June 30, 2009
To the world, Michael Jackson was an enigma. While his music
dazzled and amazed, his behaviour often baffled and shocked.
But to TV star and music producer David Gest, one of the people
who knew the King Of Pop best, Jackson was a loyal friend who
made him laugh and gave him memories to treasure. In the second
part of his exclusive interview with The Sun, David reflected
on his 40-year friendship with Jackson, who died last Thursday
David, 56, said: There is nobody who knew Michael like I did.
He was so gifted, its hard for me to picture him gone.
There is a whole side to him people never saw.
For instance, people always think of him as talking in that
high, soft voice, but he didnt really speak like that
it was a facade.
Still to this day I am not sure why he did it. The Michael I
knew talked like a real man, acted like a real man and shook
a hand like a real man.
David, who has made millions as a concert promoter and TV personality,
was 16 when the Jacksons family moved into a mansion only a
short drive from his own family home in Encino, California.
He first got to know Michael Jackson when he called at the house
to take the Thriller stars sister, La Toya, on a date.
David said: It was just puppy love, nothing serious. La Toya
had the flu so Michael who was nearly 12 at the time
asked me to drive him to a memorabilia sale. I had no
clue what memorabilia even was at that time.
The outing proved to be the start of a life-long friendship
and a shared love of shopping, collecting and eating
in fast food restaurants.
And despite the huge personal wealth Jackson enjoyed at the
height of his career, David revealed that the superstar always
loved a bargain.
He said: He loved haggling over the price in stores. If something
was $4,000 (£2,400), he would cheekily start them at $200
(£120). He was an arch negotiator. People thought he was
absolutely nuts but he actually got away with it sometimes.
David told how Jackson was always incredibly generous with his
He said: One time when we went to Disneyland he bought me more
than 200,000 dollars-worth of rare memorabilia, spent about
the same on himself and had three limousines come and collect
David added that he and Jacko were inseparable as young men.
He said: We were best friends always staying over at
each others houses, living in sleeping bags or going on
We both loved music and would often play a game where we tested
each other on which artists had sung which songs. If I won I
got to keep one of Michaels stage costumes. If he won
he got some of my film posters or a rare piece of Jim Morrison
or Jimi Hendrix memorabilia.
David, who called Jackson M, told how the star always
kept up to date with music and revealed his favourite contemporary
artists were Beyonce, Eminem and Dr Dre, the Black Eyed Peas
and Kelly Rowland whom he had a crush on.
He added: His all-time favourite vocalist was Whitney Houston.
Michael always said she could sing the Yellow Pages and it would
Fans of the singer will no doubt be fascinated to learn that
Man In The Mirror and Heal The World were Jackos favourite
songs from his own body of work.
David added: Shes Out Of My Life and One Day In Your Life
were his favourite of the ballads.
In the late Seventies, David and his pal embarked on another
shared hobby plastic surgery.
David, who found fame in the UK on the 2006 series of TVs
Im A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here!, said: Michael and
I had always felt insecure about the way we looked.
Michael became obsessed with the idea of having plastic surgery.
He would say to me, Dont you want to look better
"So I went for it in grand style even though I have
a huge ego I have always felt I was never good-looking
so I got a nose job, cheek bone implants, a second nose job,
even bigger cheek implants, and the removal of those cheek implants
when I ended up looking like a chipmunk!
After each operation Michael would always come over to my apartment
in Beverly Hills and look after me.
He would play me music, make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches
and burn the toast unmercifully.
By the early Eighties David began to regret his own surgery,
but Jackson showed no signs of slowing down.
David said: I begged him not to have any more, I said, Your
nose is perfect, but the plastic surgeon we were using
kept encouraging him to have more procedures.
"I believe he was just trying to keep the relationship
going with Michael, but he wasnt being honest with him.
Even his family tried to say enough is enough. This guy made
a fortune on my nose, Michaels nose, Janets nose
and La Toyas nose. Tito and Jackie were smart, they left
their noses alone.
David explained that the key to his enduring friendship with
Jackson was he always treated him like a normal person.
He said: When we would take a trip together, I would always
make Michael get out of the car and fill up with gas. He would
say, Who is the star here and I would say, When
you are with me, I am!
