These are my last words on Michael Jackson. Honest.
At least for a week or two.
Some people have told me in no uncertain terms I’ve been hating on Jackson. Someone even told me I need to apologize for all the mean things I’ve written about Jackson over the years.
Please. I don’t owe anyone any apologies. Truth hurts and there were a lot of unpleasant truths about the way Michael Jackson lived his life. To the sensitive individuals who have taken offense about what I’ve said or written about Jackson allow me to explain something for you . It’s unfortunate if pointing out Mr. Jackson was a imperfect human being hurts your feelings, but there’s nothing I can do about it.
Everybody I’ve ever admired from Martin Luther King to Richard Pryor to Muhammad Ali had their shortcomings. Everybody comes up short somewhere. My heroes were fallible. So are yours. That doesn’t make them any less of a genius or an artist. It just makes them human and humans fail.
Sometimes spectacularly. Like Michael Jackson.
My suggestion is if you’re looking for nothing but sugar-coating sweet nothings whispered about Michael Jackson, look elsewhere because you’re not going to find it here.
The truth is spoken here and the truth about Michael Jackson is he spent a good part of his life trying to erase his Blackness. The man was so uncomfortable in his skin he tried his best to crawl out of it.
That’s not what I think. That’s what someone who knew Jackson and could only stand by and watch as a handsome young Black man gave way to a racially neutrual cartoon. Jackson warned he wasn’t going to live his life being a color and he wasn’t kidding around.
Q: You were there to witness the strange evolution in Michael’s appearance. Did you ever step in and saying anything about it?
A: Oh, we talked about it all the time. But he’d come up with, “Man, I promise you I have this disease,” and so forth, and “I have a blister on my lungs,” and all that kind of b.s. It’s hard, because Michael’s a Virgo, man—he’s very set in his ways. You can’t talk him out of it. Chemical peels and all that stuff.
Q: Did you believe him about the disease?
A: I don’t believe in any of that bullshit, no. No. Never. I’ve been around junkies and stuff all my life. I’ve heard every excuse. It’s like smokers—”I only smoke when I drink” and all that stuff. But it’s bullshit. You’re justifying something that’s destructive to your existence. It’s crazy. I mean, I came up with Ray Charles, man. You know, nobody gonna pull no wool over my eyes. He did heroin 20 years! Come on. And black coffee and gin for 40 years. But when he called me to come over to see him when he was in the hospital on his way out, man, he had emphysema, hepatitis C, cirrhosis of the liver, and five malignant tumors. Please, man! I’ve been around this all my life. So it’s hard for somebody to pull the wool over my eyes. But when somebody’s hell-bent on it, you can’t stop ’em.
Q: But it must’ve been so disturbing to see Michael’s face turn into what it turned into.
A: It’s ridiculous, man! Chemical peels and all of it. And I don’t understand it. But he obviously didn’t want to be black.
Q: Is that what it was?
A: Well, what do you think? You see his kids?
Q: Did you ever discuss it? Did you ever ask, “Michael, don’t you want to be a black man?”
A: No, no, no, please. That’s not the way you do it.
Q: But he was beautiful before?
A: Man, he was the most gorgeous guy.
Q: But he seemed to have some deep-seated issue with how he looked?
A: Well, that comes about a certain way. I’m not sure how it happens. I’m just a musician and a record producer. I’m not a psychiatrist. I don’t understand all that stuff. We all got problems. But there’s a great book out called Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart. Did you see that? That book says the statute of limitations has expired on all childhood traumas. Get your stuff together and get on with your life, man. Stop whinin’ about what’s wrong, because everybody’s had a rough time, in one way or another.