The Katherine Jackson Story
A Vintage Pop Media Group LLC. Production 20434 S. Sante Fe Ave. Long Beach, CA 90810
Copyright© 2010 Vintage Pop Media LLC, and Vintage Pop Inc., All rights reserved. Published by Vintage Pop Media Group LLC 2010 First hardcover edition June 2010. Narration: Katherine Jackson
All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever. For information address: Vintage Pop Media Group LLC. 20434 S. Sante Fe Ave. Long Beach, CA 90810 Created by Howard Mann & Sonia Lowe Publisher: Howard Mann c/o Vintage Pop Media Group LLC Creative Director/Designer/Editor: Sonia Lowe c/o Vintage Pop Media Group LLC
This book is dedicated to the loving memory of my son, Michael Jackson. These pages contain photographs from our private family collection, and are illustrated with my personal stories about Michael from his early childhood, right up through his remarkable career. Over the course of Michael’s life, I’ve reserved my comments about my son. Now, after his death, I have decided to share my story for two reasons.
Co-Publishers: Michael Klipper & Robert Creel Copy Editors: Jim Tykoliz, Denise Holtby, Alexis Ungerer Print Production/Editing: Bryan Hughes c/o Zigbot Media Logo/Branding: Miguel St Giovanni Artist (Katherine Jackson Painting): Ronald S. McDowell Special thanks to: Lowell Henry, Trent Jackson, Joe Jackson and The Estate of Michael Jackson. Manufactured in the United States of America ISBN 978-0-9828000-0-3 5559
Vintage Pop Media LLC holds exclusive license to the assets of Jackson Communications Inc., which combines photos, videos, music, personal items and memorabilia assets, purchased by way of bankruptcy liquefication before a United States court. Attempts to plagiarize, unlawfully reproduce or copy will result in prosecution. Original MJ art: “Bubbles Chair”, “Key III”, “Happy Gate” and “We The People” (Pgs. 5,45,85 and 123) are exclusive property of Jackson-Strong Alliance and are not for reprint, duplicaton or subsequent commercialization. All rights reserved. Jackson-Strong Alliance and the beneficiaries of the Michael Jackson Estate.
Firstly, I hope this book sheds insight into the person that Michael truly was, the person who I’ve always known him to be. Sharing my memories with Michael’s fans is my way of passing on his message and legacy in a way that he would approve. And it is my hope that his fans come to know ‘the real’ Michael, rather than the person that the media portrayed him to be. Those who knew my son well will attest that Michael was one of the best persons you’d ever want to meet and be around. He loved everyone; he was a good father and a very good son.
Michael was generous, kind, considerate, funny, intelligent, warm and extremely humble. His acts of kindness and generosity were something he hardly spoke about; when in fact he was truly one of the greatest philanthropists of our time. At one point, he was active in 39 charities, and the Guinness Book of Records recognized him for his donations in the philanthropic world. Michael often saw the good in people and trusted many in the early part of his career, sometimes leading to pain and betrayal in his life. Most of what I’ve read or heard about Michael in the media was not the truth - especially the allegations of child abuse. Evan Chandler, the father of Michael’s first accuser, recently committed suicide. Though I can’t comment on why, I want to believe his conscience finally caught up with him and he was not able to live with himself after destroying an innocent person’s career and
breaking his spirit. Michael loved children and he worked diligently and passionately to better the lives of the less fortunate … the last thing he would do is harm an innocent child.
The second reason for writing this book is to celebrate the remarkable artist my son Michael was, and to acknowledge the contribution he made throughout his life to music, arts, people, and the planet. Michael was a true artist with a vision to heal the world through music. Being on stage was what he loved to do, and I am happy that he shared his gifts with his fans who he loved very deeply. Beyond our hardships, our family loved Michael dearly, and each of us shares a special bond with him. Through our memories, we will always cherish Michael.
Bubbles Chair ~MJ “You are so beautiful to me” ~ Michael Jackson
always felt that Michael had talent, but I had no idea that he would achieve the level of success he did. Both myself and my husband Joseph grew up with a great love for music. As a child, I enjoyed singing with my sister, and Joe performed in a band with his brother. Soon after we got married, our home in Gary, Indiana was buzzing to the harmony of country, blues and jazz, all of which our nine children took a liking too.
