MJJCommunity Exclusive Q&A

MJJC Exclusive Q&A with Joe Vogel

As MJJC we are happy to bring you this exclusive Q&A with Joseph Vogel, the author of "Man in the Music: The Creative Life and Work of Michael Jackson " and "Earth Song: Inside Michael Jackson's Magnum Opus".Here is Joe's answers to your questions. We - as MJJC- would like to thank Joe for his time and willingness to answer our questions. Also we'd like to remind you that Joe Vogel's book "Man in the Music: The Creative Life and Work of Michael Jackson " will be released November 1. Do not forget to pre-order it. Also do not forget to buy and read "Earth Song: Inside Michael Jackson's Magnum Opus" if you haven't already done so.

Question 1: It's distressing to hear the analysis of how "Earth Song" was never released in the United States. Could you expand on the cultural reasons for this?

Joe Vogel: Well, there have been various explanations, including that the album was underperforming in the U.S. But I personally find that hard to believe when the previous two singles were Top 5 hits. In fact, "You Are Not Alone" was the first single in the history of the Billboard chart to debut at #1. "Earth Song" was next in line and went #1 all over the world, but it wasn't released in the U.S. Hit singles increase album sales, so there are really only two explanations: 1) it was blocked in some way, or 2) it wasn't seen as viable in the U.S. because of its content. The people I spoke with mentioned both of these as possibilities. Either way is disturbing.

Question 2: How long did it took you to finish this Earth Song research? Are there any tidbits (didn't include in the ebook) you would like to share? Any fun stories about Michael during the recordings?

Joe Vogel: The foundation was already there since I had written about it for Man in the Music. I did research and interviewed about ten people over a period of a 2-3 months. It was like putting a puzzle together. I started with a lot of questions and tried to recover, as best I could, the song's evolution and what Michael wanted to achieve with it. I tried to include all the interesting stories in the piece (or the footnotes). I personally love the story of him knowing he would "kill his voice" doing the ad libs at the end of "Earth Song" and saving them until the final day of recording.

Question 3: Which score (sheet music) have you used for your analysis of the chord progression in the chorus?

Joe Vogel: I didn't use sheet music; the chords were explained to me directly from the musicians that worked on the song with Michael.

Question 4: Why did you imply that Michael was singing live at the "bridge collapse" concert in 1999? That was playback . . . while it was admirable that he kept performing when the set prop malfunctioned, he really had no choice.I don't want to seem like I'm harping on something or "missing the point" but I just felt that part was misleading and i want you to be able to stand up with 100% credibility.

Joe Vogel: Well, first of all, I don't agree that he "had no choice" but to keep performing. He absolutely had a choice and it is pretty remarkable that the show went on (including an encore performance). As for the vocals, in my book I also don't point out that Michael is lip syncing during the Motown 25 performance. I don't feel this is "misleading." I just feel it would distract from what is important about the performance. Bottom line is whether Michael was singing live or not, he could still convey the emotions and energy of the song, and he poured his soul into that rendition.

Question 5: My only concern was many of Michael Fans are of the Jehovah’s Witness(JW) faith and felt his portrayal of their faith in that piece was inaccurate. I would like to ask Joe where he got the information for statement he made about the JW beliefs? Who does he credit the info came from in that part of his study?

Joe Vogel: It wasn't my intent to offend Jehovah's Witnesses. I also don't pretend to be an expert on the Jehovah's Witness faith, though I have read about it (including its own official materials). In the piece, I was simply describing Michael Jackson's spiritual transformation, which I've researched pretty extensively. Michael's spiritual worldview evolved dramatically as the 80s went on. It wasn't just sadness about missing Christmas and birthdays; he was censored and threatened numerous times by church elders (including for Motown 25, the Thriller video, etc.). He felt a lot of frustration, anxiety and sadness about certain teachings that wouldn't allow him to be who he was and express himself in a way he felt was natural. He came to doubt many of its teachings. He officially resigned in 1987. The reason I brought it up in my piece is that "Earth Song" began in 1988 and everyone who worked with him could tell his views about life had evolved. While I don't pretend to know all the intricacies of the JW faith, it is well-established that they believe in an Armageddon and that the time of its arrival is set. Nothing people do can stop it. So when Michael is saying, we need to wake up, we need to heal the world, do we give a damn? he is clearly trying to prevent the calamities and destruction that would be inevitable according to Jehovah's Witness doctrine. In both his songs and Dancing the Dream, his new worldview comes through and it clearly has transformed and given him a renewed sense of artistic purpose. So that's what I was trying to articulate briefly in my piece.

