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“I was supposed to exhibit tough love”: Jacksons v AEG Update

By | Published on Monday 13 May 2013

Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson was “not himself” in the days before his premature death in June 2009, make-up artist Karen Faye testified last week in the ongoing Jacksons v AEG Live court case.

As much previously reported, the Jackson family reckon tour promoter AEG Live should be held liable for the death of the late king of pop as the paymaster of Conrad Murray, the doctor convicted of involuntary manslaughter for negligently treating the singer. The Jacksons are keen to show that AEG bosses put profits before their star’s wellbeing, and put pressure on both the singer and Murray to make sure the former could perform.

Faye looked after Jackson’s make-up and hair at his live shows for nearly three decades, and was working on the ill-fated AEG-promoted ‘This Is It’ shows in the months before the pop star’s death. “He was acting like a person I didn’t recognise”, she told the court last week, recalling Jackson’s behaviour at the ‘This Is It’ rehearsals, “this was not the man I knew”.

Faye said that she raised concerns early on about the gruelling schedule Jackson had committed to with the 50 date ‘This Is It’ residency at London’s The O2, which included shows more or less every other day, but that when she discussed her concerns with the show’s director Kenny Ortega “he kind of fluffed it off”.

According to CNN, Faye told the court: “Michael’s adrenaline, and what it takes for him to perform with that much effort, and what he himself puts into a show, he needed a lot more time to at least get some rest and sleep, and to be healthy and maintain that kind of longevity”.

But, she admitted, Jackson seemed very excited about the new live venture at the outset, and while he looked on the thin side, “I thought he had plenty of time to put on some body mass and muscle mass”. However, she said, the singer’s enthusiasm for ‘This Is It’ waned after he started rehearsing onstage. “The turning point” she told the court, “was when he had to get up on stage and actually start performing; it was just too hard on him”.

After that Jackson became more difficult, and more reluctant to participate in preparations for the O2 shows. So, Faye claimed, AEG bosses told ‘This Is It’ staff they had to force Jackson to rehearse, going to his rented home to get him if necessary. On one occasion, after Jackson locked himself in his bathroom to avoid rehearsals, she heard AEG exec Paul Gongaware tell a security guard at the singer’s house “get him out of the bathroom; do you have a key? Do whatever it takes”.

“I was supposed to exhibit tough love too”, Faye added, claming that she was also put under pressure to get Jackson on stage for rehearsals, whatever it took.

In the days before Jackson’s death, ‘This Is It’ staff were told to take their orders from AEG Live President Randy Phillips instead of Jackson himself. Faye explained: “When I was around, [Michael] was repeating himself an awful lot, saying the same thing over and over again. He kept repeating, ‘why can’t I choose’, it was one of the things he repeated over and over again”. Noticing how cold Jackson was when applying his make-up, it was Faye who wrapped the singer in a blanket at his final rehearsal.

With Faye having worked with Jackson for so long, her testimony also recalled the key injuries the singer incurred, one while filming a Pepsi advert in 1984 and the other at a concert in Germany. The two accidents are important in that it is believed that the enduring pain they caused led to the singer’s dependency on prescription painkillers, and subsequently other drugs to counter side effects of the pain medication. Those dependencies, of course, led to Jackon’s fatal overdose on propofol in 2009.

On his increased use of medications as the years went by, Faye said: “Michael always believed that a doctor had his best interest at heart. He believed if he got something through a doctor that it was safe and OK for him to use it”.

The case continues.