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"MOONWALK" Michael Jackson оригинал

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Another love was Brooke Shields. We were romantically serious for a while. There have been a lot of wonderful women in my life, women whose names wouldn't mean anything to the readers of this book, and it would be unfair to discuss them because they are not celebrities and are unaccustomed to having their names in print. I value my privacy and therefore I respect theirs as well.

Liza Minelli is a person whose friendship I'll always cherish. She's like my show business sister. We get together and talk about the business; it comes out of our pores. We both eat, sleep, and drink various moves and songs and dance. We have the best time together. I love her.

Right after we finished Off the Wall , I plunged into making the Triumph album with my brothers. We wanted to combine the best of both albums for our tour. "Can You Feel It?" was the first cut on the album, and it had the closest thing to a rock feel that the Jacksons had ever done. It wasn't really dance music either. We had it in mind for the video that opened our tour, kind of like our own Also Sprach Zarathrustra , the 2001 theme. Jackie and I had thought of combining the band sound with a gospel/children's choir feel. That was a nod a Gamble and Huff, in a way, because the song was a celebration of love taking over, cleansing the sins of the world. Randy's singing is so good, even if his range is not all he'd like it to be. His breathing and phrasing kept me pumped up on my toes when we sang it. There was a bright foghorn-type keyboard that I worked on for hours, going over it and over it again, until I got it the way I wanted it. We had six minutes, and I don't think it was one second too long.

"Lovely One" was an extension of "Shake Your Body Down to the Ground," with that lighter Off the Wall sound injected. I tried out a newer, more ethereal voice on Jackie's "Your Ways," with the keyboards adding a faraway quality. Paulinho brought out all the artillery: triangles, skulls, gongs. This song's about a strange girl who is the way she is and there's nothing I can do about it, other than enjoy it when I can.

"Everybody" is more playful than the Off the Wall dance tunes, with Mike McKinney propelling it like a plane turning and bearing down. The background vocals suggest "Get on the Floor's" influence, but Quincy's sound is deeper, like you're in the eye of the storm - our sound was more like going up the glass elevator to the top floor while looking down, rising effortlessly.

"Time Waits for No One" was written by Jackie and Randy with my voice and style in mind. They knew they were trying to keep up with the Off the Wall songwriters and they did a very good job. "Give It Up" gave everyone a chance to sing. Marlon in particular. We strayed from the band sound on those tracks, perhaps sinking back into that Philly trap of letting the arrangement overwhelm us. "Walk Right Now" and "Wondering Who" were closer to the Destiny sound, but for the most part they were suffering from too many cooks and not enough broth.

There was one exception: "Heartbreak Hotel." I swear that was a phrase that came out of my head and I wasn't thinking of any other song when I wrote it. The record company printed it on the cover as "This Place Hotel," because of the Elvis Presley connection. As important as he was to music, black as well as white, he just wasn't an influence on me. I guess he was too early for me. Maybe it was timing more than anything else. By the time our song had come out, people thought that if I kept living in seclusion the way I was, I might die the way he did. The parallels aren't there as far as I'm concerned and I was never much for scare tactics. Still, the way Elvis destroyed himself interests me, because I don't ever want to walk those grounds myself.

LaToya was asked to contribute the scream that opens the song - not the most auspicious start to a recording career, I'll admit, but she was just getting her feet wet in the studio. She has made some good records since and is quite accomplished. The scream was the kind that normally shatters a bad dream, but our intention was to have the dream only begin, to make the listener wonder whether it was a dream or reality. That was the effect I think we got. The three female backup singers were amused when they were doing the scary backup effects that I wanted, until they actually heard them in the mix.

"Heartbreak Hotel" was the most ambitious song I had composed. I think I worked on a number of levels: You could dance to it, sing along with it, get scared by it, and just listen. I had to tack on a slow piano and cello coda that ended on a positive note to reassure the listener; there's no point in trying to scare someone if there isn't something to bring the person back safe and sound from where you've taken them. "Heartbreak Hotel" had revenge in it and I am fascinated by the concept of revenge. It's something I can't understand. The idea of making someone "pay" for something they've done to you or that you imagine they've done to you is totally alien to me. The setup showed my own fears and for the first time being helped quell them. There were so many sharks in this business looking for blood in the water.

If this song, and later "Billie Jean," seemed to cast women in an unfavorable light, it was not meant to be taken as a personal statement. Needless to say, I love the interaction between the sexes; it is a natural part of life and I love women. I just think that when sex is used as a form of blackmail or power, it's a repugnant use of one of God's gifts.

Triumph gave us that final burst of energy we needed to put together a perfect show, with no marginal material. We began rehearsing with our touring band, which included bass player Mike McKinney. David Williams would travel with us too, but he was now a permanent member of the band.

The upcoming tour was going to be a big undertaking. We had special effects arranged for us by the great magician Doug Whining. I wanted to disappear completely in a puff of smoke right after "Don't Stop." He had to coordinate the special effects with the Showco people who controlled the whole setup. I was happy to talk with him while we walked through the routine. It seemed almost unfair for him to give me his secrets, and apart from the money I wasn't offering him anything he could make use of in return. I felt a little embarrassed about that, yet I really wanted our show to be great and I knew Henning's contribution would be spectacular. We were competing with bands like Earth, Wind, and Fire and the Commodores for the position of top band in the country, and we knew there were people who felt that the Jackson brothers had been around for ten years and were finished.

I had worked hard on the concept for the set for the upcoming tour. It had the feel of Close Encounters behind it. I was trying to make the statement that there was life and meaning beyond space and time and the peacock had burst forth ever brighter and ever prouder. I wanted our film to reflect this idea, too.

My pride in the rhythms, the technical advances, and the success of Off the Wall was offset by the jolt I got when the Grammy nominations were announced for 1979. Although Off the Wall had been one of the most popular records of the year, it received only one nomination: Best R&B Vocal Performance. I remember where I was when I got the news. I felt ignored by my peers and it hurt. People told me later that it surprised the industry too.

I was disappointed and then I got excited thinking about the album to come. I said to myself, "Wait until next time" - they won't be able to ignore the next album. I watched the ceremony on television and it was nice to win my category, but I was still upset by what I perceived as the rejection of my peers. I just kept thinking, "Next time, next time." In many ways an artist is his work. It's difficult to separate the two. I think I can be brutally objective about my work as I create it, and if something doesn't work, I can feel it, but when I turn in a finished album - or song - you can be sure that I've given it every ounce of energy and God-given talent that I have. Off the Wall was well received by my fans and I think that's why the Grammy nominations hurt. That experience lit a fire in my soul. All I could think of was the next album and what I would do with it. I wanted it to be truly great.



Chapter Five

Off the Wall was released in August 1979, the same month I turned twenty-one and took control of my own affairs, and it was definitely one of the major landmarks of my life. It meant a great deal to me, because its eventual success proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that a former "child star" could mature into a recording artist with contemporary appeal. Off the Wall also went a step beyond the dance grooves we had cooked up. When we started the project, Quincy and I talked about how important it was to capture passion and strong feelings in a recorded performance. I still think that's what we achieved on the ballad "She's Out of My Life," and to a lesser extent on "Rock with You."

Looking back, I can view the whole tapestry and see how Off the Wall prepared me for the work we would do on the album that became Thriller. Quincy, Rod Temperton, and many of the musicians who played on Off the Wall would help me realize a dream that I had had for a long time. Off the Wall had sold almost six million copies in this country, but I wanted to make an album that would be even bigger. Ever since I was a little boy, I had dreamed of creating the biggest-selling record of all time. I remember going swimming as a child and making a wish before I jumped into the pool. Remember, I grew up knowing the industry, understanding goals, and being told what was and was not possible. I wanted to do something special. I'd stretch my arms out, as if I were sending my thoughts right up into space. I'd make my wish, then I'd dive into the water. I'd say to myself, "This is my dream. This is my wish," every time before I'd dive into the water.

I believe in wishes and in a person's ability to make a wish come true. I really do. Whenever I saw a sunset, I would quietly make my secret wish right before the sun tucked under the western horizon and disappeared. It would seem as if the sun had taken my wish with it. I'd make it right before that last speck of light vanished. And a wish is more than a wish, it's a goal. It's something your conscious and subconscious can help make reality.

I remember being in the studio once with Quincy and Rod Temperton while we were working on Thriller . I was playing a pinball machine and one of them asked me, "If this album doesn't do as well as Off the Wall , will you be disappointed?"

I remember feeling upset - hurt that the question was even raised. I told them Thriller had to do better than Off the Wall . I admitted that I wanted this album to be the biggest-selling album of all time.

They started laughing. It was a seemingly unrealistic thing to want.

There were times during the Thriller project when I would get emotional or upset because I couldn't get the people working with me to see what I was. That still happens to me sometimes. Often people just don't see what I see. They have too much doubt. You can't do your best when you're doubting yourself. If you don't believe in yourself, who will? Just doing as well as you did last time is not good enough. I think of it as the "Try to get what you can" mentality. It doesn't require you to stretch, to grow. I don't believe in that.

I believe we are powerful, but we don't use our minds to full capacity. Your mind is powerful enough to help you attain whatever you want. I knew what we could do with that record. We had a great team there, a lot of talent and good ideas, and I knew we could do anything. The success of Thriller transformed many of my dreams into reality. It did become the biggest-selling album of all time, and that fact appeared on the cover of The Guinness Book of World Records.

Making the Thriller album was very hard work, but it's true that you only get out of something what you put into it. I'm a perfectionist: I'll work until I drop. And I worked so hard on that album. It helped that Quincy showed great confidence in what we were doing during those sessions. I guess I had proved myself to him during our work on Off the Wall . He listened to what I had to say and helped me accomplish what I had hoped to on that album, but he showed even more faith in me during the making of Thriller . He realized I had the confidence and experience I needed to make that record and at times he wasn't in the studio with us for that reason. I'm really very self-confident when it comes to my work. When I take on a project, I believe in it 100 percent. I really put my soul into it. I'd die for it. That's how I am.

