sheriff and his people have blocked with ropes the street on which he danced, and have tried to arrest him for infringement of a public order, but Nero has felt danger. He has jumped on the horse, has elegantly jumped through an obstacle and has escaped. After that the sheriff has left him alone.
When children Nero and Emmaline have grown and have created their own families, he has invited the children of his younger brother William to his farm, among them was also my senior cousin Rufus. Rufus has somehow told to me, he should be given more attention to grasses with which the grandfather treated illnesses. But he then was still a child and as many children, did not think of as far as valuable can be knowledge of ancestors.
When Rufus was 4, Nero’s wife has died. In the meantime Nero too became old and weak, and since he could not look after the farm as earlier, he had to buy some things from one white man by the name Eroy. He spent the small amounts of money, but the Eroy very carefully conducted the accounts. Rufus was then still a child; the only thing, that he has noticed is that Nero becomes weaker. And it caused Nero to hand over to Eroy, for on storage some important papers so he could keep them for him. In the end eroy managed – the way Rufus and I have guessed later – to appropriate documents on owning of the farm, ostensibly as debt payments which Nero owned him.

Today, Many African-American Descendants of Black Slaves And Native Americans Still Identify With, And Celebrate, Their Native Ancestry

That’s how our family has lost all rights on this fertile ground where hundreds peach and pear trees which my relatives carefully looked after, grew. When later Rufus and I have have found out, that there, under the ground were huge oil fields, we have simply lost gift of speech since the rent for the right of drilling already then made to 1,2 million dollars. Meanwhile the deposit should cost at least good 100 million.
The last years of his life Nero lived on the farm alone, because William and Rufus have again left home. He has died in 1924, long before my birth. My father Samuel, lived back than in Arkansas where he has found work, he has found out about death of the father too late and couldn’t come to funeral. My uncle Sam has arrived from Oklahoma to participate in it, and other son of the grandfather, my uncle Esco too had come there. My father was Nero’s younger son. He had a twin sister Janey D. Hall.
My great-grandmother on the part of mother – Mattie Daniel. Mattie was born in 1864. Her mother, handicaped, was the daughter of the planter, father – the slave on a plantation of her father. Despite of protests of mother, Mattie has been sold to other family because the planter did not like that her father was black. When I was young, Mattie’s history set me thinking. If I had children, I thought, I would not lower eyes from them and wouldn’t allow anybody to take them away from me.
Anyway, Mattie never could enjoy a life of society, as her mother. As well as Nero, my great-grandfather on the part of mother was the slave collecting a cotton. Mattie was married 2 times and had 17 children. One of her daughters was my grandmother, another – my cousin grandmother Verna.

Nero was a respectable person due to doctoring abilities and also because at he owned a ground, that during this time was unusual to the former slave. As to business qualities, my father has gone to him, he too was respected, mainly for good education. Samuel studied 9 years in Alcorn College in Mississipi and when he was 24, he already were Bachelor and Master Degree, that on a boundary of centuries was a rarity for the young man from minority .
After final examinations he has found out, that in Ashley Country, Arkansas, there’s an empty palce of a teacher. He walked there 200 km from Mississipi to participate in competition on this place, and has received it.
Earlier in a province, in initial and the higher school only one teacher taught. Professor Jackson as he was named, had 2 especially clever schoolgirls to whom he from the very beginning has paid attention – sisters King. One them them, Chrystal – bright individuality, with a dazzling smile and loud laughter. When she was 16 years, he married her. It was my mother.
In a small town where I lived, everybody loved my family. We spent our free time at home or in church and since Dad has been well educated, neighbours admired him. And we always had friends.

Comments: 12 Comments

Blurring The Lines: The Michael and Prince Saga-Pt 2

In Part One, I mostly looked at the similar backgrounds and parallels between Michael and Prince. Now I’m going to examine how they actually felt about each other, and try to get some perspective on how they personally viewed their “rivalry.”

A great source, by the way, which I highly recommend is this Vibe article from June 2010:

http://www.vibe.com/content/michael-jackson-prince-oral-history

I know that some of you are already familiar with this article, as it came up in the comments for Part One. Mainly, I have found it a great source for timelining the Michael/Prince saga, as well as the source of many great quotes from both artists on how they felt about each other. In researching Part Two, I am relying heavily on the Vibe source which I will also intersperse with other articles and my own commentary.

CYNTHIA HORNER (Former editor of Right On! Magazine from 1976-2005; Currently writes and edits for Hip-Hop Weekly): I met Michael back in 1976 and he was one of the shyest people that I’ve ever dealt with. It was a little difficult to interview him because even though as a professional entertainer he realized he needed the press, he wasn’t somebody that knew how to relate to the media in terms of being open with information. He was just super shy unless he was around his family. But he picked up the fact I was shy as well, so he kind of embraced me and we became friends. He and Prince were quite similar because Prince was shy as well. If you were a journalist he would give you the same monosyllabic answers that Michael did. But Prince would also speak in riddles a lot of the time; he was very evasive. He would never answer any of my questions [laughs]. He wanted to keep his privacy protected at all cost.

                                                                   ****

ALAN LEEDS: Michael wasn’t a musician in the classic sense. He approached his music differently from the way Prince did although Michael could write a great song as well. But Prince was arguably a musician first. I don’t think there’s any doubt that Prince saw Michael as a symbol of where he wanted to go in terms [of notoriety]. Michael was one of the few artists on the planet that Prince did respect in that sense. (my emphasis).  Once we realized that he was in the process of writing what was the original idea for the film Purple Rain as he was scribbling in notebooks during his 1982 tour for 1999, we knew he wanted more. The word was beginning to spread: “Hey, Prince really thinks he’s writing a movie.” I don’t think any of us took it that seriously because it didn’t make sense that somebody who at that point only had a few pop hits was going to be able to get the funding for a film. But it certainly revealed an ambition he had and to his credit Prince would go on to pull it off.

CYNTHIA HORNER: I would give Michael copies of the magazines and he would see certain people in the book and ask me lots of questions about the artists he was interested in. And that’s how he was introduced to Prince. After that, I started to let Michael listen to some of the Prince music I had and he was intrigued. At that point, I realized that there was somewhat of a rivalry developing. Michael had been in the business longer, so naturally he didn’t want to get replaced by the newcomer.(my emphasis).

ALAN LEEDS: Prince went to a James Brown gig [in 1983] with Bobby Z, his drummer at the time, Big Chick, who was his security guard, and I think Jill Jones, who was one of his protégés. By now, everybody knows what happened at that gig. I don’t think Prince realized that Michael was going to be there. James looked a little puzzled in that video when Michael whispered in his ear, “Hey, bring Prince up.” And of course Prince didn’t really know what to do either. He went to the guitar first but he fumbles with that because it was left-handed. He played a few licks, did some dancing and knocked over a prop by accident. Now I always wondered if Michael intentionally brought Prince up to put him in that position just to say, “Hey, you think you’re on my ass? Well follow this, motherfucker [laughs].” (my emphasis). Bobby Z called me and said, “Oh boy…he made an ass of himself tonight.” He said Prince didn’t say a word the whole way to the hotel. 

http://www.vibe.com/content/michael-jackson-prince-oral-history

http://www.vibe.com/content/michael-jackson-prince-oral-history-pg-2

Here is the (in)famous and historic moment in which w see James Brown, Michael Jackson and Prince all together on the same stage. To my knowledge, this is the only time Michael and Prince ever performed together-if you can call it that!

