"Dear Michael" GUEST POST: Meeting Michael Jackson by saidjess.com

(This is a guest post by Jess at saidjess.com.)

Hi I'm Jess, you might remember me as one half of the http://Steady-Laughing.com website. You also might remember me from King Of Pop Forum and other MJ communities.

We started the website back in Feb 2002. I had been building an MJ site on and off for a few years but I became friends with my website partner, Vicky, on a forum and together we used our expertise to design a super site. Our site specialised in super rare pictures that we made sure to cross post to all corners of the Michael Jackson internets. We also had the latest up-to-date photos from MJs current trips. We loved to be first to share them. If I can be honest, Vicky took up a lot of the slack.

I tried to fill up the site with other content. The site ended after MJ passed. We both were in to our mid/late 20s and had work, school and other relationships to take care of. It was an end of an era but we loved every minute of it. I love to see photos with the http://s-l.com  logo on them still floating around :)

Meeting Michael Jackson 

I loved Michael Jackson as if he had always existed. There was no point in my life where I discovered who he was or that I felt an affinity toward him, I don’t really remember suddenly becoming ‘obsessed’ with him, it was always just the way that it was.

I am almost 34 years old and have been learned and collected many things about MJ for as far back as I can remember.

For me, it wasn’t just about the music. I was 13 years old when he arrived in Australia for the History World Tour – I didn’t have tickets because unfortunately that was the year I spent my longest (of many) bout in hospital and by the time November came around I was too unwell to see him.

Instead, I promised myself that when I was old enough I would see him.

At 17, I joined Internet forums and began to make friends with fans who had met him and seen him on multiple occasions. They seemed to make it sound so easy – that MJ was not the untouchable that all magazines and tabloids made him out to be.

When I turned 18, I got a passport and a plane ticket the second I found out MJ was going to be in one place for long enough.

On April 19, 2002, I was New York City bound on my own, having never traveled abroad before. Standing 4’8ft tall and expecting that I was going to be safe and knowing that I would be meeting Michael Jackson.

Of course, I didn’t know any of that for sure, but my arrogance or at least my lack of life experience outside of my very sheltered hospital and parent-protected bubble didn’t allow me to believe much else.

The day that I left for New York, I received news as I was heading to the airport to tell me that my grandfather had passed away and there was a moment where I had to truly reevaluate if this trip was worth it. However, strangely both of my parents pointed out that he would have been happy for me to go – he wouldn’t have wanted me to stay at home when I had an adventure waiting for me.

I saw Michael Jackson for the first time face-to-face on the second day that I was in New York City. He was arriving back from a fire alarm at The Palace Hotel where he had been staying. The road to the back entrance was not overly busy and I found myself standing in the middle of it with my jaw on the floor as I glimpsed a tiny peep of him through the crack of the open limousine door as his driver got out to ask everyone to clear out of the way.

He was wearing pajama pants and a red sweater and I was stunned. Apparently, also hard of hearing because there was a car that was beeping at me and I had to peel myself out of the way and on to the curb.

I was ready to go home. I saw MJ, huzzah!

The next few days were depressing. I’m not by any means a social person and given my limited social experiences with friends at 18, I had a high level of social anxiety. I felt like I didn’t truly fit in to any of the groups of fans. They already knew each other well (this is not to say they were cliquey, they were all very nice to me), I was exhausted and jetlagged from an over 24-hr flight to New York from Sydney and to top it off, my grandfather was gone.

Michael was scheduled to perform at the Apollo Theatre in Harlem for the Democrats convention on the 24th of April (I believe). My biggest heartbreak happened this night – I had been waiting to see him all night out the front of the venue and he never showed up so I sat at the curb and cried from exhaustion. Somebody convinced me to go back to the hotel to sleep. The performance as we had discovered was for American residents only and ID was needed to get in. So, I decided it was a good idea to get some sleep.

One thing nobody could have prepared me for in NYC was the amount of walking required. I have a crappy respiratory system, walking for me can be physically exhausting so by the time I got back to my room, I slept like a baby. In fact, I slept so like a baby that I didn’t hear one of the girls get back to the room ranting that everybody had been let inside to see Michael, including others from all different countries—something that Michael had organized.