We would always go to McDonalds, Michael loved their French
fries, or KFC. He loved that chicken, although he would take
the skin off because he thought that made it organic
that would crack me up.
I remember we once went to Disneyland. He was in disguise and
we watched Captain EO, a Disney 3D movie which he starred in.
When we came out I said, You were brilliant and
he went, Oh thanks, have you only just realised.
Then when we got home I made him Moonwalk in my kitchen
then I tried it and fell flat on my face!
David also revealed that Jackson was a voracious reader with
a passion for classic literature.
He said: What a lot of people dont know about Michael
is that he was always reading. He was an intelligent man. His
favourite poet was Robert Burns and he was obsessed with the
novels of Charles Dickens.
He would scour antique bookstores looking for first editions
of his work.
He loved Shakespeare and got me into the plays too. He was also
fascinated by English history, especially Henry VIII, and loved
collecting costumes from that period.
David told how Jackson passed this love of books on to his own
children Prince Michael Jnr, 12, Paris, 11, and seven-year-old
Prince Michael II.
He said: He home-schooled the children and always had them reading
the right books. He was a great father, but he was strict. He
believed in manners and showing respect to adults and behaving
properly. Michael loved being a dad, he should have done it
years before he did.
David also refuted claims by Jacksons former nanny, Grace
Rwaramba, that the children were nervous around him, and he
said: They loved Michael with all their hearts.
And he told how he believes Jacksons mother Katherine
who was yesterday awarded temporary custody of his children
should raise them in Jacksons absence.
He said: Katherine is a natural. She has raised so many children
she was even like a mother to me.
Michael loved his mother more than anyone and would want Katherine
to raise the kids. I hope Michaels ex-wife Debbie Rowe
will not challenge this, for the kids sake.
It has been well documented that Jacksons relationship
with his father Joe was less harmonious.
David witnessed this first-hand when he spent time in the Jackson
family home as a teenager.
He said: Michael was scared of Joe. Michael and I would take
trips just to get away from him. Joe was always demanding but
he wasnt a bad man he perhaps went about things
the wrong way but what he truly wanted was more for his kids
than he had.
Joe eventually mellowed and Michael didnt resent him like
people think he did. Later in life, they got to know each other
and made peace.
The family, and David, stood firmly by Jackson when the star
faced a third set of child molestation allegations in 2005 brought
by 15-year-old Gavin Arvizo. After a four-month trial, the singer
was found not guilty.
David said: When he went through that trial, my heart bled for
him, because he was innocent.
Michael loved spending time with kids because they didnt
expect anything from him. Accusations always came from the parents.
Michael loved being around children because of the childhood
he missed out on.
David also believes Jackson never recovered from the emotional
and financial strain of the court case.
He said: Michael was never the same afterwards. It was a terrible
thing to be accused of, especially when there was a district
attorney hell-bent on proving he was guilty.
There were friends of his I am not naming names
who turned their back on him at that time. I just thought. What
a bunch of p***ks.
But while David stuck by Jackson in the bad times, he insists
they shared mostly good times together.
He said: The Michael Jackson I will remember was smart, articulate
and made me laugh. His death was a huge shock but it brought
back so many happy memories. I will remember the time we went
into a pancake house late at night after watching The Four Tops
perform on Sunset Strip.
The waitress was in her seventies and had no clue who Michael
I started talking in a dumb fake foreign accent and Michael
started laughing she slapped him across the face and
told him not to be rude to foreigners! No one had ever done
that to him.
Michael famously acted as best man when David wed his now ex-wife,
the singer Liza Minnelli.
David joked: Michael, Liza, Elizabeth Taylor and I looked like
the friggin Adams Family in those wedding pictures. They
are really scary to look at, but Michael made a very touching
All around Davids London flat is the evidence of his lifelong
love of collecting. And Jackson memorabilia, much of it signed,
features prominently in his collection, which is worth around
One signed photograph carries the poignant hand-written message:
To David Gest. Remember, unbounded immortality is yours,
just create it. Michael Jackson, 1998.
David said: There will never be
another Michael Jackson he was a musical innovator, a
great dancer and you know what else He was one hell of a friend."
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