It would be great to think of their one and only onstage face-off being this great, monumental event in which each gave it their equal all, but it didn’t quite pan out that way. Looking at the vid, here is how it appeared to go down:

At the beginning of the clip, James brown calls Michael to the stage. Michael comes up and starts to sing a tender ballad, until the band throws him a curve that forces him to go into an impromptu James Brown parody (which he pulls off brilliantly, of course. My only complaint-it was all too brief!) At 1:12 we can see he is whispering something to James Brown, so I’m assuming this is the moment of Prince’s “setup.” As per Alan Leeds’s description, Prince does the guitar thing briefly, then as if to say, “Screw this!” rips off his shirt and begins a totally off the wall, impromptu routine that culminates with the accident at 4:46.

It’s easy to look at that clip and say Prince upstaged Michael that night. Certainly it was the flashier performance (and the one that ended with the biggest bang!). However, in hindsight, there is method to Michael’s polished control. For starters, I think Michael was smart enough to realize that you don’t upstage James Brown! You just don’t. I’m sure Michael could have easily pulled his best “Billie Jean” routine out of his pocket and stolen the show, but he chose the path of reserve. In the end, he came off as the classier, more controlled performer who left you wanting more, whereas Prince…well, the video speaks for itself. It was a classic example that bravado and flash doesn’t always equate the greatest performance. In the end, as Jay Z points out, Prince succeded that night in mostly embarrassing himself (as to whether he was fried out of his mind on drugs, as some have speculated, I will leave for others to decide). Did Michael intentionally set prince up that night? Or did he just think it would be all in the name of good fun and sportsmanship? Part of me wants to say the latter is probably a little too naive to swallow, while the other half of me says the former is probably a little too extreme. I don’t think he intentionally set Prince up to make a buffoon of himself that night (Prince seemed to manage that quite well on his own!) but perhaps it was a way of forcing the impending rivalry to a head, so to speak-even if subconsciously.

Michael, Who Braved Daring Heights During His Performances, Didn't Think It Took Much Daring To Write About Masturbation!

As the head-to-head battle between Thriller and Purple Rain began to heat up, Michael and Prince were keeping even closer tabs on what each other was up to:

ALAN LEEDS: Before we set out on the Purple Rain tour, it was a case of Prince wanting to see what Michael and the Jacksons were doing in terms of production, lighting, staging and everything with the Victory tour. We charted a jet with a couple of his bodyguards and Jerome Benton from the Time and Leroy Bennett, who was Prince’s lighting and production designer for his tours. We flew to Dallas to the old stadium where the Cowboys played. There was a feeling in our camp that while what they were doing was a very solid stadium production, there was nothing really cutting edge about the technology. The Varilites, which was a brand name for a type of computerized lighting, was the gold standard in the industry at that time. And we made sure we had all that shit. But the Jackson’s production didn’t. Prince had a lot of respect for Michael, but he was mildly impressed with the show.

QUESTLOVE: Michael attended many of the Purple Rain concerts. I have the four Purple Rain shows that were in Los Angeles in ’84. And now that I realize that Mike was in the audience, I often watch it to see if I can spot him [laughs]. But it makes you think. Why was Mike there four nights in a row? You have already created Thriller, you’ve done the Moonwalk, you’ve done the groundbreaking videos and you’ve sold a million a week. You are officially in the Guinness Book of World Records. For all intents and purposes, Purple Rain sold 15 million units, but it was hardly the 33 million that Thriller went on to sell. So why are you this curious to who is behind you?  Then I realized that you can’t be that successful without being competitive. Michael knew Prince was a serious threat. (my emphasis).

http://www.vibe.com/content/michael-jackson-prince-oral-history-pg-2

J. Randy Taraborrelli added further fuel to the “Prince and Michael rivalry” when he wrote that Michael walked out of a screening of Purple Rain, citing that Prince “looked mean,” couldn’t act and that he didn’t like the way he treated women. (For the record, there is a scene in Purple Rain where Prince’s character strikes Appolonia. However, the movie is also portraying how the cycle of violence is perpetuated when one comes from an abusive background, and that one has to work to break the cycle-something I believe Michael certainly would have related to!).

Michael also had some choice comments about Princes song Jack U Off from the Contoversy album, saying he didn’t see how anyone could write about something so private.

http://lacienegasmiled.wordpress.com/category/bromance/prince/

But let’s be fair. While Michael was supposedly taking potshots at Prince, Prince was also getting in his fair share of digs. This verse from Prince’s song Life o’ The Party doesn’t make much of a mystery as to who “the other guy” is:

But it ain’t nothing if it ain’t fun
My voice is getting higher
and Eye ain’t never had my nose done
That’s the other guy… Prince

Hmmm. Never had his nose done? Well, in Part One I printed an old pic that clearly shows evidence that Prince did have cosmetic surgery. I will offer up again for your persusal. Photographs don’t lie!

 

Now I’m not going to bs about it. Michael obviously had a lot more cosmetic work done than Prince. Still, for Prince to take that particular potshot was an especially hypocritical case of the pot calling the kettle black.

Despite cheap potshots, Michael time and again expressed a willingness to work with Prince. Through the years, several projects were proposed that would have brought The Gloved One and The Purple One together (sorry, couldn’t resist the bad tabloid-esque pun!). Not one of them panned out. And in every case, it was because the ball had been dropped in Prince’s court and he refused to pick up.

Case in point: We Are The World. It’s common knowledge that Prince was supposed to have been part of the project, but on the day of recording, pulled a “No Show.” (He did, however, compensate his no-show by giving the project another song to use, 4 The Tears In Your Eyes).

Then came “Bad”-and the first actual, sit down meeting between Michael and Prince! (Well, officially this was their “first” meeting although according to this site, Prince is the unnamed dinner guest in Latoya’s autobiography who presented Michael with the strange, voodoo-ish gift of charms and feathers!

http://lacienegasmiled.wordpress.com/category/bromance/prince/

Did Prince Attempt A Voodoo Hex On Michael?

Or Was Latoya Taking Lessons From Maureen Orth On "How To Write Sensationalism?"

According to Taraborelli, the planned “duet” for Bad was yet another Frank DiLeo-planted publicity stunt, but one that Michael had agreed to. The “trick” would be in getting Prince to go along with it, as well.

I’ve heard Quincy Jones tell this story many times. If you happen to own the Special Edition of Bad, there is an entire bonus track where Quincy Jones talks about that “historic meeting,” and although he doesn’t specifically mention that it was all a publicity stunt, nothing he says denies it, either.

Here’s an excerpt from Taraborelli’s account of that first meeting:

Quincy arranged for Michael to meet him {Prince} feeling that the two were creative geniuses and should know one another, whether they ever sang together or not. According to writer Quincy Troupe, “It was a strange summit. They’re so competitive with each other that neither would give anything up. They kind of sat there, checking each other out, but saying very little. It was a fascinating stalemate between two very powerful dudes.’”

http://books.google.com/books?id=HNUr4CBd7ksC&pg=PT311&lpg=PT311&dq=michael+jackson+walked+out+of+purple+rain&source=bl&ots=i9Zfo131rw&sig=5CrdsHMb4Vn2V20TUuxGQzJr-4s&hl=en&ei=mac8Te2qMYeglAfJtu3-Bg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CBMQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q&f=false

However, Prince did agree to listen to a tape of the song. After hearing the first line-”Your butt is mine”-he declined the offer. By his own account, Prince told Michael he wasn’t going to be singing that line to him, and Michael sure wasn’t going to be singing it to him! He was also reported to have said that Michael didn’t need him for the song to be a hit (which turned out to be true!).