Quincy is brilliant at balancing out an album, creating the right mix of up-tempo numbers and slow ones. We started out working with Rod Temperton on songs for the Thriller album, which was originally called Starlight . I was writing songs myself while Quincy was listening to other people's songs, hoping to find just the right ones for the album. He's good at knowing what I'll like and what will work for me. We both share the same philosophy about making albums; we don't believe in B-sides or album songs. Every song should be able to stand on its own as a single, and we always push for this.

I had finished some songs of my own, but I didn't give them to Quincy until I saw what had come in from other writers. The first song I had was "Startin' Something," which I had written when we were doing Off the Wall but had never given to Quincy for that album. Sometimes I have a song I've written that I really like and I just can't bring myself to present it. While we were making Thriller , I even held on to "Beat It" for a long time before I played it for Quincy. He kept telling me that we needed a great rock song for the album. He'd say, "Come on, where is it? I know you got it." I like my songs but initially I'm shy about playing them for people, because I'm afraid they won't like them and that's a painful experience.

He finally convinced me to let him hear what I had. I brought out "Beat It" and played it for him and he went crazy. I felt on top of the world.

When we were about to start work on Thriller , I called Paul McCartney in London and this time I did say, "Let's get together and write some hits." Our collaboration produced "Say Say Say" and "The Girl Is Mine."

Quincy and I eventually chose "The Girl Is Mine" as the obvious first single from Thriller . We really didn't have much choice. When you have two strong names like that together on a song, it has to come out first or it gets played to death and overexposed. We had to get it out of the way.

When I approached Paul, I wanted to repay the favor he had done me in contributing "Girlfriend" to Off the Wall . I wrote "The Girl Is Mine," which I knew would be right for his voice and mine working together, and we also did work on "Say Say Say," which we would finish up later with George Martin, the great Beatles producer.

"Say Say Say" was co-authored by Paul, a man who could play all the instruments in the studio and score every part, and a kid, me, who couldn't. Yet we worked together as equals and enjoyed ourselves. Paul never had to carry me in that studio. The collaboration was also a real step forward for me in terms of confidence, because there was no Quincy Jones watching over me to correct my mistakes. Paul and I shared the same idea of how a pop song should work and it was a real treat to work with him. I feel that ever since John Lennon's death he has had to live up to expectations people had no right to hang on him; Paul McCartney has given so much to this industry and to his fans.

Eventually, I would buy the ATV music publishing catalogue, which included many of the great Lennon-McCartney songs. But most people don't know that it was Paul who introduced me to the idea of getting involved in music publishing. I was staying with Paul and Linda at their house in the country when Paul told me about his own involvement in music publishing. He handed me a little book with MPL printed on the cover. He smiled as I opened it, because he knew I was going to find the contents exciting. It contained a list of all the songs Paul owns and he'd been buying the rights to songs for a long time. I had never given the idea of buying songs any thought before. When the ATV music publishing catalogue, which contains many Lennon-McCartney songs, went on sale, I decided to put in a bid.

I consider myself a musician who is incidentally a businessman, and Paul and I had both learned the hard way about business and the importance of publishing and royalties and the dignity of songwriting. Songwriting should be treated as the lifeblood of popular music. The creative process doesn't involve time clocks or quota systems, it involves inspiration and the willingness to follow through. When I was sued my someone I had never heard of for "The Girl Is Mine," I was quite willing to stand on my reputation. I stated that many of my ideas come in dreams, which some people thought was a convenient cop-out, but it's true. Our industry is so lawyer-heavy that getting sued for something you didn't do seems to be as much a part of the initiation process as winning amateur night used to be.

"Not My Lover" was a title we almost used for "Billie Jean" because Q had some objections to calling the song "Billie Jean," my original title. He felt people might immediately think of Billie Jean King, the tennis player.

A lot of people have asked me about that song, and the answer is very simple. It's just a case of a girl who says that I'm the father of her child and I'm pleading my innocence because "the kid is not my son."



There was never a real "Billie Jean." (Except for the ones who came after the song.) The girl in the song is a composite of people we've been plagued by over the years. This kind of thing has happened to some of my brothers and I used to be really amazed by it. I couldn't understand how these girls could say they were carrying someone's child when it wasn't true. I can't imagine lying about something like that. Even today there are girls who come to the gate at our house and say the strangest things, like, "Oh, I'm Michael's wife," or "I'm just dropping off the keys to our apartment." I remember one girl who used to drive us completely crazy. I really think that she believed in her mind that she belonged with me. There was another girl who claimed I had gone to bed with her, and she made threats. There've been a couple of serious scuffles at the gate on Hayvenhurst, and they can get dangerous. People yell into the intercom that Jesus sent them to speak with me and Gold told them to come - unusual and unsettling things.

A musician knows hit material. It has to feel right. Everything has to feel in place. It fulfills you and it makes you feel good. You know it when you hear it. That's how I felt about "Billie Jean." I knew it was going to be big while I was writing it. I was really absorbed in that song. One day during a break in a recording session I was riding down the Ventura Freeway with Nelson Hayes, who was working with me at the time. "Billie Jean" was going around in my head and that's all I was thinking about. We were getting off the freeway when a kid on a motorcycle pulls up to us and says, "Your car's on fire." Suddenly we noticed the smoke and pulled over and the whole bottom of the Rolls-Royce was on fire. That kid probably saved our lives. If the car had exploded, we could have been killed. But I was so absorbed by this tune floating in my head that I didn't even focus on the awful possibilities until later. Even while we were getting help and finding an alternate way to get where we were going, I was silently composing additional material, that's how involved I was with "Billie Jean."

Before I wrote "Beat It," I had been thinking I wanted to write the type of rock song that I would go out and buy, but also something totally different from the rock music I was hearing on Top 40 radio at the time.

"Beat It" was written with school kids in mind. I've always loved creating pieces that will appeal to kids. It's fun to write for them and know what they like because they're a very demanding audience. You can't fool them. They are still the audience that's most important to me, because I really care about them. If they like it, it's a hit, no matter what the charts say.

The lyrics of "Beat It" express something I would do if I were in trouble. Its message - that we should abhor violence - is something I believe deeply. It tells kids to be smart and avoid trouble. I don't mean to say you should turn the other cheek while someone kicks in your teeth, but, unless your back is against the wall and you have absolutely no choice, just get away before violence breaks out. If you fight and get killed, you've gained nothing and lost everything. You're the loser, and so are the people who love you. That's what "Beat It" is supposed to get across. To me true bravery is settling differences without a fight and having the wisdom to make that solution possible.

When Q called Eddie Van Halen, he thought it was a crank call. Because of the bad connection, Eddie was convinced that the voice on the other end was a fake. After being told to get lost, Q simply dialed the number again. Eddie agreed to play the session for us and gave us an incredible guitar solo on "Beat It."

The newest members of our team were the band Toto, who had the hit records "Rosanna" and " Africa." They had been well known as individual session musicians before they came together as a group. Because of their experience, they knew both sides of studio work, when to be independent, and when to be cooperative and follow the producer's lead. Steve Porcaro had worked on Off the Wall during a break as keyboardist for Toto. This time he brought his band mates with him. Musicologists know that the band's leader David Paich is the son of Marty Paich, who worked on Ray Charles' great records like "I Can't Stop Loving You."

I love "Pretty Young Thing," which was written by Quincy and James Ingram. "Don't Stop Till You Get Enough" had whetted my appetite for the spoken intro, partly because I didn't think my speaking voice was something my singing needed to hide. I have always had a soft speaking voice. I haven't cultivated it or chemically altered it: that's me - take it or leave it. Imagine what it must be like to be criticized for something about yourself that is natural and God given. Imagine the hurt of having untruths spread by the press, of having people wonder if you're telling the truth - defending yourself because someone decided it would make good copy and would force you to deny what they said, thus creating another story. I've tried not to answer such ridiculous charges in the past because that dignifies them and the people who make them. Remember, the press is a business: Newspapers and magazines are in business to make money - sometimes at the expense of accuracy, fairness, and even the truth.

Anyway, in the intro to "Pretty Young Thing," I sounded a bit more confident than I had on the last album. I liked the "code" in the lyrics, and "tenderoni" and "sugar fly" were fun rock'n'roll-type words that you couldn't find in the dictionary. I got Janet and LaToya into the studio for this one, and they produced the "real" backup vocals. James Ingram and I programmed an electronic device called a Vocoder, which gave out that E.T. voice.

"Human Nature" was the song the Toto guys brought to Q, and he and I both agreed that the song had the prettiest melody we'd heard in a long time, even more than " Africa." It's music with wings. People asked me about the lyrics: "Why does he do me that way . . . I like loving this way . . ." People often think the lyrics you're singing have some special personal significance for you, which often isn't true. It is important to reach people, to move them. Sometimes one can do this with the mosaic of the music melody arrangement and lyrics, sometimes it is the intellectual content of the lyrics. I was asked a lot of questions about "Muscles," the song I wrote and produced for Diana Ross. That song fulfilled a lifelong dream of returning some of the many favors she's done for me. I have always loved Diana and looked up to her. Muscles, by the way, is the name of my snake.

"The Lady in My Life" was one of the most difficult tracks to cut. We were used to doing a lot of takes in order to get a vocal as nearly perfect as possible, but Quincy wasn't satisfied with my work on that song, even after literally dozens of takes. Finally he took me aside late one session and told me he wanted me to beg. That's what he said. He wanted me to go back to the studio and literally beg for it. So I went back in and had them turn off the studio lights and close the curtain between the studio and the control room so I wouldn't feel self-conscious. Q started the tape and I begged. The result is what you hear in the grooves.

