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! (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:

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.”

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.’”,,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!

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:

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!

Wendy and Lisa

Jennifer Batten



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 (,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.’

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:

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.”

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:

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.,,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:

and in great articles like this one:

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

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:

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:

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

43 Responses to “Blurring The Lines: The Michael and Prince Saga-Pt 1”

  1. Suzy says:

    Oh, MJ vs. Prince, I love this topic!

    I was always more of a fan of MJ, but I appreciate Prince a lot. I think he is a genius (of course, MJ too). Last night I was just listening to Prince songs and I have songs from him on my MP3 player as well.

    So I enjoy both, but Michael is always kind of special to me, because he had THE Magic.

    Sometimes Prince is a bit vulgar to me, but Michael, even when he’s grabbing his crotch and imitates masturbation (Black or White) or sex (In the Closet), he still has a certain charm that somehow makes it “acceptable”. However when Prince imitates sex in videos such as “Cream” for example, that comes across as a lot more “rude”, in your face – at least to me.

    I was thinknink about it why is that and I came to the conclusion it’s because of Michael’s charm. LOL.

  2. admin says:

    Thanks! This topic has been on my backburner for awhile; finally got around to posting it. I just got it up after spending all night on it, so there may still be a few typos; hopefully, not too many. I will have to edit more after my eyes have refreshed a bit (lol).

  3. Annie says:

    I have always been a huge MJ fan,but as a teenager in the 80′s I also liked a few Prince songs. I never thought of Prince as a serious rival to MJ. I agree with Quincy Jones’ analysis that the whole Prince-MJ rivalry was a typical media ploy to diminish Michael. Divide the black vote so to speak. As I have researched this topic I have however warmed to Prince as I feel that the relationship with MJ was a lot more cordial than we might believe. I came across an article somewhere where one of Prince’s musicians spoke about MJ and Prince playing table tennis and basketball at his studios in Minneapolis. And Margaret Maldonado’s book (LOL hilarious BTW!)speaks of a train trip MJ took to Minneapolis in the mid-nineties. And Prince apparently called MJ a “genius” in some radio or TV interview. The interviewer held up pics of various artists to Prince and asked him for a one-word response. When Michael’s came up he said “genius”, when Janet’s came up he said “genius’ sister”! Also Prince apparently banned people from dissing MJ during his trial. So not the vicious rivalry we were led to believe. The only comment I can find about MJ’s death from Prince was something like “it is hard when someone you love dies”.

  4. Fay says:

    I like a few of Prince’s songs from the 80s but he was way more raunchy and soon became a turnoff. Plus once I had a child there was certain music I could play in the car now and Prince wasn’t one of them. Michael was always safer, no sex or cussing. Until the swearing started on History album, I had to ban those couple of songs too.

    btw…Michael never lost his faith. He was just not a Jehovah Witness anymore. He was an evangelical Christian who believes in Jesus Christ as Savior..which is why he is in Heaven now. This has been documented by conversations had with Rodney Jerkins and Andre Crouch. Some other close evangelical friends of MJs were Chris Tucker and Steve Harvey. Even Kai Chase said her and the kids were praying to Jesus for Michael on that ‘Black Day’ 6/25/09. Only Christians know the significance of praying in the name of Jesus. JWs don’t believe Jesus is Lord, only a prophet, according to a friend who used to be a JW and became a Christian.

  5. gtf says:

    Prince is a genius. I am not a particular fan of his, although i like some of his songs.But even i can recognize that the man’s talend and influnce in music are huge.There are a lot of people who claim that Michael didn’t offer anything in the music industry, except of course for large sales and music videos.I have seen a lot of people, even Michael’s fans, claim that Michael’s influence in music per se is insignificant. Obviously, i don’t agree with them, even though when you hear something for a long time you start to question yourself !?!? I really think, though, that there has never been a serious study in Michael’s music. I think that people, music critics and musicians tend to praise Michel’s work with QJ and sometimes give more credit to Jones than Michael and ignore Michael’s role and of course his latter work, which for me is his best. And i think i know why that is. Off the Wall and Thriller were when Michael was, according to them, pure, innocent, non threatening. Was Michael pre surgery, pre scandals. Was the safe Michael to admire. How hypocritical. For me History, Blood on the dance floor and Dangerous and Bad are Michael’s best albums. It’s the real Michael, his soul, his talent, his genius. If they refuse to see that, it’s their loss.

    I loved this post. Dind’t know that between Michael and Prince there were so many similarities. But even though there are similarities, there are huge deference, as you mentioned. No one, ever questioned or is going to question Prince’s genius, influence in music etc.On the other hand, i think that Michael in the end is always going to be questioned and he is always going to be getting the most negative .Michael is always doubted for everything. Music, talend, personal life. I don’t necessarily blame the other for that. I think that Michael played a serious role in the way that people feel about him and his music. He left the controversies define him and I think he became too afraid with his talent and his music. I think he should have continued to produce and release music(which is something that I like in Prince) and I think he should have been more vocal about the way he create and produced his music. We tend to hear his producers speak about Michael’s work and I think that they get credits that they really don’t deserve. I have heard people say that if it wasn’t for QJ there would have not be OTW or Thriller or Bad. Well, if it was only for QJ, there would have not been Billie Jean. I think that this has to change.

    Well, as always I got off topic but I really wanted to say those things, even in this confused way. Again, thank you for this wonderful post.

  6. admin says:


    Yes, I do believe later in his life he was Christian. I believe that when he first quit the church there was a period of several years where he was sort of floundering and looking for answers again, and that is what I was referring to. I didn’t want to get into the rest since it wasn’t really the point of the article (when you have a nearly 6k article, you have to cut some corners somewhere, lol!. Today is going to be crazy for me but when I have time to edit, I can insert the links to those articles.

  7. Suzy says:

    @ GTF

    I know what you mean that noone question’s Prince genius, but Michael is always questioned for everything. I think that comes with territory. Prince is not questioned but he is not as popular as Michael either. He was influential but he was always lagging way behind Michael in terms of commercial success. So he is not such a threat as Michael. He is not a challenge to the status of Elvis or the Beatles.

    If Michael has an album out and sells 12 million like Invincible, it’s considered a “flop” and Michael is ridiculed all over in the media and is being called a washed-up has-been. If Prince has an album out and it sells 1 million copies noone gives a rat’s a**. Their pressures were different.

    Whoever thinks Michael hasn’t wrote his music should stop just there talking about him, let alone criticizing him, because any critic should at least be aware of the facts! Michael’s best songs have been written by him! And I personally think his very best songs are those which were written solely by him. Quincy Jones only ever co-wrote one song on an MJ album, which was “P.Y.T.” on Thriller, that he co-wrote with James Ingram. He wrote nothing else on MJ albums. The lead hits on each MJ album were written by Michael. Including Billie Jean which Quincy didn’t like and didn’t want to have on Thriller….

    Quincy really likes attention and IMO he takes too much credit for Michael’s albums. He has it thanks to Michael as well, since Michael always paid him tribute whenever he got an award or something. Which is great, but it seems people got the wrong idea from it. I have even seen articles refer to “We are the World” as a Lionel Richie-Quincy Jones song with no mention of Michael…..

  8. gtf says:

    True and i agree with all the things you said. I just wish someday someone will do a serious study on Michael’s music and only his music. Not the videos, not how many copies Thriller sold, not how many number one he had etc. Those things do not determine the importance of an artist,not at all in my opinion. I would like to read things about Michael music, if it was/is influential,if it changed something in the music history,if it is important. I have never read something like this.People like James Brown,Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Prince, 2pac Shakur etc have always been considered geniuses and have always been praised by people and critics for their musical achievements and how important they were for music and especially black music.
    But when it comes to Michael, the only thing that i ever hear is that Thriller sold so many copies,he is known for moonwalk he was a very successful commercially and things like that. Those are important, yes but what makes and artist truly important is his influence on other artists and if his work will stand the test of time. You don’t read those kind of things for Michael. And in the rare times that somebody will touch this issue, it is always “Yes, but if it wasn’t for QJ or his other producers” blah blah blah. I just think that it is time for people to focus on his music and study his music. They wouldn’t do it up until now because, apparently the controversies were some kind of an obstacle that they wouldn’t even try to bypass.
    Sorry about the rant but I read something today and it really infuriated me.

  9. Suzy says:

    @ GTF

    Michael was definitely very influential. I wish music magazines would focus on it more, but if they choose not to for whatever reason Michael was still very influential. Just watch other artists, there are many, many among them in whom you can feel Michael’s influence! It’s undeniable, whether critics talk about it or not. Also when Michael died you saw artists paying tribute to him from every field of music. Metallica paid tribute to him, New Orleans jazz musicians paid tribute to him, even classical musicians, such as André Rieu paid tribute to him:

    No matter what the media says, true musicians and the audience (look at those spectators crying in the Rieu concert as they play Michael’s music!) know his worth and respect him tremendously. That’s what matters.

    I personally think the media is corrupt and dishonest and their mistreatment of Michael and the ignorance of his musical genius is intentional. There’s no other explanation of things like when Michael died the alleged music magazine Rolling Stone rather focused on gossip and tabloidish stuff (such as whether his nose was detachable) than on his music. Why don’t they leave tabloid stuff up to tabloids? The dehumanization of Michael and the belittlement of his achievements as a musician is totally intentional IMO.

    But I firmly believe time will put everything in its place. Most great artists in history were mistreated by their contemporaries and later generations treated them much more fairly.

  10. TatumMarie says:

    I love Prince as an artist(love Michael more) but I don’t believe Prince had the presence or impact on people that Michael had and at some point that made him jealous. It sounds to me like that was the source of his mean quotes. Michael was all about love he probably said –We are 2 powerful black forces in the industry, why should we fight – lets collaborate. Prince apparently didnt want to go that route.

  11. Cindy says:

    Wow! I didn’t realize both men had so much in common! I’ve always appreciated Prince and liked his music, but some of the finer points were unknown to me.

    A close friend of mine grew up with Prince. She told me many stories about what he was like as a young person (I won’t repeat them since they are way too personal), but some of the information here helps me understand what she told me with a little more depth. I’ll have to have her read this blog and tell me what she thinks.

    I can’t help but think Michael and Prince had a begrudging respect for each other. I don’t necessarily think they liked each other as people, but they respected the gifts and talents that clearly manifested in the other.

  12. admin says:

    Hey everyone! I have been popping in to catch up on comments when I can. I started back to work this week and it has been very hectic.

    @Fay I added the link to the “Christian Perspectives” article.


    Wow, that’s fascinating! Yes, please show her the article. I would be curious to know, too. I am a fan of Michael and prince both so I tried to be fair to both of them. I just think they are two very different artists-both very deep and spiritual in their own way. Even when prince was at his youthful raunchiest, I could always sense that his music was coming from a much deeper place.

    But I think Michael had that indefinable MAGIC quality about him. Of the two, he was the ultimate showman. But yes, I agree with all the comments that his music deserves more serious recognition.

    I agree that I think Michael and Prince respected each other immensely. I don’t think they would have necessarily ever been best buds who would have hung out together (though there is a story of them shooting hoops together at Paisley Park, which I’m saving for Part Two) but I think they respected each other as artists, for sure. I think Prince may have been jealous when younger, but hopefully as he matured he got past that. He did refer to Michael as someone he “loved” and I think he was sincere.

    Prince, to me, has always been more mysterious even than Michael. A lot of people THINK Michael was this reclusive, difficult to understand, mysterious person, but all it takes is a little effort and research and you start to understand who he was pretty quickly. He was always pretty much amazingly straightforward about who he was, what he believed, what he stood for, etc., whereas I have always seen Prince as being much reticent and deeper in his shell; more of an enigma, I guess, if you will. Michael rarely did interviews, but when he did do them, he actually came across as a very charming, open, affable person, whereas with Prince, I always got the feeling that I didn’t know much more than I did before. Michael and Prince were/are both artists who seemed to prefer to let their music talk for them, but I actually think this is even truer of Prince than it was of Michael.

  13. David says:

    Here is a post that Nikki Allygator did a few months ago, comparing MJ and Prince:

    It’s definitely worth checking out, and your post compliments hers, and vice versa!

  14. June says:

    Hi Raven, interesting comparisons between Michael and Price. I always admired Michael’s ability to transform his audience and take them out of their daily routines. In that respect there was no comparison, IMO. Price was a great entertainer, but Michael transcended entertainment. Michael had a sixth sense of what the audience wanted and never let them down. And I feel Price was much more reclusive than Michael. Price of choice didn’t put himself out there as much; Michael came to see everything he said was misrepresented so backed off out of self-defense.

  15. David says:

    Also, here is a short video of Chris Rock interview Prince about why he turned down a duet of the song “Bad”:

  16. Simba says:

    Prince is a traditional African American name, so it’s not that unusual that MJ’s ancestors, and the artist Prince, would share it. On the show Who Do You Think You Are?, NFL player Emmitt Smith discovered he had an ancestor named Prince Puryear. And Alicia Keys’ new husband has a son named Prince.

    But when it comes to Michael’s sons, there is a bit of a mystery. MJ only has one son named Prince. The oldest boy is named Michael Jackson, Jr. So why is Blanket Prince Michael II?

    Regarding Prince the artist, I remember when he emerged as a force to be reckoned with. (I think he’s a musical genius, but as a performer, I always thought of him as a low-rent Michael Jackson!) Prince was attuned to racial politics in the US – he actually encouraged people to believe that he was bi-racial, knowing that it would make him more marketable. Both of his parents are black. But is that really a photo of him before plastic surgery? I wonder why the media never ragged on him about it the way they did Michael.

  17. admin says:

    @Simba “I wonder why the media never ragged on him about it the way they did Michael.”

    I think it’s just because he didn’t grow up in the public eye like Michael did. With Michael, all of his changes were very obvious because we had known his face ever since he was a little boy. Therefore, I think the public and the media just naturally fixated on those changes more. If he had come on the scene as an adult performer, with little known about his background, life or appearance before fame, I don’t think people would have fixated on it as much.

    As far as the names of Michael’s sons, I can’t say for sure. The birth certificate, which I’m sure you’ve probably seen, lists the eldest’s official name as Michael Joseph Jackson, Jr. But as we know, the boy has always been referred to as Prince or sometimes Prince Michael. It’s possible that Michael simply began calling him that as a nickname, in honor of his grandfather, and then maybe decided to give the second son the name officially. (That would explain his being called Prince Michael the II, so as to avoid confusion with his older brother.)

    I have wondered if perhaps Michael didn’t legally change Prince’s name (the eldest son) but I have not seen any verification of it if he did. Perhaps someone who sees this would know?

    It’s very confusing when you consider that Blanket, whose real name is Prince, is called Blanket, while Prince, whose real name is Michael, is called Prince.

    Whew! That was a mouthful!

    But I decided it would be best to acknowledge both sons since both carry the name, whether legally or not.