Prince talks to Chris Rock about turning down the offer to duet on Bad:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=auLFJLSJxs0&feature=related

"Your Butt is Mine!"

"Wait A Minute...Who's Singing That Line To Who?!"

Michael allegedly did take the rebuffs as a kind of snub, but didn’t dwell on it. He moved on and did his thing. As for Prince, despite what he says in the Chris Rock interview about “no rivalry”-and no matter how much he has claimed in the years since about how much he respects Michael-I can’t help but feel that it was some degree of jealousy and arrogance on his part, at least at that time. (Perhaps, as with all things, maturity brought some degree of hindsight and wisdom). My honest take is that, at the time-when much of his appeal was based on being the polar opposite of Michael Jackson-he may also have been afraid of alienating his fanbase. At the same time, he may have sensed that Michael was looking to win over that segment of his fanbase, and perhaps saw this as a real threat.

With both being the reticent, shy, sometimes cryptic artists that they were, it’s really hard to pinpoint what either was thinking. But I’m going to educate a guess that at least in the mid 80′s, when both were at the peak of their fame and both had youth and testosterone on their side, the rivalry was a bit more than just lip service. I think for a time-however brief-it was quite real.

ALAN LEEDS: But the thing about Michael coming to Prince and wanting him to do “Bad,” that really pissed him off. Prince was like, “Oh, he wants to punk me out on record. Who does he think I am, crazy?” He couldn’t get outside himself enough to realize that it was the kind of thing that probably could have benefited both of them. (my emphasis).  Still, it would have forever been Michael’s video with Prince as just a guest. So that captured what the relationship couldn’t be. They were like Ali vs. Frazier. And the media couldn’t get enough of pitting these guys against each other.

http://www.vibe.com/content/michael-jackson-vs-prince-oral-history-3

Sherilyn Fenn, Hot Enough To Inspire...A Ping Pong Match?

Apparently, the rivalry was occasionally more than just a professional one. The infamous ping pong match came about when Michael was trying to snag the attention of Prince’s girlfreind Sherilyn Fenn. (Ah, now we get to the real nitty-gritty of the situation! In addition to “forcing” him to sing “your butt is mine,” it seems Michael was also trying to make a cuckold of poor Prince!).

QUESTLOVE: There’s the now-infamous story about a ping-pong match between Mike and Prince in 1986 while Prince was overdubbing Under The Cherry Moon and Mike was working on Captain Eo. And they were both vying for the attentions of Prince’s girl Sherilyn Fenn, who back then was the hot shit. It was a ping-pong game gone bonkers. He said that MJ played like Helen Keller. [Editors note: Prince’s drummer Bobby Z has gone on record about MJ’s and Prince’s good-natured showdowns in the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “They'd shoot hoops at [Prince’s] Paisley Park,” Bobby Z said of the unlikely pair. “Prince had a deep-seeded competitive nature, so it’s easy to see where he would measure himself against Jackson’s success.”]

http://www.vibe.com/content/michael-jackson-prince-oral-history-pg-2

But what was it about Michael’s playing that actually prompted the Helen Keller comment? That story apparently came from engineer David Z, who witnessed the match:

“Michael drops his paddle and holds his hands up in front of his face so the ball won’t hit him. Michael walks out with his bodyguard, and Prince starts strutting around like a rooster. ‘Did you see that? He played like Helen Keller.’”

http://newsroom.mtv.com/2009/06/29/michael-jackson-vs-prince-the-forgotten-rivalry/

If Michael was guilty of trying to steal Prince’s girl, however, Prince was also guilty of making a move on Michael’s sister, if Latoya is to be believed (of course, to hear Latoya tell it, every man was trying to make a move on her!)

From Latoya Jackson’s autobio, 1978

Having grown up surrounded by so many brothers, I liked men as friends but was totally unversed in deciphering the nonverbal cues between men and women.

Shortly after Prince released, “Soft and Wet,” he shyly introduced himself to me at a roller skating party. “Hi.”

“Hi,” I said nonchalently.

“I’m Prince.”

“Yes, I know.” There was no mistaking the large brown eyes, downy moustache, and straight black hair. Although I was sitting down to put on my my skates, he was barely my height.

“I just want you to know that I’m madly in love with you,” he whispered passionately.

“Oh.” I thought this was his way of complimenting someone. I had no idea of his real intentions until he said, “I have all your pictures and everything, and I like everything about you.” His voice trailed off as if he had run out of words.

“Oh… that’s nice.”

Most girls would have kissed him or slapped him. Me? I stood up, offered a cheery “Well, hope you have a nice time tonight!” and skated off.

http://lacienegasmiled.wordpress.com/category/bromance/prince/

Their  sports rivalry also carried over to shooting hoops at Paisley Park, acording to  Bobby Z:

http://newsroom.mtv.com/2009/06/29/michael-jackson-vs-prince-the-forgotten-rivalry/

One can only wonder if those matches were anything like the Jackson/Jordan match in Jam! 

Considering that Prince was only 5’4 compared to Michael’s 5’9 (neither exactly basketball championship measurements) I can only imagine those games were nothing to cheer about, but I would have loved to have been a fly on the court during those matches! (As Michael would say, there was probabably “cheating like crazy!”).

Prince comments famously on Michael Jackson’s abilities as a fighter and rival:

QUESTLOVE: You recall that ill-fated duet Eddie Murphy did with Michael called “Whatzupwitu?” I have five hours of raw footage during filming for that video. Michael and Eddie had a green screen behind them, so somewhere in that second hour, the conversation turns to Prince. And Eddie is like, “Yeah man…Prince is a bad motherfucker. I’m glad I’m working with you, but another dream I have is working with him too.” And I don’t even think that Mike knew the camera was on him and he goes, “Yes, he’s a natural genius.” And then four beats later, Michael says, “But I can beat him [laughs].” (my emphasis).

http://www.vibe.com/content/michael-jackson-vs-prince-oral-history-3

Apparently, Michael made one last attempt, in 1996, to reach out to Prince for a collaboartion. I am not sure what the nature of that proposed project was. But despite mounting career problems of his own by the mid-90′s, Prince, it seemed, still couldn’t quite swallow his pride enough to accept the offer.

Would he have done things differently had he known, then, that time was running out? We’ll never know.

"Why Did Prince Just Play His Bass In The Middle Of My Face?"-Mike Seeks An Answer To One Of Life's Most Perplexing Question!