Eventually we came under tremendous pressure from our record company to finish Thriller . When a record company rushes you, they really rush you, and they were rushing us hard on Thriller . They said it had to be ready on a certain date, do or die.

So we went through a period where we were breaking our backs to get the album done by their deadline. There were a lot of compromises made on the mixes of various tracks, and on whether certain tracks were even going to be on the record. We cut so many corners that we almost lost the whole album.

When we finally listened to the tracks we were going to hand in, Thriller sounded so crappy to me that tears came to my eyes. We had been under enormous pressure because while we were trying to finish Thriller we also had been working on The E.T. Storybook , and there had been deadline pressure on that as well. All these people were fighting back and forth with each other, and we came to realize that the sad truth was that the mixes of Thriller didn't work.

We sat there in the studio, Westlake Studio in Hollywood, and listened to the whole album. I felt devastated. All this pent-up emotion came out. I got angry and left the room. I told my people, "That's it, we're not releasing it. Call CBS and tell them they are not getting this album. We are not releasing it."



Because I knew it was wrong. If we hadn't stopped the process and examined what we were doing, the record would have been terrible. It never would have been reviewed the way it was because, as we learned, you can ruin a great album in the mix. It's like taking a great movie and ruining it in the ending. You simply have to take your time.

Some things can't be rushed.

There was a bit of yelling and screaming from the record people, but in the end they were smart and understood. They knew too; it was just that I was the first to say it. Finally I realized I had to do the whole thing - mix the entire album - all over again.

We took a couple of days off, drew a deep breath, and stepped back. Then we came to it fresh, cleaned our ears out, and began to mix two songs a week. When it was done - boom - it hit us hard. CBS could hear the difference too. Thriller was a tough project.

It felt so good when we finished. I was so excited I couldn't wait for it to come out. When we finished, there wasn't any kind of celebration that I can recall. We didn't go out to a disco or anything. We just rested. I prefer just being with people I really like anyway. That's my way of celebrating.

The three videos that came out of Thriller - "Billie Jean," "Beat It," and "Thriller" - were all part of my original concept for the album. I was determined to present this music as visually as possible. At the time I would look at what people were doing with video, and I couldn't understand why so much of it seemed so primitive and weak. I saw kids watching and accepting boring videos because they had no alternatives. My goal is to do the best I can in every area, so why work hard on an album and then produce a terrible video? I wanted something that would glue you to the set, something you'd want to watch over and over. The idea from the beginning was to give people quality. So I wanted to be a pioneer in this relatively new medium and make the best short music movies we could make. I don't even like to call them videos. On the set I explained that we were doing a film , and that was how I approached it. I wanted the most talented people in the business - the best cinematographer, the best director, the best lighting people we could get. We weren't shooting on videotape; it was 35-mm film. We were serious.

For the first video, "Billie Jean," I interviewed several directors, looking for someone who seemed really unique. Most of them didn't present me with anything that was truly innovative. At the same time I was trying to think bigger, the record company was giving me a problem on the budget. So I ended up paying for "Beat It" and "Thriller" because I didn't want to argue with anybody about money. I own both of those films myself as a result.

"Billie Jean" was done with CBS's money - about $250,000. At the time that was a lot of money for a video, but it really pleased me that they believed in me that much. Steve Baron, who directed "Billie Jean," had very imaginative ideas, although he didn't agree at first that there should be dancing in it. I felt that people wanted to see dancing. It was great to dance for the video. That freeze-frame where I go on my toes was spontaneous; so were many of the other moves.

"Billie Jean's" video made a big impression on the MTV audience and was a huge hit.

"Beat It" was directed by Bob Giraldi, who had done a lot of commercials. I remember being in England when it was decided that "Beat It" would be the next single released from Thriller , and we had to choose a director for the video.

I felt "Beat It" should be interpreted literally, the way it was written, one gang against another on tough urban streets. It had to be rough . That's what "Beat It" was about.

When I got back to L.A., I saw Bob Giraldi's demo reel and knew that he was the director I wanted for "Beat It." I loved the way he told a story in his work, so I talked with him about "Beat It." We went over things, my ideas and his ideas, and that's how it was created. We played with the storyboard and molded and sculpted it.

I had street gangs on my mind when I wrote "Beat It," so we rounded up some of the toughest gangs in Los Angeles and put them to work on the video. It turned out to be a good idea, and a great experience for me. We had some rough kids on that set, tough kids, and they hadn't been to wardrobe. Those guys in the pool room in the first scene were serious; they were not actors. That stuff was real.

Now I hadn't been around really tough people all that much, and these guys were more than a little intimidating at first. But we had security around and were ready for anything that might happen. Of course we soon realized we didn't need any of this, that the gang members were mostly humble, sweet, and kind in their dealings with us. We fed them during breaks, and they all cleaned up and put their trays away. I came to realize that the whole thing about being bad and tough is that it's done for recognition. All along these guys had wanted to be seen and respected, and now we were going to put them on TV. They loved it. "Hey, look at me, I'm somebody!" And I think that's really why many of the gangs act the way they do. They're rebels, but rebels who want attention and respect. Like all of us, they just want to be seen. And I gave them that chance. For a few days at least they were stars.

They were so wonderful to me - polite, quiet, supportive. After the dance numbers they'd compliment my work, and I could tell they really meant it. They wanted a lot of autographs and frequently stood around my trailer. Whatever they wanted, I gave them: photographs, autographs, tickets for the Victory tour, anything. They were a nice bunch of guys.

The truth of that experience came out on the screen. The "Beat It" video was menacing, and you could feel those people's emotions. You felt the experience of the streets and the reality of their lives. You look at "Beat It" and know those kids are tough. They were being themselves, and it came across. It was nothing like actors acting; it was as far from that as possible. They were being themselves; that feeling you got was their spirit.

I've always wondered if they got the same message from the song that I did.

When Thriller first came out, the record company assumed it would sell a couple of million copies. In general record companies never believe a new album will do considerably better than the last one you did. The figure you either got lucky last time or the number you last sold is the size of your audience. They usually just ship a couple of million out to the stores to cover the sales in case you get lucky again.

That's how it usually works, but I wanted to alter their attitude with Thriller .

One of the people who helped me with Thriller was Frank Dileo. Frank was vice president for promotion at Epic when I met him. Along with Ron Weisner and Fred DeMann, Frank was responsible for turning my dream for Thriller into a reality. Frank heard parts of Thriller for the first time at Westlake Studio in Hollywood, where much of the album was recorded. He was there with Freddie DeMann, one of my managers, and Quincy and I played them "Beat It" and a little bit of "Thriller," which we were still working on. They were very impressed, and we started to talk seriously about how to "break" this album wide open.

Frank really worked hard and proved to be my right hand during the years ahead. His brilliant understanding of the recording industry proved invaluable. For instance, we released "Beat It" as a single while "Billie Jean" was still at number one. CBS screamed, "You're crazy. This will kill 'Billie Jean'" But Frank told them not to worry, that both songs would be number one and both would be in the Top 10 at the same time. They were.

By the spring of 1983 it was clear that the album was going to go crazy. Over the top. Every time they released another single, sales of the album would go even higher.

Then the "Beat It" video took off.

On May 16, 1983, I performed "Billie Jean" on a network telecast in honor of Motown's twenty-fifth anniversary. Almost fifty million people saw that show. After that, many things changed.

The Motown 25 show had actually been taped a month earlier, in April. The whole title was Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, and Forever , and I'm forced to admit I had to be talked into doing it. I'm glad I did because the show eventually produced some of the happiest and proudest moments of my life.

As I mentioned earlier, I said no to the idea at first. I had been asked to appear as a member of the Jacksons and then do a dance number on my own. But none of us were Motown artists any longer. There were lengthy debates between me and my managers, Weisner and DeMann. I thought about how much Berry Gordy had done for me and the group, but I told my managers and Motown that I didn't want to go on TV. My whole attitude toward TV is fairly negative. Eventually Berry came to see me to discuss it. I was editing "Beat It" at the Motown studio, and someone must have told him I was in the building. He came down to the studio and talked to me about it at length. I said, "Okay, but if I do it, I want to do 'Billie Jean.'" It would have been the only non-Motown song in the whole show. He told me that's what he wanted me to do anyway. So we agreed to do a Jacksons' medley, which would include Jermaine. We were all thrilled.

So I gathered my brothers and rehearsed them for this show. I really worked them, and it felt nice, a bit like the old days of the Jackson 5. I choreographed them and rehearsed them for days at our house in Encino, videotaping every rehearsal so we could watch it later. Jermaine and Marlon also made their contributions. Next we went to Motown in Pasadena for rehearsals. We did our act and, even though we reserved our energy and never went all out at rehearsal, all the people there were clapping and coming around and watching us. Then I did my "Billie Jean" rehearsal. I just walked through it because as yet I had nothing planned. I hadn't had time because I was so busy rehearsing the group.

The next day I called my management office and said, "Please order me a spy's hat, like a cool fedora - something that a secret agent would wear." I wanted something sinister and special, a real slouchy kind of hat. I still didn't have a very good idea of what I was going to do with "Billie Jean."

During the Thriller sessions, I had found a black jacket, and I said, "You know, someday I'm going to wear this to perform. It was so perfect and so show business that I wore it on Motown 25 .

But the night before the taping, I still had no idea what I was going to do with my solo number. So I went down to the kitchen of our house and played "Billie Jean." Loud. I was in there by myself, the night before the show, and I pretty much stood there and let the song tell me what to do. I kind of let the dance create itself. I really let it talk to me; I heard the beat come in, and I took this spy's hat and started to pose and step, letting the "Billie Jean" rhythm create the movements. I felt almost compelled to let it create itself. I couldn't help it. And that - being able to "step back" and let the dance come through - was a lot of fun.