Michael was born with rhythm. As a baby, it was obvious that he loved music and dance. We had a broken down washing machine that made a racketing sound when set to a rinse cycle. Michael would sit on top of the machine with a bottle in his mouth, bopping and grooving to the rhythmic racket. Even before he could say his first words, he responded very well to sound. I knew then that the music was in him.
acts like The Temptations. With his background in music, and my days playing clarinet in my high school band, Joe and I always had instruments lying around the house. Our kids were encouraged to experiment with music at a young age. It was Tito’s talent that got noticed first. He would borrow the guitar to practice on while Joe worked late shifts at the steel mill. The boys took turns on the instruments, intuitively learning how to compose music and vocals.
Ours was a musical family. It was not unusual to find Joseph and I singing country songs around the house when we were newlyweds. We didn’t have much money to entertain ourselves back then. I remember the time our television set broke down. We could not afford to get it fixed, so to entertain the kids, we encouraged the family to sing together with influences of popular musical
It was not long before Joseph discovered his sons’ talents and decided to form The Jackson Brothers, with our three oldest sons, Tito, Jackie and Jermaine on lead vocals. Marlon and Michael soon became old enough to join their brothers on back-up vocals and percussion. Joseph renamed the boys The Jackson Five in 1964. After realizing the talent that was brewing, my husband reduced his shifts at the mill so he could dedicate more time into developing the group. Michael’s vocal range was evolving naturally toward what is now known as the signature sound of the group. At the time, Joseph was hesitant to let his young son bear the weight of center stage, but with my persuasion, he eventually allowed Michael to assist Jermaine on lead vocals.
Left: Joe, Randy and Michael; Middle: (clockwise): Jackie, Tito, Michael, Marlon, Jermaine; Right: Michael (center) and family.
Left to Right: Michael, Marlon, Tito and Jermaine.
Left to Right: Michael, Marlon, Jackie, Randy and Tito.
ith Joseph’s direction, the boys practiced three times per week and performed at local gigs in the Gary and Chicago areas. Joseph and I knew that once we found the right contacts in the entertainment business, the boys would rise to stardom. Sure enough, the group began to get noticed and soon after, a few offers started coming in.
One of the major labels showing interest was Motown Records. Always a skeptical business man, Joe initially resisted the deal, but once the terms were in the best interest for the family, he eventually collaborated with Bobby Taylor. Following that decision, the boys found themselves in the studio, creating their first record. We moved the family from Indiana to California in 1968. Joseph and the boys immediately hit the road, touring all over the country. I stayed at home with Janet, Latoya, Rebbie and Randy (until he eventually joined his brothers officially in 1975). A quiet house was a drastic change for me ... I missed having dinner with the entire family every night like we used to before the beginning
of the boys’ professional careers. I often found myself wishing we were back in Gary so I could spend more time with all my children. We didn’t have much money then, but we had each other. Early in the boys’ career, we still struggled to make ends meet. I enjoyed sewing as a hobby, and designed the group’s earlier costumes. As soon as we could afford it, we hired the talented Ruthie West to design the right outfits for the Jackson Five’s soulful, squeaky-clean image. Shortly after the group left Motown in 1975, they signed with Epic Records (CBS) and worked with record production duo Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, better known as Gamble and Huff. The Epic deal included a variety show titled, The Jacksons. The boys’ time soon became divided among weekly rehearsals and the preparation of skits and performances for television. The entire family, including Janet, Rebbie and Latoya made appearances on The Jacksons Variety Show. After only one season, Joseph and the boys decided it would be best to just focus their time and energy on music and touring.
Left: 2300 Jackson Street, Gary, Indiana; Right: Me and my husband, Joseph, backstage at a Jackson Five Concert.
Left: Tito, Jackie, Marlon, Leon Huff, Kenneth Gamble, Michael and Randy
Left to Right: Tito, Marlon, Jackie, Michael and Jermaine.
