MAN IN THE MIRROR

 

Who would have thought that Jackson would be outlived by Keith Richardsor Ozzy Osbourne in a drug related fatality?

Now, there are far more pressing things that will effect our community more than Jackson’s passing.We have an industry in transition and money is falling off the table in every direction.We need to focus on that.But I can not ignore the many emails I’ve received asking me to comment on Michael’s death. Plus, I have to admit, that I am moved by this event. I grew up with Jackson’s music and as a producer and engineer I was asked to get that “Jackson sound” by many clients.

So, here goes.

Over my 30 years in the music business I’ve worked, briefly, with or for more than one member of the Jackson camp.I never met Michael directly.What I know of him personally is filtered through my interactions with both “his people” and Sony as a consultant/journalist and one of his siblings whose album I worked on back in the 1980s.So, my connection to him was nothing great but I did get insight through social osmosis. I’ll share:

1)Michael was not nor has he ever been a child molester.The first accusation was part of an elaborate stunt to get his biggest creditor, Sony, to drop him and thus release him from having to pay back hundreds of millions to his record company. It didn’t work, Sony held on and I never found out if Michael himself was privy to the inner workings of this ridiculous strategy.The second molestation charge was a cheap extortion ploy with virtually no real evidence to support it.Michael loved children. He was a child himself in many ways.It’s true that he had children sleep in his bedroom. But his bedroom was bigger than most people’s entire home. (Over 1000 sq ft)So, it’s unlikely that this was anything devious.

2)It is highly unlikely that Michael intentionally committed suicide or even attempted to do so. He loved life despite his personal issues.He would not plan a comeback tour and then off himself.He would have considered that to be “rude.”

3)Michael was a shrewd business man.He played the naive artist in front of the camera because it helped his image, but he understood the business of music quite masterfully.Enough so to engineer and maintain the largest record-deal in history: $75,000,000 a year, for ten years–guaranteed–even if he doesn’t deliver a commercially satisfactory album.

4)Michael and his family did not get along.So what?That makes him quite normal.

5)Sony Business Affairs is glad that he’s dead.Michael was about $400 Million in debt to the music giant. They had little to no hope for recoupment.Now they will recoup both with music sales and INSURANCE.Yes, let’s not forget that they insured Mr. Jackson for big bucks in the event of an untimely death (as they do many of their acts).They will probably own a stake in the Neverland ranch when the probate smoke clears and turn it into another Graceland.They will, after a lengthy legal battle, surely get some of Jackson’s Beatles catalog, as this was collateralized into his record deal.(Sony will probably let the family keep the Elephant Man skeleton.) If you’re into conspiracy theories and you’re looking for a suspect who advanced Michael’s death, don’t look to his doctors.They made more with him alive.Look to Sony.That said, I don’t think record companies kill people with prescription drugs just to collect the insurance money. This isn’t the 1980s.

It would be nice if Jackson’s memorial would be like John Lennon’s in 1980.Back then, tens of thousands gathered in Sheep’s Meadow, Central Park to mourn. It was televised–commercial free–and millions around the world participated in a moment of silence, without a single incident of violence.Imagine that, the entire world quiet for one minute to honor a pop singer.

Unfortunately, Michael died during a really bad recession.The Mayor of Los Angeles is asking fans to pay for the ceremony with contributions, the streets of downtown LA will be a gauntlet of souvenir stands, Performing Rights Societies and publishers did not waive their fees for the songs that will be played and thousands Twittered during the ceremony, despite requests not to. The Lennon vigil, it was not.

I was a fan of Michael’s music.And while it was never considered to be as socially relevant as say, Bob Dylan, there is no denying that his contribution to the art form of pop music surpassed virtually everybody. In 100 years very few of today’s music giants will be remembered by name, but I have no doubt that in 2109 when people muse about great music along with Dylan and Lennon, Michael Jackson will be in the mix.

RIP Michael.I will miss you.