Michael, for all his bravado, appeared to be  the one who felt the stings of the repeated rebuffs and the nastier aspects of the rivalry the most:

WILL.I.AM (Leader of the Black Eye Peas; Has performed live with Prince and produced several tracks for Michael Jackson): I had a show with the Black Eyed Peas in 2008 and then late that night I performed with Prince at the Palms Hotel. I called Michael just before the show and I was like, “Hey Mike, I’m in Vegas.” I told him about the performance at the Palms with Prince and asked him if he wanted to come. He was a bit apprehensive at first, but I told him, “Let me call Prince to see if everything is OK.” I sat down with Mike after I finished a song with Prince and he comes down off the stage playing his bass and comes right to our table… ripping the bass in half! It was the coolest experience I’ve ever had. I was with both of my heroes. While we were working on new material for his album, MJ asked me why people didn’t think of him in the same way they thought of Prince as a serious songwriter. It was a shock to hear that coming from such an iconic artist. (my emphasis).

http://www.vibe.com/content/michael-jackson-prince-oral-history-pg-4

The above is an important revelation. Michael was well aware that his talents and accomplishments as a songwriter did not get the same respect as Prince, despite being inducted into the Songwriter’s hall of Fame (an honor that, ironically, still eludes Prince). It also says that on a very deep level, he wanted to be taken seriously as an artist, not just as a great showman. He wanted Prince’s level of artistic respect; he craved it in the same way that a person may crave bread even if given caviar. Considering that they were both driven and prolific artists who created some of the most critically acclaimed and enduring pop classics of our time, it’s understandable why Michael would feel so keenly the brunt of the difference made between them. Perhaps if he had been merely a showman-rather than one of the greatest songwriters of our age-it wouldn’t have hurt nearly as much. But Michael knew the truth.

Prince himself has always been quick to defend Michael’s artistry, referring to him more than once as a ‘sheer genius.”

And perhaps, in a way, Michael did get the last word in, after all!

In 2008, Will I Am invited Michael to a Las Vegas concert where The Black-Eyed Peas were to be performing with Prince. It was to be the last time the two legends would meet face to face.

Will I Am talks about that concert (and other memories of Michael here):

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/8123506.stm

This account of the concert and what went down that night, as told in an interview with Will I Am, was translated from a German article:

A few months ago,I was with the Black Eyed Peas in Las Vegas. Prince calls me, he played in a Casino and asks “, you want to perform with me tonight?” Sure, I say, of course! On the next day his assistant called me and said: “Prince would like to know if you want to come along this evening too.” Want to? What’s more cool than to play with Prince? Right, to play with him two days in a row! A few minutes later I get a further call: “Hey, it’s Mike, wat are you doing?” Mike? Michael Jackson? Wow! He had changed studios at that time, from Ireland to Las Vegas. I say: “Hey, I’m playing with Prince here tonight.” – “Prince? That is great!” – “you should come!” – “really? That would be cool!” – “that would be really cool!” – “Okay, I’ll come.” Imagine that : I’m playing with Prince, and Michael Jackson sits in the audience! Holy ish! What chance is there to get a call from Prince and then one from Michael Jackson within ten minutes ?

Sp: that chance is zero.

Will.i.am: Right. Okay, I head for the concert in the early evening and – get stuck in traffic! I think by myself, @#$%, this is the worst time to be stuck ! So I jump out of the car and start to run. I make it at the last second into the club. Everything goes smoothly, after three minutes I ‘m back from the stage, Prince still yells in the microphone “Give it up for Will.i.am!”, I creep into the hall and sit down to the table of – Michael Jackson. So he really came! “What did you think of me?”, I ask him. He answers: “I did not know that you rapped.” Now I ask you? The man lets me fly to bloody Ireland for a few photographs , and he doesn’t even know that I am not only a producer, but also a rapper! I say: “Have you never heard my music, or looked at my videos? I @#$#%’ am the main rapper of the Black Eyed Peas!” Anyways. Besides Michael Jackson sits the actor Chris Tucker, and then Prince comes down from the stage to us…

Sp: … and sees Michael Jackson sitting at the table with you?

Will.i.am: Yo. He had his bass still strapped on and stops at our table. So there we sit : Michael Jackson, Chris Tucker and I. Prince stands directly before Michael Jackson and improvises on the bass: Slap! He does nothing- nothing! – and says nothing! Simply plays . What a scene! When Prince is again back on stage, Michael Jackson says to me: “Prince played his bass in the middle of my face! What’s up with that?” Now now, I say: “you are finally incognito here! Imagine that Prince would have said: ‘, and by the way Michael Jackson sits here.’ The people are already excited because of Prince, let alone, they would know that you are also here!” Yep, that was it then, the craziest night of my life.

http://prince.org/msg/7/312585

Now, as to how much you can credit hearsay, I don’t know. But I have heard (unconfirmed) that Michael also said that evening something to the effect that he was glad he never needed a guitar to prove he had a penis.

Ouch.

As far as ON THE RECORD, Michael never commented publicly about Prince, just as he very seldom commented on any fellow artists. To answer the question of how they got along, I don’t think (despite what Bobby Z insists: http://www.drfunkenberry.com/2009/06/27/prince-michael-jackson-were-friends/) that they were ever truly friends. I can’t see them as “best buds.” I think what they did have was a very deep-rooted, sometimes begrudging, respect for each other, coupled with a fierce sense of competiveness-equally true on both sides. The few times their paths did cross, they were always cordial to each other, though the underlying tension was almost always palpable. I’m sure at times they did have an easy camraderie. I could easily see them shooting hoops; maybe sharing a shot of Crown and a joke or two. They would have had the kind of bond that comes with simply understanding their shared level of celebrity. Perhaps in those rare moments when the world wasn’t watching-when they could let their masks and their guards down long enough to simply be Michael Joseph Jackson and Prince Roger Nelson,  however briefly-they were able to find that kinship. But for how long, or how often, we’ll probably never really know.

Two rare, fresh-faced pics: Michael and Prince without their famous makeup:

 

When Michael left us on June 25th, 2009, there was a lot of speculation as to whether Prince would join the ranks of celebrities issuing official statements. The closest he came was simply this very brief, laconic statement given in a French interview:

“It is always sad to lose someone you love.”  

In typically cryptic Prince fashion, perhaps that was all that needed to be said. Since then,  he has, as always, been content to let the music do the talking, incorporating several Michael Jackson songs into his live concert performances as tributes. Was he being sincere in referring to Michael as someone he had loved?

I would say to the best of his ability, that answer is yes.

Here is another great blog article on Michael and Prince you might enjoy (thanks, Dave!):

http://gatorgirl277.blogspot.com/2010/07/michael-jackson-vs-prince-nelson.html

Comments: 38 Comments

Blurring The Lines: The Michael and Prince Saga-Pt 1

 

If you lived through the 80′s, you know the big question everyone was asking: Who’s better, Michael Jackson or Prince? Even if you missed the 80′s, chances are, you’re more than familiar with The Great Debate that still rages to this day. And although I think the rivalry was more about the fanbases than the artists themselves, the debate has at times gotten quite ugly and fierce. Heck, there are even entire websites dedicated to it, in best “Celebrity Death Match” style!

http://www.convinceme.net/coldebate/676/Caged-Fight-Michael-Jackson-vs-Prince.html (Warning: Some of the jokes are kind of mean, but some of them are pretty funny!).

Since I’ve been a fan of both, to greater and lesser degrees throughout the years, I think I can offer up a pretty fair, unbiased analysis of this “rivalry.”

First of all, how did such a perceived rivalry come about in the first place? Well, for the same reason that people endlessly debate The Beatles vs. The Rolling Stones, or The Munsters vs. The Addams Family, or Pepsi vs. Coke. It goes without saying that before you can successfully compare or contrast any two things (or persons) they must first have a Basis Of Comparison-in other words, they must share enough fundamental things in common to make the comparison valid.

