Michael Jackson as I Knew Him
The Morality Tale, Our Friendship, His Demons
The Morality Tale
How This Book Came to Be
This book is being published because it was Michael Jackson’s desperate wish that it be so. It contains the most intimate, authentic, raw, painful, and insightful conversations for public disclosure that Michael ever produced. There is nothing like it, and since Michael has tragically passed well before his time, there will never be anything like it again.
In publishing this book not only have I not broken any confidences, I have fulfilled the desire of a man who wanted his heart to be known to a public whom he understood was deeply suspicious of him. The transcripts this book is based on come from tape recordings of approximately thirty hours of conversations that Michael Jackson and I conducted between August 2000 and April 2001 with the express purpose of having them published in book form and shared with the public.
The conversations focused on a wide range of topics all with the intent of revealing—and explaining—the man behind the mask.
So eager was Michael to have people understand who he was that for many of these conversations he held the Dictaphone we used directly to his mouth so not a single word would be lost. On other occasions he made me stop our conversation so he could turn down the air conditioning in his hotel room, because he was afraid the noise would drown out his voice on the recordings. If his children Prince and Paris, who were about three and two when we began and present for many of the recordings, got loud, Michael made sure to gently shush them so not a word would be missed.
Michael asked me to write the book because we were very close friends and because I was already an experienced author and values-based broadcaster and lecturer, and more importantly because the conversations would naturally parallel the steps he needed to take, with my direction and encouragement, to regain his health and equilibrium and redeem himself not only in the eyes of the public but also in his own eyes. In the months ahead it became a desperate spiritual journey to consecrate his celebrity to a higher end. He wanted to share a deeper side of himself that our friendship had begun to uncover.
I completed a working draft of the book in the year or two after our conversations ended. People who read it said they never knew Michael could be such a deep and inspiring personality. Many of my most well-read friends told me they cried through the manuscript. Like many others, they had earlier dismissed Michael as a mindless and shallow celebrity materialist who was hopelessly weird. The sensitive personality revealed in the conversations, however, was introspective, knowledgeable, forgiving, and deeply spiritual.
But events overtook the making of the book and I withheld it from publication. My relationship with Michael had deteriorated because I no longer felt I could influence him positively. He was closing off from his deeper soul and returning to the profligate ways of the self-destructive superstar the world had determined he already was. I felt he was losing the battle between dissipation and excellence, between going to waste and making a contribution, between being a caricature of himself and being an artist.