AND LET’S NOT FORGET

Aside from the eclipsing Farah’s passing, yet another music biz icon has left us this week who has gone un-noticed.Allen Klein, who managed the business affairs of many top acts, including the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.He audited labels, finding unpaid royalties and for this he will be thanked.

But his biggest contribution to the word of pop music however was not his client list, but his demeanor.Reports say he died of complication due to Alzheimer’s.Allen had much he would probably like to forget in his retirement.His rough, bare-knuckles style of business is what is led to many a dispute and was frequently lampooned in Hollywood movies when they poke fun at how sleazy our industry can be.If you recall the character of the hot-head producer in Barton Fink, played by Michael Lerner, this was Klein incarnate.Regardless, it’s tough to hold a grudge against anyone who worked on behalf of artists getting paid.He was 78 years old.

RIP.

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19 responses to “MAN IN THE MIRROR”

  1. Dar.Ra says:

    If only you wrote for CNN And Sky
    it would be worth listening too.
    best wishes
    Dar.ra
    http://www.kushadeep.blogspot.com

  2. Doc Kane says:

    Nicely written, Moses. A fitting tribute.

    Cheers,
    Doc

  3. Don says:

    The pink-elephant in the corner, that NO ONE is talking about, is how false allegations of molestation towards men and fathers is the shame of our legal system and damaging to the men and the children in the middle. Wonder why Michael was in pain since 2005? Being accused of something so heinous does not wash off – and there was hardly a whimper from the industry or his friends when the accusations were occurring.

  4. Bill Wade says:

    Bravo Moses! Words well said… and a steady perspective on a subject where feelings are far too polarized in one direction or the other. May MJ RIP now.

  5. Jason Miles says:

    Why don’t you mention how AEG flipped this whole thing on him

    I had many thoughts on Michael Jackson and performing for a number of years now.
    Nobody really had seen him perform for a long time-Did anybody really think he could pull off 50 shows??
    I had friends involved with the whole HBO debacle a number of years ago and really had my doubts.

    I always said-If you want to invest in MJ-Give him 1Mil. Then before you went forward have him perform a casual 90 minute set to make sure
    he could pull it together. From the rehearsal footage it was obvious that there would be a lot of pre recorded vocals and he lost a step or 2-That;s Ok but
    still nobody knew if he could pull off that many shows and the stress must have been tremendous seeing that he hadn’t performed on the world stage for many years

    I do believe there is blood on a number of peoples hands-Will we really ever find out-who knows but any child left without a parent is a bad thing-That’s the bottom line to me

    Peace, jason

  6. Shawn Sharif says:

    Michael was not nor has he ever been a child molester. The first accusation was part of an elaborate stunt to get his biggest creditor, Sony, to drop him and thus release him from having to pay back hundreds of millions to his record company. It didn’t work, Sony held on and I never found out if Michael himself was privy to the inner workings of this ridiculous strategy.

    I’m sure a few other people have asked, or will ask you about this, but who do you believe the culprit might have been for the scheme???..Shawn Sharif

  7. In a message dated 7/8/2009 6:24:14 A.M. Pacific Daylight Time, deanna@lindemarkmusic.com writes:
    Thank You ………1) how dare those idiots have put him through that!. He was never that! That really pissed me off. Thank you again for making a TRUE statement RE: MJ.

    He sang. I’ll be there to comfort you………………… He will always be in my heart. Where there is love I’ll be there. Just look over your shoulder honey! I’ll be there, I’ll be there, where there is love I’ll be there. I will always zero in on that song when I think of him.

    D

  8. Michael Huey says:

    Hey Mo-

    It’s really good and refreshing to have you back-
    and as always, you’re in rare form . . .
    Michael Huey

  9. Lionel Johnson says:

    Thanks for the overview about Michael. I didn’t know him personally,but know enough to know that he wasn’t a molester. The Sony theory is very insightful, and could probably be extended a few other directions as well. Michael was frail, but he took on some heavy hitters, and still managed at the end of the day to not only win the battles, but protect the things and people important to him. He will be missed. Lionel Johnson

  10. Adrian Cornes says:

    Moses,

    In response to your fooot note about Allen Klein I am not so convinced he was a good thing for the artists he represented. ??I think he looked out solely for himself. My understanding is that the Rolling Stones deeply unsatisfied with the amount of income coming their way during his management of their career knowing that they were firing him as a manager recommended him to John Lennon – Hardly a charitable act! Indeed Ketih Richards has said in interviews that it was only when the band signed to Virgin that they begain to make money. I assume that this was since the early records were all owned by Abkco – Yes you guessed it… Alan Klein’s company!

