“I don’t care what he’s doing, and how much he’s being paid. I’m not telling you that. And if you don’t want to pay me, go ahead and pay yourselves. No need to talk, really. You’ve had your say, Michael’s gone.”
– James Brown, Rolling Stone magazine interview, February 12, 1987
I never realized that Michael Jackson could be the most famous person to ever do this, but when he called me for an interview and we met in Los Angeles I thought that I’d finally be able to find out about him. As soon as we sat down, he had the most fascinating and fascinatingly crazy personality that you’ll ever come across. We talked for nearly an hour, and I’ll never forget it. You could tell he was a great listener. He knew what he wanted to say, how to say it, and he was really open and upfront about that. He was so open with his answers and about his childhood, and it was almost like he had a revelation. He was so frank, and you could tell he was really trying to find answers for himself. I felt like I had found someone that I was really inspired by and really interested in. Michael had a unique perspective on life. I remember one of his early tapes that came back: he was talking about how he went to his first concert at Madison Square Garden, and it was the greatest show of his career, an absolutely magical show for an artist whose music transcends the boundaries of color and emotion. He thought of his music as a message to all of us, saying that what is beautiful in life is not the same thing as what is the most fun for others.
My son [James] also found something pretty remarkable on one of Michael’s tapes: there was a piece where the pianist had to play a piano that sounded like he’d done the Mozart Sonata for the piano. The next morning, he said, “Dad, what the heck was that?” It really got us thinking, since so many people today think of rock and roll as kind of just a guitar and some keyboards. The truth is, it’s been a multi-colored world for the past 35 years—if not longer. A lot of what we think of as rock and roll is actually just pop, and some of it is electronic. How many different layers of pop could be covered with an acoustic guitar? Music is as much about creating an immersive atmosphere as it is about being the front
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