When I purchased the book more than a year ago, I was hoping it was going to be a book that focuses on what made Michael Jackson a legend. As I was reading the book, I was really impressed with the information that the author, Mike Smallcombe, provided. However, there were random information that were not really related to Michael's music or his impact that made me see the book in a different way. After reading the book, I left feeling unsatisfied with the book.
I wanted to give Mr. Smallcome a chance and hoping that his book was the book that discussed Michael's music in a more in-depth and detailed way. As I continued to read the book, I started to realized that the book was not all about his music and creative side. The first half of the book, discusses his music, how it was promoted, the people he worked with, his image and eventually by the second half of the book, his financial troubles and how his personal life was into shambles the last years of his life. The book does not get into how Michael got into those issues in a way that the reader would sympathized with him and ultimately understand why Michael deserves justice in the battles he had to fight.
The best things about the book was the detailed information, the book was very comprehensive, gives the reader an understanding of how Michael was as an musician, his quest for perfection, how meticulous he was with everything in his life, great quotes from the people who worked with Michael and his drive to be the best. The book also does a great job of explaining what happened between Michael and Quincy Jones when they worked on the Bad album. This was information I never knew about before. Michael and Quincy had different views on how the album was going to be done and they often clashed.
The book also does a great job of telling the reader on how Michael and the late, great Prince worked in the studio thanks to legendary producer Jimmy Jam Harris' description. Here is part of it on page 229,
"I've never seen anybody work any harder than he does, and that's coming from somebody who has worked with Prince - now Prince is a hard-working guy".
The reader would have a better understanding of how both men were different musically as they read on that page.
The book also pretty much exposes the type of friendship Michael had with the late Elizabeth Taylor thanks in part to a quote that Michael's former lawyer, Bert Fields, stated. When Michael settled the child abuse case in 1994, Mr. Fields did not understand why because he felt that Michael should have gone to trial and prove his innocence. Michael wanted to do that. The best way Bert Fields could explained what happened was stating this from page 202,
"He believes it was Michael's close friend, Elizabeth Taylor who tipped the balance in favor of a settlement. 'I was convinced that Michael was innocent and I had the opportunity to observe him as a father,' Fields said. 'I thought that paying a substantial amount of money would forever tarnish his reputation and injure him professionally. But he was listening to Elizabeth Taylor and I suspect that she had the attitude where she told him, 'Michael you got all of the money in the world, why do you need a trial'."
I am not sure if Mr. Smallcombe realized that he posted a statement that would confirmed that Ms. Taylor was not good for Michael.
I thought that the book would focus on an objective view about Michael but I was wrong, oh so wrong. The author has this obsession with getting information from tabloids, hearsay and suspect individuals who portrayed a side of Michael that was constantly promoted in the media and general public. It was annoying that the writer would rather get information from the likes of Roger Friedman than actually researching to see if whatever he stated was even true. Mr. Smallcombe also relied heavily on Frank Casico's laughable book on Michael but did not bother to also rely on Jermaine's or LaToya's books on him. At times, he relied on Karen Faye, Michael's freelanced make-up "artist" who has a credibility issue. This showed me that Mr. Smallcombe was not interested in what was the real story about Michael. Most of this review will go into detail about this. An example of this is when Mr. Smallcombe stated this on page 285,
"Angry and intoxicated, Michael proceeded to fire them over the phone. 'You're supposed to be working for me, fighting for what I want and what's best for the album, ' Michael yelled. 'You haven't shown me a marketing plan. I've been asking for a plan for six months and I haven't seen a thing. You're purposely trying to sabotage this album. Fuck you, you're fired. If you don't believe in me, there are other people who do'".