Question 6: Will you be including this study of Michael's Earth Song in your book ?

Joe Vogel: No, they are separate, although I do write about "Earth Song" in Man in the Music.

Question 7: The Earth Song piece was very well written, and quite an interesting read. How does the style and content of this piece compare to your analysis of Michael's other popular songs in your upcoming book, Man in the Music? Although this piece is understandably much more extensive in terms the number of pages allotted to this one song, can we expect to feel that same sense of satisfaction and enlightenment after reading the sections on, say, Smooth Criminal or Remember the Time?

Joe Vogel: I would say they are pretty similar, though as you say, obviously I wasn't able to dedicate as much time and space as I did to "Earth Song" to every track. But every song gets covered in a way that I hope opens up some new insights about its creation and meaning.

Question 8: (For both Earth Song piece and for your book) Did the estate give you access to any information or did you have to research and hunt it all down yourself?

Joe Vogel: The Estate was very helpful and has provided wonderful feedback/insights over the past two years. But there was a lot of hunting down as well. I tried to reach out to people we haven't heard from before, a lot of lesser-known collaborators. I wish I could have done even more. There are so many great stories to recover.

Question 9: I'd like to know if Joe has any information about what inspired Michael to write Little Susie. There's been numerous theories about where that song came from. Some say song was based on a news story in 1979, others say it's based on a painting or poem, and some even say Little Susie is Michael. I'm just curious whether he has any info on this, because it's been a mystery for years

Joe Vogel: I cover this a bit in the book. This may be a piece I explore in more depth later on (ala "Earth Song") along with "Michael McKlellan" and "Lost Children." They're all very fascinating.

Question 10: If possible, could you just give us an analysis on Little Susie and Is It Scary? At least give us your opinion on these two songs.

Joe Vogel: Sorry, you'll have to wait for the book. But I do cover them both extensively. Both are very impressive songs that show Michael's artistic versatility.

Question 11: What unreleased material would you be reviewing in his book? Do you give any details about the unreleased/unfinished classical project that Michael was working on?

Joe Vogel: I briefly discuss about 5-12 non-album songs per chapter (many of which are songs that have been released in some fashion or leaked). I debated about how to do this because I really wanted the book to focus on what was released officially. But there are some outstanding songs that didn't make it onto his studio albums that I wanted to highlight for the more casual reader ("Streetwalker," "Blue Gangsta," "In the Back," "Do You Know," etc.). I also do discuss the classical project in the final chapter.

Question 12: Will the book cover the album by reviewing each song or talking about the album as a whole? Do you believe MJ's philosophy behind the creation of an album changed as he matured?

Joe Vogel: Each chapter covers the album as a whole (context, how it was made, release, reception, etc.) and then tackles each song individually. I definitely think MJ's philosophy evolved. This began in earnest during the Bad sessions, but really revealed itself on Dangerous, which was the first time he acted as executive producer and was in complete control.

Question 13: Will Joe be including information such as dates on which each song was recorded
Joe Vogel: I include the year each song was recorded and in some cases the month, but at this point, pinning down specific days would have been impossible.

Question 14: What would YOU like to see released during the duration of the MJ Estate/Sony deal?

Joe Vogel: Everything! Obviously, it will be teased out over a long period of time. But the historian impulse in me is simply anxious to see and hear all that Michael was working on. I've been fortunate to hear and see quite a bit, but there is a lot of material the Estate/Sony will be able to release in the future, from behind-the-scenes footage, to demos, to concerts, to drawings... Hopefully, at some point fans will get to see the footage of "Earth Song" being recorded. I believe it was Matt Forger that told me he recorded Michael singing "Smile" in the studio. I would love to see that.

