It was a Thrilling Year 1983, late November, Thriller had hit the scene and slammed to #1 for over a year and Michael was on top of the world! I was singing in my band, "Double Vision" working the Florida local club scene. Being a Disney girl from way back, born and raised in Florida and worked at Disney World Magic Kingdom in the mid-1970's, I was extremely comfortable performing for the Florida crowd!
As many people had been, I too was a huge fan of Michael Jackson! I had been a fan since he (and I) were little children back in the days of the Jackson five. I had Jackson 5 & Michael Jackson Posters plastered all over my bedroom walls by the time I was in (I think) about 2nd grade! I watched their TV show, along with millions of others across the US and the world! We all watched Michael grow and develop, and become the powerful King of Pop! When he went solo, was about the time I was 19 and got into my first traveling band. I was very fortunate to be able to sing some of Michaels songs and learn more about his solo career, during my early band days. My thoughts and attitude about Michael had change from School Girl crush, to legitimate colleague in the industry (on a smaller scale than him, but none the less), I was in the same industry and had hopes to cross paths with him someday!!
So back to 1983, when I had the surprise and best day of my life! Michael Jackson was always in Love with Disney World (as am I) and when the Royal Plaza Hotel in Lake Buena Vista Florida opened, Michael had a suite designed in the penthouse where he displayed all of his Grammy's and Awards and costumes, etc... in the suite. Now this suite is not just for Michael, other people could pay (a very large nightly cost) to stay in the Michael Jackson Suite at the Royal Plaza. The deal Michael made with Disney was that he would store his awards there in the suite if he could come and stay anytime he wanted. Of course Disney agreed!
The Royal Plaza had a small nightclub called "The Giraffe", I believe the Giraffe is still there only now-a-days it's a cafe. Well, the Giraffe brought in Local bands to play 5 sets a night 6 nights a week and it was a real hotspot for the local Kissimmee crowd back then. My Top-40 band was fortunate enough to have a local agent who booked The Giraffe and so he booked us in there late November 1983. We had a 2 week engagement. At that time I was not aware of the plans for the Michael Jackson suite to open at the end of that year, and had no idea that Michael himself would be there.
My band and I spent hours each day in the Lounge rehearsing new songs, and of course Michael had so many chart toppers at that time, that many of the songs on our set list were Michael's songs! My birthday just so happened to be occurring during our gig at The Giraffe and so my band guys had some fun plans and presents for my birthday. I was turning "22" and my birthday falls on the 11/22, and the year was 83 (in numerology equals 11), so it was a very magical birthday. And I was performing at Disney's Royal Plaza hotel in the Giraffe so it was all very magical! I had no idea just how magical it would all turn out! I'm so thankful for the meeting and feel very fortunate and honored that the universe allowed Michael and I to meet!
We arrived at "The Giraffe" early, as usual, to get setup and warmed up before the 9:00pm 1st set. It was a Tuesday night, so the club was not too busy (yet). My band had some fun presents for me, and started the alcohol flowing as well, to kick off my Birthday celebration. Now, I don't drink at all these days (I actually developed a toxic allergy to alcohol in 1988), but back then touring with bands, gigging nightclubs, and partying until dawn, I drank my share of cocktails and shooters.
I had been of legal age for only a couple of years, and in bands for only a couple of years, so this entire scene was so new and fresh to me, I was naive and very easily influenced.... The 1st set began and my band had bought me this incredible percussion tree filled with cowbells, chimes, clackers, and a new tambourine, so I was in my glory!! The first set went great and the crowd was starting to fill up the place. We ended the set and went off stage for a 15 minute break. Of course many of my family and friends had come in to celebrate with me so the party had started!
We downed a shot and got back on stage. This was my favorite set because I got to sing "Wanna be Starting Somethin' Michael's hit song on the Thriller album! Yes, this was the days when vinyl records and cassette tapes were still being used, CD's did not come out for another few years. So, we broke into the song "Starting Something" and the crowd packed the dance floor! We jammed it long and hard and I really sang my heart out that night. I must have because on the next break, a waiter from the El Sid restaurant next door came through the backstage section to the side of the backstage area and gave me a message...
It was from Michael!!!! He had this little piece of paper (like the back of an order ticket) and Michael had written "I love how you sang my song, "Wanna be starting somethin'"!! MJ". The waiter told me it was a huge secret that Michael was there so not to announce it or tell anyone (except maybe my band if they could keep it secret). Of course I told my band, and my Mom (who was there), but no one else. I was ecstatic!! I was on cloud nine, Michael Jackson had just told me he loved the way I sang his song!!! Nothing else mattered, I was living a dream!!
