12/10/12 - michael jackson, his brothers, and quincy jones

In today's selection -- in 1982, Michael Jackson triumphed with the release of his album Thriller under the auspices of CBS Records and its president Walter Yetnikoff. Here Yetnikoff relates stories of his conversations with Michael during that period:

"When I threw a black-tie party for him at the Museum of Nat­ural History in New York, there were more security guards than guests. Donald Trump was Michael's new best friend. The Guinness Book of Records announced that Thriller, with 25 million copies sold, was the best-selling album ever. I introduced him as the 'greatest artist ever.' Only my Jew­ish roots kept me from comparing him to Jesus. The President and Mrs. Reagan sent a telegram. When I saw [CBS founder William] Paley, I said, 'Now you know who Michael Jackson is.' At the high point, at the very moment I was about to introduce Michael to the glittering crowd, he whispered in my ear, 'I have to tinkle. Can you take me to the potty?'

"A few days after the party, I was on my way to California when Michael called.

'I'm not happy,' he said.
'How can you not be happy? You own the world.'
'My brothers want me to tour with them, and I don't want to.'
'Then don't.'
'But my mother says I should.'
'Do you always listen to your mother?'
'I try to.'
'Then tour.'
'She's working with Don King.'
'You're working with [his manager] Uncle Tookie. It's an even match.'
'My brothers are broke. That's the only reason they want to tour with me.'
'That's a pretty good reason.'
'When I was a kid, they never stopped teasing me.'
'So you're angry.'
'I don't blame you.'
'But I don't want my mother angry at me.'
'You've got a problem, Michael. Ever think about therapy?'
'I could never tell these things to a stranger.'
'Then flip a coin. Heads you tour, tails you don't.'
'You flip.'
'Alright... I just did. It came out heads.'

"In a few months, the Victory Tour, starring Michael and his broth­ers, hit the road.
Before that came the [1984] Grammys. ...
Michael [called].
'I think I'm going to win a lot of Grammys.'
'I think you're right.'
'But everyone says Quincy is going to win some, too. And I don't want him to. Quincy didn't really produce the record, I did. Quincy has enough Grammys. He doesn't need any more. Tell them not to give him any Grammys for Thriller.'
'I can't tell them anything, Michael. The Grammys are run by NARAS. I have no influence over the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.'
'You have influence over everyone.'
'Except God, NARAS and Michael Jackson.'
'You can call Quincy and tell him to withdraw.'
'No one withdraws.'
'If he doesn't, I won't let him produce my next record.'
'That'd be foolish.'
'People will think he's the one who did it, not me.'
'Quincy doesn't sing or dance. Quincy isn't in any of the videos. Quincy sits behind the board and produces.'
'I was the producer.'
'Michael, I was in the studio myself. I saw Quincy producing.'
'All he did was help out.'
'Fine. If you want to complain to NARAS, complain to NARAS.'
'That won't look good. You have to complain.'
'Get Tookie to complain.'
'He said to get you.'
'And I say this is a crock of s**t. Go to the g*****n Grammys, Michael, and act like you're happy.'

"He did.
Between Michael and Quincy, Thriller won a dozen Grammys. Michael acted like he loved Quincy more than life itself."


Walter Yetnikoff with David Ritz


Howling at the Moon: The Odyssey of a Monstrous Music Mogul in an Age of Excess


Broadway Books


Copyright 2004 by Walter Yetnikoff


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