Question 15: Do you have any future interest in writing more pieces on Michael's music or life? Perhaps his relationship with his fans? Philanthropic activities? And so on.

Joe Vogel: Maybe. I have enough notes, research and interviews to write several more books. But I'll have to see. As much as I am fascinated by Michael Jackson, there are other projects I would like to pursue as well. I may do some more pieces like "Earth Song" though, which don't take as long as a book and allow you to really go deep inside an individual song.

MJJC Exclusive Q&A with Ralphige about the prank call - Read Ralphige's Answers

After the recent news story that Michael Jackson Estate was going after Ralphige for the prank call he did to Michael, once again the contents of the prank call became the focus of the fans. In the light of the questions and anger Ralphige volunteered to answer any questions - even hate - coming towards his way. As MJJC we decided to take this opportunity (not to promote or support Ralphige but) to get the answers that we always wondered. Below is the MJJC Exclusive Q&A with Ralphige. 

We want to thank everyone that asked the questions and Ralphige for the answers. 

1. How did you manage to get Michael’s number and get through to him?

Ralphige: I am able to dream up these numbers. I wake up in the middle of sleep with the celebrity and their phone number in my head. I sleep with a notebook next to me so I am able to immediately write down the phone number before I forget it.

As a matter of fact, TMZ published a story yesterday about how Dr. Arnold Klein may have been the person who originally got Michael Jackson addicted to the medications. That story triggered Dr. Arnold Klein to show up in my dream yesterday. I woke up, went straight to my notebook and his phone number popped up in my head. As fans of Michael, I think you guys should have the phone number...... 310-xxx-xxxx

2. What did you want to get out of prank calling Michael?

Ralphige: I am a celebrity prank caller and I have prank called many other celebrities including Paris Hilton and even Donald Trump. Michael was simply just another target for me at the time. I simply wanted to add the biggest star on the planet to my list of victims.

3. Why the mention of Akon and the diamonds in Africa? Why not go with the topic he started, the charities and helping people in need?

Ralphige: In my dream, Michael Jackson and Akon were hanging out at the Bellagio hotel in Las Vegas. Naturally I went along with whatever I saw in my dream. Plus, this was supposed to be a prank call, not an interview about charities. However, I am glad this prank call happened because now everyone knows that Michael had these wonderful intentions of building a school in Africa. Someone should build one in his honor. 

4. How many times have you spoken to Michael? Did you talk afterwards the prank call, and if yes, what MJ said to you?

Ralphige: I spoke with him 1 additional time after the prank call. I always call my victims back and ask for permission to release the phone call. When I called back a real bodyguard answered the telephone and refused to let me speak to Michael. After some convincing Michael finally got on the line and we spoke for about 10 minutes. He told me that what I said was mean but that the damage was done and he had no control over it from that point forward. I asked him if I could release the phone call and he said "you can do whatever you want"

5. Please explain how you got permission from Michael. Did you also make a recording of Michael giving permission to use the clip?

Ralphige: I basically answered this one above. His bodyguard did not allow him to get back on the line until I promised that I was no longer recording. So, no, I do not have the permission on audio. 

6. It is obvious that Michael knew from the beginning it was a prank call, he went along with it. You ended up getting fooled. Did you know Michael knew it was a prank call?

Ralphige: He did not know it was a prank call. He had suspicions that I did not sound like Akon and possibly thought it was a prank call. He fired off some questions that only him and Akon would know. When I answered those questions correctly he assumed he was speaking to Akon and kept on going. He fell for the prank call. 

7. Do you think Michael Jackson was a child molester? Do you always judge people you don’t know or is that only reserved for Michael?

Ralphige: I do not know if he was a child molester. No one really knows. I honestly hope he wasn't but you can't rule anything out because truthfully no one knows except him. If you listen to my other prank calls, I offend everyone, Michael Jackson was no exception. 

8. Why bring up the accusations? Why did you feel the need to make fun of something that was very hurtful to Michael, knowing how he would take it after he played along with the prank call when he obviously knew it wasn't Akon?

Ralphige: It was a prank call and I wanted to hear his reaction. I prank called Suge Knight and accused him of murdering 2pac. Suge Knights reaction was very chilling and cold blooded. No one knows who killed 2pac and the whole world assumes Suge Knight had something to do with it. You can tell a lot by the way people react to accusations when they are not expecting it. 