The Jaskson Variety Show (Left to Right): Rebbie, Tito, Janet, Latoya, Michael and Randy.
ven though most people saw him as musically gifted and mature for his age, Michael was also as gregarious as most other children. Our neighbors, who babysat for him periodically, often comment on how “different” Michael was and that there was something special about him ... a certain je ne ce quois. I was especially proud of watching my son’s early development into stardom, because he did a lot of things that you wouldn’t expect a child his age to do. For instance, at a mere six years old, Michael was able to pick up choreography quickly. He was a natural. He also surprised and impressed musical coaches with his ability to sing in harmony without any formal training. Growing up, Michael invested several hours in the studio to record both background and lead vocals. Even at a young age his perfectionist nature was a force driving him to commit additional studio time to post-production editing. He knew how he wanted the music to sound and shared the responsibility of production. As his mother, I felt the career pressure put upon Michael was premature, and I’m sad to learn that
Michael grew to regret most of the years he spent working as a child. He felt like he missed out on some aspects that he deemed as a “normal childhood”. He was always considerably passionate about his music, even back then. It was what he loved to do and we supported him. Michael knew that he would not have accomplished the level of stardom he did if it weren’t for his commitment as a child. He remained grateful in his accomplishments, and though I’ve heard him complain about his sacrifices, I know he believed strongly in his purpose: to inspire the world with his art. Once their popularity grew, my boys took on a hectic touring schedule which involved regular travel abroad. Not able to attend school, we hired Mrs. Fines, a private tutor who went on tour with the band. Michael’s best subject was Geography. He also had a fascination with Art, History and Culture. While his brothers would go out to celebrate, Michael ventured out to museums and galleries, immersing himself in the culture of the cities they visited. Both Mrs. Fines and her husband, a pianist, formed a bond with Michael and inspired him to appreciate literature. When Mr. Fines passed away, he left his prized piano as a gift for Michael.
Left to Right: Jackie, Tito, Michael, Marlon, Jermaine.
The Jacksons Variety Show (Left to right): Michael, Tito, Marlon, Jermaine and Jackie.
The Jackson Five (Left to right): Tito, Marlon, Jackie, Michael and Jermaine.
Left: Jackie and Michael Right: Michael in flight.
Right: The Jacksons meeting the Royal Family
ichael had a generous nature about him. And even at a young age, he had an entrepreneurial spirit too. Every time he received his weekly allowance, Michael spent it on candy. He set up a little candy shop around the back of our house, so he could give his treats away to the neighborhood kids.
I tried to teach Michael about the world through documentaries. One day, Michael and I watched a film about the less fortunate children in Africa. The state of their lives brought us both to tears. Michael, sympathetic at the age of 14, turned to me and said “One day, mother, I’m going to do something about this.” Several years later, he did. Michael surprised me on a trip to New York City. We drove out to the airport hangar I witnessed boxes of food, goods, and emergency supplies being loaded onto several planes lining the tarmac. I was
proud to know that my son followed through on his words. He was sending aid to Africa. His generosity didn’t stop there. Donations to charities and years working with disabled children from all walks of life ensued. Michael would sometimes go out at night and randomly give hundreds of dollars to the homeless people he encountered. He valued money far less than he did his goal of making a difference in peoples’ lives, and inspiring the world to change for the better.
Michael was also generous with our family. My children often threw parties for me and hired my favorite country musician, Floyd Kramer, to perform. I recall a few days before one of my parties, when my daughter Janet suspiciously asked me what my favorite color was. On the occasion I was presented with a ribbon and told to follow it to the other end. The ribbon led me all the way to the parking lot, where before me, stood a beautiful, shiny, red Rolls Royce.
The Jackson Five and the US Thunderbirds in Las Vegas.
Left: Michael, Randy and Marlon in Japan; Middle: Me, on the day my kids surprised me with a car; Right: Michael and Randy in Japan.
Left to Right: Sanford & Son’s Redd Fox, Randy and Michael.