I asked the waiter about Michael being next door and he said that Michael was staying in his New Suite there at the hotel and he had slipped down a back elevator at 10:00pm when the restaurant closed. He told me that they had prepared Michael a very special vegetarian meal, and that Michael was ready to leave, but stayed a bit longer when he heard me singing his song! Then he left after writing this little message and asking the waiter to deliver it to me. I was just, well you can imagine, there are no words to describe how I felt!!....
So, of course, it's my birthday, I had a few drinks in me, and I had just received a message from my Idol, and the next set is starting! I sang like I'd never sang before, the entire set, my feet were off the ground and I was floating on cloud nine! The next break (3rd), this tall handsome young man (maybe 25 to 30's) was in the club near the end of the bar closest to the stage. He was very tall (I'm petite 5 foot tall, so everyone's tall to me), he was taller than most, his head stuck out above the crowd it seemed. He had blond hair if I remember correctly, and he came up to me on the next break and introduced himself. "Hi, I'm Angus, can I buy you a birthday drink?" he said. "Well, sure!", I said "Thanks!".
He bought me an exotic shot I had never heard of before, and then another. Before I knew it, this guy had tossed 3 shots down my belly and I was getting very drunk! I had 2 more sets to do, and wow, I was having too much fun! I got back on stage after the fifteen minute, drunk break, and sang and danced like I'd never, again! I was just in the zone, and of course everyone in the crowd always requested Michael Jackson songs, so I sang more of his songs throughout the night!
When you sing a 45 minute set, you use a lot of energy and sweat a lot due to the hot lights on the stage. So, it usually would help me to sober up a bit. The bad thing is, everyone by that time was sending shots up to the stage during our set, as well as Angus sending his exotic shots up, so I did not get the chance to work off any of the alcohol, and I was lit! The last break before the final set, was more drinking and a potty break, then right back on stage for the final set! And oh the drinks were rolling, people always buy tons of drinks before last call, and tonight was even worse.
Angus, the mysterious guy who was buying me more drinks than my little body could handle, seemed innocent and just wanting to party and get to know me. I was used to this, being the lead singer in the band, people (especially men) always wanted to get to know me and buy me drinks. I never even considered, all night long, that he was in Michael's entourage.
So the night was finally over, and OMG, I am too drunk! I had fun and the night was incredibly magical, but now it was over. Angus, came up to me and asked me what I was doing after work. Well, of course I got asked that a lot too by wanting men. So, I told him, "Well, after wearing high heels all night, I'm going to go and put my feet in the Jacuzzi after I say good night to everyone and change my clothes.". He asked me if he could hang out and talk with me while I did that, and to be nice I said ok, but only for a short while. If I only knew what was to come next!!!
Oh God, why wasn't I smarter then, why did I drink so much, UGH! It was my birthday, and well, I was partying! But, what happened in the end, it was all planned and I did not know it at all. So, I got finished saying goodnight to all my friends and family, the band was finishing up with their friends and packing gear up, etc... So I went to the ladies room to change into my jeans so I could go out to the pool area where there were several hot tubs that I would soak my aching feet in after work, before heading back to the band house that my band and I were put up in by the Royal Plaza.
As I came out of the ladies room, there was Angus waiting for me. By this time it is about 3:00am in the morning and I'm seeing double vision (the name of my band but no pun intended and it was not the band I was seeing). I bopped out and saw Angus and said "Come on, let's go!!" and he followed me out the side door to the pool area. If you knew me, you'd know that I talk a lot (I'm a vocalist, what can I say). So I'm babbling to Angus, and he says, "Hey, wait, before you go to the hot tub, come over here, there's someone over here who wants to meet you!". And once again, I'm so naive, it did not dawn on me that I was getting ready to meet Michael Jackson. I thought maybe one of Angus' friends was over there or something, and so we veered over to the last hot tub at the end of the row of hot tubs, back in a private alcove in the back corner of the pool area.
As I turned the corner into the alcove, keep in mind I'm still very drunk and happy from the great night, I see Michael Jackson in the hot tub. In the Hot Tub, with only shorts on!! I had this instant incredible rush of excitement come over me and without thinking and before I knew it, I was in the hot tub with Michael (in my jeans and all)!! Oh, I am still to this day, so embarrassed and upset at myself about this!! If Angus had not bought me all those drinks, and had I been smart enough not to drink them all, I would have never done that!! I scared Michael!!! And the instant I was in the water, I sobered up a bit and said emphatically to Michael "I am sooo sorry!, It's my birthday and everyone bought me too many drinks, I'm so sorry please don't let me scare you!" and I got out of the water. Again I said" Oh Michael, I'm so sorry to scare you!! I didn't mean to, I Love You!" and he said "I Love you more!"