9. Any 'prank' that is hurtful goes beyond the acceptable limits. Do you feel shameful to do something so cruel to a person? Will you dare enough to do such horrible thing to another celebrity? or you just feel it's ok because this person is MJ?

Ralphige: I have said worse things to other celebrities. 

10. Because you chose to use the most damaging and hurtful subject to ridicule MJ as a fan I would have to draw the conclusion that you have no respect for Michael as a human being. Do you respect his achievements within the music industry?

Ralphige: I certainly respected him as a human being and no one can deny his achievements in the music industry. There will never be another Michael Jackson. I am also a fan of Michael Jackson. 

11. Do you understand at the time how vulgar and harsh your joke attempt was and how ill-mannered it made you look? Do you understand it now? If yes, what made a change?

Ralphige: Everyone loved the prank call while he was alive. This call happened 4 years ago and had over 2 million views on youtube. After he passed people became more sensitive to what I said. However, if you go back and read the comments on youtube you can see people only thought it was offensive after he died.

12. Ever think about apologizing about the molester joke?

Ralphige: I already have when we spoke about the phone call minutes after it happened.

13. Tell us what’s happening between you and the Michael Jackson Estate in regards to the prank call and the sale of the prank call on your website?

Ralphige: Nothing is happening, they stopped pursuing it after they realized I had authorization from Michael Jackson and www.ralphige.com is up and running and the phone call is still for sale.

Source - MJJCommunity


MJJC Exclusive Q&A with Patrick Allocco from AllGood Entertainment

MJJCommunity had the exclusive chance to conduct an interview with Patrick Allocco who is a principle partner of AllGood Entertainment which we thank him for taking this time out of his busy schedule to talk to MJJCommunity.

Thank you for sitting down with MJJCommunity to tell your side of what's going on. We appreciate you taking the time to set the record straight and to tell Michael Jackson's fans what truly happened between All Good Entertainment and Frank DiLeo.

Q: Please tell us about your company, All Good Entertainment.
AllGood Entertainment, Inc., is a concert promoter based in New Jersey, who promotes concerts in New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, the Caribbean and South America. In 2007, he has started operations in United Arab Emirates and India. We are a young and vigorous company, AllGood has produced successful shows in venues in New York and New Jersey as well as in Puerto Rico and Tobago in The Caribbean with Bon Jovi, Stevie Wonder, Sting, Diddy, Julio Iglesias, Earth, Wind and Fire, Patti LaBelle, Natalie Cole, Paulina Rubio, John Leguizamo, Lindsay Lohan and Raven Symone, among others. Our core competency is promoting large one-off events and festivals.

Q: How did you come into contact with Frank DiLeo?
Shortly after meeting with Mr. Joe Jackson in Las Vegas about the proposed Jackson Family Reunion Concert, my associate, recommended that we follow-up with Frank. We met Frank and his Partner, Mark Lamicka, in Nashville a few weeks later.

Q: Did Mr. Frank DiLeo at any time, represent himself as Michael Jackson's signatory agent/manager? Were you aware of Dr. Tohme R. Tohme being Michael's business manager?
The Dileo/Jackson contract speaks for itself; Frank and Mark both represented that he [Frank] had several phone conversations with MJ and that he was supportive of our event. Frank obviously executed an agreement that is binding upon Michael, Janet and the brothers. Dr. Tohme was always positioned as the spokesperson or business manager representing the financial interests of Colony Capital.

Q: Tell us about the concert that was planned by All Good Entertainment and agreed to by Frank DiLeo.
The proposed event was for one historic reunion for the world to see. The event would reunite all of the Jacksons’ on stage for a world wide Pay Per View event to be held on or about July 2009. It was the single biggest offer to an artist in the history of the concert business.

Q: At any time did Frank DiLeo disclose to All Good Entertainment that Michael was already in negotiations with AEG via his business manager Dr. Tohme R. Tohme?
No. We first learned of the O2 dates on January 7, when one of our Partners had learned from someone inside of AEG that the negotiations were very close to being finalized and that AEG expected to announce shortly after the Grammy’s. On January 21, we learned from an individual who had dined with Tohme the previous evening that MJ was committed to a “very big project” which we assumed was the AEG deal.