I was quietly devastated. I got out of bed and remember trying to console her, but it was to no avail. Together we traveled back to The Palace Hotel where Michael had not yet arrived back. There were a lot more fans than just our small group who had been hanging out previously. Michael signed CDs, notes, guitars and everything that night while I questioned the reasons why I even bothered to try to see him when everyone was gearing up for my grandfather’s funeral back home.

The following day I got talking to a fan who was from England. We instantly hit it off, chatting. When she found out I had come all the way from Australia to see him, she told me with a decisiveness, “you are going to meet him!”. I thought it was nice of her to say, but by the end of the afternoon she had me convinced.

As a collective of about 20 fans, we had used that day (apparently Michael was sleeping?) to organize a small anti-Sony demonstration outside of the New York Sony building. We held signs and had someone from inside come and take photos of us, probably to show the big wigs upstairs – as far as I know that was the beginning of the Sony war with Michael based on their treatment toward him with Invincible and the ATV catalogue.

Another devastating moment was later in the evening. Michael took his children shopping to FAO Schwartz and fans chased down his car as fans do. Somewhere along the line, I was intimidated by a bodyguard who told a few of us we would be arrested if we followed (lol, in hindsight, this guy had no juristriction over where we went). So I stayed back at the hotel, not wanting to be arrested in a foreign country (lol!). Michael arrived back around an hour later and I thought luck had struck me. He was not in a limousine anymore, just an SUV with the window cranked all the way down, not a fan to be seen. He had Paris laying on his lap, her head resting on his chest and I kept my distance as the gates to the garage lifted. I smiled at him. He nodded in recognition and I held out a card I had for him that I’d been holding over the days hoping to give to him. I didn’t want to encroach on his personal space and was around 6ft from his window. He waved me over nodding at me as if to tell me it was okay.

I could barely figure out what was happening. I managed to say I love you in a tone that I was sure wouldn’t wake his sleeping child, but I felt like it spooked him as he took the card and the window began to roll up quickly. I felt embarrassed, as though he saw me as a threat, but seconds later, allaying my fears, was another fan (not part of the regular group I’d been hanging out with) knocking me over on to the road, screaming his name and banging on the window.

When I got up and dusted myself off, I realized his window didn’t come back down and that I wasn’t the reason for it going up.

Before I parted ways with my new English friend late that night, she told me that tomorrow would be the day. I thought it was very kind of her, but I wasn’t expecting anything after my disappointments.

Michael went shopping the following day and the group of rough fans flew home to their native country which made me feel calmer. I made Michael a sign that told him I had flown all the way to see him from Australia. It was a stupid, ratty sign but it was all I had time for. I made sure to carry something to sign and my camera was even in the pant-leg of my cargo pants, “just in case”.

Michael left the hotel and fans scattered. I can’t run, I end up running out of puff after about 6 strides to the point where I desaturate and can’t get air for a few moments; never-the-less, my English friend waited for me while fans ran after him – every man for himself –style. She had the patience of a saint.

First Michael went to a glasses shop. The same guard tried to tell us we would be arrested while Michael told us exactly where he was going so we could come… lol. He browsed glasses and watched a fan dance for him inside the store. I was able to see him directly through the glass. I held up my crappy sign for him managed to see him reading it. I gave him the thumbs up; to be honest, I don’t even remember his response.

Next he went to Sharper Image. There was a larger crowd that time. The bodyguard was allowing all the fans to flow inside and again, as I touched the door after my English friend entered, I was told there were too many people and I was not allowed inside. I could have cried, but I had a clever thought. In other experiences, Michael was made to leave to go to his car first before anyone was let out to follow him – for his safety. Since I stood in the doorway, surely I would be able to touch him or say hello?

After glumly watching everyone get a chance to hug him and speak with him inside, he walked out of the shop, as I thought, first, with his back to me.  He was paused, speaking to someone. He was literally touching me, his back against the sleeve of my ugly yellow hoodie. As soon as he was done, he began to walk the short distance from shop-to-curb.

