Friday, August 28, 2009

Backstage with Michael Jackson

News that Michael Jackson's death was a homicide (a deadly drug overdose administered to an addict, even if by a Doctor, is still foul play) reminded me that after his death I wanted to put a little backstage story up here about the time I worked with him.

I was working in the audio department at the Shrine Auditorium in LA for the 25th Anniversary Soul Train Awards, and Michael was one of the performers. We'd heard that he was very picky about his monitor mix--that he liked it loud, so we had a cue to roll in some extra side fill during his performance. So he shows up (late) and does his rehearsal, and he doesn't look happy, so the mixer sends me up there with my headset to relay any instructions the King of Pop might have for the monitor mix.

I walk up to him, and he looks up at me, see's the head set and says (in his high-pitch voice, almost stereotypically) "You Audio?"

"Yes, sir, Mr. Jackson." They hired me for a reason: my southern-school manners.


"Yes, Michael, what can we do for you?"

"Make it louder."

"We've given you all the side fill we can, Michael."

"No, make the bass louder. I want to feel! it! right! here!" (hitting his chest with both hands with each "!").

"OK, Michael, I'll have him boost the bass."

"That's not going to be enough. You're going to need more sub-woofers."

"OK, but there's already two."

"More! Right! Here!" Pounding his chest again.

I went to get the last two subs in the building, cabled them up, had the monitor mixer (Kevin Wopner, maybe?) patch them in, rolled them out and stuck them next to the side fill, focusing them right at his skinny ass.

When I was ready, he does the number again, and I felt nauseous from all the bass, and I wasn't even in front of them. He's out there, center stage, with two huge sidefills and four giant subs focused right on him. It was so loud I couldn't hear the carpenters working. I could see him smiling at me.

When it was over, I walked up and asked how that was, and he spun around on one foot very dancer like, and slapped his chest again: "Perfect!"

No comments: