And that’s my home where dreams are born,
And time is never planned.
Just think of lovely things.
And your heart will fly on wings,
Forever in Never Never Land.
And that was the mindset in 1988 when I flew to Detroit to produce Michael Jackson’s trip to Detroit when he donated $125,000 to the Motown Museum. Michael at 30 years old was peaking at super stardom driven by his magical belief of staying young and creative while he slowly changed things the way he wanted to see them. (i.e. In 1985, he invited me to work on “We are the World”) My entire production team worked on his inspirational fuel that seem to ignite whenever you were around Michael. My son Stefan K. Gordy was eleven and he worked as a P.A. and handled a small video camera that kept a close watch on Michael. As the camera crew squeezed through the halls of the Hitsville Museum, Stefan stayed closed to Michael with even a closer angle on his face and his newly reduced nose. I think it made Michael uncomfortable because he kept touching his nose unconsciously so he soon befriended Stefan by sharing a secret with him. During a break to reload tape, Michael took Stefan aside and showed him the secret of knowing every VIP’s name that was introduced to him. With their back turned towards a corner, Michael revealed his tiny earbuds to Stefan. Michael was fed the names of the VIP’s from his publicist, Bob Jones, who was on the other side of the room with one eye on his list and the other on who was being introduced to Michael while he whispered in a small microphone that transmitted the names to MJ. Michael made Stefan promise not to reveal his secret and immediately they bonded and magically Stefan put his camera down, and would never reveal the footage he shot of Michael.
We certainly experienced the charm of Michael that week and he even asked if he could be part of one of our “Peace Christmas Cards” that I had been sending out for the last 2 years. (Michael was on my Xmas Card list) Later he performed at the Palace in Auburn Hills and for the first time the entire Gordy Family experienced Michael’s Solo “Bad” show and we were all blown away…We discussed among ourselves on the way home…. how could this soft spoken, very shy young man, appear on stage and transform into this incredible charismatic entertainer!!!
By the end of 1988, I was back in L.A. and working on the documentary “Michael Jackson: “The Legend Continues”. Michael proved to be a very involved, hard working consultant on his life story. I respected his work ethic and his genius in editing and mixing the final bio. I was introduced to his friendly pet chimp “Bubbles” and got a hint of why Bubbles was so prominent in his life at the time. Michael was newly estranged from his family and left their Encino home and was in the process of looking for a place outside the city to buy. In 1988 he was 30 years, alone and purchasing the Neverland Ranch and Bubbles was the perfect “comfort creature” to make him laugh and give him hugs because after all who would ever get to cuddle or give pure love hugs to the King of Pop …Michael Jackson?
As many of you may know, I have worked & socialized with Michael Jackson for over 38 years of his life. I met him in LA when he was 13 years old and recording the Jackson 5 ABC album. He was a fun, touchy-feelee curious but quiet little fellow who was lorded over by his very loud and dominant father, Joe Jackson. In 1971, I was the editor of the Motown Newsletter, “Comotion” and little Michael graciously hand drew a pencil portrait of himself and his brothers for my cover. He often hid behind his drawings while his father ranted and raged when they couldn’t get their harmonies in 2 takes. Michael was always polite, as he looked for permission to exist, being number 8 of 10 children that his mother Katherine birthed. Many unique experiences and events happened between us during the next 12 years from family baseball games, taping commercials, Las Vegas family shows, his solo career singing “Ben” ( a song my friend Susan Pile and I had a hand in delivering to him) and finally his & his brothers departure from the Motown Label. In 1983 I worked on the Motown 25th and no one was more in “Wonderland” surprise when Michael performed “Billie Jean“introducing his famous “moon walk”! So many lovely experiences we shared and yes Michael was eccentric and so very talented but never inappropriate. I was honored after working, & off line editing his biography when Michael awarded me personally with the credit “Associate Director”. He noticed my sensitivity in my edits and he loved that I threw in enough water balloon fights with the “Make A Wish” kids.
So all these Michael precious flashbacks brings me to this recent HBO film “Leaving Neverland” and child molestation allegations made by Wade Robson and James Safechuck. A very compelling film captured by Dan Reed and it has me thinking about Michael. I took my Child Behavior classes at LSU in LaCrosse when I majored in child development and I was a LA “Suicide Prevention Counselor” and listened to all the horror stories which resulted in perverse behavior and end of life thoughts. I realize the damaging effects that trusted adults can manifest upon a young soul but no one has yet to mention or take the angle of what really happened to Michael growing up and what is the real sickness behind a pedophile. I believe his years between 31 to 39 were his experimental & alone, lonely years when he built his Neverland Ranch, left his Jehovah Witness church and stopped touring. He was a very health conscious dancer and an off & on vegetarian and when he was 39 he became a father to his first child “Prince”. This talented being never had a camping experience, a casual walk down the street and just imagine that every adult who ever met him most likely wanted something from him. He longed for an innocent child’s life with unconditional love from his parents….but with ten children his parents could only assign the older girls to parent and the father needed all of them to work at a young age.
I know Michael loved his own children and would never harm them in anyway. He did start taking pain pills when he got burned during the Pepsi commercial in 1984….It was a taste of a painless world through opioids, After he moved to Europe and his 1993 rehab to stop the opioids, he still struggled with his sleepless night and then he got turned on to propofol, the heaviest instant sleep elixir and he floated through his 2005 molestation trial. Other than the trial, most of his previous confidents and family members were basically shut out of his life and his own children became his world. I vehemently defended Michael through his trial and was greatly relived when he was found innocent. But when I watched the 4 hour documentary and then OPRAH’s special “After Neverland” I witnessed 2 very damaged young men tell their stories of love, grooming and then sexual abuse from Michael, and I thought there could be a “possible” different side to Michael. Whether their experiences with Michael are true, his followers and fans have been effected and hopefully we will all see the bigger picture and warning from this #Me2 era that highlights self respect, caution and inner truth!
For me, after long discussions with my friends, my son, his girlfriend Jasmine and writing this blog, I am still processing all these new allegations. And so far, my creative heart that spoke with Michael’s heart will always go back to a gentle pure experience from a soft spoken eccentric youthful man, who too has lived through an existence of fame & abuse that none of us could never even come close to imaging. No one can ever take his talent for song and dance away and there will never be another Michael Jackson!!! Thank you Michael, for touching my heart and teaching me to honor that child within and I invite your spirit to see the new Disney Movie, Dumbo….Yes, I bought my tickets last week already!!!!
Please recall this beautiful melodic song…..
Michael’s own amusement park….