I tapped him as gently as I knew how to get his attention twice. “Excuse me, Michael?” (Yep, I actually managed to use my manners, it seems so comical in retrospect). He didn’t even feel my tapping through the thickness of his black jacket so I tried again. He was almost away from arms reach but he turned around and stared straight at me.

I had the floor!

I didn’t know what to say. I was stunned. I felt someone grab my hand as the  other fans tried to file out of the shop. About three sentences left my mouth at the one time; I love you so much, I’m from Australia, you are the best!

I tried again, but he was being pushed toward the entryway of his car. He cupped a hand over his ear as if he was telling me to speak up. I didn’t bother because when I looked down I saw that it was him holding my hand.

His hand was cold and huge. Comically huge; totally engulfing mine (not that would be hard, I have creepy baby hands). He got pushed in to the limo at that point and I was over the moon. Could I say I met him? Not really, but I did manage to speak gibberish at him! Huzzah!

I was about 15ft away when I heard the other (nicer) bodyguard call out, “Where is the Australian girl?” from nowhere my English friend appeared beside me. She grabbed me by the arm and dragged me quickly toward the bodyguard, “here she is! Here she is!”.

The bodyguard smiled at me and said, “Mr Jackson would like to meet you.”

What. The….

I was literally shoved in Michael’s direction in the limousine. I was shaking and nervous and trying my best not to cry. He reached for my hand as I stood dumbly and asked me if I was okay. I nodded and finally found my voice.

“Thank you for meeting me!”

He said it was his honor. I know he said that probably to everyone, but I didn’t care, he was staring in to my eyes as he said it.

“Did you really travel all the way from Australia to see me?”
I said, “Yes Michael, I have been a fan for a long, long time.”
I told him all-in-all, including transit time and transfer flights, around 28 hours, but 24 hours all told for flights.
“Twenty for hours!? Wow!” he seemed quite impressed.
He went on to ask where in Australia I was from and told me about a theme park that he had visited when he went to Sydney in the 80s.

He said, “Wow, how long did it take?”

I would like to point out that I am still kind of convinced to this day that Michael thought he was dealing with a 12-14 year old child because at 18 I wasn’t 5ft tall, had no dress sense and was probably wearing all of the articles of clothing in my suitcase at the one time. From the way he spoke to me so fatherly, I believe he thought I had irresponsible parents that allowed a child to see him on their own.

He asked if I had seen him when he was in Australia in 1996. I said, “No, Michael, I was unwell – I was in the hospital at the time, I was devastated that’s why I’m here now.”

He asked if I was healthy, I said I was.

He even took my sign and smiled at it, on the bottom I had written, “Sony Sucks” with a big smiley. He said, “So… you think Sony Sucks?” he looked so serious for a moment that I was scared I had offended him – or was scared of giving him the wrong answer. I slowly nodded and said, “yes, I do…?”
He sat back and said, “I so agree!” (this is his exact wording even though my truthfulness regarding his response was questioned when I shared this with many later).

I was holding a very good condition of the TV Guide 1999 in my possession that I had yet to think to ask him to sign. He stared at it for a moment and then said, “would you like me to sign something?” I was glad he asked cos I’d have never remembered. I handed it to him and said, “please,” he glanced at himself on the cover and laughed.

Strangely, he said, “Am I in this?” I don’t know why he asked, he was clearly in it being that he was on the cover.

Before his question even finished, I snapped, “yes page 13,” (or whatever page, I’d only been looking at it earlier) to which caused laughter from him. I realized how I sounded and made a joke of it saying, “not that I have memorized it or anything…”

He signed my TV guide and handed it back to me. He grabbed on to my hand again and I knew if I didn’t say what I had rehearsed forever, I may never get another chance. So, I said to him, “Michael I love you so much…” I’m not a generally emotional person and saying those words to him was hard because it wasn’t an expression that ever really frequented from my mouth.

He squeezed my hand and said, “Ohh, I love you too…”

I got slightly emotional (no tears, just shaking). He stroked my hand and touched my face and said I was adorable. I told him something a little more personal, and he seemed inspired momentarily and said, “as long as one person believes in you, you can achieve anything, even if they are a stranger, I’m telling you that I believe in you. You can do anything.”