Left to Right: Tito, Marlon, Jackie, Michael and friends.
doration for classic stars like Elizabeth Taylor and Shirley Temple was something Michael was known for. He befriended those he respected and admired in the industry, and although a generation apart, Michael felt like he was able to relate to his mentors… greats like Fred Astaire, Gregory Peck and Yul Brenner, who were also among his closest friends. I’ll never forget the embarrassing night I met Yul. It was late. I was actually sleeping when I heard a knock at the door. Michael entered with Yul following behind to find me in bed with my sleeping cap on. It wasn’t unusual for Michael to entertain his guests at our place. To this day, our Encino home remains a haven for family and friends. A tradition of abundance and togetherness is still practiced.
Latoya sang back up for Michael for years and made appearances in both his “Say, Say, Say” and “The Way You Make Me Feel” music videos. He was always the ideal older brother to Janet and a big fan of her music. Janet turned to Michael as a mentor throughout her career. They simply adored one another.
A tight bond is shared between Michael and all of his siblings. He got along well with Marlon because they were closest in age, Jermaine, because he looked up to him, and Tito, who was a favorite among all the boys. Michael was also close to his sisters. He and Latoya bonded when they shared an apartment in New York while he worked on The Wiz in 1978.
Encino California has been our family home since 1971. In the 80’s we attempted to sell our property and relocate to the Hollywood area, but after months of searching, we failed to find a suitable place. As a solution, Michael suggested tearing down our old house and remodeling my dream home right on the Encino property. To our new 10-bedroom estate, Michael added a candy shop, a beautiful gazebo and pool. He even built a studio for himself above the garage where he could practice. The new studio inspired creativity for songs like “Billie Jean”, “Beat it” and “Don’t stop till you get enough”. Michael lived at home through the early part of his adulthood. It was not until the 90’s that Michael decided to move out on his own into the Neverland Ranch.
Left: Michael with a fan.
Left: Jackie, Jermaine, Tito, Marlon, Michael; Right: Randy, Michael, Tito, Marlon, Jackie, Jermaine.
bove and beyond his tutoring, Michael learned a lot about other cultures and the world through his career. After the boys returned home from months of being on tour, Michael was always excited to share his stories and his experiences abroad. I remember one story in particular which took place during a Jackson Five tour in Australia of 1974. The boys were in a small town promoting one of their albums. One day they visited a school to meet and perform for the local kids. Joe noticed a group of Aboriginal fans gathering at the event with a hope to meet The Jacksons. Because of the segregation of cultures that existed during that time, the Aboriginal kids were not permitted to meet the band and pose for photos. Joseph and I tried to instill cultural values in our children at a young age. So that they would grow to respect and appreciate all
races. That day, Joe insisted that no fans be discriminated against. He ensured that the Aboriginal kids were able to meet and take photos with the boys. It was through such incidents, the boys grew sensitive to cultural segregation at a young age. Several years later, Michael returned to Australia and to the town where the Aboriginal people lived. Saddened and affected by their oppression, Michael hoped to find the tribes and discover ways to improve their situation.
In the meantime, the rest of the family began to take interest in show business and enthusiastically chipped in to help the boys prepare for their performances. Janet, Latoya, Randy and Rebbie were often present during rehearsals, lending their time and also their voices to back up the group.
Joe and The Jackson Five on tour in Australia.
The Jacksons CBS/Epic Years.
Left: Michael, Randy, Jackie, Marlon and Tito; Right: Jermaine and Michael.
Right: Michael, Tito and Jackie.
Key III ~MJ
Clockwise: Jackie, Marlon, Michael, Randy and Tito.
is fans and peers crowned him the king of pop, an icon and a legend. But as big a star as he was, I always saw Michael Jackson as just, my son. Michael’s fame had not occurred to me until one year when he took me to Echo Arena in Liverpool on August 29th, his birthday. The entire stadium was adorned in balloons and banners with “Happy Birthday Michael” splashed across them—to me, it was a tremendous gesture.
The arena echoed with excitable chants and screams from at least 70,000 fans. And there were about 30,000 more anxiously waiting his attention outside. I was surprised and amazed by the crowd of people who were there for my son. It really impressed me. And somehow, through all this, Michael managed to stay grounded. There is no doubt
my son accomplished great things in his life, yet he always strived for more. He was ambitious. He was a dreamer.