I had also been practicing certain steps and movements, although most of the performance was actually spontaneous. I had been practicing the Moonwalk for some time, and it dawned on me in our kitchen that I would finally do the Moonwalk in public on Motown 25.

Now the Moonwalk was already out on the street by this time, but I enhanced it a little when I did it. It was born as a break-dance step, a "popping" type of thing that blacks kids had created dancing on the street corners in the ghetto. Black people are truly innovative dancers; they create many of the new dances, pure and simple. So I said, "This is my chance to do it," and I did it. These three kids taught it to me. They gave me the basics - and I had been doing it a lot in private. I had practiced it together with certain other steps. All I was really sure of was that on the bridge to "Billie Jean" I was going to walk backward and forward at the same time, like walking on the moon.

One the day of the taping, Motown was running behind schedule. Late. So I went off and rehearsed by myself. By then I had my spy hat. My brothers wanted to know what the hat was for, but I told them they'd have to wait and see. But I did ask Nelson Hayes for a favor. "Nelson - after I do the set with my brothers and the lights go down, sneak the hat out to me in the dark. I'll be in the corner, next to the wings, talking to the audience, but you sneak that hat back there and put it in my hand in the dark."

So after my brothers and I finished performing, I walked over to the side of the stage and said, "You're beautiful! I'd like to say those were the good old days; those were magic moments with all my brothers, including Jermaine. But what I really like" - and Nelson is sneaking the hat into my hand - "are the newer songs." I turned around and grabbed the hat and went into "Billie Jean," into that heavy rhythm; I could tell that people in the audience were really enjoying my performance. My brothers told me they were crowding the wings watching me with their mouths open, and my parents and sisters were out there in the audience. But I just remember opening my eyes at the end of the thing and seeing this sea of people standing up, applauding. And I felt so many conflicting emotions. I knew I had done my best and felt good, so good. But at the same time I felt disappointed in myself. I had planned to do one really long spin and to stop on my toes, suspended for a moment, but I didn't stay on my toes as long as I wanted. I did the spin and I landed on one toe. I wanted to just stay there, just freeze there, but it didn't work quite as I'd planned.

When I got backstage, the people back there were congratulating me. I was still disappointed about the spin. I had been concentrating so hard and I'm such a perfectionist. At the same time I knew this was one of the happiest moments of my life. I knew that for the first time my brothers had really gotten a chance to watch me and see what I was doing, how I was evolving. After the performance, each of them hugged and kissed me backstage. They had never done that before, and I felt happy for all of us. It was so wonderful when they kissed me like that. I loved it! I mean, we hug all the time. My whole family embraces a lot, except for my father. He's the only one who doesn't. Whenever the rest of us see each other, we embrace, but when they all kissed me that night, I felt as if I had been blessed by them.



The performance was still gnawing at me, and I wasn't satisfied until a little boy came up to me backstage. He was about ten years old and was wearing a tuxedo. He looked up at me with stars in his eyes, frozen where he stood, and said, "Man, who ever taught you to dance like that?" I kind of laughed and said, "Practice, I guess." And this boy was looking at me, awestruck. I walked away, and for the first time that evening I felt really good about what I had accomplished that night. I said to myself, I must have done really well because children are honest. When that kid said what he did, I really felt that I had done a good job. I was so moved by the whole experience that I went right home and wrote down everything which had happened that night. My entry ended with my encounter with the child.

The day after the Motown 25 show, Fred Astaire called me on the telephone. He said - these are his exact words - "You're a hell of a mover. Man, you really put them on their asses last night." That's what Fred Astaire said to me. I thanked him. Then he said, "You're an angry dancer. I'm the same way. I used to do the same thing with my cane."

I had met him once or twice in the past, but this was the first time he had ever called me. He went on to say, "I watched the special last night; I taped it and I watched it again this morning. You're a hell of a mover."

It was the greatest compliment I had ever received in my life, and the only one I had ever wanted to believe. For Fred Astaire to tell me that meant more to me than anything. Later my performance was nominated for an Emmy Award in a musical category, but I lost to Leontyne Price. It didn't matter. Fred Astaire had told me things I would never forget - that was my reward. Later he invited me to his house, and there were more compliments from him until I really blushed. He went over my "Billie Jean" performance, step by step. The great choreographer Hermes Pan, who had choreographed Fred's dances in the movies, came over, and I showed them how to Moonwalk and demonstrated some other steps that really interested them.

Not long after that Gene Kelly came by my house to visit and also said he liked my dancing. It was a fantastic experience, that show, because I felt I had been inducted into an informal fraternity of dancers, and I felt so honored because these were the people I most admired in the world.

Right after Motown 25 my family read a lot of stuff in the press about my being "the new Sinatra" and as "exciting as Elvis" - that kind of thing. It was very nice to hear, but I knew the press could be so fickle. One week they love you, and the next week they act like you're rubbish. Later I gave the glittery black jacket I wore on Motown 25 to Sammy Davis as a present. He said he was going to do a takeoff of me on stage, and I said, "Here, you want to wear this when you do it?" He was so happy. I love Sammy. He's such a fine man and a real showman. One of the best. I had been wearing a single glove for years before Thriller . I felt that one glove was cool. Wearing two gloves seemed so ordinary, but a single glove was different and was definitely a look. But I've long believed that thinking too much about your look is one of the biggest mistakes you can make, because an artist should let his style evolve naturally, spontaneously. You can't think about these things; you have to feel your way into them.

I actually had been wearing the glove for a long time, but it hadn't gotten a lot of attention until all of a sudden it hit with Thriller in 1983. I was wearing it on some of the old tours back in the 1970s, and I wore one glove during the Off the Wall tour and on the cover of the live album that came out afterward.

It's so show business that one glove. I love wearing it. Once, by coincidence, I wore a black glove to the American Music Awards ceremony, which happened to fall on Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday. Funny how things happen sometimes.

I admit that I love starting trends, but I never thought wearing white socks was going to catch on. Not too long ago it was considered extremely square to wear white socks. It was cool in the 1950s, but in the O60s and O70s you wouldn't be caught dead in white socks. It was too square to even consider - for most people.

But I never stopped wearing them. Ever. My brothers would call me a dip, but I didn't care. My brother Jermaine would get upset and call my mother, "Mother, Michael's wearing his white socks again. Can't you do something? Talk to him." He would complain bitterly. They'd all tell me I was a goofball. But I still wore my white socks, and now it's cool again. Those white socks must have caught on just to spite Jermaine. I get tickled when I think about it. After Thriller came out, it even became okay to wear your pants high around your ankles again.

My attitude is if fashion says it's forbidden, I'm going to do it.

When I'm at home, I don't like to dress up. I wear anything that's handy. I used to spend days in my pajamas. I like flannel shirts, old sweaters and slacks, simple clothes.

When I go out, I dress up in sharper, brighter, more tailored clothes, but around the house and in the studio anything goes. I don't wear much jewelry - usually none - because it gets in my way. Occasionally people give me gifts of jewelry and I treasure them for the sentiment, but usually I just put them away somewhere. Some of it has been stolen. Jackie Gleason gave me a beautiful ring. He took it off his finger and gave it to me. It was stolen and I miss it, but it doesn't really bother me because the gesture meant more than anything else, and that can't be taken from me. The ring was just a material thing.

What really makes me happy, what I love is performing and creating. I really don't care about all the material trappings. I love to put my soul into something and have people accept it and like it. That's a wonderful feeling.

I appreciate art for that reason. I'm a great admirer of Michelangelo and of how he poured his soul into his work. He knew in his heart that one day he would die, but that the work he did would live on. You can tell he painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel with all his soul. At one point he even destroyed it and did it over because he wanted it to be perfect. He said, "If the wine is sour, pour it out."

I can look at a painting and lose myself. It pulls you in, all the pathos and drama. It communicates with you. You can sense what the artist was feeling. I feel the same way about photography. A poignant or strong photograph can speak volumes.

As I said earlier, there were many changes in my life in the aftermath of Motown 25 . We were told that forty-seven million people watched that show, and apparently many of them went out and bought Thriller . By the fall of 1983 the album had sold eight million copies, eclipsing, by far, CBS's expectations for the successor to Off the Wall . At that point Frank Dileo said he'd like to see us produce another video or short film.

It was clear to us that the next single and video should be "Thriller," a long track that had plenty of material for a brilliant director to play with. As soon as the decision was made, I knew who I wanted to have direct it. The year before I had seen a horror film called An American Werewolf in London , and I knew that the man who made it, John Landis, would be perfect for "Thriller," since our concept for the video featured the same kind of transformations that happened to his character.

So we contacted John Landis and asked him to direct. He agreed and submitted his budget, and we went to work. The technical details of this film were so awesome that I soon got a call from John Branca, my attorney and one of my closest and most valued advisers. John had been working with me ever since the Off the Wall days; in fact he even helped me out by donning many hats and functioning in several capacities when I had no manager after Thriller was released. He's one of those extremely talented, capable men who can do anything. Anyway, John was in a panic because it had become obvious to him that the original budget for the "Thriller" video was going to double. I was paying for this project myself, so the money for the budget overruns was coming out of my pocket.

But at this point John came up with a great idea. He suggested we make a separate video, financed by somebody else, about the making of the "Thriller" video. It seemed odd that no one had ever done this before. We felt sure it would be an interesting documentary, and at the same time it would help pay for our doubled project. It didn't take John long to put this deal together. He got MTV and the Showtime cable network to put up the cash, and Vestron released the video after "Thriller" aired.

The success of The Making of Thriller was a bit of a shock to all of us. In its cassette form it sold about a million copies by itself. Even now, it holds the record as the best-selling music video of all time.

