Remembering Michael Jackson | EW.com

Music

Remembering Michael Jackson

Kenny Ortega talks about working with the King of Pop

Aug. 29, 1958 - June 25, 2009

It became clear to me after working with Michael the first time, on his Dangerous tour, that every time I said yes to one of his adventures, at the journey’s end I always ended up someplace I had never been before. From the ground up, he always enjoyed the process of creating with me, and made me feel that.

I remember getting a telephone call at three or four in the morning when we were preparing the This Is It concerts. ”It’s Michael, are you awake?” ”Yeah, I’m awake.” ”No, you’re not!” ”Michael, I’m awake, really. What do you need?” ”Victoria Falls.” That’s all he said. Michael spoke in haiku. He would just throw things at you like that. He wanted [footage of] Victoria Falls to be gushing over the band behind him on stage, as a reminder to the audience of the majesty and wonderment and brilliance of the world. I remember the next day saying to him, ”You know, it’s in Africa. That’s far!” And he’d say, ”That’s why we have to have it.” He knew no limitations creatively, which was so much fun. Everything was possible.

I’m going to miss the phone calls inviting me on the next journey. I’m going to miss going over to the house and hanging out with him. There’s a part of Michael that will always be there with me. My love for him, I know, will be forever. The hard part is going to be not having him in the room, laughing with him, smiling with him, searching him out, and wondering, ”What is that wild mind of yours going through right now?” Most of all, I shall miss his unconditionally loving heart. He was a deep and profoundly soulful human being.

Jackson died of cardiac arrest in L.A.


”I have been listening to Michael Jackson since the day I was born. His music was as essential to me as oxygen. Working with Michael in the studio on ‘You Are Not Alone’ was like going to a session in heaven. It was like hope meeting faith, faith introducing hope to belief, and belief introducing them to love. They all become the best of friends and now hang out at a club called achievement.” — R. Kelly