Quite simply, Michael Jackson and Prince were the two biggest selling male solo acts of the 80′s. In 1984, Purple Rain was the only thing big enough to knock Thriller from the charts. They were both groundbreaking artists with two of the biggest selling albums of the decade, both black, both with the same kind of androgynous sex appeal, and both pushed boundaries for black male artists in a time when most black male artists were still relegated to either being considered r&b acts or disco. Not content with labels, Michael Jackson and Prince both had a major hand in pushing the envelope of what defined a male black pop artist, with hits that blurred the lines between pop, hard rock, and dance music. They were both innovators in the field of video (though I think few would argue that Michael has the edge there), both became respected legends with numerous music awards, both fought their own corporate battles, endured similar personal tragedies, and sought spiritual answers-even embracing the same religion, though at different times in their lives. They have both been subject to media scrutiny regarding their sexuality, though Prince’s personal life never became quite the media circus that Michael’s was subjected to. Was Michael simply an easier target, or better copy? I suppose that could be a debate for another blog!

The bottom line is that I think their real basis for comparison lies in these factors: Both black males, the two biggest selling solo artists of the decade; both with wide cross-over appeal and perhaps, most importantly, a global and diverse audience made of…well, many, many female fans. Female fans of all races, ethnicities, and nationalities. Together, they personified Black Male Sexual Power in a way few artists before them ever had.

Performance in Europe showcases Michael’s sexual appeal to a mostly all-white, female audience:

Maybe it was the comeuppance for all those years that pretty white boys like Elvis Presley got to steal the music and corner the market, while managing to get all the girls, and of course it was all perfectly “safe” since guys like Elvis were sanitized, white…and “safe.”

But for all their commonality, it was their differences that really fueled the fire of the “rivalry.” Although I will argue that their differences were perhaps not as pronounced as many think, and in some cases complete myths (such as the incorrect assumption some Prince fans have that Michael didn’t write his own music or play instruments) we can’t ignore the fact that their differences are what eventually compelled most fans to choose allegiances, depending on personal preference.

Michael In The Early 80's Was The Cute, Cleancut Boy Next Door

Prince was The Dirty Boy You Met In A Back Alleyway And Didn't Dare Tell Mama About. BUT....

Early on, Michael came across as more of a cleancut, Disney-esque personae. Even though early videos like Billie Jean and Beat It made it evident that he had definitely sexed up and toughened up his Jackson 5 image, it still never felt dirty. Even when his music rocked out, it still maintained a pop sheen. Prince, by contrast, came across as much edgier, more like an updated Jimi Hendrix than a pop artist. He played electric guitar. He sang dirty, raunchy lyrics-and what’s more, he gave the apperance of really meaning them!

...All Of That Was All About To Change!

...And How!

In short, despite all their elements in common, they seemed-at least deceptively, at first-to be polar opposites. In the mid 80′s, the lines seemed very clearly drawn. Michael Jackson was like a one-man version of The Beatles-poppy, polished, clean and happy. Prince was like the one-man version of The Rolling Stones-dark, dirty, a bit dangerous and full of angst.

Or in other words, if you asked most girls in the 80′s which guy they would bring home to meet their mothers, the answer most certainly would have been Michael Jackson. Prince was more like the dirty boy you met up with in a backalley and didn’t dare tell anyone.

But it wouldn’t take long for those clearly drawn lines to blur considerably.

Just as The Beatles gradually became darker and more angst-ridden as the 60′s progressed, so, too, did Michael eventually become a darker, angrier, and more sexual personae. By the same token, as Prince became more spiritual in his personal life, he reinvented himself onstage to become more of a prophet than a boy toy for Darling Nikki.

As far as arguing “who is better” I think that is really a moot point that doesn’t interest me. Both have a legacy that is untouchable. Both have proven their mettle by the sheer number of awards won between them and their respective record sales. Between them, they have both written some of the most enduring pop classics of the past thirty years. If it’s true that Prince played more instruments than Michael and was better at it, it is equally true that Michael Jackson’s dance talent alone put him in an entirely different stratosphere-and one for which he owes no aplogies to anyone!

As songwriters, one of the common myths is that Prince was more prolific. However, this isn’t true, either. Both Michael and Prince have been two of the most prolific songwriters of our generation. It has often been said that Michael wrote literally hundreds of songs for every album he did.  The only reason it appears that Prince was the more productive of the two is because many more of his songs were released, either on his albums or covered by other artists,  whereas Michael, being the picky perfectionist that he was, tended to hold back more, often sitting on songs for years if  he didn’t feel they were up to his standards. Michael’s releases were fewer and further between, but I think few would argue that his was clearly a case of quality over quantity.

I also think it goes without saying that Michael was the bigger humanitarian, and most philanthropic of the two, though Prince has certainly contributed to charities and his music has reflected a growing spiritual awareness of the problems of the planet. In all fairness, he may do a lot more under the radar-just as Michael did-than what is reported.  That fact is somewhat confirmed by this article:

http://www.adherents.com/people/pp/Prince.html

But I do believe Michael had the edge, simply as more recognizable and beloved global icon who had the influence to make a difference. However, I’m sure Prince fans could make a good arguement for the fact that Prince’s personal life has never been plagued by the scandals and allegations that Michael had to contend with, either.

Overall, however, I don’t think it really has to be an arguement as to “who is better.” That is, and has always been, a fan-driven debate, just like football fans will debate infinitely as to why they prefer one team over another. In the end, it simply comes down to personal preference. Obviously, I have a bias in favor of Michael. But there was a time in my life when I was probably a bigger Prince fan (no tomatoes, please, lol!). Obviously, my tastes and preferences evolved through the years, but I think that is normal. As human beings, we shouldn’t be static. Prince and Michael certainly weren’t! They both recognized the importance of evolving. And naturally, their art reflected their evolving lives. So, just as life and art are not static, neither should we allow out tastes to be.

Thus, my focus for this article is not to attempt to answer the “who is better” debate, or to focus on their differences, but rather, to look at some of the amazing parallels in their lives. The truth is, these two artists have (and yes, I am writing in present tense because when it comes to his art, Michael is still very much alive) much more in common than not-including some things that might surprise you!

Birth and Family Names:

Prince Roger Nelson and Michael Joseph Jackson both entered the world during the summer of 1958. Baby Prince arrived just a little over two months before Michael, on June 7, 1958 (Michael would arrive August 29th). Interestingly enough, Madonna would complete the trilogy of Future 80′s Superstars Born During the Summer of ’58, arriving just a few weeks before Michael on August 16th. Both Michael and Prince made their auspicious debuts in midwestern America. Unlike Michael, Prince came from a relatively small family of only two siblings, himself and a younger sister. Michael would begin working by age five; Prince would not become a star until adulthood. However, they both displayed amazing aptitude and talent at very young ages, and both had fathers with musical backgrounds. Joe Jackson played guitar in a local group called The Falcons. Prince’s father, John Nelson, performed in a jazz group called the Prince Rogers Trio. Both were pushed into musical careers more by their fathers than their mothers. Of course, we all know the story of how Joe Jackson pushed his sons into becoming the phenomenonal Jackson 5. Likewise, Prince’s father was quoted as saying, “I named my son Prince because I wanted him to do everything I wanted to do.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prince_(musician)

The somewhat unique first name that John Nelson chose for his son was also a name that had been handed down for years in Michael’s own family, on his maternal side. Prince Albert Screws (later changed to Scruse), Michael’s maternal grandfather, bore the name, as did his father before him. Although Michael himself would be given the common name of “Michael,” he retained the tradition with the birth of his own sons, who would carry on their great-grandfather’s name.