They were honestly words that changed my entire life.

I couldn’t thank him enough. I am sure we chatted briefly for a few more moments but some of those memories are lost now.

I do know that it was me who decided to wrap it up so I didn’t get a bodyguard giving me the heave-ho. I said, “Michael I love you, thank you for meeting me I can’t thank you enough”

He said, “oh no, no, I love you more, it was my honor…”

I said goodbye to him and had to literally peel myself away from his car. I had a couple of fans surrounding me (even ones who hadn’t been overly kind to me) wanting to know everything. I am sure my meeting lasted about two minutes, if that, but it felt like time completely stood still. 

My English friend engulfed me in a hug and I sobbed my little heart out and we rode a taxi back to the hotel while she directed me to write everything down in my journal so I didn’t forget a word of what was said.

I never asked for a photo. I didn’t think of it, but I don’t care because I don’t think he would have wanted to take one even if he would have never dared to say no to his fans (and I don’t think I’ve heard of him saying no), so I’m okay with not having one on that day.

I stayed on in NYC for another week and I had one more experience with Michael on that trip as he left a building. He walked past me and I touched his hand and told him that I loved him again (turns out, it wasn’t so hard to say it again and again!) and he said I love you more and touched my hair.

My trip to NYC was a sort-of coming of age trip. I met my idol, I did so independently despite what anyone else thought or said, and I survived in a foreign country on my own! More importantly, I was inspired to live my life again.

Surely that meant I was a fully-fledged adult, right?

You can read more from Jess by visiting www.saidjess.com or following her on Instagram @michaeljacksonfor365days 

Rethinking My Michael Jackson Collection - How I Determine Value

Michael Jackson fans like to show their collections. I've seen videos, websites, and even entire Instagram accounts dedicated to showing collections off.

But what does it all really mean?
Why, as fans, do we get so caught up into material things?

Today I want to talk to you about how I determine what's valuable to me in my Michael Jackson collection and why it matters now more than ever.

Earlier this year I discovered a video that changed my life.

It was about decluttering; Something I had heard a lot about but, never really understood. Growing up, I was blessed to have had a lot of “stuff”. Clothes, shoes, books, toys, electronics… you name it. But, the things that really meant the most to me were always those things with sentimental value. Despite this, I’ve accumulated SO much beyond those criteria. I got used to hauling things around. From my room to my college dormitory, back home, and then to my first apartment.

But as I’ve gotten older, the things at the top of my value totem pole lean much more towards moments and experiences. After learning about what a positive effect decluttering and living a more minimalist lifestyle could have, I decided to get serious about it.

This past March was the first time I EVER truly put effort and focus into decluttering. I donated 6 garbage bags full of clothes, 3 or 4 bags of shoes, and trashed things that I always thought I would “use someday” but never did.

My apartment went from EVERYTHING THERE to ALMOST BARE. And it felt great. But what about my Michael Jackson collection?

How did I decide to deal with being a huge fan and collector but, at the same time embrace a new minimalist lifestyle?

Well this should be no surprise... I decided to keep all my MJ merchandise. Here are some throwback photos of my collection when I first started it:

My Childhood Room!

Around 2002-2003

I’ve never sold or traded ANY of it and I have no intention on starting now. I’ve given small things away as gifts here and there but, have mainly held on to everything.

And what you see in the photos is just a glimpse.

Adding to my collection has always been FUN but, I have needed to rethink some things about the Michael Jackson items I have. I have also been forced to think about what my criteria would be for acquiring new things.

Today I want to share with you how I have decided to maintain my MJ collection and what formula I use to determine value on each item I have.

Quality (Over Quantity). 

I know a lot of fans, both in real life and online. And in the past, I always looked at those with huge collections in awe. But now for me... quality over quantity. In determining value, something that has sentimental meaning always comes before something in mint condition in my eyes.  I do have a mint Destiny tour book and have had the opportunity to get pristine, mint condition Triumph and Victory tour books too. But I’ve never wanted to.

