(04-09-08) Still one of the biggest stars in the world and one of the most private, on the eve of his 50th Birthday, Michael Jackson gave us (Good Morning America) a rare interview.
Chris Connelly: How do you plan to celebrate your 50th birthday?
Michael: Oh, I'll just have a little cake with my children and we'll probably
watch some cartoons.
Facing a personal milestone that finds many people looking back, Jackson is focused on the future, which he thinks is brighter then ever.
Chris: As you look back on your career Michael, what would you have
Michael: I am still looking forward to doing a lot of great things, so that's
hard....I think the best is yet to come in my true humble opinion.
Well that would take some doing. Consider the electrifying start to his career in 1969 as the eleven year old front man for the Jackson 5, serving up the catchiest tunes in Motown history with singing and dancing skills that seemed almost unearthly. Some four decades later it seems his tastes haven't changed that much.
Michael: I am just watching, you know, a little James Brown show right now.
Chris: Is that right?
Michael: I love James Brown. Yes.
As successful as he was with his brothers in the Jackson 5, Michael's career and his subsequent celebrity exploded when he went solo, leading to he says, "The best days of his life."
Chris: As you look back on 50 years in your career, at what point in
your career do you think you were the happiest?
Michael: The happiest? The recording of "Thriller" and the "Off The Wall" albums.
That meant very much to me and seemed to be received so beautifully by the
public and the world, you know. I enjoyed it very much.
While "Off the Wall" had a huge debut, "Thriller" would become the biggest success in music business history and redefine the landscape of pop. "Thriller" spawned mega hits like 'Billie Jean' and 'Beat It,' and with that, at MTV and elsewhere, kicked down the doors separating black and white artists. By the mid '80s, Jackson was every inch the "Thriller;" his every appearance setting off a frenzy of fan adulation, his every performance a jaw dropping marvel like when he first busted out the moonwalk. Decades later it's fair to wonder can Michael Jackson still do all that at the age of 50? Oh yes he can, he says!
Michael: Yes!! Because I am expanding a lot of the avenues... People see some of
the things I do and they say why don't you show this to the world. People don't
know you do these things! Well, maybe I will.
His difficulties have been well documented, but through it all, Jackson's music retains it's allegiance of fans and on a new generation that has clearly felt his influence, like budding teen star Chris Brown. Jackson says he's a fan too.
Michael: Some of the younger, newer artists - I think Chris Brown is doing
wonderful and Timberlake. I really admire what they are doing.
Chris Connelly: Is there anything you sacrificed by having this amazing career,
40 years and counting?
Michael: A lot of hard work- sacrificing your time and your scheduling. Your
childhood, you know. You're giving up your life for the medium.
Jackson says he wants to give his kids the kind of childhood he never had.
Chris: Would you like them to have the same kind of upbringing you did
in terms of getting into show business at an early age? Or do you want to say to
them whoa, take a moment, enjoy your childhood?
Michael: I am letting them enjoy their childhood as much as possible. I really
do. I let them go to the arcade and get out and go to the movies and do things.
I think that comes naturally, you know. I want them to get to do the things I
didn't get to do.
Chris: It must mean a lot for your kids to be able to do the things
that you weren't able to do, huh?
Michael: Yeah, I get pretty emotional when I see them having a wonderful time.
When they are on a ride and they are screaming and they are happy and they are
running. It makes me emotional.
Still, Jackson remains the most elusive pop star of his time. Elusive enough to have avoided the one organization that seems to track down everyone his age.
Chris: You know, when most people turn 50, the AARP finds them and
sends them an AARP card. Have you gotten an AARP card in the mail?
Michael: (Laughing) Not that I know of.
Chris: You never know. They can find you wherever you are!