Two different families; three different generations of Prince!

Michael Jackson's Maternal Grandfather, Prince Albert Scruse

Prince Roger Nelson

 

Michael Jackson's Sons, Prince Michael and Prince Michael II (aka Blanket)

And…you want a REAL Twilight Zone moment? Prince’s mother’s maiden name was Mattie Shaw. Michael Jackson’s maternal grandmother bore the very similar name of  Martha (Mattie) Upshaw!

In Touch With A Higher Power:

Both Michael and Prince displayed at a very young age an indication that they were extra sensitive children with an ability to tap into a spirituality far beyond their years. Before Michael was even ten years old, he would cry at the images of starving children on TV, and told his mother that when he got big enough, he would help all the children of the world (and he did just that!). Prince was said to have been born with epilepsy. But at a very young age, the seizures mysteriously vanished. Later, he would recount in an interview an incident that occurred before he was even old enough to remember.

“My mother told me once day I walked up to her and said, ‘Mom, I’m not going to be sick anymore,’ and she said, ‘Why?’ and I said, ‘Because an angel told me so.’”

http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20275184,00.html

Awards And Accolades:  

There’s no doubt, as far as music awards go, that Michael won more. Michael Jackson has 18 Grammys to Prince’s 7, and additionally, 26 AMA awards (as compared to Prince’s 4 wins), 40 Billboard awards, and 13 World Music Awards. In all, Michael’s number of awards won totals an impressive, whopping 387!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_awards_received_by_Michael_Jackson

However, Prince did win the one award that would elude Michael Jackson throughout his life-the Academy Award! (For Purple Rain as Best Original Song in 1985).

A bit of trivia: What is the one award they both won, and the same number of times? Answer: The Golden Globe Award. They each won once, Michael for Ben in 1971, and Prince for The Song of the Heart, from the movie “Happy Feet,” in 2007.

For a complete list of all awards that Prince has won or been nominated for:

http://www.aceshowbiz.com/celebrity/prince/awards.html

The Curse of “The Big One”:

Where do you go once your own album has been not only the biggest selling album of the decade (in Michael’s case, of all time) but one of its two most iconic albums of the decade? For Michael and Prince, living up to Thriller and Purple Rain would be the two biggest challenges of their respective careers. For both, every subsequent album would be held up to these two. Although in my opinion, they both went on to better work, their commercial success-or lack thereof-would always be gauged by these two albums-the albums that both defined, and ultimately, confined them.

The Girls In The Band:

Female guitarists were still a novelty in the early 80′s, when Prince hired Lisa and Wendy to be part of The Revolution. Never one to be outdone by Prince, Michael’s answer was the blonde bombshell Jennifer Batten. Although it’s never been expressly stated that Michael was trying purposely to keep up with Prince, Jennifer Batten herself said when I attended her Q&A session at the Fanvention last August that Michael had a very specific image in his mind for what he wanted in a girl guitarist-and she, the mousy little gal with the glasses and brown hair, was made over in that image! While Wendy and Lisa played on every man’s lesbian fantasy, Jennifer offered up her own somewhat gender bending contrast to Michael’s male energy, as the Nordic rock goddess with chops of steel!

http://allforloveblog.com/?p=3715

Wendy and Lisa

Jennifer Batten

 

Madonna:

Prince performed a duet with Madonna on her 1989 album Like a Prayer and played guitar on several tracks, including the title track. It is unknown if he became a Madonna Boy Toy although I’m sure Miss “Express Yourself” at least gave it her best shot, if I know her!

Did Madonna Make a Boy Toy Of Michael? Well, We Know She Was Definitely Giving It Her College All!

Michael and Madonna had planned to shoot In The Closet together, but ultimately, disagreed over Madonna’s concept for the video (her bright idea was for them both to dress in drag and turn the video into a controversial gender-bender romp; thank goodness Michael’s common sense prevailed!). It is unknown whether she was 100% succesful in making Michael her Boy Toy although she did confess at one point they were “sucking face.” (Can partial victory count?).

Dirty Diana vs. Darling Nikki:

As if it wasn’t enough that they were already considered rivals in every respect, they each even came equipped with their own groupies! While Prince’s “Darling Nikki’s” sexcapade antics  may have sent Tipper Gore into a frenzy, and expedited the formation of the PMRC and those “Explicit Warning” stickers we still have even today, Michael’s “Dirty Diana” was a whole ‘nother brand of Medusa, an ambitious, souless,  siren of a groupie who could literally lure a man to his ruination. While Darling Nikki was masturbating with magazines (a relatively healthy and harmless pursuit), Dirty Diana was on the phone telling your wife “he’s sleeping with me”  and plotting your demise! Darling Nikki would show you a really good time. But Dirty Diana would strip your flesh bare, eat you alive for breakfast, and pick her teeth with the leftover bones!

Morale to the story: Explicit lyrics do not a dirty vixen make. Dirty Diana lived up to her name, and played far dirtier than Nikki ever could!

But their two most well-known groupies also reflect something very fundamental about the way both performers (at this stage of their careers) viewed women and sex. Prince had adopted the stereotypical, macho rock ‘n’roll personae which basically states that all women are playthings to be enjoyed in their own good time. Michael’s approach, as so often in his 80′s songs about women and sex, is the moralistic, cautionary tale approach. In other words: Lust comes with a heavy price, and moral consequences.

 At the end of the Dirty Diana video, Michael opens the limo door to find HER there, in the backseat, waiting. The sudden, discordant, ominous note; the look on his face, says it all. Interestingly enough, an online reviewer analyzing this video’s criteria for the “Ten Things Every 80′s Video Must Have” noted how Michael did NOT look happy to find Dirty Diana in his backseat. The implication seemed to be that here was one more bit of evidence that Michael Jackson was asexual or didn’t like girls. To that person, I would highly suggest going back and watching the video again, and really paying attention to the MESSAGE! The reason his character does not look happy in that moment is because he knows he has just walked into the trap, and that his soul’s been had!

Which perhaps leads me to my next category:

Love, Sex, and Witnssing For Jehovah:

The greatest parallel in the lives of Prince and Michael Jackson cannot be underestimated: They have both served as devout Jehovah’s Witnesses, though not at the same time. In fact, it’s very interesting that Prince actually became a Jehovah’s Witness long after Michael had broken away from the church. Michael had been raised as a JW from an early age, and throughout most of his young adult life, was a devout believer and follower. Prince, on the other hand, who had been raised as a Seventh-Day Adventist, converted to the JW faith in 2001.

From: Sean O’Hagan, “Royal Blush”, published in The Observer, 4 April 2004 (http://www.guardian.co.uk/arts/features/story/0,11710,1186112,00.html; viewed 15 November 2005):

Given all that has happened, then, it is perhaps unsurprising that, like many pioneering black artists before him, Prince has sought solace in the church. Though he was brought up as a practising Seventh Day Adventist he has recently, like Michael Jackson before him, become a Jehovah’s Witness.The story of his conversion broke in typically surreal fashion last October, when a newspaper in his hometown reported how a married couple had answered their door to find Prince proffering a copy of the Watchtower. Though they were orthodox Jews, and it was Yom Kippur, they were also Prince fans. They welcomed him into the house where, with his friend Larry Graham, erstwhile member of Sly & the Family Stone, one of Prince’s core influences, he spread the word of Jehovah for 20 minutes before moving on to the next house.