    My guess is that once it became a given that the eldest son was going to be called Prince, rather than Michael, that this was the reason for naming Blanket Prince Michael II.

  18. Suzy says:

    @ TatumMarie

    I don’t believe Prince had the presence or impact on people that Michael had and at some point that made him jealous. It sounds to me like that was the source of his mean quotes.

    Yes, I think too that at some point Prince took this rivalry stuff a bit more seriously than Michael. I think Michael took it as fun, see Moonwalker when he is told by his bodyguards Bubbles is wearing a Prince T-shirt – I think for him it was light-hearted like that.

    But Prince, at least that was my impression, took it more seriously at the time. For example, I thought the song “My name is Prince” had references to Michael:

  19. Suzy says:


    I looked up that Prince biography by Alex Hahn on Amazon. Of course, like it wouldn’t be fair for MJ to be judged based on the Bob Jones biography (of which Jones himself admitted at the trial that it was full of lies), it’s probably not fair to judge Prince based on this biography which seems to paint a negative picture of him. (Arrogant, selfish, not crediting others for co-writing songs etc.)

    However I found one of the reader reviews – apparently from a follower fan, who later turned critical of Prince – interesting. In it the fan said:

    “None of you know about the many winter jams Prince invited us to that were held at Paisley that found fans waiting for 2+ hours outside in below zero weather. He could have let people inside to get warm until the show started, most of the time it was only 50 to 60 people and we were all regulars, they knew us.”

    Here I couldn’t help thinking of Michael and how he treated his own fans. He often sent out blankets to follower fans in front of the hotels he stayed in, or sent them pizza.

    I guess that’s an interesting difference and may explain some of Michael’s charm. No matter how big star he was – or how big problems he had – he always cared for other people. And that shines through his personality and I think it’s part of his magic.

  20. Annie says:

    Agree 100% with gtf and Suzy. The media will ALWAYS refer to Thriller, best selling blah blah and Michael’s partnership with QJ. I think it is a way for them to put Michael in a certain box that allows them to say that he was a 80′s phenomenon who made one genius album plus two other great ones with a specific producer. Imagine if Thriller sold “just” 25 million copies. They would lump him in with the Eagles, Bee Gees, etc.. and diminish Thriller as well. They acknowledge Thriller because Mike made it impossible for them NOT to. Of course I love Thriller. I lived the Thriller phenomena in the eighties. But I hate it when the media focus exclusively on Thriller because it is their way of cutting him down. If I had to choose my favourite Michael song it would be Smooth Criminal. I love the “angrier” stuff he did like Sream, Tabloid Junkie, 2 Bad (“what do you want from me, what do you WANT from me!!?”). My favourite balad is Stranger in Moscow. And my favourite “message” song is We’ve Had Enough. I love the edgier stuff like Morphine and Little Suzie. Of course I love Billie-Jean (my first name is Billie-Jean BTW. No I am not psycho. It really is!).My favourite MJ video is Beat It, not Thriller. The reason I mention these songs is because the average person out there has probably never heard most of them. And it is so frustrating. The totality of Michael’s music should be out there. The general public know all about “Wacko Jacko”, they can tell you how much he paid Jordy Chandler and they have an opinion about how many nose jobs he had. But they are pig-ignorant about his music! And about who he really was. “Makes you wanna scream!”.
    I think a serious analysis of MJ’s music and his impact on popular culture is overdue. Each of the records he made as an adult has a very important place in MJ’s evolution as an artist. His history as a performer and the set of influences he had – chitlin’ circuit, Motown, MTV phenomenon, etc.. -will never be replicated. His creation of the unique MJ sound, revival of the music industry in the early eighties, merging of dance and music, creation of the music video artform, expansion of the lyrical content of R&B music (remember it used to be mainly about lurve and sex), his versatility, his excellence as a vocalist and his impact as a dancer, ALL require serious study. Even the way he turned his life into the “greatest show on earth” has to be seriously analysed. Michael turned his entire life, his body, everything, into an artform. What about the numerous artists and even sportsmen he mentored? What about the total dedication he had to his craft? Can kids not learn from a man who was the best singer on the planet but still worked with his vocal coach 6 days a week? Why do we not hear about how he matured in later years. I think one of the bravest, smartest things he ever did was to move on from QJ. No-one even comments on that. 99% of artists would have played safe and stuck to someone with whom they had such a track record. Everytime Quincy opens his mouth we hear those tired old Smelly and Socrates stories. Let us move on from that and discuss this awesome man. Every single important contemporary artist sites MJ as an influence. No other artist has had that impact. Michael had the sense to cherish his gift and legacy – not proliferate himself into irrelevance like Prince and Madonna. One of the things that Schmuley had quite right about MJ is that he never cheapened himself or his gift. That is why I love this blog – it is one of the few places where you have in-depth, fact-based discussion of Michael. What we get from the lamestream media is Oprah asking about kiddie sex and scrip drugs.

  21. admin says:


    I don’t know how much to “credit” Possession or even what that reviewer said. I would feel guilty and hypocritical to pass judgement, knowing what we do of how Michael has been misrepresented in the media. I’m sure if you asked, there are probably many Prince fans who would have a definite opinion about Hahn and this book.