Q: Are you in anyway, attempting to block the This Is It concert series from happening?
We are trying to secure our date for next year’s family reunion concert in Dallas. To that end, we will use every tool in our shed to enforce our contractual right to that event.

Q: On Nov 1st, 2008, Michael Jackson via his manager Dr. Tohme R. Tohme released the following statement: “My brothers and sisters have my full love and support, and we’ve certainly shared many great experiences. But at this time I have no plans to record or tour with them. I am now in the studio developing new and exciting projects that I look forward to sharing with my fans in concert soon.” Did Frank DiLeo ever notify you of this statement?
No. The statement, however, was in response to a comment made by Jermaine while in Austrailia. We actually did raise the issue of Jermaine’s “Family Tour” comment with Dileo and he dismissed it as “Jermaine’s attempt at keeping the press focused on him.” The Tohme comment did not effect our proposal since we were contemplating a tour.

Q: Did All Good Entertainment retain Frank DiLeo for a fee of two million dollars to secure Michael Jackson and his family for the reunion concert?
Mr. Dileo would have received a total of $550,000 plus a commission.

Q: Were you aware that AEG were in negotiations with Michael Jackson and Dr. Tohme in Nov, 2008, the same time when All Good Entertainment was in negotiations with Frank DiLeo?
We knew of several failed attempts by AEG to get MJ to commit to a “Prince” like deal at the O2; we had no knowledge of any ongoing negotiations until January 7, 2009.

Q: Are you planning on filing a lawsuit in federal court against Frank DiLeo?
Very unfortunately yes – a lawsuit is now imminent and will be filed in Federal Court. I have made every possible effort try to secure our concert for next year, but Frank Dileo has poisoned Michael on the idea and told me that “it’s not going to happen.”

Q: What would you like to tell Michael Jackson's fans about this situation? Do you feel like you have been defrauded?
I want MJ’s fans to know that we always put Michael’s and the family’s interest above our own. We were told by Michael that he had “another committment” and he would perform our show as long as it didn’t conflict. When it was confirmed that he was talking about the London dates, we were always ammenable to working around the shows. When MJ told us that he would perform our show when he came back from London, we agreed to a summer 2010 date. Unlike other individuals or companies who have filed lawsuits against MJ seeking astronomical damages, we are trying to put a historic amount of money back into his pocket through our one night only U.S. concert.

Our Thanks go to Mr Allocco and Loralee of our MJJC news team for conducting this interview on behalf of MJJCommunity.


MJJC Exclusive Q&A with Timmo aka Blackenise

Written by Dom MJJC Interactive Team for MJJCommunity.com

This January, MJJC started a Brand New competition on our forum that would spark interest and inspiration in the hearts of video makers around the world. The MJJC 2009 Video Competition began last month to an overwhelming response. Forty Three unique videos were submitted by YouTube MJ fans from all over and whittled down to a Final Ten! After a week of voting from the fans visiting MJJCommunity.com, Blackenise was crowned our first ever Video Competition Champion. So, how does it feel?

"Thank you very much to all voters again! My aim was simply to be a part of the competition, that was my primary aim," Timmo aka Blackenise told us.

He says it is hard to explain when we asked him what the main focus behind the video was. Was there a particular direction he had planned out?

"I just let it out and I wanted to include those sound pieces and in some kind of way realised that we will never really know Michael, he will always be...larger than life!", he says.

Through this Timmo explored the areas of the Michael we all know and admire; the performer, the artist, his fantastic dancing ability, the creation of epic short films as music videos, the way he tackles his work and additionally and the pressure he faces each time he undertakes a new project.

Indeed within the fan base, Michael has a profound impact on the fans creative work by providing much inspiration, especially through times where he was faced with personal and legal problems and has grown stronger, as Timmo told us.

"I always liked Michael Jackson's music but never really listened to it clearly. After the trial I listened to more and more and it never stopped. I learned that he is so misunderstood and started to realise that he's one of the most talented and blessed / cursed (sadly) people on this planet. Basically what inspires me is that he has put a lot of work into his music and I really feel that. I never get tired of listening to Michael Jackson, never ever! He's a wonderful human being. He is just great!!"