These are my tour books.

I wouldn’t trade them for the world because they are from my father.

As I have mentioned before, he is also an MJ fan and the reason why I became a fan of Michael too. He has seen Michael live in concert 5 times (the last time was with me) and these two books are items he purchased himself. I haven’t done much to maintain them, other than keeping them in a dry and safe place but, they are prized possessions of mine.

Going forward, I will likely only be purchasing items that I foresee truly enjoying and holding close to my heart. I will also be avoiding purchasing duplicates of any one thing, without an immediate reason or need to do so. Lastly, I will be avoiding reprints and reproductions. I prefer to get real and authentic items when I can, which definitely helps me cut down on the amount of things I bring into my home.


There are certain categories of items I just DON’T BUY anymore. The first type of item I have decided to no longer purchase? BOOKS. Yes, books.

Over the years, I have purchased dozens and dozens of books about Michael’s life. But, I usually stop reading them halfway through. I can never really make it to the end because I know that a lot of the content is embellished for storytelling purposes. And I know how much Michael hated stories being fabricated about him.

I’ve always taken pride in learning as much as I can about Michael but, a lot of the books published post 2009 are so riddled with untruths. It's hard to know what to believe. Although not as revealing as many had hoped it would be at its time of publication, I always go to Moonwalk (Michael’s autobiography) when I really want to learn more about him and his career.

reading Moonwalk at the airport.

If I feel the urge to read any books about Michael in the future, I will buy them electronically or borrow them. Most of the books I have are in excellent and or very good condition- I plan on holding some giveaways on a lot of the books I don’t read anymore, so stay tuned.

On top of deciding what NOT to buy, I also will be purchasing items with certain categories in mind. The first type of merchandise I will likely always indulge in? Michael Jackson T-Shirts.

If you follow me on Instagram, you already know that I have somewhat of an obsession with collecting Michael Jackson t-shirts. It’s been something I’ve always been really into. I work in corporate and have to wear business wear daily. But on the weekends, I make time to wear my MJ attire. I told someone that I got rid of a lot of my casual shirts and kept a lot of my MJ ones. It’s helped me to enjoy dressing up and accessorizing MJ wearables on the weekends. After all, who is mjfangirl without an MJ shirt?

Searching for new shirts was a hobby that started for me in high school. I got my first part time job at 16 and you can already imagine where most of my earnings went. The height of my fandom was during the early 2000’s… and to be honest, finding Michael Jackson shirts was a TASK. I won’t bother going into where I got most of my items back them but now, I get a lot of my shirts from garage sales, trading with friends, or on Poshmark. I have raved about Posh before and I highly recommend it. Its helped me not only discover MJ items I had never seen before, but also save money on my current wardrobe. Check it out!

The second thing I will be doing is collecting in groups- particularly Jacksons and Jackson 5 merchandise. Here's an example of a small grouping of Triumph Tour related items:

Triumph Tour Poster- still looking for a frame!

As time goes by, these items become more and more difficult to find so whatever I can get my hands on, I will definitely be holding on to.


The Dr. Laura Podcast is one of my favorites to listen to. When I’m not listening to Michael Jackson on Spotify or the Diana Ross Station on Pandora, I am likely listening to her podcast. The Dr. Laura show mainly talks about family, relationships, morals, and values. She’s sort of an ear of reason for me, helping me make decisions because we share so much of the same moral compass.

Anyway, one of the most interesting things I heard her recently say to a caller was,

  “Money isn’t to be saved. It’s to be budgeted and spent”. 

That made the wheels in my brain start turning. It made me think about how I’ve been living. Stressing about wanting to buy certain things and either overindulging or making bad decisions. Same goes for my collection. In the past, I’ve been so hellbent on building the collection that I completely forgot to ENJOY what I already had. I was so busy comparing my collection to ones I saw online from other fans, that I missed out on some of the cool things I had right in front of me.

I've been enjoying movies and tapes a LOT lately. Nothing relaxes me more than coming home and watching Michael. Here are some of my favorites recently:

Jacksons: An American Dream- classic!

Childhood favorites!