I remember some of the highlights in Michael’s remarkable career. He attended the Grammys in 1983 after the release of his first solo album, Off the Wall. Not receiving the recognition he had hoped for that year disappointed Michael, however he was not discouraged. Steadfast in his goal to change the outcome, I remember him saying, “Next year mother, they are going to have to take notice.” The following year (1984), the Thriller album was released. Michael was nominated for 12 Grammy awards and took home eight. Today, he still holds the record for the highest amount of Grammys won by an individual recording artist in a single year.
The Jackson Five Victory Tour.
Left to Right: Tito, Marlon, Michael, Jackie and Randy.
Left to Right: Marlon, Michael and Randy.
hen Michael remodeled our Encino home, he built a studio above our garage and called it Jacksons Communications Inc. (JCI). There, countless hours of rehearsing for shows followed.
Michael did not partake in traditional exercise to keep fit for touring, instead, his ritual involved dancing for several hours every Sunday. In an effort to also develop vocal endurance for his choreography, Michael would sing and dance by himself at the studio. He was intuitive in his methodology and believed in hard work and perseverance. His aim was to deliver a high-energy performance, constructed with ground-breaking choreography and special effects for every single show he did. Michael’s influences for dance were the great Fred Astaire and the legendary James Brown. He referred
to the icons of his time as a reference, while also staying abreast of modern talent to collaborate with. Merging the old with the new was a technique responsible for Michael’s classic, yet avant-garde approach to performance. My proudest “Michael Moment” was the first time he did the moonwalk during his solo performance of “Billie Jean” on March 25th 1983, during Motown 25. He rehearsed for that show at the JCI studio above the garage, and kept that trick a secret. In fact, the very first time I saw the moonwalk was on stage, just like everyone else.
I have two favorite Michael Jackson songs; “Man in the Mirror,” released in 1988, and “The Earth Song,” released in 1995. Another one of my favorites was the Jackson Five hit “Man of War”. I especially liked the lyrics, “Don’t go to war no more, study peace, ‘cause peace is what we need”.
ichael loved the allure of theatre and strived to incorporate similar stage presentations into his performances. He excelled at capturing and maintaining the audience’s attention, emulating the same showmanship and excellence of his mentor Fred Astaire . He wanted to give the audience everything he had ... and it didn’t stop at performance.
Michael first began sporting one white, sequined glove in the early to mid 80’s. It was just one of those things that he thought would make a good fashion statement.
When he burned his scalp during a stage accident in 1984, he wore his glove and waved to his fans as he was being carried out on the stretcher. The glove became famous after that. He also began wearing fedoras and other types of hats when he went out in public as a disguise, and to protect his head after the accident. This too became one of his signature trends.
Just like singing and dancing came naturally, Michael was also able to write and compose music organically. In some cases, he would write an entire song overnight. I often heard him shuffling around in his room because an inspiration woke him in the middle of the night.
Michael was involved in the music composition for “Billy Jean” and “Don’t Stop ‘Till You Get Enough” —often doubling as a producer to many of his tracks. Songs like “Heal The World” and “Will You Be There” were among Michael’s favorite to write because he was able to translate his message of peace and good will to his fans. With the help of his brothers and sisters on percussion, he composed both songs at home in the JCI studio. He loved to study and dedicated time toward honing his craft. Michael also wrote Diana Ross’s 1982 hit “Muscles,” and his sister Rebbie’s 1984 song “Centipede.” He also co-wrote “We Are The World” in 1985 with Lionel Ritchie.
Left to Right: Marlon, Randy and Michael.
The Victory Tour: Marlon, Michael.
The Victory Tour: Marlon, Michael, Randy.
Happy Gate ~MJ
ne of the scenes from the music video “Say Say Say” with Sir Paul McCartney, his late wife, Linda McCartney, and my daughter Latoya Jackson was shot on an old ranch in 1983. Several years later, Michael purchased the 2700 acre property which became the Neverland Ranch. This photo was taken during their lunch break at the Tavern Scene location in the video. Michael was very close with Paul and Linda for years, and often visited them at their home in the United Kingdom.
