Life is building memories with the family and friends we make along the way.
And 1984 was a great year for me. I worked for Ozzy Osbourne for six months as the touring Lighting Designer on Bark at the Moon.
Ozzy ended and I moved on to The Jackson’s Victory Tour
as lighting crew chief. We spent time in Los Angeles rehearsing and then we flew to Arrowhead for more practice and to kick off their national tour
I had a little bit of time off to see some of the sights in Kansas City. I met a pretty little woman, just like the song. We had a long distance relationship and in 1985 I moved here and we got married.
The Victory Tour
created our chance meeting.
Our daughter was born in 1988.
I continued to work in the concert touring industry until the summer of 1993. I wanted to spend more time at home with my wife, my stepson and my daughter instead of in a bunk on a tour
Lady luck looked my way again and I took over as General Manager at Sandstone. I stayed for 11 boiling hot summers.
I made a lot of friends during my years touring.
It was like getting a new set of brothers and sisters every six months.
However the Victory Tour
was the largest touring family I had ever experienced. We would grow and change personnel constantly, but there was a core group of 140 who were pretty much there for the whole tour
. And I have kept in contact with a few of my old touring friends through the years.
The day after Michael Jackson’s untimely death, I had some calls and emails. We were all sad and surprised. On each call or in every email we shared little snippets of our time with Michael. He was shy when he was off stage. Michael usually had an entourage of one or two bodyguards, but he would always say hello to anyone in the crew who happened his way. We respected him and his brothers for their talent and drive.
The Victory Tour
was on the road for six months in 1984. We experienced heat, rain, and cold as we crossed the country playing each weekend.
Every night the show kicked off with all of the brothers on stage performing.
Michael had thirty or more minutes solo about an hour into the show. There were a lot of us on the crew who were regulars at finding a spot to watch him perform as often as we could.
The transformation from the shy, soft spoken persona to field commander on the stage took place as soon as his microphone was on. The strength and vision Michael had was incredible. He hit every cue. He was a perfectionist. It was all about giving the fans the best.
I learned right away how Michael memorized everything. We had more than 800 lights operating over his head. In one of our first full nights of rehearsal, four lights were not working. He stopped the song to make sure I knew the lights were out. I was stunned that he noticed and even more surprised at how polite he was. It was my first conversation with him and he just wanted to make sure I knew about the malfunction.
One of my cues on the Victory Tour
was at the start of the show; I had to push buttons to operate equipment from the side of the stage. I stood in an area masked to the audience, but I had a clear view of the lighting equipment moving higher over the stage set.
Michael would stand beside me often and look out at the stadium of excited fans screaming in anticipation. Michael knew I was busy, so he would grab my elbow to let me know he was there so I would not be startled. I would wish him a great show each time and he would thank me and then take his place for the entrance.
In 1992, I was in Atlanta lighting a television special. Michael was a guest on the show. I was backstage for a moment before we were going to tape his segment. One of his bodyguards saw me and came over to say hello. He told me I should go into the dressing room and say hello to Michael. I said I would be surprised if Michael remembered me, but he told me, Michael already spotted me and would like it if I had the time to come by his dressing room. I walked in and Michael hugged me and asked how I had been. We talked for a couple of minutes but both of us had to get back to work.
On the Victory Tour
, Michael and his brothers had parties for the band and crew in a few cities after the show. Hindsight is 20/20. I have worked for a lot of famous people through the years and I wish I had a picture or autograph from each one, but at one of the Victory Tour
parties I took the opportunity to sit with Michael and one of my friends took our picture.
My daughter called when she heard the tragic news about Michael. She asked me if I still had the picture she had seen at home as she was growing up. She asked if I could scan it and send it to her. She teased me about my hair having color 25 years ago. I reminded her that gray is a color.
Michael Jackson and his brothers started my life and career in Kansas City. I am grateful for the many memories. I am sad for the loss of a truly gifted performer and someone I had the privilege to know and work with.
General Manager, the Midland by AMC