I have made a conscious effort to spend at least 20-30 minutes each week rediscovering things in my collection. I have spent hard earned money on a lot of my possessions and have a lot of gifts from friends and family that I should be paying much more attention to.

Minimalism is something that is still a new concept to me. It’s going to take me time to fully adapt to learning to live with less but, I am enjoying it so far. When you declutter and start living in a space with less stuff, you learn to appreciate what you have much more. Even for someone like me, who takes pride in her modest collection of Michael Jackson merchandise, it’s possible to be a collector and still live clutter free. I no longer determine value by the “books”. I stopped determining value by the price stamps of auction houses. I don’t really care what other fans value. It’s about what matters to ME. And I think that’s one of the most important things I’ve learned.

One of the biggest lessons one comes across in the journey of minimalism, is to appreciate what you have.

 And I’ve been doing a lot more of that lately. 

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5 Things Michael Jackson fans should know about Motown 25

I've always taken the moonwalk for granted. 

It was a dance move that Michael Jackson was known for, something that he’d always done, and something he was always expected to do. It's always been one of those things that I considered to be "no big deal".

For years, I had no idea what the moonwalk meant to pop culture or that there was even a debut performance of it. Growing up in a household where Michael Jackson music and watching videotapes like Moonwalker and The Legend Continues is the norm, you kinda just take things for what they are.

My fandom started long before Youtube. But, that was a double-edged sword. On one hand, it would have been awesome to have the resources that are available now. If I could see thousands of hours of MJ footage I would have probably been in Michael Jackson fan heaven. But, then again, isn't it human nature to appreciate things that aren't readily available? I think that was part of the appeal for me. I deeply valued the process of searching and discovering websites like Jetzi’s Michael Jackson Video. The internet, even before social media, was a treasure trove of performances and footage that I never knew existed.

I also loved watching my HIStory On Film Volume II DVD.

That's where I saw Michael's entire, uninterrupted Motown 25 performance of “Billie Jean” for the first time. But I also clearly remember telling my father how annoying it was to have the Motown 25 performance of "Billie Jean" on there, instead of the short film.

It seemed like nothing special to me.

“Nothing special?” my dad repeated my words back to me.

 “No, that performance IS SPECIAL” he corrected me sternly.

 “That's Motown 25. THAT’S WHAT STARTED IT ALL”.


On the 34-year anniversary of Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, and Forever, I want to share with you the things I learned about Michael’s performance on Motown 25, why the television special was so iconic, and other things I think all fans should know about it.

1. The Significance of Motown Records. 

If you’re anything like the fan that I was years ago, you may not know much about Motown. In order to understand the significance and impact of the Motown 25 television special, you have to know what Motown Records meant (and still means) both to pop culture and black music history. Motown Records was one of the first black-owned labels that achieved crossover success on the radio and Billboard Charts.

Hitsville- the Home of Motown Records

It was a small record label, based out of Detroit and founded by Berry Gordy in 1958. But, it’s success is indisputable.

Motown birthed acts like The Temptations, The Supremes, The Four Tops, Stevie Wonder (all pictured above)...

and the Jackson Five. 

Others like Marvin Gaye, Gladys Knight & the Pips, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, and the song-writing and production team, Ashford & Simpson.

With almost 80 records in the Top 10 of the Billboard 100 between 1960 and 1969, and a unique sound, Motown’s acts and music were popular among both black and white audiences. Suzanne de Passe said it best-- “Motown wasn’t just pioneering a sound, but a cultural dynamic”.

And the Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever was a celebration, of just that.

2. Michael Didn’t Want To Do It.

Believe it or not, Michael initially didn’t want to do the show.

Michael Jackson, at his own admission, wasn’t a big fan of television as it related to his music career.

In his autobiography Moonwalk, Michael shares more about how he made the decision to actually appear on the show.

 “I said no to the idea at first... I thought about how much Berry Gordy had done for me and the group, but I told my managers and Motown that I didn’t want to go on TV. My whole attitude towards TV is fairly negative”. 