Although he has always spoken openly about his religious beliefs – ‘The Cross’ from Sign ‘O’ the Times was a veritable hymn – and his conversion had been signalled in retrospect by his recent album The Rainbow Children, which can now be read as a paean to his new-found faith, the media viewed his outing as further confirmation that Prince was now second only to Michael Jackson in the pop oddball stakes.

What this means in terms of his musical direction is probably of interest to none but the most diehard of Prince fans. The rest of us, many of whom anticipated Prince’s Eighties releases with the kind of excitement that only attends the work of the truly gifted, now look forward to the release of yet another Prince album with a mixture of resignation and wishful thinking.

‘You hope against hope for him to come back and cut it like he used to,’ says DJ Norman Jay, a man who played at several Prince parties in the Eighties, ‘but with every hyped record that turns out to be just another Prince album, that hope diminishes. He’s the classic illustration of the old A&R adage that if you give an artist total creative control, you’ll destroy them. He’s been allowed to release far too much stuff, and he’s probably surrounded himself with people who are all telling him everything he touches is great. That’s a recipe for pure self-indulgence even – especially – where genius is concerned.’

http://www.adherents.com/people/pp/Prince.html

It’s intereting to note the overall, sarcastic  tone of this article (aside from the “second to Michael Jackson in the pop oddball stakes”).  It’s the same sort of “criticism” that would befall Michael as he attempted to broaden and evolve his artistry in the 90′s and beyond. In the case of Michael and Prince, they would both be criticized for the rest of their careers for daring to stray away from being happy “song and dance” men. However, the reasons for their artistic evolvement were, I think,  fundamentally polar opposites.

For Michael, the break from his childhood religion probably gave him more personal and artistic freedom than he had ever known, but at a heavy price. That price was the floundering, doubt, and insecurity that came from letting go of the firmest anchor he had known-his faith. For years afterward, he would be torn by feelings of guilt over that decision, although  in his later years he did find solace again in traditional Christianity:

http://allforloveblog.com/?p=2575

The upside was that the break finally freed him of many of the restraints that had held him back. As he became more liberated sexually in his personal life, this was also reflected in a newfound maturity and freedom in his art. He could finally explore many of the themes he had always wanted to, without fear of censor or being de-fellowshipped. His onstage and video personae became more sexual, ironically, just as former “Bad Boy” Prince was becoming more evangelical and “cleaning up” his image.

For someone who had always expressed a fascination with apocalyptic imagery in his work, Prince’s newfound religious  zeal seemed cemented with albums like Sign O’ The Times.  (Not to mention, I heard he alienated much of his female following by his insistence that the missionary position is the only sanctified sexual position for a man and woman, but that’s an old story and I haven’t been able to find anything that verifies it). This is a quote from a very bitter website that seems to be authored by a frustrated ex-fan (and I will apologize to Prince fans for using this as a source of reference; however, perhaps it’s fitting that as a study in the parallels between the two, we can also note how they have both been subjected to this level of scrutiny):

Quoted from The G Spot, November 8, 2010

“That’s the saddest thing of all – Prince lost his mojo by being lame and getting scared of death and dying.”

http://www.dannyhaszard.com/prince.htm

This reminds me very much of the same type of criticism that has been heaped upon Michael Jackson for taking on themes such as the media and his persecution.

In short, as both artists began to explore more personal and global themes, they became criticized for self-indulgence and egotism.

Which also brings us to another element in common: Both of them had songs featuring apocalyptic visions, since it could be argued that Michael’s Earth Song was the environmental equivalent of Sign O’ The Times, reflecting the prophecy of the Earth Changes as much as Prince’s song reflected the global crisis of humanity.

 

 As for personal relationships, despite both being linked to a string of high profile celebrity relationships, they have shared through the years an almost identical reticence when it comes to the press and doing interviews. Both have (as of this present writing) been married and divorced twice. Michael was married to Lisa Marie Presley in 1994, and divorced in 1996; and Debbie Rowe, married  in 1996, and divorced in 1999. Prince was married to Mayte Garcia in 1996, and divorced in 1999 (ironically, their marriage began and ended exactly the same time as Michael and Debbie’s), then married Manuela Tesolini in 2001. They divorced in 2006.

The Somewhat Androgynous Sex Appeal Of Both Has Led To The Inevitable Speculations Regarding Their Sexuality

Largely because of their reluctance to speak to the press, and their somewhat androgynous stage personaes, both artists have been plagued by gay rumors, though both have staunchly denied the rumors and no evidence exists to suggest that either are, or ever were.

First Child and Tragedy:

Sadly,  Michael and Prince share something else in common. They both lost their first child-within the same year! Debbie Rowe suffered a miscarriage in early 1996 and lost the baby that would have been her first child by Michael (Michael’s son Prince would be conceived later that year, on the couple’s second try). I found a really nice video where Debbie Rowe talks about the miscarriage (a subject she has rarely spoken out about) but, unfortunately, embedding for this video has been disabled. However, you can watch it here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kWJPUh1CgXI

Debbie and Michael Lost Their First Baby, A Little Publicized Fact

 Meanwhile, Prince’s son by Mayte Garcia-Boy Gregory- was born the same year, but died of  Pfeiffer syndrome after only one week.

http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,295564,00.html

Independent attempts to verify the child’s birth and death proved difficult. A birth certificate wasn’t filed with state authorities until Dec. 6. But while Garcia was listed as the mother, ”Father’s name” read, ”Mother refused information.”

Meanwhile, the Minneapolis Star Tribune tracked down what it believes to be the baby’s death certificate, filed Nov. 4. It states that a ”Boy Gregory,” born Oct. 16, died Oct. 23 of the extremely rare Pfeiffer syndrome type 2 — a condition in which the skull’s bones fuse together, causing pressure on the brain.According to the certificate, the death occurred at Children’s Health Care Minneapolis, which is affiliated with the hospital where the child was born, and was followed by cremation. The mother’s name is listed as ”Mia Gregory,” the same initials as Mayte Garcia.

At press time, local officials were investigating whether the death certificate was filed under a false name — a misdemeanor in Minnesota. A source at EMI, Prince’s new label, says execs have urged the singer to make a statement, but nothing has materialized.

While Prince’s lawyer, Londell McMillan, maintains that the artist ”expects extraordinary privacy,” one unguarded moment can be found on Emancipation. On the song ”Sex in the Summer” (originally titled ”Conception”), Prince included a recording of his then-unborn child’s heartbeat.

In a situation like this, it would be pointless to argue which is more tragic. For Prince, who at least got to see his baby son and hold him in his arms, the loss must have surely been devastating. But knowing how desperately Michael wanted a child by 1996, Debbie’s miscarriage must have been every bit as traumatic. Losing a child is still losing a child, and if one has any doubt, one need only ask a parent who has just been delivered the news of a miscarriage. I don’t know about fathers, but I know for mothers a miscarriage is often a scarring emotional trauma that never heals. For a sensitive father like Michael, I’m sure he probably took the loss as hard as Debbie, if not moreso.

Prince and Mayte Garcia Would Also Know The Pain Of Losing A Child. Their Son Boy Gregory Died Just One Week After Birth

And reading the EW article, one can surely sympthaize with Prince as he had to attempt to hide the very personal and painful details of his son’s death from that nosy, probing cow Oprah Winfrey!

