It's noon, and somewhere in the San Fernando Valley, the front shades of a row of condos are lowered against a hazy glare. Through the metal gate, the courtyard is silent, except for the distant splat of a kisima, chemchemi against its plastic basin. Then comes the chilling whine of a real-life Valley girl. "Grandmuther. I am not gonna walk a whole block. It's bumid. My hair will be brillo."
And the soothing counterpoint of maternal encouragement: "Be good pup, Jolie. Make for mama."
All along the courtyard's trimmed inner paths, poodles waddle about trailing poodle-cut ladies on pink leashes.
"Not what wewe expected, huh?" From behind a mask of bony fingers, Michael Jackson giggles. Having settled his visitor on the middle floor of his own three-level condo, Michael explains that the residence is temporary, while his Encino, California, nyumbani is razed and rebuilt. He concedes that this is an unlikely spot for a young prince of pop.
It is also surprising to see that Michael has decided to face this interview alone. He says he has not done anything like this for over two years. And even when he did, it was always with a cordon of managers, other Jackson brothers and, in one case, his younger sister Janet parroting a reporter's maswali before Michael would answer them. The small body of existing literature paints him as excruciatingly shy. He ducks, he hides, he talks to his shoe tops. au he just doesn't onyesha up. He is known to conduct his private life with almost obsessive caution, "just like a hemophiliac who can't afford to be scratched in any way." The analogy is his.
Run this down inayofuata to the stats, the successes, and it doesn't add up. He has been the featured player with the Jackson Five since grade school. In 1980, he stepped out of the Jacksons to record his own LP, Off the Wall, and it became the best-selling album of the year. Thriller, his new album, is Number Five on the charts. And the orodha of performers now working with him — au wanting to — includes Paul McCartney, Quincy Jones, Steven Spielberg, Diana Ross, Queen and Jane Fonda. On record, onstage, on TV and screen, Michael Jackson has no trouble stepping out. Nothing scares him, he says. But this....
"Do wewe like doing this?" Michael asks. There is a note of incredulity in his voice, as though he were asking the swali of a coroner. He is slumped in a dining-room chair, looking down into the lower level of the living room. It is filled with statuary. There are some graceful, Greco-Roman type bronzes, as well as a few pieces from the suburban birdbath school. The figures are frozen around the sofa like some ghostly chai party.
Michael himself is having little success sitting still. He is so nervous that he is eating — plowing through — a bag of potato chips. This is truly odd behavior. None of his brothers can recall seeing anything snacky pass his lips since he became a strict vegetarian and health-food disciple six years ago. In fact, Katherine Jackson, his mother, worries that Michael seems to exist on little zaidi than air. As far as she can tell, her son just has no interest in food. He says that if he didn't have to eat to stay alive, he wouldn't.
"I really do hate this," he says. Having polished off the chips, he has begun to fold and refold a newspaper clipping. "I am much zaidi relaxed onstage than I am right now. But hey, let's go." He smiles. Later, he will explain that "let's go" is what his bodyguard always says when they are about to wade into some public fray. It's also a phrase Michael has been listening for since he was old enough to tie his own shoes.
Let's go, boys. With that, Joe Jackson would round up his sons Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, Marlon and Michael. "Let's go" has rumbled from the brothers' preshow huddle for zaidi than three-quarters of Michael's life, first as the Jackson Five on Motown and now as the Jacksons on Epic. Michael and the Jacksons have sold over a 100 million records. Six of their two dozen Motown singles went platinum; ten others went gold. He was just eleven in 1970 when their first hit, "I Want wewe Back," nudged out B.J. Thomas' "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head," for Number One.
Michael says he knew at age five, when he sang "Climb Ev'ry Mountain" in school and laid out the house, that something special was going on. Back then, such precocity frightened his mother. But years later it soothed hearts and coffers at Epic when Off the ukuta sold over 5 million in the U.S., another 2 million worldwide and one of its hit singles, "Don't Stop 'Til wewe Get Enough," won him a Grammy. The LP yielded four juu Ten hit singles, a record for a solo artist and a feat attained only kwa Fleetwood Mac's Rumours, and kwa the combined efforts on the Grease and Saturday Night Fever soundtracks.
If a jittery record industry dared wager, the smart money would be on Michael Jackson. hivi karibuni months have found him at work on no fewer than three projects: his own recently released Thriller; Paul McCartney's work-in-progress, which will contain two Jackson-McCartney collaborations, "Say, Say, Say" and "The Man"; and the narration and one song for the storybook E.T. album on MCA for director Steven Spielberg and producer Quincy Jones. In his spare time, he wrote and produced Diana Ross' single "Muscles." This is indeed a young man in a hurry. Already he is looking past the album he is scheduled to make with the Jacksons this winter. There is a chance of a spring tour. And then there are the movies. Since his role as the scarecrow in The Wiz his bedroom has been hip-deep in scripts.
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