After speaking to Berry Gordy, who visited Michael at a studio session to discuss it, Michael decided he would appear and perform with his brothers, including Jermaine. The only stipulation? That he would get his own solo spot and do “Billie Jean”. It would be the only “non-Motown” song of the show.

Of course, he performed with his brothers first, a Jacksons medley, including Jermaine (and Randy too!).

Here's a rare photo of the Jacksons from the rehearsal:

It was the first time the original members of the Jackson 5 appeared together since 1975.

3. Studio Audience Only.

Did you know that the performance of “Billie Jean” was almost not broadcast? According to Suzanne de Passe, who was the executive producer for the show (and the creative assistant to Berry Gordy at Motown for many years), Michael asked for it not to be included in the show. Here’s an excerpt of her interview with EBONY magazine in 2014:

EBONY: Of course, Michael Jackson performing “Billie Jean” and doing the moonwalk for the first time became the highlight of the show.

SP: A letter came by messenger during rehearsals saying we were forbidden to tape “Billie Jean.” The reason was that Michael wanted to do it for the people in the theater, but he didn’t want it on the broadcast. I went to Michael, and said, “Are you serious? I’ll tell you what, we will tape it and you come to the editing room. And, if you don’ t like it, we won’ t use it.” Luckily he not only liked it, he loved it. His manager later told me that performance helped sell four million more copies of Thriller.

(Source: Suzanne de Passe Looks Back on ‘ Motown 25’ , Ebony Magazine. 2014)

Michael and Suzanne de Passe.

Well, I’m grateful that we, and the 47 million viewers across America watching live that evening, got to see it.

Watch the full performance of Michael Jackson and the Jacksons on Motown 25 here.

4. The Biggest Compliment Michael’s ever received

 Michael Jackson was a perfectionist.

He wasn’t totally happy with his performance that night. His brothers stood at the wings of the stage watching, amazed and proud at how well he had done. But, Michael felt conflicted.

“But I just remember opening my eyes at the end of the thing and seeing this sea of people standing up, applauding. And I felt so many conflicting emotions. I knew I had done my best and felt good, so good. But at the same time I felt disappointed in myself. I had planned to do one really long spin and to stop on my toes, suspended for a moment, but I didn’t stay on my toes as long as I wanted, I did the spin and I landed on one toe. I wanted to just stay there, just freeze there, but it didn’t work quite as I’d planned.” – Michael Jackson, Moonwalk 

I remember first reading that and feeling bad that Michael was disappointed in his performance. The entire world loved it! But, to me, the beauty of Michael Jackson in part, is his perfectionism. It’s something that made him unique among many of his peers and contributed to him being so accomplished.

The day after Motown 25, the legendary Fred Aistaire called him and complimented him, “You’re A Hell Of A Mover”. Michael said that it was the greatest compliment he had ever received in his life.

After that performance, he met with Aistaire, Gene Kelly and Hermes Pan, at separate times, trading dance moves. Michael, of course, taught them the moonwalk.

 Michael on meeting with the dance greats:

“It was a fantastic experience that show, because I felt that I had been inducted into an informal fraternity of dancers, and I felt so honored because these were the people I most admired in the world”. 

5. An Emmy Nomination 

It’s a fact that Michael has won many awards throughout his career. But, most of them were for his music. Did you know that he was nominated for an Emmy award? His nomination in 1983 was for his performance of “Billie Jean" on the Motown 25 special. He went up against other nominees like comedian Richard Pryor (for his performance as the host of Motown 25), Carol Burnett, and Luciano Pavarotti. Michael didn’t win Outstanding Individual Performance in a Variety or Music Program that year,
* (The winner was Leontyne Price in Live From Lincoln Center).


I will never know the thrill or the excitement that people felt in the audience that night but, I know how important Motown 25 was.

Millions of people who had never seen Michael Jackson perform as an adult solo artist were exposed to his talents. Michael had the forethought to use the opportunity presented to him in a remarkable way.

He knew how best to use a concept that he was less than thrilled about (television) and use it to his advantage.

“I’m forced to admit I had to be talked into doing it. I’m glad I did because the show eventually produced some of the happiest and proudest moments of my life”. - Michael Jackson

I’m glad he did it too. :)

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