On February 10, 1993, Oprah sat down with Michael Jackson for what would be the most-watched interview in television history. It was the first interview by MJ in 14 years. Here’s everything we learned about the Pop legend from the interview which drew a worldwide audience of 90 million people.
1. His biggest influence was James Brown
MJ revealed some of his biggest influences were James Brown, Jackie Wilson etc.
“Yeah, I think James Brown is a genius you know when he’s with the
Famous Flames, unbelievable. I used to watch him on television and I
used to get angry at the camera-man because whenever he would really
start to dance they would be on a close-up so I couldn’t see his feet.
I’d shout “show him show him.”, so I could watch and learn.” he said. “…Jackie Wilson who I adore as an entertainer, and of course music, Motown. The Bee Gees who are brilliant, I just love great music.
2. He was very lonely when he started getting famous
Michael revealed he was only happy on stage when he started getting famous, but once he was off the stage, he was very lonely and sad.
“There were times when I had great times with my brother, pillow fights and things, but I was, used to always cry from loneliness…there is a lot of wonderment in being famous. I mean you travel the world, you meet people, you go places, it’s great. But then there’s the other side, which I’m not complaining about. There
is lots of rehearsal and you have to put in a lot of your time, give of
yourself a lot.”
3. He was very sad because he had to work instead of play like kids his age.
“I would do my schooling which was three hours with a tutor and right after that I would go to the recording studio and record, and I’d record for hours and hours until it’s time to go to sleep. And I remember going to the
record studio there was a park across the street and I’d see all the
children playing and I would cry because it would make me sad that I
would have to work instead.”, he said on the price he paid for fame growing up.
4. His relationship with his father wasn’t the best
While talking about growing up and navigating adolescents, Michael revealed how his father teased him when he started developing pimples and called him ugly.
Asked if he was angry with him, he responded: “I’m I angry with him? Sometimes I do get angry. I don’t know him the way I’d like to know him. My mother’s wonderful. To me she’s
perfection. I just wish I could understand my father.
Michael also revealed he’s father was very strict and scared him a lot. “He was very strict, very hard, very stern. Just a look would scare you, you know..there’s been times when he’d come to see me, I’d get sick, I’d start to regurgitate.”
5. He loved having children around, cause it helped him connect with his childhood which he gave up for fame.
“People wonder why I always have children around, because I find the thing that I never had through them, you know Disneyland, amusement parks, arcade
games. I adore all that stuff because when I was little it was always
work, work, work from one concert to the next, if it wasn’t a concert
it was the recording studio, if it wasn’t that it was TV shows or interviews or picture sessions. There was always something to do.”
6. He was fed up with the rumours and lies spread about him
“There’s so much garbage and so much trash that’s written about me it is so untrue, they’re complete lies, and those are some of the things I wanted to talk about. The press has made up so
much … God … awful, horrifying stories it has made me realize the
more often you hear a lie, I mean, you begin to believe it.”
7. He was accused of changing his skin because he hated being black but he had a skin disorder.
To this day, many assume Jackson bleached his skin to become white – that it was a wilful cosmetic decision because he was ashamed of his race, but that couldn’t be further than the truth.
Michael was diagnosed with vitiligo in the 1989’s, a skin disorder that causes loss of pigmentation in patches on the body.
According to those close to him, it was an excruciatingly humiliating personal challenge, one in which he went to great lengths to hide through long-sleeve shirts, hats, gloves, sunglasses and masks. Addressing it, Michael said: “…this is the situation. I have a skin disorder that destroys the pigmentation of the skin, it’s something that I cannot help. Okay. But when people make up stories that I don’t want to be who I am it hurts me.”
8. Why he always grabs his crotch while dancing
Just before going on a commercial break, Oprah said: “I have to ask you this, so many mothers in my audience have said to please ask you this question. Why do you always grab your crotch?”
MJ replied: “Why do I grab my crotch? I think it happens subliminally. When you’re dancing, you know you
are just interpreting the music and the sounds and the accompaniment if
there’s a driving base, if there’s a cello, if there’s a string, you become the emotion of what that sound is, so if I’m doing a movement and I go bam and I grab myself it’s… it’s the music that compels me to do it, it’s not saying that I’m dying to grab down there and it’s not in a great place you don’t think about it, it just happens, sometimes I’ll look back at the footage and I go … and I go did I do that, so I’m a slave to the rhythm, yeah, okay.
9. How he got the title “King of Pop”
“…Well, I didn’t proclaim myself to be anything. I’m happy to be alive,
I’m happy to be who I am, king of pop was first said by Elizabeth Taylor on one of the award shows…and the fans … all the stadiums that we played at they’d bring banners saying king of pop and jackets that say king of pop and T-shirts that say king of pop and they chanted outside my hotel, so it just became something that just happened all over the world.”
10. On the origin of the Moonwalk
“…Well, the Moonwalk came from these beautiful children, the black kids
who live in the ghettos, you know, the inner cities, who are brilliant,
that just have that natural talent for dancing any of these new – the
running man – any of these dances. They come up with these dances, all
I did was enhance the dance.”