MJJC Exclusive Q&A With Jermaine Jackson

news031

MJJC: You occasionally call out celebrities who call Michael a drug addict, and we love you for it. However, you seem to stay silent when your own family calls Michael an addict. What is the truth? Are you at odds with certain family members that continue to call Michael a drug addict? Have you ever told them to stop it or to try and word their comments better?

Jermaine Jackson: I'm not at odds with anyone because everyone accepts that Michael died due to Propofol intoxication, and he used it because he was desperate to sleep, not because he was addicted. 

I personally felt it was important to point out the difference between Michael's one time addiction to painkillers, and the sensationalist addiction talk of him being "a junkie" that the media and Murray wrongly attached to his death. That was why I wrote what I did and why I called out all the bull-crap during the trial.

My siblings shared private conversations and concerns with our brother about his addiction around 2001/02 time, and they are entitled to talk about it, but talking about that period does not mean they are calling him a drug addict in 2009. He wasn't. 

MJJC: Why do you and many in your family continue to down play what Michael said was abuse in the hands of Joe? Obviously Michael was deeply affected by it. You and your family always say its discipline when it's not. Don't you think Michael has a right to tell it how he lived it and how for him it was abuse, whether you agree with it or not?

Jermaine Jackson: Yes, Michael had the right to tell it, and so do I because I experienced the same discipline from Joseph. I was disciplined. I was not abused. He treated us the same and I don't apologise for attempting to place all of this into context. In every family, there will be different perspectives of the same event. I have given mine. 

I will say this: I read many biographies that invented what Joseph was supposed to have done. The majority of it was pure fantasy or wildly exaggerated. It was designed to paint him as evil. Joseph has never been evil. Michael would agree with that. 

I don't dismiss Michael's experience and feelings. What I have tried to do is balance what happened and do what Michael tried to teach us all: be more understanding and more compassionate. That's why I used his Oxford University speech in the book because he didn't have the judgment or vitriol that some fans have for Joseph. He forgave him. He didn't judge him. He also loved him and history deserves to know that. 

MJJC: What made you feel that Tohme Tohme was someone worthy of meeting Michael and to be in business with? What were your thoughts of Michael being on tape saying he doesn't like Tohme and how he controls everything Michael does including his money and keeping him from seeing anyone he didn't want Michael to see?

Jermaine Jackson: I've explained this over many pages in the book because I know how concerned fans have been and I wanted to explain everything from the very beginning. The full story is in there. I can't go over it all again. But the biggest misunderstanding is that I introduced him to Michael as some kind of partner or manager. That's not true. 

I first met Tohme-Tohme as someone who could help fund the Crystal City project (described in the book) which I was working on with Michael around 2007 time. I had four meetings with Michael to get down our vision on paper. He was all about it. 

I met with Tohme-Tohme to find a consortium to raise the $5-6 billion we needed. Not once did I mention to him that Michael was involved in this project. Not once.

Soon afterwards, I heard that Neverland was in trouble. There was talk of foreclosure. That was the first time I went to Tohme-Tohme about Michael (April 13 2008) because if this guy could find billions for a leisure project, he probably knew businessmen who had $23-24 million to save Neverland. That was my thinking. 

Long story short, Tohme-Tohme introduced me to Tom Barrack at Colony Capital. Make no mistake; Tom saved my brother's financial ass. Folk out there have no idea how close to the wire things got. 

From that moment on, I wasn't part of the equation and Tohme-Tohme turned against me. He was no friend of mine and I know that he became no friend of Michael's. But, from April 2008, the choices and the appointments that were made had nothing to do with me. Michael was his own man with his own mind. 

MJJC: Why was Tohme-Tohme allowed at UCLA Medical Centre and even allowed to speak on June 25th, after Michael Jackson had fired him? 

Jermaine Jackson: I don't know why he was there or who authorized it. When I arrived, he was already there in the corridor, but you've got to understand that I wasn't thinking about any of that, or why he was allowed to speak. That day was a blur. 

MJJC: What is your opinion about Tohme-Tohme now?

Jermaine Jackson: My opinion of him? He was the same as everyone else who came and went in Michael's life - he didn't understand the revolving door he was caught in. I do think his heart was in the right place but I think the access went to his head. His manner was too sharp and fiery for Michael in the end.

