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 Excerpts from Todd Gray's Book Michael Jackson Before He Was King

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PostSubject: Excerpts from Todd Gray's Book Michael Jackson Before He Was King   Sun May 06, 2012 8:43 am




A week before Christmas, on December, 18, 1979, I was hired to shoot Michael backstage at the Jacksons’ concert at the Forum in Los Angeles, where he was receiving his platinum records for Off the Wall. The award presentation took place shortly before the Jacksons would perform. I detected more tension in this dressing room. Many people were present —— a huge entourage of record executives, secretaries, disc jokeys, family, extended family, and friends. I greeted everyone I knew by name, but when Michael’s eye met mine, I just nodded slightly to acknowledge his presence.

Michael walked over to me and asked me in a quiet, hurt whisper : “How come you never speak to me ? You joke with my brothers, but not with me. Don’t you like me ?”

I didn’t know what to say. He took me completely off guard with both his voice and his question, “No, you’re fine,” I answered. “You always look so busy, and I’ve had nothing to say. Michael, I like you.”

“Okay,” he said, and walked away.

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PostSubject: Re: Excerpts from Todd Gray's Book Michael Jackson Before He Was King   Sun May 06, 2012 8:44 am

Michael showed me his newly finished private theater, complete with plush red velvet seats. I thought his blue sweater would complement the deep red, and I asked him to take a seat and pretend as if he were watching a movie. "Which movie", he asked. I said, "It doesn't matter. Any movie will do." But Michael insisted: "Todd, you've got to tell me which movie I'm supposed to be watching if you want a reaction from me". "Okay, what about a Charlie Chaplin comedy?", I suggested. "Which one?" Michael asked. "He's made so many you know." My mind went blank; luckily my assistant shouted out: "Modern Times!" Michael responded: "Okay, which part?" Exasperated, I said: "Michael, it's a comedy, just laugh!" It was getting late and we were all tired and a little punchy, but Michael was having fun with this. "Well" he began, "if you want me to laugh, then you have to tell me a joke. But you said you wanted me to act like I'm watching a movie. Which is it you want?" Finally I gave up and made a ridiculous clown face, which made him laugh.




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PostSubject: Re: Excerpts from Todd Gray's Book Michael Jackson Before He Was King   Sun May 06, 2012 8:45 am

While on tour, the Jacksons would reserve and secure a complete floor of the hotel and keep thier individual doors unlocked, resulting in a sort of clubhouse atmosphere full of practical jokes. In this shot I had just entered Michael's room and woken him up with the flash of my camera (we were due for an appointment together while we were in Houston). Michael vowed that he would pay me back for the merciless wake-up call, and he did just a few days later on the tour.





(...) Earlier this evening I was a victim of one of Michael's practical jokes, payback for having woken him up days before at the hotel using my camera flash. Before the concert, Michael instructed me to be at the left front side of the stage when he performed "She's Out of My Life", he said he was going to do "something special" and wanted me there to photograph it. He wouldn't say what - "Just be read to get the shot." In the middle of the song, he walked toward the foot of the stage, stopped directly in front of me, made eye contact, nodded his head slightly, signaling me to get ready, then dropped to the floor in anguish and cried out unexpectedly: "I'm so lonely-will somebody please come and touch me? I need you, come to me." A huge wave of girls surged forward, and I was pinned between the girls and the stage, unable to even free my arms to take the shot. I looked up to see Michael smirking, a little twinkle in his eye. After the show in the limo, I said, "Oh so you think you're cute. I was crushed out there!" Michael replied, "What are you talking about?" Me: "You know what I am talking about, Michael. You told me to stand in front of the stage then called out to all those girls to rush the stage and trap me." Michael: "You're crazy, Todd. I don't know what you're talking about." After more pressing, he finally said: "Todd, I don't plan these things. The spirit just moves me and I do it without thinking."
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