    HOWEVER, that being said, I agree there is NO arguement that Michael had an unparalleled relationship with his fans. And it is why his fans are so loyal and love him and defend him so fiercely in return. If you think about it, Michael’s fans have stuck with him through some of the greatest trials that could befall any performer. Even when he was accused of heinous crimes, his fans stood by him, believed in his innocence, and supported him. Michael’s fans love Michael the Human Being, not just the artist, and I think perhaps that is one of the biggest differences.

    Prince to me does not have quite the “likeability factor” that Michael did. And by that, I am not saying he’s a bad person. In fact, just as I’ve already pointed out, I think he is a very deeply spiritual person. But he has a stand-offishness about him (and yes, an arrogance) that Michael didn’t have. Now, as to how much of that is an act, I don’t know. But all you have to do is look at the worldwide outpouring of grief that fans expressed over Michael.

    I honestly don’t think we’ll see anything on that scale when Prince dies. It will be news, of course, and we’ll have the tributes and retrospectives of his music and his place in pop culture. But I don’t think you’ll see the kind of massive, global outpouring of grief that we saw for Michael.

  22. sofia says:

    “The rivalry was more about the fanbases than the artists themselves”, indeed.
    They are competitors to certain extend; unless one denies the obvious, Michael weights more and even much more at every level. Prince was never mentioned with the Beatles and Elvis, while you read and hear the Beatles, Elvis and Michael Jackson all the time.

    The boy next door was not just cleancut and cute, but most of all, sexy … that’s only a minor point.
    Dirty Diane is equally and extremely sexy in all its manifestations: the song, the mtv, especially the live performance!

    Why nobody ever made big fuss of Prince’s post-surgery face? That’s not really a minor point.
    He’s probably not so threatening, unlike Michael …

  23. Suzy says:

    I hear you Annie. Thriller was as much of a curse for Michael as blessing. I agree that the media only praises Thriller to cut him down and to suggest he once “accidentaly” had a hit record and did nothing else since then. I even read a journalist write Michael was a one-record-wonder. Yeah, right. But even when they don’t say it this is the reason behind the Thriller hype and the fact they try their best to ignore everything else he did. It’s a shame, because, like you, I don’t think either Thriller was his best album. To me it was Dangerous closely followed by Bad. And he had so many better songs later than the ones on Thriller.
    I think after Thriller the media decided it’s enough of Michael Jackson and they deliberitely slagged down anything he did.

    However, as I read the Hahn book’s reviews on Amazon, I had the feeling it was more or less the same for Prince. He also was kind of written down after 1988. And Hahn writes – quite unfairly – that Prince had two good records in the 80s and after that he declined.

    I personally think both Michael and Prince were the strongest in the first half of the 90s, not in the 80s.

    The difference is that Michael was always a bigger star than Prince. And that means different pressures. Prince could keep concentrating on his music, because otherwise he was never really bothered by the media and public interest. I know he had his own problems with his record company, but that’s a different level of problems than what Michael had to face.

    Michael was a bigger star and thus a bigger target. His fame got out of hand and after a while it overshadowed his music and art and it also made it difficult for him to concentrate on it. I mean who can really concentrate on art when he is being a subject of a witchhunt for 17 years? Of course, Michael still made great music – They don’t care about us, Earth Song, Stranger in Moscow etc. are very underrated classics IMO – but I can’t help thinking he would have had a lot more to offer if he hadn’t had to fight off allegations, media attacks and go through trials in the last 17 years of his life.

    I also think the public ignores some of his late work not because they were bad, but because the media made it “uncool” to like Michael Jackson. In the US they even refused to really give air time to his music, with lame excuses, such as TDCAU is “antisemitic” – which is not true, of course, and anyone with a half-brain can see that, but things like this were effective means to tune the audience against him and suppress his music. Along with systematically making him a tabloid caricature who is not to be taken seriously, even as an artist.

  24. Suzy says:


    I agree that Prince doesn’t have the likability factor the same way as Michael – but then noone really does. I’m not really a star-struck person, I don’t really care about celebrities, but Michael is different somehow. It’s his personality.

    Michael was such a nice and good person, but my more cynical side says: what did he gain from being kind to everybody? From being a loving, caring person? All he got for it was that he got used and abused left and right and that he got mocked and ridiculed! Who knows, even if he is not very likable for it as a person, maybe Prince was right after all to be cold and distanced. This is the World we are living in, not where you can be kind to everybody and go unpunished.