MJJC: Do you believe Dr Murray’s actions on June 25th directly caused Michael's death or do you hold Latoya's view of what happened? In other words who do you think is responsible for Michael death?

Jermaine Jackson: With the wrongful death lawsuit going on, this is not something I want to get into, but I'll say this: Murray was the person who injected the fatal dose of Propofol, but that fact doesn't remove questions that I still have. Also, Michael's death was preventable by others, long before those early hours of June 25th 2009. He was dying long before he died and no one did anything and no one alerted us, his family. Had I known what I know now, I'd have been in there shutting it down and getting him to a hospital. 

MJJC: Why were you taken aback by Michael not naming his brothers, sisters and father in his Will? Was it because he took care of the family in life that you believed naturally he would do the same in case of death? Was this something Michael ever discussed with the family?

Jermaine Jackson: Who says I was taken aback? We didn't discuss Michael's death. Why would we? The rest of the family has had musical careers and we've got and always had our own money. 

Michael did what a father should in a will - he took care of his kids, and he also named our mother. By including her, he included us. The lioness takes care of her cubs, and that philosophy has always been understood in our family. 

MJJC: What do you think about the individuals that Michael appointed to run his Estate? And are you happy with his choice? Why does it seem as if your family is forever going against the Estate, by initiating projects without Estate approval and making hostile remarks to the press about the people running the Estate?

Jermaine Jackson: No Jackson needs anyone's approval to initiate a project that celebrates or remembers our own brother. We were not appointed hypothetically in 2002. We were appointed by blood at birth.

news032

MJJC: Why you and your family always say that you wanted to work with Michael again for albums and concerts when everybody knows that Michael didn't want to work with his family anymore? For example: on October 29, 2008 you announced a Family reunion. The next day, Michael released a statement that he didn't have any plans to reunite with his siblings. Why did you make that announcement without conferring with Michael first?

Jermaine Jackson: Who says that "everybody knows he didn't want to work with us anymore"? They cite one date and one example and apply it forever?? 

Everybody doesn't know, because Michael had agreed to do one "final" concert with the brothers and that was because Mother wanted to see us all on stage one last time in her life-time, not thinking that Michael would pass before her. 

He made that promise to her, not us, and we hadn't really spoken about it. But that concert was included in the many plans he had for after This Is it, including spot-dates in China and a performance at the Super Bowl 2010 (plans made prior to John Branca's return)

MJJC: Your ex-wife, Margaret Maldonado, said you were intensely jealous of Michael. Suzanne de Passe said a similar thing on Oprah in 1993 about the brothers being jealous of Michael. Were you, or were you not jealous of Michael at any point in your life? And what do you make of others who knew you personally, stating that you were jealous of your brother?

Jermaine Jackson: Too many folk listen to what others say. I don't care what others think they know, and it doesn't matter if they know me personally or don't - they can't know what I'm feeling on the inside. There is not one person out there who can say with any truth that I have said, shouted or complained about Michael in any jealous way. There were differences from time to time, but never jealousy.

I remain as proud of Michael as I always was when he was alive, and this is one reason why I wrote the book - to hear about our life and our journey in my words, no one else's. 

MJJC: In your book and your media interviews promoting it, you were adamant about the importance of family and how individually you were weaker compared to how you were collectively as a family unit. It was a theme that you related to Michael's professional career, when you talked about how music industry outsiders tried to separate him from his brothers and that this was not a good outcome. How do you explain then why you were the first brother to break away from the family group when you stayed with Motown to pursue a solo career rather than follow your father and brothers to their better record deal at Epic? If your career had blown up and been as successful as Michael, do you think that you would have been so keen to return to the family group?

Jermaine Jackson: I don't think I'd thought too much about me leaving the Jackson 5 until it came to the book, and it was pointed out to me that my leaving could have been an example set to Michael. If it's okay for me to break away, it was okay for him to break away. I see that in a way I never did before. 

But I use Joseph's story about the tree and the branches...how we are stronger when tight together, not separate. If you read the book, you'll see how lonely I was and how all I wanted was to reunite with the brothers. Regardless of success, I was always keen to return to those roots. 

