Monday, September 30, 2013

Quincy Jones, Bruce Swedien & Rod Temperton Discuss Working with Michael Jackson

On September 24th, 2013 at the Dubai Music week festival, fans of Michael Jackson had the opportunity to hear from the multi-Grammy winning Dream team behind the King of Pop’s record-breaking albums, Off The Wall, Thriller and Bad. Speakers included Quincy Jones, Rod Temperton, (via Skype) and Bruce Swedien, discussing the experience of working with Michael Jackson as well as producing  the greatest selling album of all time. Yet again another example of how Michael's legacy is being positively promoted to the masses. Here is one article about the event.  I'm hoping we get more details of  this discussion soon ~ Qbee

left to right, moderator Ben Fong-Torres, producer Quincy Jones and assistant
producer Bruce Swedien at the Dream Team panel discussion at Dubai Music Week.

Quincy met Michael in 1978:

“I was working on the soundtrack to Sidney Lumet’s film The Wiz,” the producer Quincy Jones recalled. “Michael was there and he said: ‘I got a deal to record a solo album, will you help me find a producer?’ I told him: ‘Michael, I don’t know what you are talking about because I only have one song for this film. I have to work on this first.’”

While recording the soundtrack, Jones first experienced Jackson’s trademark determination; the then 20-year-old Jackson memorising all the soundtrack’s lyrics and associated dance steps.

“I knew we had to work together,” Jones said. “The record label said no to us working together because they said ‘Quincy was too jazzy’. We went on to record Off the Wall and that became the highest-selling black record of all time at that period.”

Rod Temperton On Jackson’s singing style:

“He always sat on top of the beat and really pushed it along and gave it a lot of melody,” described the British songwriter Rod Temperton, responsible for penning classic tunes including Rock with You, Off the Wall and Thriller.

 “Writing for him, I knew he loved songs with a strong melody with a lot of short notes in it. The other thing I noticed about Michael is that he loved a lot of vocal harmonies on the song, so that was something I included. I always tried to make the words melt into the melody.”

Bruce Swedien On Acusonic Recording:

“Some people thought that it was an actual device and one guy from Japan wanted to buy it,” said the assistant producer Bruce Swedien about the famed Acusonic Recording Process used to record the albums. “It actually means accurate sonic recording, which is what Quincy and I do all the time.”

Swedien says he incorporated a lot of sonic techniques to give the three albums a cutting-edge feel: “Sometimes I would have Michael sing close to the mic and double [track] it and then tell him to move back further and the third time even further. What that does is create a sonic energy with the sound and then you can stagger it, making the sounds come from the left [speaker], the right and the middle. When it all combines together on the record, it just sounds magical.”

Thriller was called Starlight:

The aim with Thriller was to be Jackson’s “mature” album: “The transition from Off the Wall to Thriller was to say that he has moved from being a youth to man,” Jones said.

This explained the adult themes in the lyrics and the more aggressive sounds. After completing the melodies, it took a while for Temperton to come up with the appropriate the lyrics to match the song’s drama. 

“I never write lyrics until the very end,” Temperton said. “So Thriller was actually called Starlight and that was just some rubbish word I put down to demonstrate to Michael how the melody went. Then during breakfast the next morning, the word shot into my head. It was like electricity and immediately I started thinking of the lyrics. That’s how Thriller came to be.”

Michael the songwriter:

When it came to the last of their collaborations, Bad, Jones pushed Jackson to take the songwriting reigns. “He wrote two and half [songs] in Off the Wall, four in Thriller. And when it came to Bad, I told him it’s time to go against all the publicity and walk into the eye of the fire and tell the truth about everything.

“He eventually wrote nine songs for Bad. The album had five No 1 records.”

Jackson’s legacy:

“There was no one like him,” Jones said. “He focused on everything he did and he would never give up. I have never seen anyone like him.” Temperton believes Jackson’s personality was largely responsible for the magic on the albums. 

“All the inspiration was driven by Michael,” said Temperton. “He was a very quiet man off the stage but once that tape rolls, you realise no one has that electric energy that he had.”

Dubai Music Week offered something for all: from the concerts to the panel discussions curated by the leading music industry body Midem. While casual music fans enjoyed the concert action, the event was home to important discussions about the creative and business side of the regional music industry.