The "Thriller" film was ready in late 1983. We released it in February and it made its debut on MTV. Epic released "Thriller" as a single and sales of the album went crazy. According to statistics, the "Thriller" film and the release of the single resulted in fourteen million additional album and tape sales within a six-month period. At one point in 1984, we were selling a million records a week.

I'm still stunned by this response. By the time we finally closed down the Thriller campaign a year later, the album was at the thirty-two million mark. Today sales are at forty million. A dream come true.

During this period I changed my management as well. My contract with Weisner and DeMann had expired in early 1983. My father was no longer representing me and I was looking at various people. One day I was at the Beverly Hills Hotel, visiting Frank Dileo, and I asked him if he had any interest in leaving Epic and managing my career.

Frank asked me to think about it some more and if I was certain to call him back on Friday.

Needless to say, I called him back.

The success of Thriller really hit me in 1984, when the album received a gratifying number of nominations for the American Music Awards and the Grammy Awards. I remember feeling an overwhelming rush of jubilation. I was whooping with joy and dancing around the house, screaming. When the album was certified as the best-selling album of all time, I couldn't believe it. Quincy Jones was yelling, "Bust open the champagne!" We were all in a state. Man! What a feeling! To work so hard on something, to give so much and to succeed! Everyone involved with Thriller was floating on air. It was wonderful.

I imagined that I felt like a long-distance runner must feel when breaking the tape at the finish line. I would think of an athlete, running as hard and as fast as he can. Finally he gets close to the finish line and his chest hits that ribbon and the crowd is soaring with him. And I'm not even into sports!

But I identify with that person because I know how hard he's trained and I know how much that moment means to him. Perhaps a whole life has been devoted to this endeavor, this one moment. And then he wins. That's the realization of a dream. That's powerful stuff. I can share that feeling because I know.



One of the side effects of the Thriller period was to make me weary of constantly being in the public eye. Because of this, I resolved to lead a quieter, more private life. I was still quite shy about my appearance. You must remember that I had been a child star and when you grow up under that kind of scrutiny people don't want you to change, to get older and look different. When I first became well known, I had a lot of baby fat and a very round, chubby face. That roundness stayed with me until several years ago when I changed my diet and stopped eating beef, chicken, pork, and fish, as well as certain fattening foods. I just wanted to look better, live better, and be healthier. Gradually, as I lost weight, my face took on its present shape and the press started accusing me of surgically altering my appearance, beyond the nose job I freely admitted I had, like many performers and film stars. They would take an old picture from adolescence of high school, and compare it to a current photograph. In the old picture my face would be round and pudgy. I'd have an Afro, and the picture would be badly lit. The new picture would show a much older, more mature face. I've got a different hairstyle and a different nose. Also, the photographer's lighting is excellent in the recent photographs. It's really not fair to make such comparisons. They have said I had bone surgery done on my face. It seems strange to me that people would jump to that conclusion and I thought it was very unfair.

Judy Garland and Jean Harlow and many others have had their noses done. My problem is that as a child star people got used to seeing me look one way.

I'd like to set the record straight right now. I have never had my cheeks altered or my eyes altered. I have not had my lips thinned, nor have I had dermabrasion or a skin peel. All of these charges are ridiculous. If they were true, I would say so, but they aren't. I have had my nose altered twice and I recently added a cleft to my chin, but that is it. Period. I don't care what anyone else says - it's my face and I know.

I'm a vegetarian now and I'm so much thinner. I've been on a strict diet for years . I feel better than I ever have, healthier and more energetic. I don't understand why the press is so interested in speculating about my appearance anyway. What does my face have to do with my music or my dancing?

The other day a man asked me if I was happy. And I answered, "I don't think I'm ever totally happy." I'm one of the hardest people to satisfy, but at the same time, I'm aware of how much I have to be thankful for and I am truly appreciative that I have my health and the love of my family and friends.

I'm also easily embarrassed. The night I won eight American Music Awards, I accepted them wearing my shades on the network broadcast. Katharine Hepburn called me up and congratulated me, but she gave me a hard time because of the sunglasses. "Your fans want to see your eyes," she scolded me. "You're cheating them." The following month, February 1984, at the Grammy show, Thriller had walked off with seven Grammy Awards and looked like it was going to win as eighth. All evening I had been going up to the podium and collecting awards with my sunglasses on. Finally, when Thriller won for Best Album, I went up to accept it, took off my glasses, and stared into the camera. "Katherine Hepburn," I said, "this is for you." I knew she was watching and she was.

You have to have some fun.



Chapter Six

I had planned to spend most of 1984 working on some movie ideas I had, but those plans got sidetracked. First, in January, I was burned on the set of a Pepsi commercial I was shooting with my brothers.

The reason for the fire was stupidity, pure and simple. We were shooting at night and I was supposed to come down a staircase with magnesium flash bombs going off on either side of me and just behind me. It seemed so simple. I was to walk down the stairs and these bombs would blow up behind me. We did several takes that were wonderfully timed. The lightning effects from the bombs were great. Only later did I find out that these bombs were only two feet away from either side of my head, which was a total disregard of the safety regulations. I was supposed to stand in the middle of a magnesium explosion, two feet on either side.

Then Bob Giraldi, the director, came to me and said, "Michael, you're going down too early. We want to see you up there, up on the stairs. When the lights come on, we want to reveal that you're there, so wait."

So I waited, the bombs went off on either side of my head, and the sparks set my hair on fire. I was dancing down this ramp and turning around, spinning, not knowing I was on fire. Suddenly I felt my hands reflexively going to my head in an attempt to smother the flames. I fell down and just tried to shake the flames out. Jermaine turned around and saw me on the ground, just after the explosions had gone off, and he thought I had been shot by someone in the crowd - because we were shooting in front of a big audience. That's what it looked like to him.

Miko Brando, who works for me, was the first person to reach me. After that, it was chaos. It was crazy. No film could properly capture the drama of what went on that night. The crowd was screaming. Someone shouted, "Get some ice!" There were frantic running sounds. People were yelling, "Oh no!" The emergency truck came up and before they put in I saw the Pepsi executives huddled together in a corner, looking terrified. I remember the medical people putting me on a cot and the guys from Pepsi were so scared they couldn't even bring themselves to check on me.

Meanwhile, I was kind of detached, despite the terrible pain. I was watching all the drama unfold. Later they told me I was in shock, but I remember enjoying the ride to the hospital because I never thought I'd ride in an ambulance with the sirens wailing. It was one of those things I had always wanted to do when I was growing up. When we got there, they told me there were news crews outside, so I asked for my glove. There's a famous shot of me waving from the stretcher with my glove on.

Later one on the doctors told me that it was a miracle I was alive. One of the firemen had mentioned that in most cases your clothes catch on fire, in which case your whole face can be disfigured or you can die. That's it. I had third-degree burns on the back of my head that almost went through to my skull, so I had a lot of problems with it, but I was very lucky.

What we now know is that the incident created a lot of publicity for the commercial. They sold more Pepsi than ever before. And they came back to me later and offered me the biggest commercial endorsement fee in history. It was so unprecedented that it went into The Guinness Book of World Records. Pepsi and I worked together on another commercial, called "The Kid," and I gave them problems by limiting the shots of me because I felt the shots they were asking for didn't work well. Later, when the commercial was a success, they told me I had been right.

I still remember how scared those Pepsi executives looked the night of the fire. They thought that my getting burned would leave a bad taste in the mouth of every kid in America who drank Pepsi. They knew I could have sued them and I could have, but I was real nice about it. Real nice. They gave me $1,500,000 which I immediately donated to the Michael Jackson Burn Center. I wanted to do something because I was so moved by the other burn patients I met while I was in the hospital.

Then there was the Victory tour. I did fifty-five shows with my brothers over the course of five months.

I didn't want to go on the Victory tour and I fought against it. I felt the wisest thing for me would be not to do the tour, but my brothers wanted to do it and I did it for them. So I told myself that since I was committed to doing this, I might as well put my soul into it.

When it came down to the actual tour, I was outvoted on a number of issues, but you don't think when you're onstage, you just deliver. My goal for the Victory tour was to give each performance everything I could. I hoped people might come to see me who didn't even like me. I hoped they might hear about the show and want to see what's going on. I wanted incredible word-of-mouth response to the show so a wide range of people would come and see us. Word of mouth is the best publicity. Nothing beats it. If someone I trust comes to me and tells me something is great, I'm sold.

I felt very powerful in those days of Victory. I felt on top of the world. I felt determined. That tour was like: "We're a mountain. We've come to share our music with you. We have something we want to tell you." At the beginning of the show, we rose out of the stage and came down these stairs. The opening was dramatic and bright and captured the whole feeling of the show. When the lights came on and they saw us, the roof would come off the place.

It was a nice feeling, playing with my brothers again. It gave us a chance to relive our days as the Jackson 5 and the Jacksons. We were all together again. Jermaine had come back and we were riding a wave of popularity. It was the biggest tour any group had ever done, in huge outdoor stadiums. But I was disappointed with the tour from the beginning. I had wanted to move the world like it had never been moved. I wanted to present something that would make people say, "Wow! That's wonderful!" The response we got was wonderful and the fans were great, but I became unhappy with our show. I didn't have the time or the opportunity to perfect it the way I wanted to. I was disappointed in the staging of "Billie Jean." I wanted it to be so much more than it was. I didn't like the lighting and I never got my steps quite the way I wanted them. It killed me to have to accept these things and settle for doing it the way I did.

There've been times right before a show when certain things were bothering me - business or personal problems. I would think, "I don't know how to go through with this. I don't know how I'm going to get through the show. I can't perform like this."