That is a different thing to people in Hollywood who surrounded Michael and wanted him in isolation. I lay it all out in the book for folk to make up their own mind and ask themselves one question: Michael was a superstar in his own right, but was he better off as a person when isolated from family? I'll tell you now: had family been at The Forum or Staples for This Is It, those rehearsals would have been stopped long before and Michael would still be with us today. 

MJJC: In your book you wrote that you did NOT write "Word to the Badd" but in 1991, you DID interviews--both live and print--where you in no uncertain terms stated that you wrote the song. For example in a Times interview you said “I wrote this song--and it came from the bottom of my heart--was to help my little brother get a grip on reality. “. Which version is the truth? And regardless do you accept any responsibility for the song Word to the Badd? Even if you didn't write it, wouldn't you agree that singing/recording it is just as bad?

Jermaine Jackson: I have heard how some folk are keen to pin me to this kind of reported word or the odd sentence on video. The bottom line is that I didn't write it and everyone involved knows I didn't write it, regardless of what I said or didn't say in this interview or that interview. No one mentions the interviews where I said I didn't write it do they??!

The true story is the one I've told many times, and the one that is in the book. I accepted responsibility a long time ago and my remorse was true. It is a shame to me that some fans cannot move on from this in the same way Michael did. But honestly, what matters to me is that we straightened things out as brothers. 

MJJC: If you really have vitiligo as you stated in your book, what prevented you from coming out when everyone doubted Michael had the disease? Don't you think that it could have benefited Michael if you would have came out to his defence and said you had a vitiligo spot once, instead of mocking your brother in a song about his skin change? 

Jermaine Jackson: For us, it was nonsense to hear all those tabloid lies about Michael bleaching his skin but I'll say what Michael said: if we spent our time extinguishing every rumor and every lie that was ever said or written, none of us would have had lives. 

When I first started writing the book, I didn't intend to include anything about this. We are (as a family) very private. But I mentioned it one day and my ghost-writer thought it was significant. We talked about it and I agreed to include it after being persuaded that it was important information. 

MJJC: You claimed in your book that Michael didn't own a cell phone. There are many pictures, bodyguards, friends confirming Michael did own and use cell phones. Is it possible that Michael simply didn't want to talk to you?

Jermaine Jackson: Folk's interpretation of a photo doesn't mean that Michael owned his own cell just because he was pictured with one. To the best of my knowledge, there was no cell you could call Michael direct on unless it was someone else's. 

MJJC: What was going through your mind when you thought that telling everyone there was an 'escape plan' [if Michael was found guilty in 2005] was a good idea? Any escape or leaving the country during a trial (before or after the verdict) would have been a felony. Do you regret writing that?

Jermaine Jackson: Why would I regret writing it??! Once again, this is an example of newspapers misreporting what I had written in the book. I didn't say there was a plan "if convicted". I said it was a plan I had after the first few days of evidence. I didn't say it was rational, but it was the way I was thinking without the benefit of hindsight.

It didn't occur to me how right or wrong it was. This was a time when my brother was pursued, arrested and put on trial for something he didn't do, and I was supposed to sit back and trust the system that was screwing him? I had zero faith and I had nightmares about an innocent man going to jail. I have written in the book about the thoughts and feelings I was experiencing in that context. It's the truth, and I don't regret writing the truth. 

MJJC: To what extent, Michael owes his success to you and the rest of your family? Do you believe Michael's legacy is his own, and stands apart from the Jacksons or Jackson 5 legacy?

Jermaine Jackson: To the same extent that Paul McCartney owes his success to The Beatles. Michael's platform was the Jackson 5. Everyone comes from somewhere.

Michael's legacy is his own and he stands in his own remarkable light, and we feel proud as brothers to have shared in his early days because the Jackson 5 days are part of the Michael Jackson success story. History can't separate them. 

MJJC: While the Jackson family is an amazing musical force and they are American musical royalty, is the Jackson family aware that many fans do not see the Jackson family's legacy and Michael Jackson's legacy as one and the same - especially overseas, where Michael's fan base is so large? How do you think you can grow your Jackson family legacy without alienating Michael Jackson fans?