Among Michael’s friends was Chicago comedian, civil rights activist, and nutritional consultant, Dick Gregory. Michael first met Dick in 1978 on the set of The Wiz in New York. Michael, impressed with Dick’s extensive knowledge on nutrition and health, was soon inspired to become a vegetarian. After meeting Dick, I remember my son adopting a serious health regime, with a diet consisting of fish, chicken and vegetables in lieu of red meat. It wasn’t Michael on set with Latoya and Paul McCartney
long before Michael encouraged the family to start eating healthy. Dick continued to influence Michael’s health habits throughout his career until he finally became a full-blown vegetarian.
Several of Michael’s friends visited him backstage at his shows, and some like Miko Brando even accompanied him on tour. Sammy Davis Jr. was a dear friend and inspiration to Michael. The two first met in Lake Tahoe. One night after his show, Michael was admiring Sammy’s watch. Being the generous spirit he was, Sammy instantly removed the watch and gave it to Michael.
I still have that watch to this day. After wearing it for several years, Michael gave it to me as a keepsake. He seldom wore much jewelry himself. Because of his experience with kind-hearted mentors like Sammy, Michael carried on the same generous tradition throughout his life. It was not unusual for Michael to give his fans and friends the things he had that they admired.
Left: Joe, Michael, Don King, Rev.Jesse Jackson.
Right: Michael and Dick Gregory.
Backstage (Left to right): Wayne Newton and Michael; Sammy Davis Jr.; “Sugar” Ray Leonard and Michael; Miko Brando and Quincy Jones.
Backstage the Victory Tour: Eddie Van Halen and Michael and Randy. (right photo)
Left: The three T’s, a family friend, and Michael; Right: Emmanuel Lewis, Latoya and Michael.
Left to Right: Michael, Yoko Ono, Sean Lennon, Marlon.
Right: Diana Ross and Michael.
Left: Mr T. and the Three T’s; Center: The Three T’s and Diana Ross; Right: Lionel Richie, Steve Rubell and friend, Michael, Debbie Allen.
Michael and artist Brett-Livingstone Strong, creating art pieces for the White House Commemoration book for the Bicentennial of the Presidency.
Left To Right: Marlon, Randy, Tito, Michael, Don King.
always told Michael, “you only get out of life, what you put into it.” I think those words stayed with him. Michael always knew what he wanted to do and how far he wanted to go. He believed in hard work, a positive attitude and perseverance. No matter what he set out to do in his career, he wouldn’t settle to just be “good”... it had to be his best. He worked tenaciously, for as long as it took until he was satisfied with the outcome. His efforts did not stop there either. Above and beyond his tenacity was his vision. Michael would often write notes to himself. Sometimes he would scribble down a target date for his album to top the charts on his mirror, so he would see it every day as a reminder. He would then work and strategize toward actualizing his goal. Equally as ambitious, Michael always set very high professional targets for himself to surpass. He strived to be the best in his field, and to give everything he had to achieve his dream. For example, before the success of the Thriller album, Michael was vocal about his intention to create the highest selling record of all time. He was a visionary and specific in his ambition.
Anyone who worked with Michael can attest that he simply would not settle for anything less than perfection. At only seven years old when he started, Michael learned everything he knew about the entertainment industry through sheer experience. He often used his intuition as a tool to make business and creative decisions, which in time proved to be very lucrative for him. As he grew older, he hoped to dedicate less time to business and more toward his art. Most of his business dealings were left in the hands of his associates. Being as trusting as he was, Michael became disheartened to learn that several employees and associates betrayed him, and yet it was not in his nature to prosecute them.
Michael received a lot of negative feedback and media backlash when he bought The Beatles catalog. Long before he had any children of his own, Michael came to me and said, “our family will never have to worry about money anymore because of this business decision.” People commented that he overpaid for the catalogue, but Michael knew his investment would grow. He was right. He was always looking ahead.