  25. marianna says:

    First of all I really want to thank you and congratulate you for the job you are putting here in your blog.I am a fan!
    The January 19th topic MJ vs Prince is an all time favourite of mine and I do agree that there is no reason for rivalry among them,or if this rivalry ever existed it did so in a corporate level..It was the beast they liked to feed..After all I really don’t believe that Mike would be willing to make a short movie with someone he didn’t like or at least appreciated standing opposite to him..And Prince in his own words said that there was no real rivalry among them.
    I consider myself a somewhat…complicated case of fan. As a teenager I had commited my heart to mr.Roger Nelson doing everything teenagers do.Posters,listening to his songs,fell in love…etc.I stil laugh at myself for being the only one person left in the cinema watching Under the Cherry moon, after a phony bomb threat caused its evacuation by the police.Everybody had left till they searched the place but I returned…The strange thing with me is that while I thought of myself as a commited Prince’s fan (who was never that huge here in Greece as Mike was) I was always dancing MJ’s hits and enjoying his short films ,considering Smooth Criminal the best choreography ever.Being a smart girl I loved Prince but…I kept an eye on Mike too,sort of speak!
    My greatest disappointment was when he cancelled his show in Greece in ’92 and that’s an indicative of how flexible I am as a person and as a fan!
    Flexible..Artists are flexible,I think it’s on their nature to be so.Fans have to be flexible too.No reason to fight for who is the best,the richest,the coolest,or whatever-est..These two guys are God’s presends to humanity for the music they wrote,the songs they sang and the feelings they gave us all these years.I feel privileged that I grew up in the same era with both of them because my hint is that next generations will refer to Mike and Prince the way we refer to Mozart or Tsaikovsky today.Therefore,It doesn’t really matter as long as great music was the most obvious common thing they had.

    P.S. When had Michael attended a Prince concert???Please share the details with us!!!Please!

  26. admin says:


    Hi! Yoiu know I, too, feel very privileged to have come of age in the 80′s. It was a very special time. Sometimes I think maybe I am just being old and prejudiced when I say the music was better then (the pop muisc, anyway) but no, I don’t think so. I have tried recently listening to Top 40 radio and to be honest, I did not hear one hummable song the entire time; not one song that stuck with me. Pop music today is Auto-tuned so that every singer sounds the same; and it’s all basically the same beat, over and over again. And honestly, is the only subject they know to sing about these days going clubbing? Because just about everything I hear is about going to the club and being seen. Where is the invention these days, the creativity? Why do we NOT have the equivalent of a Thriller today, or a Purple Rain? To be honest, Lady Gaga is probably the only artist these days that even comes close to the old magic. Some of her songs remind me of a young Madonna. Right now she is going through her little “shock/schlock” thing but I think she may be one to watch. She will have longevity. Most of them won’t. But even though she may come closest, she still doesn’t hold a candle to Madonna. I think if you compare, it’s just like in the Golden Age of Hollywood, we had REAL movie stars, not just actors and actresses. Well, I think our generation was the last of the truly big, larger-then-life pop stars. The true legends. I just don’t see anyone else on the horizon filling those shoes. Certainly there will noit be another Michael Jackson, ever. I’m sure there will be another music icon at some point who will shake things up, but it’s not going to be in this generation, based on what I’ve seen so far.

    Yes, Michael did attend a Prince concert. And they have also played onstage together! I will have all of that in Part Two, which I expect to have up by tomorrow.

  27. gtf says:

    I always like to say things as they really are. Before Michael died there were only two or three persons who would cite him as their influence.I have heard countless musicians and artist cite Prince as one of their influence. And if someone had made a list and ask random people who was according their opinion some of the most influential artists ever, Michael wouldn’t have even been in that list. So in that aspect Prince pretty much wins. Prince has created a music legacy that is not only exceptional but is also huge and undeniable by no one.This is why new artist are continually inspired by him. I am not a particula fan of Prince although i like some of his songs. The only problem that i have with him is that he is talking way too much about sex in his work. It is as he was on Viagra all the time in that period.
    Now, if Michael’s music legacy will survive the test of the time and if people will continue to cite him as the “King of Pop” well, time will tell. When this whole after death period passes and the feelings of this passing fade away, then we will really start to judge him based on his work only.I have always maintened that for me Michael legacy is similar to that of John lennon. Am i exagerating? Well, maybe but that is my personal opinion. I really really hope i am not wrong.

  28. Suzy says:

    I agree, girls. I feel lucky that I experienced the 80s and early 90s in music in real time and I feel sorry for today’s kids who don’t have that magic. Because they don’t.

    Today the two top stars are Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber. Now, compare that to Michael Jackson and Prince…. Lady Gaga is probably the most talented artist of her generation, but this fact is rather a sad fact IMO. To me she is not that interesting. In music I see her copying a lot of 90s dance music – Alejandro for example sounds like Ace of Base -, which may sound great in today’s lame music environment but just in that. I don’t think her songs (at least the ones she had so far) have the potential to become classics. And her image is nothing original either. Only for those of the young generation who don’t remember Madonna in her hey day…. Everything Gaga does has been done already by Madonna 25 years ago.

    The 80s in comparation was full of wonders! Michael and Prince were on the top of that, but we had lots of other great, creative and original artists. Today’s music is boring, repetitive, predicatble and unoriginal. And you are right Raven about the lyrics! What was the last time somebody on the mainstream charts sang about something meaningful, something deep? It’s like record companies deliberately want to keep the youth stupid: don’t think, don’t feel, just party.

    I think the reason is that record companies and business people got too much control over the music business and they tell artists what to do and control them istead of letting music and trends evolve without any pressure from the business side. This is what happens when business people control art….