Dubai Music Week continues through Sunday Set 30th


Michael Jackson's Fashion Designer Visits High School Alma Mater.

 It must have been a great honor for MLB to be honored by his home town and be able to speak at the high school he graduated from about his career with Michael. The school is very excited about his visit. LOL, he even turned down an invitation from Justin Bieber to be there. Its so nice to see Michael's legacy being passed on in such a positive way. ~ Qbee

Celebrity designer returns home to East High School
Ryan Scott Ottney | Daily Times

Celebrity fashion designer and author Michael Bush returned Friday to East High School, where he graduated in 1976, to speak with students about his career with Michael Jackson.

Bush gave out copies of his book, “The King of Style” to students who correctly answered trivia questions.

Before signing his star on the Portsmouth Floodwall of Fame today, Portsmouth-born fashion designer and award-winning author Michael Bush made a quick stop at East High School in Sciotoville on Friday.

“There’s no question it’s exciting for our school to have Mr. Bush here,” said Sciotoville Superintendent Rick Bowman. “It’s really a great opportunity for us to show students what graduates from East High School have done and what is possible if you sort of set your goals and you work to make those dreams come true.”

Originally from Portsmouth, Bush worked at Millhuff’s in Sciotoville with his family, where he learned to sew.

“When I was eight or nine years old, my grandmother came in with a needle and thread and went, here. I thought this is the most uncoolest thing a person could do. At that age, it’s like that was the last thing I want to do. I think at that point they knew there was something inside of me, and I didn’t know it. They knew it.”

Bush graduated from East High School in 1976 and left Portsmouth, headed to Las Vegas where he began his career in entertainment and fashion with partner Dennis Tompkins. Together they became known as Tompkins & Bush who went on to influence the fashion industry in a way they couldn’t even imagine. Bush served as Michael Jackson’s longtime personal fashion designer for 25 years. Creating the fashions for the King of Pop was a collaborative effort which included great creativity, showmanship and a bit of engineering.

Bush’s book “The King of Style: Dressing Michael Jackson” is an art-driven book which not only chronicles Bush’s life with the King of Pop and his many fashions but gives an inside look into the personal anecdotes and life he led while creating some of the most innovative and famous clothing in entertainment. The book has recently won the Gold Medal at this year’s Independent Publisher Book Awards and the 2013 Gold Medal at the PubWest Design Awards for best Holiday/Specialty Book.

“I just had 3,000 people in Japan stand in line to see me, and I’m just the guy that made the clothes. But the visual is so strong,” Bush said. “You’re always asking in the back of your mind, ‘how did I get here?’ And you always have those memories of Millhuff’s and East High School, and taking a home-ec class in ‘76 with Mrs. Odle here at school.”

On Friday he paid a visit back to the K-12 student of Sciotoville schools.

“This embracement is amazing. I’ve been all over the world promoting the book and I’ve had great receptions, but nothing like this. I have had my head eight stories in the center of Times Square, on the Jumbotron, but that was a fleeting moment. My name on the wall will be forever,” he said.

The students listened with quiet interest as Bush told stories about working with Jackson, and all of the other celebrities he’s worked with during his successful career — like Elizabeth Taylor and Britney Spears. But the crowd went absolutely wild when Bush revealed he turned down an offer by Justin Bieber so he could be in Scioto County this week.

“It’s a fantastic journey, and it can happen. Just surround yourself with support teams and it can happen to you because it happened to me,” Bush said.

Today Bush will sign the Portsmouth Floodwall of Fame, joining other local celebrities such as Roy Rogers, American operatic soprano Kathleen Battle, former Major League Baseball’s Al Oliver and Country music singer/songwriter Earl Thomas Conley. The Wall of Fame Star ceremony today kicks off a week-long book signing tour which will also go to Dayton, Cincinnati, Columbus. He will be signing books Saturday on the campus of Shawnee State University.

For more about Bush, find him online at


Sunday, September 29, 2013

Michael Jackson Coronation - King of the Sanwi's in Krinjabo, Africa 1992

Michael Jackson "King of the Sanwis"

 Moon Is Walking by Ladysmith Black Mambazo 
Performed for Michael on the set of his Moonwalker movie
 The performance was included in the Moonwalker movie credits

on a golden throne Saturday Feb 15th 1992 in Krinjabo, an Ivory Coast village. Jackson, who wore an orange shirt and black pants was donned with a traditional robe during the ceremony. Kings and chiefs from nearby villages joined Krinjabo villagers in celebrating Jackson's honorary enthronement. Elders chanted incantations as they poured gin on the dry ground to honor the memory of the village's ancestors. As the village people stood in admiration, Amon N' Djaolk, the traditional tribal chief of Krindjabo, placed a crown of gold upon the head of the musical monarch and pronounced him "king of Sanwi.