But once I get to the side of the stage, something happens. The rhythm starts and the lights hit me and the problems disappear. This has happened so many times. The thrill of performing just takes me over. It's like God saying, "Yes, you can. Yes, you can. Just wait. Wait till you hear this. Wait till you see this." And the backbeat gets in my backbone and it vibrates and it just takes me. Sometimes I almost lose control and the musicians say, "What is he doing?" and they start following me. You change the whole schedule of a piece. You stop and you just take over from scratch and do a whole other thing. The song takes you in another direction.

There was a part of the show on the Victory tour where I was doing this scatting theme and the audience was repeating what I said. I'd say, "Da, de, da, de" and they'd say, "Da, de, da, de." There've been times when I've done that and they would start stomping. And when the whole audience is doing that, it sounds like an earthquake. Oh! It's a great feeling to be able to do that with all those people - whole stadiums - and they're all doing the same thing you're doing. It's the greatest feeling in the world. You look out in the audience and see toddlers and teens and grandparents and people in their twenties and thirties. Everybody is swaying, their hands are up, and they're all singing. You ask that the house lights come on and you see their faces and you say, "Hold hands" and they hold hands and you say, "Stand up" or "Clap" and they do. They're enjoying themselves and they'll whatever you tell them. They love it and it's so beautiful - all the races of people are together doing this. At times like that I say, "Look around you. Look at yourselves. Look. Look around you. Look at what you have done." Oh, it's so beautiful. Very powerful. Those are great moments.

The Victory tour was my first chance to be exposed to the Michael Jackson fans since Thriller had come out two years earlier. There were some strange reactions. I'd bump into people in hallways and they'd go, "Naw, that can't be him. He wouldn't be here." I was baffled and I'd ask myself, "Why wouldn't I? I'm on earth somewhere . I've got to be somewhere at any given time. Why not here?" Some fans imagine you to be almost an illusion, this thing that doesn't exist. When they see you, they feel it's a miracle or something. I've had fans ask me if I use the bathroom. I mean, it gets embarrassing. They just lose touch with the fact that you're like them because they get so excited. But I can understand it because I'd feel the same way if, for instance, I could have met Walt Disney or Charlie Chaplin.

Kansas City opened the tour. It was Victory's first night. We were walking by the hotel pool in the evening and Frank Dileo lost his balance and fell in. People saw this and started to get excited. Some of us were kind of embarrassed, but I was laughing. He wasn't hurt and he looked so surprised. We jumped over a low wall and found ourselves on the street without any security. People didn't seem to be able to believe that we were just walking around on the street like that. They gave us a wide berth.

Later when we returned to the hotel, Bill Bray, who has headed my security team since I was a child, just shook his head and laughed as we recounted our adventures.

Bill is very careful and immensely professional in his job, but he doesn't worry about things after the fact. He travels with me everywhere and occasionally he's my only companion on short trips. I can't imagine life without Bill; he's warm and funny and absolutely in love with life. He's a great man.

When the tour was in Washington, D.C., I was out on our hotel balcony with Frank, who has a great sense of humor and enjoys playing pranks himself. We were teasing one another and I started pulling $100 bills from his pockets and throwing them to people who were walking down below. This almost caused a riot. He was trying to stop me, but we were both laughing. It reminded me of the pranks my brothers and I used to pull on tour. Frank sent our security people downstairs to try and find any undiscovered money in the bushes.

In Jacksonville, the local police almost killed us in a traffic accident during the four-block drive from the hotel to the stadium. Later, in another part of Florida, when the old tour boredom set in that I described earlier, I played a little trick on Frank. I asked him to come up to my suite and when he came in I offered him some watermelon, which was lying on a table across the room. Frank went over to pick up a piece and tripped over my boa constrictor, Muscles, who was on the road with me. Muscles is harmless, but Frank hates snakes and proceeded to scream and yell. I started chasing him around the room with the boa. Frank got the upper hand, however. He panicked, ran from the room, and grabbed the security guard's gun. He was going to shoot Muscles, but the guard calmed him down. Later he said all he could think of was: "I've got to get that snake." I've found that a lot of tough men are afraid of snakes.

We were locked in hotels all over America, just like in the old days. Me and Jermaine or me and Randy would get up to our old tricks, taking buckets of water and pouring them off hotel balconies onto people eating in the atriums far below. We were up so high the water was just mist by the time it reached them. It was just like the old days, bored in the hotels, locked away from fans for our own protection, unable to go anywhere without massive security.

But there were a lot of days that were fun too. We had a lot of time off on that tour and we got to take five little vacations to Disney World. Once, when we were staying in the hotel there, an amazing thing happened. I'll never forget it. I was on a balcony where we could see a big area. There were all these people. It was so crowded that people were bumping into each other. Someone in that crowd recognized me and started screaming my name. Thousands of people began chanting, "Michael! Michael!" and it was echoing all over the park. The chanting continued until finally it was so loud that if I hadn't acknowledged it, it would have been rude. As soon as I did, everybody started screaming. I said, "Oh, this is so beautiful. I've got it so good." All the work I'd put in on Thriller , my crying and believing in my dreams and working on those songs and falling asleep near the microphone stand because I was so tired, all of it was repaid by this display of affection.

I've seen times where I'd walk into a theater to see a play and everybody would just start applauding. Just because they're glad that I happen to be there. At moments like that, I feel so honored and so happy. It makes all the work seem worthwhile.

The Victory tour was originally going to be called "The Final Curtain" because we all realized it was going to be the last tour we did together. But we decided not to put the emphasis on that.

I enjoyed the tour. I knew it would be a long road; in the end, it was probably too long. The best part of it for me was seeing the children in the audience. Every night there would be a number of them who had gotten all dressed up. They were so excited. I was truly inspired by the kids on that tour, kids of all ethnic groups and ages. It's been my dream since I was a child to somehow unite people of the world through love and music. I still get goose bumps when I hear the Beatles sing "All You Need Is Love." I've always wished that song could be an anthem for the world.



I loved the shows we did in Miami and all the time we spent there. Colorado was great too. We got to spend some time relaxing up at the Caribou Ranch. And New York was really something, as it always is. Emmanuel Lewis came to the show, as did Yoko, Sean Lennon, Brooke, a lot of good friends. Thinking back, the offstage moments stand out for me as much as the concerts themselves. I found I could lose myself in some of those shows. I remember swinging my jackets around and slinging them into the audience. The wardrobe people would get annoyed at me and I'd say honestly, "I'm sorry but I can't help it. I can't control myself. Something takes over and I know I shouldn't do it, but you just can't control it. There's a spirit of joy and communion that gets inside you and you want to just let it all out."

We were on the Victory tour when we learned that my sister Janet had gotten married. Everybody was afraid to tell me because I am so close to Janet. I was shocked. I feel very protective of her. Quincy Jones's little daughter was the one to break the news to me.

I've always enjoyed a wonderfully close relationship with all three of my beautiful sisters. LaToya is really a wonderful person. She's very easy to be around, but she can be funny, too. You go in her room and you can't sit on the couch, you can't sit on the bed, you can't walk on the carpet. This is the truth. She will run you out of her room. She wants everything to be perfect in there. I say, "You have to walk on the carpet sometimes," but she doesn't want prints on it. If you cough at the table, she covers her plate. If you sneeze, forget it. That's how she is. Mother says she used to be that way herself.

Janet, on the other hand, was always a tomboy. She has been my best friend in the family for the longest time. That's why it killed me to see her go off and get married. We did everything together. We shared the same interests, the same sense of humor. When we were younger, we'd get up on "free" mornings and write out a whole schedule for the day. Usually it would read something like this: GET UP, FEED THE ANIMALS, HAVE BREAKFAST, WATCH SOME CARTOONS, GO TO THE MOVIES, GO TO A RESTAURANT, GO TO ANOTHER MOVIE, GO HOME AND GO SWIMMING. That was our idea of a great day. In the evening, we'd look back at the list and think about all the fun we'd had.

It was great being with Janet because we didn't have to worry that one of us wouldn't like something. We liked the same things. We'd sometimes read to each other. She was like my twin.

LaToya are I are very different, on the other hand. She won't even feed the animals; the smell alone drives her away. And forget going to the movies. She doesn't understand what I see in Star Wars or Close Encounters or Jaws . Our tastes in films are miles apart.

When Janet was around and I wasn't working on something, we'd be inseparable. But I knew we'd eventually develop separate interests and attachments. It was inevitable.

Her marriage didn't last long, unfortunately, but now she's happy again. I do think that marriage can be a wonderful thing if it's right for the two people involved. I believe in love - very much so - how can you not believe after you've experienced it? I believe in relationships. One day I know I'll find the right woman and get married myself. I often look forward to having children; in fact, it would be nice to have a big family, since I come from such a large one myself. In my fantasy about having a large family, I imagine myself with thirteen children.

Right now, my work still takes up most of my time and most of my emotional life. I work all the time. I love creating and coming up with new projects. As for the future, Que sera, sera . Time will tell. It would be hard for me to be that dependent on somebody else, but I can imagine it if I try. There's so much I want to do and so much work to be done.

I can't help but pick up on some of the criticism leveled at me at times. Journalists seem willing to say anything to sell a paper. They say I've had my eyes widened, that I want to look more white. More white? What kind of statement is that? I didn't invent plastic surgery. It's been around for a long time. A lot of very fine, very nice people have had plastic surgery. No one writes about their surgery and levies such criticism at them. It's not fair. Most of what they print is a fabrication. It's enough to make you want to ask, "What happened to truth? Did it go out of style?"

In the end, the most important thing is to be true to yourself and those you love and work hard. I mean, work like there's no tomorrow. Train. Strive. I mean, really train and cultivate your talent to the highest degree. Be the best at what you do. Get to know more about your field than anybody alive. Use the tools of your trade, if it's books or a floor to dance on or a body of water to swim in. Whatever it is, it's yours. That's what I've always tried to remember. I thought about it a lot on the Victory tour.

