Today Michael Jackson would have been celebrating his 52nd birthday. Since Michael Jackson and I were born the same year, needless to say, I was a huge MJ fan from very early on. Although I didn’t attend any Jackson 5 concerts as a child, I was fortunate to see Michael in concert – solo and with his brothers – a few times as an adult. Here are a few of my fondest MJ memories…
My first time seeing Michael in concert was the Victory Tour at Madison Square Garden in 1984. The Amsterdam News was giving away tickets to the show. I took my entry to their office in Harlem, where they were going to be picking the winner. As expected, there was a huge crowd outside of the building and I was hoping that my idea of taping a penny to the back of my entry would cause the person picking the winner to pick mine. Sure enough, after calming the huge crowd down, Rev. Al Sharpton reached in, pulled out my entry and called out my name. I couldn’t believe it. I was finally going to see Michael in concert. Only two of us won tickets, and I’ll never forget the other winner. He said his last name was Jackson and he was dressed like Michael from head to toe, from his hair & make up to the ‘Thriller’ outfit he was wearing. After winning, we were taken inside and photographed with Rev. Sharpton for the newspaper. When the day finally came for the concert, I was excited and nervous. As I was walking in, a woman approached me and asked if I would take a little girl inside and put her in her seat because they only had one ticket. I said I would. It turned out the little girl was Vicki Sue Robinson’s niece (Turn the Beat Around). After taking her to her seat, I went to mine. I assumed ‘Mr. Jackson’ and I would be sitting next to each other, but I never saw him at all that night. Not that it really mattered, because I was just happy to be there at all and my full attention was on that stage. Seeing the Jackson Five in person, and especially Michael was indeed magical. I was in awe. I knew all of the songs and sang and danced throughout the entire show. When the concert was over, I found the little girl and delivered her back to her family. It was truly a memorable night and I couldn’t wait until the next time.
Another favorite memory of seeing Michael in concert was when I went to see Michael during his Bad Tour in 1988 with Charles, a friend of mine from work who I always refer to as my ‘play brother’. We were both huge fans of Michael and decided to go to the concert together. Our seats weren’t exactly the best, but we were excited to be going. As it turned out, an executive who worked at our agency said she was friends with someone in Michael’s camp and she had been given floor tickets. She said she was taking her grandchildren, but since they were so young, she would be leaving early. She gave us her seat numbers and told us to find her so that she could give us her tickets when she was ready to leave. When we arrived at MSG, we didn’t even go to our seats. We decided to just look for empty seats until it was time to go to the floor. Every time I went to a concert with Charles, we always ended up sitting in better seats against my initial protests. We cut up laughing and were just having a good time, as we always did when we hung out together. Soon after, a female walked up to us and said we seemed like we were having so much fun, she wanted to hang out with us. The three of us watched the concert together for a while and we didn’t want to leave the girl alone and head to the floor, especially since she left the friends she came with to hang with us. After a while, Charles decided we should try to head for the floor with our new friend in tow. She was extremely apprehensive since she didn’t have a ticket to get to the floor but Charles grabbed her hand and the three of us someway, somehow made it all the way down without getting stopped. We knew by this time, the woman we worked with had been long gone, so we didn’t even bother to look for her. We were mesmerized by Michael and his moves. Our new friend was overcome with emotion and started crying. She thanked us for bringing her down with us and couldn’t believe how close we were to him. The three of us just watched Michael do his thing until the show was over. It was amazing and all three of us were in disbelief when the concert was over, as to what we had just witnessed.
My favorite MJ concert memory by far was also during the Bad Tour, when I tried to surprise my son by taking him to see Michael. To throw him off the scent, I told him we were going to the circus. On the ride over, he kept saying how excited he was. I was smiling inside, thinking that if he was this excited to be going to the circus, he was really going to be thrilled when he found out where we were actually going. I didn’t want him to know a thing until the lights came up. I couldn’t wait to see the look on his face. As we were going up the escalator at MSG, a man in front of us turned around and said, “I bet you’re excited to see —“. I immediately cut him off and mouthed, “He doesn’t know”. He smiled and turned back around. When we got to our seats, it was a real effort trying to keep my son from seeing the tour books and overhearing people talking about Michael. I whispered to as many people as possible that the concert was a surprise for my son and I tried to keep him distracted by talking to him to drown out the other voices. Little did I know, the surprise was going to be on me. Soon, the time had arrived. I was ready to break the news. I gave a nod and a smile to the strangers sitting around us. I got my sons attention and said, “Do you know when I said that we were coming to the circus? Well, we’re not at the circus.” A look of confusion came across his face as he looked around the venue and at the people around us. “We’re not at the circus? Where are we?” he asked. “We’re here to see Michael Jackson!” I exclaimed, anticipating seeing his eyes grow wide and a huge smile appear. Instead, my son responded with, “Michael Jackson? Michael Jackson? I don’t want to see Michael Jackson. You said we were going to the circus. I want to go to the circus!” The group surrounding us began to laugh and my son continued his objections. I was shocked, especially considering he had always enjoyed watching Michael on TV with me and listening to his music. He continued his protests and pouting as the lights went down. Within a minute of Michael hitting the stage, his pout changed to a smile and it just grew bigger throughout the show. He was dancing, clapping, yelling. Whew! My surprise worked out after all and by the end of the concert, my son was thanking me profusely and saying it was the best thing he had seen in his life.
The last two concerts that I attended were back to back at Madison Square Garden in 2001 for the 30th Anniversary. The first concert was on Friday, Sept. 8th and I was also attending a taping of the Conan O’Brien Show that day. I thought the taping would end early enough for me to make it in time for the scheduled 7:45pm start time of the concert. As much fun as I was having at the Conan taping, I panicked a little as the time ticked away and I wondered if I would make it on time. When the taping was over, I dashed out of the building as fast as I could and hailed a cab to MSG. I soon realized that there was no need for the rush, as I think the concert didn’t even start for another hour or two. Thankfully, I was seated on the floor with a fun group. As I took my seat, I couldn’t help to notice how attractive the group of five to six men were. Their chiseled angular faces and bodies made me think they had to be models. My eyes were immediately drawn to one, but I soon realized all of the guys were ‘not on my team’, so to speak. Nonetheless, I still couldn’t keep my eyes off of him and I’m sure at some point during the night, I must have drooled a few times. We had our own little raised area in our section in the back and all of the guys kept me thoroughly entertained with their antics and jokes (and their looks lol) as we waited between the numerous acts – from Whitney Houston to Liza Minnelli – that preceded the main event. I was happy that I had opted for the floor seat in the back as opposed to the up close seat in the mezzanine. We were having a party. And forget it – when Michael and his brothers hit the stage, it was a done deal. All of us were on our feet dancing and watching the huge screen. It was the KrayZiest experience I had ever had at a concert with a group of people I didn’t even know. Michael was burning the stage and I couldn’t believe I was experiencing this man live in concert, once again.
I had a ticket for the show on Mon, Sept. 10th, as well. My seat wasn’t as great as Friday night’s show, nor was I seated with an outrageous group; but, I still thoroughly enjoyed the show. Of course I did…it was Michael! Little did I know at the time, it would be my last time seeing Michael in concert. It was, however, a full circle evening. The very first MJ concert I saw, he was performing with his brothers and the last one I attended, he was performing with his brothers, as well.
Michael Jackson gave so much to the world. He was one of the greatest entertainers and humanitarians the world has ever seen. I am grateful for the opportunity to have seen him in concert a few times. I will never forget those very special nights.
Michael LIVE ‘Bad Tour’ 1988
Michael AUDIO INTERVIEW
Michael VIDEO MEGAMIX