Overcome by emotions, the shy, sensitive son of Joseph and Katherine Jackson smiled and said, "Merci beaucoup," to the French-speaking people and repeated in English, 'Thank you very much." He then joined elders of the king's court, signed official documents and sat on a throne of gold as women dancers, clad in white gowns, gave a dazzling performance of ritual dances. These elderly women are the guardians of the village, and their ceremonial dances gave their blessings to the crowning of "King Sanwi" and asked God for protection at a tree that symbolized the essence of power.

THRILLER – All Star Metal Tribute To Michael Jackson

Thriller – All Star Metal Tribute To Michael Jackson

Just in time for Halloween - a KILLER THRILLER, the first ever all metal tribute to the King Of Pop, Michael Jackson, with an all-star line-up that will raise the dead!

Features outstanding performances by Chuck Billy (Testament), Danny Worsnop (Asking Alexandria), Elias Soriano (Nonpoint), Lajon Witherspoon (Sevendust), Phil Campbell (Motörhead), Doug Pinnick (King s X), Chris Jericho (Fozzy) and more!
With the amps turned up to 11 and guitars tuned low, get ready to hear the darker side of such favorites as Billie Jean, Beat It, Rock With You, Black Or White and more!

Chuck Billy (Testament)
Danny Worsnop (Asking Alexandria)
Billy Sheehan (Mr. Big)
Angelo Moore (Fishbone)
Doug Aldrich
Rudy Sarzo
Lajon Witherspoon (Sevendust)
Bruce Kulick (KISS)
Tony Franklin
Priya Panda (Diemonds)
Ron Bumblefoot Thal (Guns N Roses)
Corey Glover (Living Colour)
Phil Campbell (Motörhead)
Elias Soriano (Nonpoint)
Doug Pinnick (King s X)
Chris Jericho (Fozzy)
Paul Dianno (Iron Maiden)
Craig Goldy (Dio)
Lonnie Jordan (War) --Official Press Release

Description / Track List

1. Thriller - Chuck Billy (Testament)
2. Man In The Mirror - Danny Worsnop (Asking Alexandria) & Billy Sheehan (Mr. Big)
3. The Way You Make Me Feel - Angelo Moore (Fishbone), Doug Aldrich (Whitesnake), & Rudy Sarzo (Queensrÿche)
4. Black Or White - Lajon Witherspoon (Sevendust), Bruce Kulick (ex-KISS), & Tony Franklin (The Firm)
5. Beat It - Priya Panda (Diemonds) & Ron Bumblefoot Thal (Guns N Roses)
6. Billy Jean - Corey Glover (Living Colour) & Phil Campbell (Motörhead)
7. Shake Your Body (Down To The Ground) - Elias Soriano (Nonpoint)
8. Rock With You - Doug Pinnick (King s X)
9. Dirty Diana - Chris Jericho (Fozzy)
10. Bad - Paul Dianno (ex-Iron Maiden) & Craig Goldy (Dio)
11. They Don t Care About Us - Icarus Witch
12. Never Can Say Goodbye - Lonnie Jordan (War)
13. Smooth Criminal - Alien Ant Farm

Title will be released on October 22, 2013.
Pre-order at Amazon.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Why Michael Jackson's Legacy is Flourishing

Michael's Legacy will be Immortalised because of his beautiful messages to the planet through his extensive catalog of great art he left for world to enjoy. Couple that with his Estate's willingness to push the envelope, just as Michael did, with creative, innovative ways to present his art to the masses. With Shows like the IMMORTAL World Tour and Michael Jackson ONE we can be assured his music and legacy will continue to flourish for a long, long time. I love the final summary statement in this article about the show and MJ's message to the world. It ties in so well with the first comment and "quote" from Michael about his art. I really do appreciate all the work Joe Vogel has done to honor and pay homage to Michael and Hope you enjoy his article as much as did ~ Qbee

Four Years After Death 'Michael Jackson ONE' 
Shows Why Artist's Legacy Is Flourishing

Michael Jackson would have turned 55 last week. Wherever he is, he must be pleased to see a statement he made to Ebony in his final interview come to fruition: 
"You want what you create to live," he said. "Be it sculpting, painting, music, composition. That is why to escape death I attempt to bind my soul to my work."

