Dr Conrad Murray's having a bad time. Outside the courtroom where he's being tried for manslaughter, people are holding up signs saying, 'Who really killed Michael Jackson?' But it's a question we already know the answer to. Dr Murray's just the fall guy...
Michael Jackson killed Michael Jackson.
If ever a career was going to end in tears, it was Jackson's. You compared the seething anger in Billy Jean, or the livid fury of Beat It, with that daft Lady Veronica speaking voice. Or contrasted his crotch-stroking, ass-fingering dancing with his fey coyness when anyone mentioned sex. And you saw it at once - Vesuvius with the lid on. The job of his various managers was to keep it from blowing off.
In the 1980s, the success of Thriller gave Jackson money and Neverland, his Californian home. It contained a warren of luxury suites where hero-worshipping young boys came and stayed with him. They drank wine, played video games, watched TV, took drugs, and did together what 13-year-olds often do, masturbated. The problem was, one of the 13-year-olds was 30.
For cover, Neverland had a zoo and a funfair and welcomed coachloads of children. To run it required courtesans, cooks, accountants, cleaners, lawyers, zoo-keepers, and bodyguards. It was big money and eventually needed refunding. So in 1992 the Dangerous tour was organised.
Halfway through, the lid nearly blew off.
Just before a show in Bangkok, sexual accusations by a 13-year-old were broadcast worldwide. For two days Jackson lay sedated in bed, the concerts postponed, his brain brought to a standstill.
After a few stuttering shows he quit the tour and went home to rehab where his brain was slowly revived - plans were made, money raised, lawyers paid. Then came an article in Vanity Fair. The 13-year-old accuser recounted how he lay naked on the bed while Jackson made him come, then licked it off his tummy. No libel action came from the Jackson camp, just a twenty million offer to withdraw the accusations, obtained by selling half his publishing company to Sony.
Somehow the lid was still on. The music industry's take on these things was decided by one thing only, "Can he still sell records?" Jackson still sold a few, so probably he didn't do it. It was just nasty people trying to extract money.
Encouraged, he married Lisa Marie Presley and tried to make himself so weird that people would think, "Maybe he really did sleep with all those boys without having sex with them."
But in 2003 he was accused again, which led to a court case. And although the prosecution was a mess and the verdict was 'not guilty', this time no one believed it and record sales dried up. Amazingly, though, the lid was still in place.
By now, through a surrogate mother, Jackson had acquired two children of his own which gave him something less dangerous to love. The problem was money. It simply poured out. Not helped by his obsessive use of drugs.
He looked a mess; his face wrecked by cosmetic surgery - half a nose, pinched perma-red lips, frightened eyes. Yet occasionally he could pull himself together, like when he delivered a eulogy at James Brown's funeral. It caused the current protector of the lid to ask a big question, "If Michael can pull his messed-up mind and body together sufficiently to do something like this, is there a chance - perhaps - possibly - maybe - that he could do another world tour?"
Business people said yes. The tour was fixed, tickets put on sale, rights sold, everything insured. All they had to do was drag this unwell, unfit, mentally unstable, physically collapsed body round the world and get it onstage for a minimum of ten minutes a night. The rest could be covered by dancers, doubles, and technology. Except...
One more thing was needed; a get-up-and-dance drug before each show and an oblivion drug afterwards. Jackson was an expert; he knew which ones he wanted and understood the dangers. He just needed someone to administer them. And along came Dr Murray.
Halfway through rehearsals the lid finally came off. Not with the explosion his managers had always dreaded, but with a sad little plop.
Surprisingly, nobody else had realised what was going on. Family, agents, promoters, record company executives. "Drugs? Oh dear no! We had no idea. We thought he looked the picture of health."
After Jackson's death, everyone did pretty well. Insurance was collected, videos of rehearsals were turned into a touring show, and back catalogue was re-released. Just one person missed out - Dr Murray.
It's his own fault, of course - the music industry has no sympathy for a loser. Which is why he's about to be hung out to dry.
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