Friday, August 14, 2009

The Boy Who Would Be King

Before his onstage crotch grabbing, his plastic surgeries, his rumored addictions, and, at the lowest point, his child-molestation accusations, Michael Jackson was known for his talent, not his troubles. And for years, Vanity Fair's Lisa Robinson followed his career, getting to know a singer she describes as "one of the most talented, adorable, enthusiastic, sweet, ebullient performers I'd ever interviewed."

Anwar Hussein/WireImage.comSteve Granitz/

Get a preview of Vanity Fair's feature on the King of Pop:

Robinson interviewed Michael for the first time in 1972 interview at his family's home in Encino, California. MJ was 14 years old.

So what do you like to do in your spare time?
Swim ... play pool ... We don't go much out of the gate because we have [everything] here. When we lived in the other house, we would go to the park toplay basketball, but now we have it here.

See Classic Photos of Michael Jackson

(Michael asks me more questions than I ask him; there are discussions about my maroon nail polish, buying antiques on Portobello Road, the Apollo Theater, Madison Square Garden.)

Do you ever get scared onstage?
No. If you know what you're doing, you're not scared onstage.

Robinson pressed Michael about his personal life in a phone interview in 1977.

Do you go out with girls? Any dates?
No, I don't date, no. I'm not really interested right now. I like girls and everything but [laughs] ... Oh, you think I'm one of those? No! I'm just not that interested right now.

Hear Clips From Lisa Robinson's Interviews With Michael Jackson

Robinson was surprised when he declared in 1984 that the original mix of Thriller, his hit 1982 album, had "sounded like crap."

Oh, it was terrible. And I cried at the listening party. I said, "I'm sorry -- we can't release this." I called a meeting with Quincy [Jones], and everybody at the [record] company was screaming that we had to have it out and there was a deadline, and I said, "I'm sorry, I'm not releasing it." I said, "It's terrible." So we re-did a mix a day. Like a mix a day. And we rested two days, then we did a mixing. We were overworked, but it all came out OK.

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