  11. R Meyrick says:

    “It’s true that he had children sleep in his bedroom. But his bedroom was bigger than most people’s entire home. (Over 1000 sq ft) So, it’s unlikely that this was anything devious”

    or how about this as an alternative sentence……………..

    It’s true he had children sleeping in his bedroom, which was sophisticatedly alarmed so he knew if anyone was close to approaching it and the children were drinking wine & Jim Beam out of soda cans, looking at porn in magazines & on huge TV’s, and despite the room being bigger than most peoples houses, were sleeping cuddled up with Jackson in his bed. (So it’s unlikely that this was anything devious!)

    come on!

    Which is the most ridiculous option? or well documented?

    I think truly the most difficult thing to accept about this, is perhaps people who are child abusers aren’t all ‘monsters’ as portrayed by the media, well aren’t all outwardly monsters anyway. There is always very complex internal behaviour. And abusers can somehow be talented individuals, loving parents, friends – many many positive things as well. It does my head in thinking about it – and many people will just refuse to consider it – it’s simply too overwhelming & difficult. Abuse doesn’t always have the face of Herr Frizel!

    • Moses Avalon says:

      So this would be really cool were it not for the fact that not a single child came froward and the one who accused him first later recanted. the poilce fond no evidence despite a very invasive body search. The second one he went to trial for had a motive to lie, which was revealed and ultimately was the bedrock of the acquittal. So, aside from wired sleepovers, where is the hard evidence? Who do we ultimately believe, the very well informed juries and law enforcement agencies, or our own “gut instinct” that something is afoot?

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  13. Jeff Cheen says:

    Moses,

    You should comment on how all these black leaders, sports figures and entertainers are claiming Jackson as one of their own and yet Michael bleached his skin, changed his nose and made sure his children were white. He wanted no part of being black. He wanted no part of that fool Al Sharpton.

    Moses, I’m sure you don’t have children, so you could never understand how a parent feels about letting their (boy) child sleep in a strangers bed. Michael was an example of what a pedophile is and does. What part of wanting to sleep with young boys don’t you understand? Are you kidding me in mentioning the size of his bedroom? It’s the size of his BED.

    I to worked with members of the Jackson family. Ignorance runs rampant in that family from Joe on down. They are truely a product of the ghetto of Gary, Indiana. Their music is great, their lives are NOT. Throw the Jehovah’s Witness thing into the mix and well that’s a whole other story. And did I mention the high price drugs from the enabler doctors? I managed Rick James, another human who gave us great music but was one of the low lifes on God’s earth.

    I agree with 99% of your rantings over the years, but you are way off base on this one.

    Jeff Cheen

    • Moses Avalon says:

      Actually, I am a parent and what I’ve never been able to understand is why these parents let their kids sleep in his room in the first place. But that’s a far stretch from saying MJ crossed the line and fondled them. He’s guilty of poor judgment, for sure, but there no direct evidence of anything else. Maybe now that he’s gone these kids will come froward. You can not libel the dead.

  14. Moms Mabley says:

    Moms Mabley said….”You should only say good about the dead” Michael Jackson is dead…..Good

    The man he saw in the mirror was white…..Say It Loud!

  15. Zindzi says:

    This was WONDERFUL! What I find funny is that people refuse to acknowledge that there was no proof against MJ…on any of that shit! Period! And since you’re such a music insider Jeff, you’d know that MJ and Al came together to combat racism in the music industry in 2001! So, I honestly doubt MJ didn’t want anything to do with him.

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