  29. Suzy says:

    @ GTF

    You can never ignore the fact that before Michael’s death it was uncool to cite him as an influence because the media made a joke out of him. So even if people were influenced by him they’d rather keep silent about that. But I think he DID influence a lot of artists. It’s simply undeniable when you watch other artists that a lot of them were influenced by him IMO.

  30. Simba says:

    I wonder if the disparity in their heights caused Prince to not work with Michael. He scurried away when James Brown called the two of them up on stage. As long as he stands alone, it’s hard to see that what a tiny guy Prince is. MJ was at least a half-foot taller, even without the high-heeled boots he often wore.

  31. SandyK says:

    Annie said, “The general public know all about “Wacko Jacko”, they can tell you how much he paid Jordy Chandler and they have an opinion about how many nose jobs he had. But they are pig-ignorant about his music! And about who he really was. “Makes you wanna scream!”.”

    You are soooooooo right!!! So many in the “general public” will comment on Michael as if they were experts when in reality, as you said, they truly didn’t know the man…:-( When I attempt to defend Michael I’m often “greeted” with the “Wacko Jacko” definition of him. When I try to explain that the term “Wacko Jacko” was a tabloid media invention and did not represent Michael Jackson I’m stopped and told I’m delusional! Having a response like that really took my breath away in a very painful and depressing way. This particular individual’s response was very discouraging but I wasn’t discouraged, at least not entirely. I wasn’t able to persuade that individual, but hopefully I will be able to persuade the next one.

    Michael wasn’t the only one to say this but he often commented on the idea that lies repeated over and over will eventually be believed by the general public as truth. Sadly, he lived that everday. Michael is not the only one to have experienced this but certainly I can’t think of too many individuals in history where one person has been lied about so often and so vigerously. Jack Johnson the boxer from the early 20th century is the next closest example that I can think of. It can be a difficult challenge to overcome people’s misconceptions, and it won’t happen overnight, but it’s definitely worth the challenge!! Raven, thank you for all your wonderfully well researched and well written articles. They have helped to improve the tools that I have inorder to defend Michael!!! Thank you!!!

  32. Isha says:

    @ fay

    As a devout Jehovah’s Witness, I can definitely tell you that we do believe that Jesus is more than a prophet and is our Lord and Savior. Like Michael Jackson, I believe that the Jehovah’s Witness religion is probably the most misunderstood religion ever. Stop listening to ex Jehovah’s Witnesses because they are bitter for different reasons and will try to portray my religion as “uncool” as Michael Jackson was portrayed in the media. Please I encourage you to talk to JW to learn more about our religion especially about topics,such as the condition of the dead and who goes to heaven.

  33. Suzy says:

    I agree, Sandy.

    Even after his death the mistreatment of the man still continues and I’m afraid it will never change until Jordan Chandler comes out and says loud and clear: “Michael never molested me!” (Which, I’m afraid, will never happen, although this would be the right thing to do from Jordan.) IMO sadly that’s the only thing that could vindicate Michael in most people’s eyes.

    If you go through all the documents of the cases you can see both of those were bogus and that MJ never molested anyone, but most people won’t take time and effort to go through the cases. Most people only listen to the media soundbites and make their flawed conclusions from those biased reports and tabloids, instead of official court documents and facts.

    This is why IMO it’s not really fair to say MJ didn’t influence a lot of artists, because they didn’t say it before his death. It was awfully uncool to come out as an MJ fan before his death! Cause the next question of the interviewer then would be: “but he molests boys”. And of course no artist would want to get there for the sake of their own image.

    Now, after his death, it became a little more OK to come out and say “I was influenced by MJ”. But it’s not that they now suddenly admit they were indfluenced by him because he died but they weren’t really, but because they really were influenced by him only it was uncool to say so before he died.

    Talking about influences, I really love the fact Björk is a big MJ fan and she said it so even when it was uncool!

    Here is an article about that:

    Here is her song “Alarm call” which is rumoured to be inspired by Michael:

  34. Suzy says:

    I remember when Aaron Carter was a guest of Howard Stern a couple of years ago and he was asked about MJ. He did his best to defend him, but Stern always went back to “did he molest you?” or “was he trying to seduce you?” or questions like this. This is just one example of why it was so damn hard for anybody to cite him as an influence. Just mention him and the media goes crazy and starts to talk about whether he molests boys, not his music!

    But despite of all this Michael’s music, dance, art and legacy survived! Ask yourself a question: is there any other artist whose art would survive all that MJ went through for almost 20 years? I don’t think so. Probably not even Prince’s career would survive something like this. Is there any other artist than MJ who, after being accused of child molestation, would still sell 20 million copies of his next album? I highly doubt that. This is another perspective to look at how strong Michael’s art really is.