Video making has become a popular hobby over the last few years, and was taken to another level with the birth of YouTube. Timmo told us about how he got into it.

"I can remember my very first tries in video making. It was with Windows Movie maker. With time, I'm growing and improving. When I first saw other videos from guys making MJ movies I kinda thought, wow that's cool."

Timmo also recalled his very first effort in video editing.

"I can remember my very first MJ remix video I made using a MJ remix that a friend of mine did. I created the video with Movie maker." he laughs and says that this was a very basic video and that he doesn't have it anymore.

"Then I started to spend more time constructing the videos as I really wanted to create something unique, that nobody had on YouTube."

We spoke further about future projects and Timmo has ensured us that when the time is right, work will begin on the next project. We want to send our congratulations to Blackenise once again for winning the 1st ever MJJC TV 2009 Video Competition.

You can see more of Blackenise's work at http://www.youtube.com/user/Blackenise89





MJJC Exclusive Q&A With Sony/BMG USA

Starting today, MJJCommunity Presents MJJC Exclusives. Once a month we will feature exciting articles and interviews with people who have worked (only positive people of course!) with Michael Jackson.

MJJCommunity.com recently sat down with Jeremy Meyers - Manager, Digital Editorial and Fan Relations at SONY BMG Commercial Music Group. This is what he had to say:

MJJC: Give us a bit of history about Jeremy Meyers?

JM: I'm 29, live in New York City. I've been a music lover all my life. I started in the music industry in 1999 at TVT Records,and at Sony Music in 2004. I'm privileged to be able to work on podcasts for the extensive catalog that Legacy Recordings is in control of, including, of course, Michael Jackson. I also run Legacy's blog(http://blogs.legacyrecordings.com/thesoundboard) and write our newsletters.

MJJC: Tell us how you became involved with the Thriller 25 project?

JM: Our digital team was tasked with doing more outside-the-box stuff than we'd ever done before for this project, and being an integral part of the team, decided that a groundbreaking podcast event would be just the thing, in order to try to tell the story of Thriller from every possible angle.

MJJC: Are you satisfied with the success of the project?

JM: I don't think we're ever completely satisfied with our work. There are things we could have done more of, but I'm very proud to have worked so hard with so many talented people on bringing innovative campaigns to life online for Thriller25.

MJJC: MJ Fans love T25! What more can we expect? More videos?

JM: Well, we're releasing Thriller on picturedisc vinyl in September, and you should expect some surprises around halloween.

MJJC: Thrillercast is really the first of its kind. Can you tell us a bit more information about it? How it was conceived?

JM: I've worked really hard with our producer (Joe Vella of Vella Interactive) to pull together a diverse group of people to be a part of Thrillercast. We came up with a 'dream list' of people we'd want to be a part, then divided them into different categories (musicians, producers, choreographers, etc). We then approached each artist individually, through their publicists or managers or directly. A large majority of people we asked immediately said that they'd love to be a part of it. The most interesting thing about the
whole project is how everyone seems to have their own "Thriller Story" about the first time they heard the album or saw the video. I hope everyone finds it as interesting as I do to hear people's stories! I think that listening to Thrillercast (and being a part of creating it) really gives you a much deeper appreciation for Thriller as a piece of art. There are a few big names still to come on Thrillercast, so stay tuned and please tell your friends about it!

MJJC: Have you met the King of Pop before? If so, can you share your experience with us?

JM: I have not, unfortunately. However, the head of Legacy Recordings has and was pretty much in awe of his presence, his passion for music and his business acumen.

MJJC: MJ Fans are dying to know the answer to this question: Will there be any new releases (new music) from Sony and Michael Jackson?

JM: Honestly I do not know. You can be sure, however, that if anything like that happens, you'll find out on michaeljackson.com! Also, be sure to pick up the Thriller picturedisc vinyl when it comes out on September 30th.

MJJC: Thank you for answering our questions!

JM: No prob...happy to respond to followups if you have any!

Source: http://www.mjjcommunity.com
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