I must have looked like a drowned rat! Michael, was so quiet and shy, he looked like a young boy of about 13 years old, even though he was 25 at this time. His long ringlet curls were dangling in the water, and he had no makeup on, and he was, well the way he looked on the Thriller album, very very handsome! In my opinion, he was the most handsome, talented man on the planet and I had just made a big fool of myself! I was so sorry, and he said "It's ok, I understand, it's your Birthday" "Happy Birthday, Linda" very quietly. He spoke in almost a whisper, it was so faint. He was there with two bodyguard guys and he motioned to one to come over to him. He said very quietly, "Please have some dry clothes sent down for her from my suite."
Angus was still there, standing off to the side, not saying a word. He knew all night that Michael wanted to meet me and had planned to, but never told me. Instead of telling me, he kept it a surprise and he got me so drunk, now it seems on purpose, that he was intentionally sabotaging me so I would not impress Michael. Michael was so amazingly sweet and kind, he did not actually seem to be offended by my actions. He was just apprehensive because he did not know what to expect from me once I was in the water with him.
So, Michael says "Wait, I'll have some dry clothes for you in a minute". As if I was going to leave! I never wanted to be apart from him, I just wanted to stay near him. His presence was so powerful and radiating. Like a warm summer breeze in a field of wild flowers! I then said, "Oh gosh thank you, that's ok, please don't go to any trouble." He said, "It's no trouble, I don't want you to catch a cold.". What a thoughtful guy, this megastar who doesn't know me other than I jumped in a hot tub with him (fully clothed) and he was worried that I'd catch cold!
One other thing about me, I am not an autograph hound. I feel like stars like Michael are so hammered for their autograph all the time, that I don't want to bother about an autograph. But because, I knew my Mother was a big MJ fan as well, I decided to ask Michael for his autograph for my Mother. Of course, out at a hot tub, no one had any paper, but I had a dollar bill and a pen in my purse, so I gave it to him and he signed the dollar bill for my Mom. She was ecstatic the next day when I gave it to her!!
The guy with the dry clothes got there and handed them to me. A Mickey Towel, a pair of grey Mickey sweat pants and Mickey T-Shirt. I didn't leave to go and put them on, I didn't want to part from Michael Jackson any sooner than I had to. Oddly enough, nobody in the area had a camera! This must have been one of the only times in Michael's life that there were no camera's around and he probably loved it, but what I would have done for a camera. I remember saying at one point, "Oh, I wish I had my camera!!".
As you realize, this occurred 26 years ago, and as I indicated, I was very drunk. It's not strange, but it is strange, that I cannot remember another thing. Not just about this night, but about the entire rest of the week. I don't remember going home that night, I don't know how I got home. I don't remember performing the rest of the gig at the Giraffe. My mind is so blank, I don't remember much at all from the time while I was still with Michael, until about a week later, when I start remembering my life again.
It's as if my memory has been removed, what happened next is a complete mystery to me. It's as if time stopped or changed or didn't exist. You would think, how could anyone forget part of what occurred during their meeting with Michael Jackson. And I wonder the same thing. How could I possibly not know what happened?
I know that my Mom was excited with her Dollar bill signed by Michael Jackson. I gave it to her, but I honestly don't remember giving it to her. Not only that, but I never really talked about it much to anyone. I don't even remember telling my band that I met him and got in the hot tub with him. I'm sure I did, but I don't remember doing it. And also, it has taken me 26 years to reflect on this amazing meeting with Michael. I was on the road for about 15 years, and never even thought about my meeting with him much!! Why not? I can't explain it, it doesn't make any sense to me at all.
Now, after all this time, the day he died has brought the memory of the meeting to the surface and I can't stop thinking about it because the way I got to meet him and because of the memory loss I am still experiencing. I have done some research and found that I am not the only girl who Michael tried to be friends with, that his entourage sabotaged one way or another. I guess everyone around him did everything they could to keep him single. It was probably what they thought was best for PR and his career. But he was very lonely and wanted friends, I feel so sorry for him that they kept him so alone. And he probably never even realized how many times his people around him pushed girls, friends of all kinds, away from getting too close to Michael...