Michael receiving his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
ost of Michael’s clothes and costumes were custom made. He had his own personal style and worked very closely with several designers on his wardrobe for his tours, events, and award shows. He would even provide sketches of the garment to be made. Though approached several times to produce a fashion label of his own, he simply didn’t express an interest in such projects. Clothing was more of a personal and creative expression for Michael. His signature color was red. But when Michael was offstage, his sense of style was extremely understated. It was like night and day. Regardless, quite a few of his fans and peers emulated his fashion sensibility. Michael saw that imitation of his style and image to be a form of flattery.
also had a Llama named, Lola, as in Lola Falona, a well-known actress. He had two deer, Prince and Princess. And a snake named Muscles. Michael kept all the animals in a sanctuary he built on the Encino property, all except one that is.
Animals were as plentiful as family around our home. There was a giraffe Michael called Jabar, after basketball player, Karim Abdul Jabar. Michael
For years, Michael pleaded for a pet monkey. Naturally, I refused, until one day he brought a baby chimp named Bubbles home. Bubbles was different from the other animals we fostered. With a child-like demeanor, he motioned with his arms for us to pick him up. His intelligence was apparent in the way he played games and taunted the dogs we kept around the yard. Bubbles lived and slept in Michael’s room; he was very much a part of the family. You’d never even know there were any animals on the property because Michael kept the area they lived on in immaculate condition. A staff of over 200 ensured that same precedent was maintained at NeverLand Ranch’s animal sanctuary years later.
Left to Right: Bubbles, Michael and a family friend.
Left: Michael and Magician Doug Henning; Center: Me, with Michael, Marlon and friends backstage;
f Michael were around today, I know he would be trying a new career in directing films. He was studying privately with a California State Professor who also offered his time to teach Michael’s oldest son, Prince Michael Joseph Jackson the art of film direction.
Most people are not aware of the origins of Michael’s sons’ names, which was actually derived from his grandfather. When Michael was younger he spent time with my father, Prince, in Indiana. Michael’s sons, Prince Michael Joseph Jackson, and Prince Michael Jackson (Blanket) were named after him.
would come to the house to play. I remember enjoying quite a few indulgences myself as well, though I was always frustrated because Michael, being the picky eater he was, always resisted temptation to eat candy himself. He was happy just giving it away seeing the smiles on the children’s little faces. Michael was a big kid himself, and on family visits he often spent his time playing hide and seek with his cousins. It seems like he sought out to compensate for the childhood he felt he never had.
Long before Neverland, Michael built a candy shop and play area right on our Encino property. The store was always filled with ice cream and treats. All his nieces, nephews and neighborhood kids
Enjoying magic as he often did, Michael was always a fan of fantasy and wonderment. He admired several magicians over the years and incorporated elements of this into his shows. He was also a movie buff, especially fantasy and science-fiction.
Left: Michael, my father and I; Middle: Michael,Jermain, My father Prince, Marlon, Jackie and Latoya; Right: Myself, Michael and Joseph.
Left: Me and Michael visiting family; Center: Michael, Joseph, Randy, Jackie and family; Right: Our family celebrating a special occasion.
Left: Janet, Michael and family; Right: Randy, Michael and family.
Left: Janet, Michael, Marlon, Joe and Jackie (at Janet’s graduation); Right: Michael, Joe and Randy.
Left: Michael (a friend), Latoya, Me; Right: Michael, Bubbles and friends.
We The People ~MJ
f there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s how much my son adored his fans. I’ll never forget the years when Michael was facing trial. Every morning we would leave the ranch together to head into court. Without fail, fans would gather around the gate of the ranch showing their support with signs, gifts and prayers.
It touched Michael and I to see bible verses blown up on signs with loving words of encouragement for him to stay strong during the difficult time he was facing. It was the strength he needed. There were huge crowds of people following his every move. It really did not faze him as it might have most people. One rule he enforced among his security staff was to “always be good to his fans.” When Michael lived at home, there were several people hanging around the gate of our home on any given day. Every once in a while, a fan would find a way into the yard to see Michael. Sometimes, they would even find a way into the house. Whenever this happened, Michael always remained calm, pleasant and polite. He was grateful to his fans and acknowledged he would
never be who he was if it were not for their love and support.