In the end, I felt I touched a lot of people on the Victory tour. Not exactly in the way I wanted to, but I felt that would happen later, when I was off on my own, performing and making movies. I donated all my performance money to charity, including funds for the burn center that helped me after the fire on the Pepsi set. We donated more than four million dollars that year. For me, that was what the Victory tour was all about - giving back.

After my experience with the Victory tour, I started making my career decisions with more care than ever. I had learned a lesson on an earlier tour, which I remembered vividly during the difficulties with Victory.

We did a tour years ago with this guy who ripped us off, but he taught me something. He said, "Listen, all these people work for you . You don't work for them . You are paying them." He kept telling me that. Finally I began to understand what he meant. It was an entirely new concept for me because at Motown everything was done for us. Other people made our decisions. I've been mentally scarred by that experience. "You've got to wear this. You've got to do these songs. You are going here. You are going to do this interview and that TV show." That's how it went. We couldn't say anything. When he told me I was in control, I finally woke up. I realized he was right.

Despite everything, I owe that guy a debt of gratitude.

Captain Eo came about because the Disney Studios wanted me to come up with a new ride for the parks. They said they didn't care what I did, as long as it was something creative. I had this big meeting with them, and during the course of the afternoon I told them that Walt Disney was a hero of mine and that I was very interested in Disney's history and philosophy. I wanted to do something with that Mr. Disney himself would have approved. I had read a number of books about Walt Disney and his creative empire, and it was very important to me to do things as he would have. In the end, they asked me to do a movie and I agreed. I told them I would like to work with George Lucas and Steven Spielberg. It turned out Steven was busy, so George brought Francis Ford Coppola and that was the Captain Eo team.

I flew up to San Francisco a couple of times to visit George at his place, Skywalker Ranch, and gradually we came up with a scenario for a short film that would incorporate every recent advance in 3-D technology. Caption Eo would look and feel like the audience was in a spaceship, along for the ride.

Captain Eo is about transformation and the way music can help to change the world. George came up with the name Captain Eo. (Eo is Greek for "dawn.") The story is about a young guy who goes on a mission to this miserable planet run by an evil queen. He is entrusted with the responsibility of bringing the inhabitants light and beauty. It's a great celebration of good over evil.

Working on Captain Eo reinforced all the positive feelings I've had about working in film and made me realize more than ever that movies are where my future path probably lies. I love the movies and have since I was real little. For two hours you can be transported to another place. Films can take you anywhere. That's what I like. I can sit down and say, "Okay, nothing else exists right now. Take me to a place that's wonderful and make me forget about my pressures and my worries and day-to-day schedule."

I also love to be in front of a 35 mm camera. I used to hear my brothers say, "I'll be glad when this shoot is over," and I couldn't understand why they weren't enjoying it. I would be watching, trying to learn, seeing what the director was trying to get, what the light man was doing. I wanted to know where the light was coming from and why the director was doing a scene so many times. I enjoyed hearing about the changes being made in the script. It's all part of what I consider my ongoing education in films. Pioneering new ideas is so exciting to me and the movie industry seems to be suffering right now from a dearth of ideas; so many people are doing the same things. The big studios remind me of the way Motown was acting when we were having disagreements with them: They want easy answers, they want their people to do formula stuff - sure bets - only the public gets bored, of course. So many of them are doing the same old corny stuff. George Lucas and Steven Spielberg are exceptions.

I'm going to try to make some changes. I'm going to try to change things around someday. Marlon Brando has become a very close and trusted friend of mine. I can't tell you how much he's taught me. We sit and talk for hours. He has told me a great deal about the movies. He is such a wonderful actor and he has worked with so many giants in the industry - from other actors to cameramen. He has a respect for the artistic value of filmmaking that leaves me in awe. He's like a father to me.

So these days movies are my number one dream, but I have a lot of other dreams too.



In early 1985 we cut "We Are the World" at an all-night all-star recording session that was held after the ceremony for the American Music Awards. I wrote the song with Lionel Richie after seeing the appalling news footage of starving people in Ethiopia and the Sudan.

Around that time, I used to ask my sister Janet to follow me into a room with interesting acoustics, like a closet of the bathroom, and I'd sing to her, just a note, a rhythm of a note. It wouldn't be a lyric or anything; I'd just hum from the bottom of my throat. I'd say, "Janet, what do you see? What do you see when you hear this sound?" And this time she said, "Dying children in Africa."

"You're right. That's what I was dictating from my soul."

And she said, "You're talking about Africa. You're talking about dying children." That's where "We Are the World" came from. We'd go in a dark room and I'd sing notes to her. To my mind, that's what singers should be able to do. We should be able to perform and be effective, even if it's in a dark room. We've lost a lot because of TV. You should be able to move people without all that advanced technology, without pictures, using only sound.

I've been performing for as long as I can remember. I know a lot of secrets, a lot of things like that.

I think that "We Are the World" is a very spiritual song, but spiritual in a special sense. I was proud to be a part of that song and to be one of the musicians there that night. We were united by our desire to make a difference. It made the world a better place for us and it made a difference to the starving people we wanted to help.

We collected some Grammy Awards and began to hear easy-listening versions of "We Are the World" in elevators along with "Billie Jean." Since first writing it, I had thought that song should be sung by children. When I finally heard children singing it on producer George Duke's version, I almost cried. It's the best version I've heard.

After "We Are the World," I again decided to retreat from public view. For two and a half years I devoted most of my time to recording the follow-up to Thriller , the album that came to be titled Bad .

Why did it take so long to make Bad? The answer is that Quincy and I decided that this album should be as close to perfect as humanly possible. A perfectionist has to take his time; he shapes and he molds and he sculpts that thing until it's perfect. He can't let it go before he's satisfied; he can't.

If it's not right, you throw it away and do it over. You work that thing till it's just right. When it's as perfect as you can make it, you put it out there. Really, you've got to get it to where it's just right; that's the secret. That's the difference between a number thirty record and a number one record that stays number one for weeks. It's got to be good. If it is, it stays up there and the whole world wonders when it's going to come down.

I have a hard time explaining how Quincy Jones and I work together on making an album. What I do is, I write the songs and do the music and then Quincy brings out the best in me. That's the only way I can explain it. Quincy will listen and make changes. He'll say, "Michael, you should put a change in there," and I'll write a change. And he'll guide me on and help me create and help me invent and work on new sounds, new kinds of music.

And we fight. During the Bad sessions we disagreed on some things. If we struggle at all, it's about new stuff, the latest technology. I'll say, "Quincy, you know, music changes all the time." I want the latest drum sounds that people are doing. I want to go beyond the latest thing. And then we go ahead and make the best record that we can.

We don't ever try to pander to the fans. We just try to play on the quality of the song. People will not buy junk. They'll only buy what they like. If you take all the trouble to get in your car, go to the record store, and put your money on the counter, you've got to really like what you're going to buy. You don't say, "I'll put a country song on here for the country market, a rock song for that market," and so on. I feel close to all different styles of music. I love some rock songs and some country songs and some pop and all the old rock 'N' roll records.

We did go after a rock type of song with "Beat It." We got Eddie Van Halen to play guitar because we knew he'd do the best job. Albums should be for all races, all tastes in music.

In the end, many songs kind of create themselves. You just say, "This is it. This is how it's going to be." Of course, not every song is going to have a great dance tempo. It's like "Rock with You" isn't a great dance tempo. It was meant for the old dance the Rock. But it's not a "Don't Stop" or "Working Day and Night" rhythm or a "Startin' Something" type of thing - something you can play with on the dance floor and get sweaty, working out to.

We worked on Bad for a long time. Years. In the end, it was worth it because we were satisfied with what we had achieved, but it was difficult too. There was a lot of tension because we felt we were competing with ourselves. It's very hard to create something when you feel like you're in competition with yourself because no matter how you look at it, people are always going to compare Bad to Thriller . You can always say, "Aw, forget Thriller ," but no one ever will.

I think I have a slight advantage in all of this because I always do my best work under pressure.

"Bad" is a song about the street. It's about this kid from a bad neighborhood who gets to go away to a private school. He comes back to the old neighborhood when he's on a break from school and the kids from the neighborhood start giving him trouble. He sings, "I'm bad, you're bad, who's bad, who's the best?" He's saying when you're strong and good, then you're bad.

"Man in the Mirror" is a great message. I love that song. If John Lennon was alive, he could really relate to that song because it says that if you want to make the world a better place, you have to work on yourself and change first. It's the same thing Kennedy was talking about when he said, "Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country." If you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and make a change. Start with the man in the mirror. Start with yourself. Don't be looking at all the other things. Start with you.

That's the truth. That's what Martin Luther King meant and Gandhi too. That's what I believe.

Several people have asked me if I had anybody in mind when I wrote "Can't Stop Loving You." And I say that I didn't, really. I was thinking of somebody while I was singing it, but not while I was writing it.

I wrote all the songs on Bad except for two, "Man in the Mirror," which Siedah Garrett wrote with George Ballard, and "Just Good Friends," which is by these two writers who wrote "What's Love Got to Do with It" for Tina Turner. We needed a duet for me and Stevie Wonder to sing and they had this song; I don't even think they intended for it to be a duet. They wrote it for me, but I knew it would be perfect for me and Stevie to sing together.

"Another Part of Me" was one of the earliest songs written for Bad and made its public debut at the end of Captain Eo when the captain says good-bye. "Speed Demon" is a machine song. "The Way You Make Me Feel" and "Smooth Criminal" are simply the grooves I was in at the time. That's how I would put it.

"Leave Me Alone" is a track that appears only on the compact disc of Bad . I worked hard on the song, stacking vocals on top of each other like layers of clouds. I'm sending a simple message here: "Leave me alone." The song is about a relationship between a guy and a girl. But what I'm really saying to people who are bothering me is: "Leave me alone ."

