Around that same time he did an often forgotten album, The ET Storybook. This was when I met Quincy Jones and Bruce Swedien. Early in 1986 the team moved into Westlake Studio D in Hollywood to record the BAD album, and welcomed me in. I worked other sessions during the day, but at night I was invited to sit in and learn. Eventually I worked my way up to technical director for the team, and the trust was solidified. It was during this time that Michael nicknamed me “Really Really Brad,” a twist on the chorus, “Bad, Bad, Really Really Bad.” Check the album credits, it’s there.
He typically drove himself to the studio alone. For a while he drove a big Ford Bronco with dents and scrapes on it. He was not a great driver. More than once he called into the studio to say he would be late after being in a fender bender.
He was intensely curious about “normal life.” He asked me about Christmas once, and couldn’t understand how kids could wait until Christmas morning to open the gifts. You see, he was raised Jehovah’s Witness, so Christmas was not celebrated in the Jackson family.
During the BAD album, Fridays quickly became known as “family day.” He would have his two chefs, affectionately known as the Slam Dunk Sisters, prepare a large dinner for the crew, musicians and any family members that might be around. Since I was working sometimes 80 hours a week, it was not uncommon for Deb to come have dinner with us. Michael loved these family get togethers. In later projects I would bring my girls, whom he loved and would play with. There is one moment in time in my head when Deb brought my daughter Amanda, who was just a baby at the time, into the studio for the afternoon. She set up a play mat and brought some toys, and Michael sat and played with her for a while. He looked at Deb and said, “This is her own little world, isn’t it?”
His lounge would be decorated with Disney posters and old Hollywood memorabilia. He loved innocence, and displayed gentleness, humor and patience.
Deb loves to tell of the times Michael would call at 2 in the morning (his sleep schedule was never normal) to talk to me about a new attraction he had coming to Neverland, and if I would put music on it. I still have an old answering machine tape of him thanking me for one of the systems we had built.
This was the Michael I knew. Innocent, perhaps child-like at times, but not childish. A professional who worked to be the best performer in the world, yet knew how to have fun. If he was comfortable, he would laugh and joke with everyone, but if someone was there that made him uncomfortable, he would disappear.
We used to say there were two Michaels: the one we worked with, and the one who went on stage in front of 100,000 people and entertained them. There have always been singers and dancers, but Michael was in a class by himself. I have been to perhaps 12 of his concerts (my daughter Amanda was on stage with him in Paris with several other kids singing “Heal The World”), and there is really no one that comes close to his level of artistry.
I have worked with plenty of normal looking people who thrive on pain and anger. I’ll take a guy who might be abnormal looking and eccentric yet shows kindness, love, generosity, patience, humor and humility any day of the week. I could write page after page of simple acts of kindness I have seen firsthand.