I’ve been close to my son throughout his life. Our bond grew once his brothers left home, and strengthened while we endured the trials in 90’s. I knew Michael needed me as much as he needed his fans then, so we did not leave his side. Making music is when Michael felt most in his element. He made a lot of intuitive decisions and really trusted and believed in himself. He really was a big thinker, a dreamer and somehow held on to a belief that he could never fail as long as he put love into his work. Michael was a happy-go-lucky kind of person. I didn’t have to teach my son lessons about being humble during his lifelong fame; it seemed to come naturally to him. I remember telling Michael as a boy that performing on stage was a job, and that it did not make him better than anyone else. It’s possible that my message resonated; even still, his humility often amazed me.
Left: Frank DeLeo, Michael and Body Guards waving to fans.
The boys greeting fans backstage.
Left: Michael backstage with fans.
ichael lived an extraordinary life and was very grateful to be able to do exactly what he loved through his art. But both my son and I will agree that his fame did not come without a price. It was both a blessing and a curse.
I’m not one to speculate on what could be done differently if we could do it all over again. I don’t think I could ask for anything more in life than a son like Michael. Regardless of what people may think, Michael was an extraordinary human being, son and a father. A person who set every foundation with good intentions and with the hope to inspire others through unprescendented displays of love
and humanity. The world knew him, but then again, they didn’t. My son knew his fans were behind him until the end. In return, he gave love, talent, hope and inspiration back to the world through his music. I don’t believe Michael would have wanted his life to have gone any other way. The loss of my son is an overwhelming grief I can never elaborate through words. I share my stories with Michael’s children and his fans because I know he would want them to know how much they really meant to him. Fifty is too young to die. Despite the tribulations he faced, I believe he still managed to live as joyously as he truly deserved. I believe my son Michael fulfilled his life purpose.
1958 – 2009
“Dear Mother! I love you. Your son Michael!”
Editor & Publisher’s Note
When we heard that Michael Jackson died on June 25th 2009, we wouldn’t wager that months later we’d meet his mother. Nor that she would be granting us full admission and a front row seat to the story of her son’s life. Yet, there we was … in awe of the untethered access into her home (and heart), as she opened up for the creation of Never Can Say Good Bye—The Katherine Jackson Story. Like so many others, the news of the King of Pop’s death struck a chord. When Vintage Pop Media Group acquired 16,000 neverbefore-released photos, videos and personal Jackson memorabilia, the (first) question was “what are we going to do with a bunch of Michael Jackson’s stuff?” The answer was simply to go to his family with what we had, and ask Katherine to share the untold story of Michael Jackson, from the woman who raised him. The day we met, Katherine invited us to her place in Encino, California. Prelude to the Neverland years, this was the house Michael called home during the early part of his existence. Displacing the old habit of keeping the media off her turf, Katherine allowed us in to listen to her story and to create a family-album-style book for MJ fans. A privilege we could not take for granted. In our first conversation, she was poised, polite and politically correct; a product of a lifetime with prying tabloid media. Fast forward a few weeks, she let her guard down and conversation ran deeper. Now that she’s lost her son, Katherine needed to clear the air. This would be her chance to preserve Michaels legacy—in a way no one else could—while delivering a tribute for his fans and children. The process was organic, we sifted throughout thousands of Jackson family photos and stories about Michael seemed to just flow. An increasing comfort level eventually unlocked a few uncensored and private moments into her family’s lives. Reliving that day on June 25th, when she received the phone call summoning her to the hospital where Michael was admitted, brought us both to tears. Sitting across from her, she seemed no different than any mother remembering her son… only this son happens to be one of the most influential recording artists of our time. Yet, in that moment the king of pop’s matriarch remained solemn. Sweet. Normal. Though we hadn’t ever met Michael Jackson, I certainly gained valuable insight into the person he was, through the eyes of the woman who raised him. This book, we hope, becomes a celebrated tribute to Michael’s remarkable life – the son, the artist and the man. Though he may be gone, MJ lives forever in our hearts.
Sonia Lowe, Creative Director/Editor & Howard Mann, Publisher