Noted journalist and media mogul Tavis Smiley has written a book about the last sixteen weeks of Michael Jackson’s life.
“Before You Judge Me: The Triumph And Tragedy of Michael Jackson’s Last Days,” chronicles the tumultuous experiences Jackson went through in the months leading up to his death in 2009.
The book provides a haunting glimpse into Jackson’s life, including him firing managers and advisers, turning away from family members, and fighting depression and drug dependency. All of this was happening over the four months since announcing his This Is It concert series which never took place because of his untimely death.
The book signing was at Barnes & Noble at The Grove in Los Angeles. Smiley said he’d only met Jackson a couple of times, but had the blessings of his mother, Katherine Jackson, to complete the book which he started researching before Jackson died.
While many believed Jackson and Prince were bitter rivals, Smiley said when Prince, his longtime personal friend of 20 years, heard that MJ had died, he was rehearsing with his band and sent everyone home. Devastated by the news, Prince then retreated to a quiet place in his home as he was forced to contemplate his own mortality.
Another interesting revelation that Smiley spoke and wrote of was when Jackson allegedly told a reporter that he no longer worked with Quincy Jones because he thought Jones was getting too much credit for mega projects, “Thriller” and “Off The Wall.” Smiley said Jones was hurt by the comments. Speaking of the latter project, Janet Jackson recalled:
“Before Off The Wall, when Michael could still step out in public without being mobbed, we’d go to a vegetarian restaurant called Golden Temple. He’d buy a large quantity of take-out meals, and we’d spend an entire afternoon riding around the city, stopping and giving this food to the homeless. We’d do this day after day.”
This is one of the many ways Smiley tries to humanize this larger-than-life figure that Michael became.
Smiley, who co-wrote the book with fellow bestselling author David Ritz, said he was on a Fox News program earlier that day defending Michael’s honor about new allegations of items discovered on Jackson’s computer and in his home. “When are you going to let the man rest in peace!?” he emphatically asked those on the TV panel discussing the life and trials of Jackson. While many white counterparts have had more damaging evidence against them, and are left alone, Smiley felt they seem to get a free pass in comparison to Jackson.
For those who are really interested in learning the real story behind the death of Jackson, this book without question offers some answers to many questions that were left twisting in the wind.