King of Pop – Michael Jackson’s End

michael_jackson_o2_concert_2009The saga of pop music – Michael Jackson is no more. His fans continue to rack their brains reasoning for his death. His overloaded number of concerts in London (50 continuous nights) can be one of the worrisome causes for the grand master’s death. Hasan Surror writes in The Hindu (1 July 2009) In time to come we are certain to hear more (and murkier) theories about the circumstances of Michael Jackson’s death but the current favourite is that it was the upcoming London marathon, rather contradictorily billed both as his “comeback” and “farewell” tour, that killed him. The tour, during which Jackson was to give 50 concerts over a period of six months, was considered such a high-risk venture, given the singer’s frail health, that insurance companies were reportedly reluctant to offer cover for all the 50 shows leaving the sponsors to “self-insure” most of them. Doubts over whether Jackson was really ready for the tour grew further when two months ago he delayed the opening four nights saying that he needed more time for dress rehearsals. The first show, originally set for July 8, was rescheduled for July 13. He was reported saying: “I don’t know how I’m going to do 50 shows. I’m really angry.” Questions have been raised about the wisdom of organising such a gruelling tour considering — as the BBC pointed out — that he had a history of ill-health and had not completed a full tour in the past 12 years. “It’s great that he’s announced the tour. Whether he’ll do it or whether he’ll finish it is another thing. I will definitely be buying a ticket. Whenever you see him nowadays he looks quite fragile, but at the same time it’s an exciting prospect,” British pop singer Lemar said. Although Randy Phillips, chief executive of AEG Live, promoter of the show, insists that Jackson “looked great” reports from the singer’s inner circle suggest that he was not mentally ready and was, in fact, “terrified” at the prospect of performing before a 15,000-strong crowd for 50 nights. The rehearsals were said to be proving a huge strain on him with a publicist for his brother Tito saying, “Michael is not mentally, physically or spiritually ready for these shows. There’s something missing in his soul.” It is well-known that Jackson was heavily into drugs. His children’s former nanny Grace Rwaramba has disclosed that sometime it was so bad that she had to “pump his stomach many times.” “There was one period that it was so bad that I didn’t let the children see him,” she told The Sunday Times. It is suspected that the stress of preparing for the London concerts aggravated his addiction and with barely weeks to go for the tour he was reportedly taking a cocktail of potentially dangerous drugs several times a day. Anyone investing millions of pounds into such a person should have known the risk they were taking. Indeed, as The Observer reported: “Many in the music industry regarded AEG Live’s enterprise as a huge risk, because of Jackson’s past history of cancelling dates, his multiple health problems and his habit of attracting litigation at almost every turn.” But AEG Live had decided to take a calculated gamble and they were determined to play for high stakes with Mr. Phillip bravely insisting that “it’s a risk we’re willing to take to bring the King of Pop to his fans.” But in the end, as many had feared, it proved to be too much of a risk. The tour was part of an ambitious plan to revive Jackson’s career and help him pay off his massive debts. It has been reported that a Los Angeles financier Tom Barrack, who reportedly gave $22.5m to Jackson to save his Neverland ranch from auction, was behind the plan. He got Philip Anschutz, a Kansas billionaire and owner of AEG Live, interested in a deal to promote Jackson. “According to a report in the Los Angeles Times, Anschutz….took some convincing that he should be involved with a man of Jackson’s reputation, but was eventually persuaded by Barrack to put Jackson in touch with Randy Phillips, chief executive of AEG Live. Phillips had long had Jackson in his sights and this was his opportunity. ….Phillips did not just organise the 50 London concerts, each of which would net Jackson $1m. He had plans for a comeback so strong that Jackson would be able to wipe out his entire $400m debt. After London, Jackson would embark on a three-year tour of Europe and Asia before finishing in the US. Barrack and Phillip had other more grandiose plans too: a Michael Jackson museum in the style of Elvis Presley’s Graceland, even ‘Thriller’ casinos. Jackson could be rich again,” The First Post, a British daily online magazine, reported. Those who knew Jackson say that all this “comeback” stuff always seemed like a fantasy (he had simply gone too far for a comeback) and like, all grand fantasies, doomed from the start. Meanwhile, the Jackson hysteria has already started to pall and, in the words of a Times reader: “Enough already. Name an airport after him and move on.”

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