Four years after his unexpected death, Jackson's words could hardly be more prescient. His artistic legacy is flourishing. The salacious details of a lengthy, ongoing wrongful-death trial have hardly made a scratch on public opinion (indeed, those who have followed it closely seem to find him more sympathetic and human than he ever was during the final decades of his life). Meanwhile, a new generation of Jackson fans -- added to the considerable global fanbase that grew up with the pop star -- have made him the most influential deceased artist of the 21st century.

Don't believe it? Consider the evidence: Jackson still remains the biggest-selling artist on iTunes; contemporary pop is a virtual homage to the Original Thriller (see Daft Punk, Justin Timberlake, Robin Thicke, Bruno Mars and Jay Z, the latter of which name-checks the King of Pop multiple times on his latest album, Magna Carta, Holy Grail); in 2012, Cirque du Soleil's "Michael Jackson Immortal World Tour" out-grossed the world tours of Lady Gaga, Coldplay and Kanye West, recently surpassing $270 million dollars in global revenues; a critically acclaimed documentary celebrating the 25th anniversary of Jackson's Bad album, directed by Spike Lee, premiered to a standing ovation at the Cannes Film Festival, before airing on ABC in primetime on Thanksgiving night; meanwhile, Jackson is drawing increased attention from scholars and academics, including several new essay collections and a recent course at Duke University by Dr. Mark Anthony Neal entitled "Michael Jackson and the Black Performance Tradition."

Add to this list Cirque du Soleil's remarkable new residency show at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, "Michael Jackson ONE." In a special birthday performance on Thursday, August 29th, the achievements previously catalogued were made concrete. Far from the typically superficial sensory onslaught one finds in Vegas, "Michael Jackson ONE" offers a socially conscious, soulful, invigorating experience. By the end of the show, the sold-out crowd -- cross-generational and diverse -- was not only standing and clapping, they were dancing in the aisles.

"Michael Jackson ONE" follows Cirque's record-setting "Michael Jackson Immortal World Tour," which is currently visiting stadiums throughout Asia, before traveling to Australia, New Zealand and eventually South Africa and South America.

Where the "Michael Jackson Immortal World Tour" offered a raucous, exhilarating, if occasionally uneven and unsubtle tribute to the King of Pop, "Michael Jackson ONE" (also written and directed by Jamie King, this time in coordination with Montreal native Welby Altidor) feels like a second draft. The result is a richer, more focused, and evocative show.

A collaboration between Cirque and the Michael Jackson Estate, "Michael Jackson ONE" benefits in numerous ways from its permanent setting in Mandalay Bay's fully-refurbished, state-of-the-art theater (which previously housed "The Lion King"). The audience is literally enveloped by screens and sound, lights and acrobats. The elaborate, baroque-style set was designed by François Séguin and draws inspiration from the cover of Jackson's Dangerous album, "Leave Me Alone" video, and Neverland Ranch. These allusions appropriately highlight both the circus-like elements of Jackson's life in the public spotlight as well as the eccentric spirit that embraced what Mikhail Bakhtin described as the "carnivalesque" -- a communal creativity that dissolves hierarchies of race, gender, class and nation.

Indeed, part of what makes the show so effective is the tension it allows to develop between the parasitic and the dialogic. The show's antagonistic presence is the faceless and amoral Mephisto, a techno-media-amalgam -- composed of TVs, cameras, microphones, surveillance equipment, and probing tentacles -- that brings freshly updated dimensions to Faust's soul-seducing Mephistopheles. Mephisto not only represents the perilous industry Jackson confronted as a star since the age of nine, but the Information Age-apparatuses of power and exploitation that threaten to consume us all.

Yet this is hardly a simplistic retreat into Luddite romanticism. Jackson, after all, fully embraced new media and technology in his own work, revolutionizing the use of studio technology and the medium of the short film. Cirque's show appropriately follows suit. The first thing one notices walking in the theater is the presence of massive audiovisual walls on the stage and to the sides of the theater that project images of Jackson's iconic videos throughout the show.