  35. admin says:


    Unfortunately that comes from peoples’ perception that the media is honest and truthful in its reporting. I think most people today are at least sophisticated enough to know you can’t believe everything you hear-for example, most people are at least aware that tabloids fabricate most of their stories. Yet they still read them. But when a celebrity becomes the subject of a media witch hunt in the way that Michael did, to the point that EVERY SINGLE STORY you see is something negative, it does have its impact. People will naturally form an opinion based on that bad press, and will assume you to be the “delusional one” for not buying into it. I know from having at one point been one of the brainwashed ones. I didn’t necessarily believe EVERYTHING I read about Michael, but like many, I had pretty much formed the opinion that the guy was very strange, to say the least. That’s how the media works. I’m just glad that I wasn’t content with what the media gave me, and began researching on my own.

  36. admin says:


    I think Jordan would not only have to confess, but would have to come clean as to the details of exactly how it all went down (even if it means blackening his own father’s name in the process). Otherwise, I honestly believe at this point people would just say he’s lying about it. That’s how determined people are of his guilt now. If Jordan confessed, they would still try to bring up one of the other phantom victims-what about this case? Or that case? I think Jordan would have to be very specific about how the whole scheme unraveled, not just “he never touched me.” Unfortunately, he may not even have recollection of a lot of the details now; there may have been things he wasn’t privy to when they went down (such as conversations between Evan, June and David Schwartz that would help fill in the gaps). I do think it would be an important step towards the healing process and rectifying the damage done if he confessed.

  37. admin says:

    By the way, I had mentioned to a commenter above that I would have Part Two up today. However, it looks as though I’m going to be out of town pretty much all day (it’s my nephew’s birthday). I’ll try to get Part Two up no later than tomorrow, sorry.

  38. marianna says:

    Thanks for your answer.Don’t worry.We will wait for you (Happy birthday to your nephew!)In the meantime I had the chance to go into that Vibe article (thanks to David’s post) and I was thrilled to find out that indeeed my two most favourable artists had never trully lost contact with each other..The sad thing is that they had never managed to put their egos aside (that I’m certain they both had!lol)and collaborate in their field.Something that I feel certain they would have end up doing at some point if MJ had some more years to live.
    It’s impossible for a real talent not to recognise and respect another one on the way and that’s MJ’s and Prince’s case.
    I couldn’t agree more with you on Lady Gaga.Let’s hope she’ll proves herself smart and mature in time,’cause IMO her vocal cords are far more skilled than Madonna’s!

  39. Suzy says:


    I agree about Jordan Chandler. Unfortunately the hatred towards Michael Jackson is rather irrational. Haters claim he even molested boys who themselves always denied being molested by him (such as Brett Barnes, Macaulay Culkin or Wade Robson), so yes, you are right that even if Jordan would come out and confess, there would still be people to say he molested him. However it would weaken the case of haters big time, so it’d be an important step. I say Jordan and not Gavin, because a lot less people believe Gavin anyway. Jordan would be the more important one.

    Sorry to go off topic, but this thing is such a big shadow over Michael’s career that you cannot judge it without taking it into consideration.

  40. Lou says:

    @ Suzy and Raven

    I have no idea why, but i do have the feeling that Jordan will tell the truth sooner or later (preferably sooner). I agree that it will change nothing for the likes of Diane Dimond et al/the general ignorant public but as you say Suzy it will bean important step and long after Dimond and co. are gone it will still be officially documented that JC said the allegations were false. So it might not help MJ’s image immediately but i think the time will eventually come it ill be taken as a given that MJ was innocent and he will be remembered for the right reasons. It might not happen in our lifetime, but i think it will happen.

    Sorry to continue the off-topicness. I haven’t even got anything else to say about the MJ/Prince thing to redeem myself, i like them both.

  41. gtf says:

    I think you should check out this cover of Smooth Criminal,if you have not seen it.There’s a little bit of Billie Jean in there. These two boys have done a fantastic job.

  42. andrea says:

    MJ vs Prince as a rivalry: I’ll admit, fun to read and speculate about, but they respected each other and I think that’s pretty apparent.

    Topic #2: Who did or didn’t respect MJ in recent years: One of my favorite MJ retrospective programs is “The One”. In it musicians describe MJs influence on them – it aired years before his death. It featured everyone from Beyonce and Mary J Blige, to rappers Missy Elliott and Pharrell Williams to dancer/choreographer Savion Glover. Here is part 1 .

    Topic #3: off topic a little, but can Beyonce please get some respect as being the dominant pop music artist in America for the last 10 years? And equally important around the world, too I might add. Everyone mentions Lady Gaga & Justin Bieber as being the new forces to be reckoned with, but I think Beyonce gets forgotten and she really shouldn’t. Her live show toured 100+ dates around the world last year and I don’t know if you’ve seen her I Am Tour DVD, but her show IMO probably best captures the high energy & frenzy of Michael’s tours. She’s in a lane all her own and it’s too bad no one seems to remember that. Plus she’s played with Prince (2004 Grammys), Tina Turner (O6 Grammys – I think?!?) and MJ loved her work — if these legends think she’s got it, she’s got it.

  43. tina says:

    ^^^ andrea
    lol, at your Beyonce comment :) I wouldn’t worry about Beyonce’s future . She has already gained ctitical respect and commercial success and she has ansured her place in music history. I, personally, am more worried about Michael’s legacy. Some of the comments here are very dissapointing but sadly true.

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