Famous Feuds:

As was alluded to just a few days ago in “The Invincible Saga,” Michael and Prince were both known for their notorious and very public battles with their record labels.  Michael’s battles with Sony have already been well detailed here:

http://allforloveblog.com/?p=5104

and in great articles like this one:

http://www.mj-777.com/?p=1633

However, Prince had already blazed that trail almost a decade before, in his epic battle with Warner Brothers over his creative output and control of his name. In 1993, he famously appeared in public with the word “slave” written on his cheek, and then changed his name to an unpronouncable symbol:

“The first step I have taken towards the ultimate goal of emancipation from the chains that bind me to Warner Bros. was to change my name from Prince to the Love Symbol. Prince is the name that my mother gave me at birth. Warner Bros. took the name, trademarked it, and used it as the main marketing tool to promote all of the music that I wrote. The company owns the name Prince and all related music marketed under Prince. I became merely a pawn used to produce more money for Warner Bros… I was born Prince and did not want to adopt another conventional name. The only acceptable replacement for my name, and my identity, was the Love Symbol, a symbol with no pronunciation, that is a representation of me and what my music is about. This symbol is present in my work over the years; it is a concept that has evolved from my frustration; it is who I am. It is my name.”-Prince

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prince_(musician)#cite_note-115

Business Moguls:

Both  were not only the most succesful male black solo artists of the decade-or the most succesful, period, for that matter, regardless of race-but also highly succesful business moguls who shook things up in a heretefore white-dominated industry. With the possible exception of Berry Gordy, there had been few black entrepeneurs in the music industry who had succesfully managed their own labels and companies. In 1985, Prince launched his own label, Paisley Park Records, with the support of Warner Brothers. Acts such as Sheile E., The Time and George Clinton would be among the biggest names on the label. In 1994, incensed by Prince’s public feud with the label, Warner Bothers retaliated by pulling distributuon of the label. However, Prince would go on to launch another label, NPG Records.

Michael Jackson, of course, became one of the richest and most powerful men in the music business with the succesful acquisition of The Beatles catalog in 1985, and then later as co-owner of Sony/ATV publishing, a move that made him not only owner of over 200 Beatles songs, but also the catalogs of artists such as Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, and Eminem (yes, for all those who despise Eminem to this day over “Just Lose It” you may take some comfort in knowing Michael effectively “owned” Eminem!). Michael Jackson was also founder of his own production company, MJJ Productions, which later became Michael Jackson Co. LLC, and now MJJ Productions, LLC  and Inc.

This website has some pretty detailed info on the company:

http://www.geniusmichaeljackson.com/en/companies.html

They both served as models of  black artists who could not only be  succesful, but could also take control of their success. Unfortunately, however, as both woud learn the hard way,  they were still very much commodities of the corporate entities that controlled them-and who would fight tooth and nail to see to it that they remained “in their place.”

A “Colored” Man Is Still Judged By The Color Of His Skin:

Although the media was unquestionably much crueler to Michael Jackson (no contest there, sorry!) both performers came under media scrutiny as a result of not “looking” black enough. The whole notion is as ludicrous as comparing a tanned, olive complexioned Italian to a pale Norwegian and arguing that the Italian is “not caucasion.” Yet, at various times, Prince and Michael Jackson both found either their racial identity or their loyalty to their race in question.  Because of Prince’s light complexion and the fact that not much is known about his immediate family, a rumor has persisted for years that he is biracial. Early press releases listed him as “mixed” although it seems those sources have been largely discredited. Prince himself has always identified himself as a Black man, although conceding that his father had a mixture of Italian blood, as well. And as with Michael, he did undergo the knife, sculpting and defining some of his ethnic features. There is a good discussion of this topic on this forum:

http://prince.org/msg/7/270962?&pg=1

Early Photo of Prince, Pre-Cosmetic Surgery.

Since The Jacksons, on the other hand, had been in the spotlight ever since Michael was a child, there was little doubt as to his Black heritage, although his father Joe-like Prince’s dad-is mixed and there is prominent Native American blood on both sides. However, it was the skin disease vitiligo that resulted in the most dramatic change, transforming him over a course of roughly ten years from his natural coppery brown, to the lighter bronze of the Bad era, and finally, the porcelain, translucent, fish belly white of his last twenty years. Sadly this little-understood disease would be the cause of much ridicule and public scorn of Michael Jackson in the media. He was accused of bleaching his skin and hating his race. Even when his autopsy report confirmed that he did indeed have vitiligo, the media mostly ignored this finding and have continued to perpetuate the myth of an “alleged” disease.

The accusation was ridiculous on many levels. Michael certainly couldn’t deny being black; after all, he had grown up in the public eye! Secondly, there was never a time in his life when he didn’t look black. Even in the most advanced stage of his disease, and after he had mostly depigmented all remaining color, he still looked like what he was-a black man without skin pigment. People who say he “erased” all traces of his ethnicity have not closely observed his face. Michael was always proud to be a black man. His disease was something he could not help. And the insecurities that drove him to cosmetic surgery were rooted in other issues that had nothing to do with race, but everything to do with the fact that he simply thought of himself as being physically ugly.

Michael In Transition. Though His Skin Got Whiter Due To Vitiligo, There Was Never A Time When He Did Not "Look" Black.

“We’re called colored people because we come in so many different colors, from light as my hand to dark as your shirt (to Martin Bashir, who is wearing a black sweatshirt). My father has blue eyes.”-Michael Jackson.

Victims of the Vindictive:

It goes without saying, they have both been on the receiving end of vindictive ex-friends, ex-employees, ex-fans, and hack journalists with an axe to grind, all looking to make a quick buck. The following are only the tip of the proverbial iceberg. I suppose one could argue that it all goes with the territory of being rich and famous. However, it seems that Prince and Michael have both had a more-than-usual share of backstabbing friends, fans and associates. With “friends” and “fans” like Bob Jones and Alex Hahn, who needs enemies?

So now that we’ve looked at some of their many parallels, there is still one burning question: What did Prince and Michael Jackson really think of each other? Well, I don’t want to say too much until next installment, but here are a couple of fun spoiler quotes to chew on until then:

Prince to Michael (upon learning that the first line of the lyrics to Bad is “Your butt is mine”): “Which one of us is supposed to sing that  line? Cause I ain’t singing it to you, and you sure ain’t singing it to me!”

Michael to Will I Am at a Prince concert: “Prince played his bass in the middle of my face. What’s up with that?”

“He plays ping pong like Helen Keller.” -Prince

Comments: 43 Comments

MLK Day Tribute

“If Martin Luther was living, he wouldn’t let this be…”-Michael Jackson

Did you know Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s was originally named Michael?

Martin Luther King, Jr., was born on January 15, 1929, in Atlanta, Georgia, the middle child of the Reverend Martin Luther King, Sr. and Alberta Williams King.[5] King’s father was born “Michael King”, and Martin Luther King, Jr., was originally named “Michael King, Jr.,” until the family traveled to Europe in 1934 and visited Germany. His father soon changed both of their names to Martin Luther in honor of the German Protestant leader Martin Luther.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Luther_King,_Jr.

God bless the peaceful warriors!

 

Martin Luther King III and Bernice King pay tribute to Michael Jackson:

Comments: Leave a Comment
 
WordPress Appliance - Powered by TurnKey Linux

This site was whacked using the TRIAL version of WebWhacker. This message does not appear on a licensed copy of WebWhacker.