The sonic experience is similarly breathtaking. Jackson's multi-tracks are masterfully arranged by musical director Kevin Antunes, who alternately pares down production to isolate elements of a song, fuses related tracks, and adds slight variations, dramatic pauses and interaction with the live performers, to give the music a freshness and vitality. It doesn't hurt, of course, that sound designer Jonathan Deans allows us to hear all of this through over 5,500 speakers, strategically positioned on all sides of the audience, including on the backs of seats, to maximize the sonic effect. When the bass line hits on "Billie Jean" you don't just hear it, you feel it.

The cutting-edge technology, however, rarely overwhelms the content. In one of the most moving moments, a ten-year-old Jackson sings "I'll Be There" from the pages of a photo book with no bells and whistles. Hearing the piercing purity of his voice in such clarity, accompanied by 1970s Soul Power-era images of young Michael and the Jackson 5, not only reminds of his transcendent talent, but of his cultural import as perhaps the most famous black boy to grow up in front of America's collective eyes.

In many ways, traveling through Jackson's catalog in the show is like traveling through social history. In "Bad" we find ourselves in a 1980s graffitized urban subway station, with imaging that reminds of the ravaging of cities in the Reagan era as well as the birth of hip hop. In the politically charged 1990s-era street anthem, "They Don't Care About Us," a montage of disturbing images --Ku Klux Klan rallies, the Rodney King beating, victims of AIDS, poverty and war, and environmental destruction--accompanies Jackson's fierce lyrical missive on behalf of the oppressed. Seeing an image of Martin Luther King, Jr., who gave his "I Have a Dream Speech" when Jackson was just five years old, as we hear the line, "If Martin Luther was living, he would not let this be!"--was a particularly poignant moment, especially coming just a day after the fifty-year anniversary of the March on Washington.

The show did contain a few missed opportunities. Perhaps the weakest number was "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin.'" One of the strongest acts in "Immortal" (which captured all of the song's frenetic, tribal, transnational energy), it is reduced in "ONE" to a rather mundane hat-juggling act. Another omission came in the otherwise fantastic "Billie Jean." Where other songs with iconic imagery--"Thriller," "Bad"--featured images of Jackson in the expected context, "Billie Jean" uses extensive video footage of Jackson in the 90s, rather than in the defining moment of his career: his performance of "Billie Jean" for Motown 25 in 1983.

But these are minor qualms for a show that succeeds rather miraculously in not simply showcasing, but immersing the audience in the genius, depth and breadth of Jackson's artistry. Brilliant touches abound, from the Chaplin-inflected homages in "Smile" and "Workin' Day and Night" to the phenomenal acrobatics and choreography of "Smooth Criminal" and "Thriller."

In one of several goosebumps moments, snowflakes fall down on the audience as Jackson delivers the haunting lyrics to "Stranger in Moscow," accompanied by an African moon goddess. On the screen, apparitional images appear of Katherine Jackson, Diana Ross, Elizabeth Taylor, and finally Jackson himself, exclaiming out of the void, "I'm livin' lonely! I'm livin' lonely, baby!" 

The show climaxes with Jackson appearing as an uncannily lifelike illusion/hologram on stage, empowering the "four misfits" who have sought him throughout the show in a sublime rendition of "Man in the Mirror." To this point, Jackson has appeared in video fragments, songs, whispers, laughs, silhouettes, dance moves, but he is finally "revealed," significantly, in a song that encourages the characters (and by extension, the audience) to discover their own meaning in Michael's creative life and work.

In the end, then, the medium is not the message, as Marshall McLuhan would have it. The artist is the message. It is the qualities that Jackson represents in the show--compassion, sensitivity to the vulnerable, social justice and equality--that battle against the mercenary machinery of Mephisto.
Not the trivial message one expects to find at a show in Las Vegas, or in contemporary pop music for that matter. But then, this was Jackson's expressed plan to "escape death" all along--it was no mere Siegfried and Roy magic trick; it was to make art that mattered, that spoke to people, that carried in it his "soul" long after he passed on.

"Michael Jackson ONE" offers the latest proof that in spite of ongoing attempts to reduce him to a tabloid caricature, the King of Pop beats on against the current in the vitality of his work.


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