Jermaine Jackson: I think I've partly answered this one with the previous question. We don't wish to alienate anyone, because Michael had the most amazing fans who are fiercely proud of his legacy as much as we are. Michael's legacy and the Jackson legacy are interwoven without being one and the same. I think that's the best way to put it...our legacy started off on the same track and then Michael's track separated and went on its own way to create another legacy on top of the Jackson 5 legacy. 

MJJC: After all the privacy and protection Michael insisted on for his kids, why is your family promoting the kids and disregarding their privacy - especially with public Twitter accounts that expose them to haters. Do you see how putting the kids out there seem to fans to directly contradict everything their father wanted for them as children/young people? Some fans feel Michael's wishes are being disrespected. Please help us understand.

Jermaine Jackson: We are not disregarding their privacy, and Michael's wishes are not being disrespected. Those kids are fiercely protected. 

Michael entrusted his children to our mother's care because he knew the love, care and attention they would receive. As any parent knows, it is a fine line between saying "no" and respecting your child's wishes. As they grow and evolve, so must the decisions taken that affect their lives, development and ambitions.

MJJC: Are you aware that the internet blog where Jordan Chandler retracted his allegations against Michael is a hoax? In TV interviews you and Mrs Jackson when defending Michael from the child abuse allegations use this argument to prove Michael's innocence and because it is false it has the opposite effect of making viewers continue to question the accusations against Michael. There are so many good arguments to support Michael's innocence and it is extremely frustrating for fans and extremely damaging towards your brother when an argument which is clearly a lie is used.

Jermaine Jackson: I don't know what Internet blog is being referred to?? 

Michael's attorney Tom had a witness that was prepared to testify that Jordan Chandler had told him the allegations were untrue (should he have appeared as a witness in 2005) The boy had privately retracted it, and Tom was going to prove it. I think that's as good as any argument can get!

MJJC: Do you still feel strongly against the Cascio tracks? If so then do you or any other family member's plan to make issue with any future MJ albums that include any more Cascio tracks?

Jermaine Jackson: For now, I'll say what I've always said on this issue: when has Michael's music and voice ever been released with a question mark over it, as to whether it's 100% him? I think the truth will come out one day but no, that first album is not 100% Michael and no one can talk to me about the authentic sound of my own brother's voice.

MJJC: This is kind of random, but did Michael ever express any interest in Islam or becoming a Muslim? There were many rumours swirling around in the months after his death that said he was a Muslim

Jermaine Jackson: Michael did not convert to Islam. He was curious about it and I gave him many books to read about Islam. I write in the book how, during his 2005 trial, he returned to the Kingdom Hall to pray. It's fair to say that he died a Jehovah Witness. 

MJJC: What is the worst prank Michael ever played on you?

Jermaine Jackson: Buckets or bottles of water balanced on the top of doors. Water, water, water. Every prank I ever remember involved a soaking! 

MJJC: What do you miss about Michael most?

Jermaine Jackson: That's simple: his smile. He had a smile like no one else. 

MJJC: If you could say just one more thing to Michael, what would it be?

Jermaine Jackson: It wouldn't be one thing, it would be many things. Many private things, but I would probably remind him how brilliant his London concerts were going to be because his self-doubt worried about that. That's the saddest thing for me: that his death confirmed the lie that he wasn't ready or fit enough to perform again, when the truth is that he was going to produce the most amazing show on earth and prove everyone wrong with the comeback of all comebacks. 

MJJC: Do you plan to release a solo album of new material and would you ever do a show/tour of your own hits/new material?

Jermaine Jackson: I always have plans and ideas and I'm always working on new material. I'm not finished yet!

news033

MJJC: Is there a reason why we are mostly only seeing Marlon, Jackie and Tito together? Do you think you will ever work with your brothers again?

Jermaine Jackson: You only saw Marlon, Jackie and Tito last year because I was busy writing my book, and then there was the trial. I hold dear the hope that you will see the brothers working as one again.

MJJC: What do YOU plan on doing for Michael and his legacy for years to come?

Jermaine Jackson: My book was the first thing I could do to honour his memory and fight for the truth in a way that he never got the chance to. Looking ahead, my goal will be to always preserve his legacy on the highest level in any appropriate way that I can.