The pressure of success does funny things to people. A lot of people become successful very quickly and it's an instant occurrence in their lives. Some of these people, whose success might be a one-shot thing, don't know how to handle what happens to them.

I look at fame from a different perspective, since I've been in this business for so long now. I've learned that the way to survive as your own person is to shun personal publicity and keep a low profile as much as possible. I guess it's good in some ways and bad in others.

The hardest part is having no privacy. I remember when we were filming "Thriller," Jackie Onassis and Shaye Areheart came to California to discuss this book. There were photographers in the trees, everywhere. It was not possible for us to do anything without it being noticed and reported.

The price of fame can be a heavy one. Is the price you pay worth it? Consider that you really have no privacy. You can't really do anything unless special arrangements are made. The media prints whatever you say. They report whatever you do. They know what you buy, which movies you see, you name it. If I go to a public library, they print the titles of the books I check out. In Florida once, they printed my whole schedule in the paper; everything I did from ten in the morning until six at night. "After he did this, he did that, and after he did that, he went there, then he went door to door, and then he . . ."

I remember thinking to myself, "What if I were trying to do something that I didn't happen to want reported in the paper?" All of this is the price of fame.

I think my image gets distorted in the public's mind. They don't get a clear or full picture of what I'm like, despite the press coverage I mentioned early. Mistruths are printed as fact, in some cases, and frequently only half of a story will be told. The part that doesn't get printed is often the part that would make the printed part less sensational by shedding light on the facts. As a result, I think some people don't think I'm a person who determines what's happening with his career. Nothing could be further from the truth.

I've been accused of being obsessed with my privacy and it's true that I am. People stare at you when you're famous. They're observing you and that's understandable, but it's not always easy. If you were to ask me why I wear sunglasses in public as often as I do, I'd tell you it's because I simply don't like to have to constantly look everyone in the eye. It's a way of concealing just a bit of myself. After I had my wisdom teeth pulled, the dentist gave me a surgical mask to wear home to keep out germs. I loved that mask. It was great - much better than sunglasses - and I had fun wearing it around for a while. There's so little privacy in my life that concealing a little bit of me is a way to give myself a break from all that. It may be considered strange, I know, but I like my privacy.

I can't answer whether or not I like being famous, but I do love achieving goals. I love not only reaching a mark I've set for myself but exceeding it. Doing more than I thought I could, that's a great feeling. There's nothing like it. I think it's so important to set goals for yourself. It gives you an idea of where you want to go and how you want to get there. If you don't aim for something, you'll never know whether you could have hit the mark.

I've always joked that I didn't ask to sing and dance, but it's true. When I open my mouth, music comes out. I'm honored that I have this ability. I thank God for it every day. I try to cultivate what He gave me. I feel I'm compelled to do what I do.

There are so many things all around us to be thankful for. Wasn't it Robert Frost who wrote about the world a person can see in a leaf? I think that's true. That's what I love about being with kids. They notice everything. They aren't jaded. They get excited by things we've forgotten to get excited about any more. They are so natural too, so unself-conscious. I love being around them. There always seems to be a bunch of kids over at the house and they're always welcome. They energize me - just being around them. They look at everything with such fresh eyes, such open minds. That's part of what makes kids so creative. They don't worry about the rules. The picture doesn't have to be in the center of the piece of paper. The sky doesn't have to be blue. They are accepting people too. The only demand they make is to be treated fairly - and to be loved. I think that's what we all want.



I would like to think that I'm an inspiration for the children I meet. I want kids to like my music. Their approval means more to me than anyone else's. It's always the kids who know which song is going to be a hit. You see kids who can't even talk yet, but they've got a little rhythm going. It's funny. But they're a tough audience. In fact, they're the toughest audience. There have been so many parents who have come to me and told me that their baby knows "Beat It" or loves "Thriller." George Lucas told me his daughter's first words were "Michael Jackson." I felt on top of the world when he told me that.

I spend a lot of free time - in California and when I'm traveling - visiting children's hospitals. It makes me so happy to be able to brighten those kids' day by just showing up and talking with them, listening to what they have to say and making them feel better. It's so sad for children to have to get sick. More than anyone else, kids don't deserve that. They often can't even understand what's wrong with them. It makes my heart twist. When I'm with them, I just want to hug them and make it all better for them. Sometimes sick children will visit me at home or in my hotel rooms on the road. A parent will get in touch with me and ask if their child can visit with me for a few minutes. Sometimes when I'm with them I feel like I understand better what my mother must have gone through with her polio. Life is too precious and too short not to reach out and touch the people we can.

You know, when I was going through that bad period with my skin and my adolescent growth spurts, it was kids who never let me down. They were the only ones who accepted the fact that I was no longer little Michael and that I was really the same person inside, even if you didn't recognize me. I've never forgotten that. Kids are great. If I were living for no other reason than to help and please kids, that would be enough for me. They're amazing people. Amazing. I am a person who is very much in control of his life. I have a team of exceptional people working for me and they do an excellent job of presenting me with the facts that keep me up-to-date on everything that's going on at MJJ Productions so that I can know the options and make the decisions. As far as my creativity is concerned, that's my domain and I enjoy that aspect of my life as much or more than any other.

I think I have a goody-goody image in the press and I hate that, but it's hard to fight because I don't normally talk about myself. I am a shy person. It's true. I don't like giving interviews or appearing on talk shows. When Doubleday approached me about doing this book, I was interested in being able to talk about how I feel in a book that would be mine - my words and my voice. I hope it will clear up some misconceptions.

Everybody has many facets to them and I'm no different. When I'm in public, I often feel shy and reserved. Obviously, I feel differently away from the glare of cameras and staring people. My friends, my close associates, know there's another Michael that I find it difficult to present in the outlandish "public" situations I often find myself in.

It's different when I'm onstage, however. When I perform, I lose myself. I'm in total control of that stage. I don't think about anything. I know what I want to do from the moment I step out there and I love every minute of it. I'm actually relaxed onstage. Totally relaxed. It's nice. I feel relaxed in the studio too. I know whether something feels right. If it doesn't, I know how to fix it. Everything has to be in place and if it is you feel good, you feel fulfilled. People used to underestimate my ability as a songwriter. They didn't think of me as a songwriter, so when I started coming up with songs, they'd look at me like: "Who really wrote that?" I don't know what they must have thought - that I had someone back in the garage who was writing them for me? But time cleared up those misconceptions. You always have to prove yourself to people and so many of them don't want to believe. I've heard tales of Walt Disney going from studio to studio when he first started out, trying to sell his work unsuccessfully and being turned down. When he was finally given a chance, everyone thought he was the greatest thing that ever happened.

Sometimes when you're treated unfairly it makes you stronger and more determined. Slavery was a terrible thing, but when black people in America finally got out from under that crushing system, they were stronger . They knew what it was to have your spirit crippled by people who are controlling your life. They were never going to let that happen again. I admire that kind of strength. People who have it take a stand and put their blood and soul into what they believe.

People often ask me what I'm like. I hope this book will answer some of those questions, but these things might help too. My favorite music is an eclectic mix. For example, I love classical music. I'm crazy about Debussy. Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun and Clair de Lune . And Prokofiev. I could listen to Peter and the Wolf over and over and over again. Copland is one of my all-time favorite composers. You can recognize his distinctive brass sounds right away. Billy the Kid is fabulous. I listen to a lot of Tchaikovsky. The Nutcracker Suite is a favorite. I have a large collection of show tunes also - Irving Berlin, Johnny Mercer, Lerner and Loewe, Harold Arlen, Rodgers and Hammerstein, and the great Holland-Dozier-Holland. I really admire those guys. I like Mexican food very much. I'm a vegetarian, so fortunately fresh fruits and vegetables are a favorite of mine.

I love toys and gadgets. I like to see the latest things manufacturers have come out with. If there's something really wonderful, I'll buy one.

I'm crazy about monkeys, especially chimps. My chimp Bubbles is a constant delight. I really enjoy taking him with me on trips or excursions. He's a wonderful distraction and a great pet.

I love Elizabeth Taylor. I'm inspired by her bravery. She has been through so much and she is a survivor. That lady has been through a lot and she's walked out of it on two feet. I identify with her very strongly because of our experiences as child stars. When we first started talking on the phone, she told me she felt as if she had known me for years. I felt the same way.

Katharine Hepburn is a dear friend too. I was afraid to meet her at first. We talked for a while when I first arrived for a stay on the set of On Golden Pond , where I was Jane Fonda's guest. She invited me to have dinner with her the next night. I felt very fortunate. Since then, we have visited one another and remained close. Remember, it was Katharine Hepburn who got me to remove my sunglasses at the Grammy Awards. She's a big influence on me. She's another strong person and a private person.

I believe performers should try to be strong as an example to their audiences. It's staggering what a person can do if they only try. If you're under pressure, play off that pressure and use it to advantage and make whatever you're doing better. Performers owe it to people to be strong and fair.

Often in the past performers have been tragic figures. A lot of the truly great people have suffered or died because of pressure and drugs, especially liquor. It's so sad. You feel cheated as a fan that you didn't get to watch them evolve as they grew older. One can't help wondering what performances Marilyn Monroe would have put in or what Jimi Hendrix might have done in the 1980s.

A lot of celebrities say they don't want their children to go into show business. I can understand their feelings, but I don't agree with them. If I had a son or daughter, I'd say, "By all means, be my guest. Step right in there. If you want to do it, do it."

To me, nothing is more important than making people happy, giving them a release from their problems and worries, helping to lighten their load. I want them to walk away from a performance I've done, saying, "That was great. I want to go back again. I had a great time." To me, that's what it's all about. That's wonderful. That's why I don't understand when some celebrities say they don't want their kids in the business.

I think they say that because they've been hurt themselves. I can understand that. I've been there too.

-Michael Jackson

Encino, California