Now, if you read this quote, you would probably believed this if you think Michael was crazy. See, this was not known in the page where the information came from so people would think that Michael lost his mind and spew his anger at anyone that does not do right by him. I understand that Michael had a business to run and at times he can get angry when things are not done right. However, this was not how Michael conducted business. He was the ultimate professional and not some ignorant person who calls people on the phone and cusses them out, intoxicated or not and I do not even believe Michael would remotely do any of that. Michael rarely curses. The information quote came from Frank's laughable book. Mr. Smallcombe never questioned this man's fables about a man he constantly exploits whenever he feels like it. As a matter of fact, Frank Casico and his family are leeches. The truth about Frank is that Michael cut this man and his family off before he passed away. Here are tweets that Michael's nephew Taryll and his cousin Anthony stated about the Casicos -
Smallcombe did this again when he discusses Michael's health issues. He stated on page 264, where Michael got his insomnia from,
"Alimorad Farshchian, a Miami based doctor who treated Michael several years later, believes Michael's chronic sleep issues were caused by surgery to his face. 'You have an area inside your nose called the turbinates, and if you remove the turbinates, it's possible that you produce what they call empty nose syndrome, producing insomina,' Dr. Farshchian said. "To me, that was the cause of it".
It was not cited in the back of the book where Mr. Smallcombe got this information from and this doctor is very suspect. This nonsense is actually in a book that is supposed to discuss Michael's creativity and music. Throughout the book, Mr. Smallcombe dwells on Michael's issues with his drug dependency even at times describing or implying it as an "addiction". Michael had insomnia most of his life. His brother, Jermaine, explained that Michael was suffering from it for years.
Jermaine talking to Piers Morgan in 2009 about Michael's sleep issues.
A simple search online would have easily been found that clearly explains that what that fraudulent doctor stated is nonsense. According to the National Sleep Foundation, the only known link between insomnia and the nose is an condition called Allergic Rhinitis. Read on,
"Allergic rhinitis occurs when allergens in the air are breathed by a patient that is allergic to them, irritating and inflaming the nasal passages. Allergens may include dust mites, pollen, molds, or pet dander. In people who are allergic to them, these particles trigger the release of a chemical in the body that causes nasal congestion, sneezing, watery eyes, and runny nose. These symptoms can lead to poor sleep, which can result in significant daytime sleepiness and fatigue."
The writer likes to make the reader believe that Michael had an "addiction" even though there was no real evidence that he had one. There were rumblings but not enough to actually do something to confront him, at least that is what Mr. Smallcombe would want the reader to believe. Michael had a dependency and he dealt with it with rehabilitation in the 1990s. After he passed away, it was not known what was his caused of death but the media and the former lawyer Brian Oxman, stated that drugs played a role in Michael's death. That gave the assumption that Michael's death was a drug overdose. (Michael did not die of a drug overdose but Propofol intoxication performed by a doctor which was considered involuntary manslaughter. Also, the official autopsy report showed that Michael had no drugs, illicit or pharmaceutical, in his system except the Propofol.) Even when LaToya stated in her book Startin' Over, on page 201,
"For as long as I could remember, my brother had always been against any drug, even aspirin. Michael didn't believe in putting any chemicals in his body, and he was devoted to health food throughout his life."
LaToya goes on to discuss what she believe about Michael's use of prescription painkillers and even describes it as a dependency. This information should have been stated in the book because it can give the reader an idea on how Michael dealt with pharmaceutical drugs. When people read the book who are just learning about Michael, they are not going to know how Michael handled medication. They are going to make an assumption that he was this unstable person who had a serious substance abuse problem and refused to get help for it. At least that is how Mr. Smallcombe implied in his book. I am not going to waste any more time on this writer's assumptions about this subject. It is clear that the writer has an agenda to make Michael out to be this drug addict mess.
This is not the only time Mr. Smallcombe ignored information from certain people that would know. When Michael was dealing with his issues with AEG, he wanted people that he can trust to watch out for what they were doing. Those people, Leonard Rowe and Michael's father Joseph, were the ones that Michael contacted. Read how the writer described Michael's father and Mr. Rowe on page 349,
"Amidst the managerial merry-go-round, Michael's cash strapped father also began meddling in his son's affairs. Joseph had been trying to organize a family reunion concert behind Michael's back since November, teaming up with ex-convict and 'family friend' Leonard Rowe, who promoted shows for the Jacksons in the late seventies, to make it happen."
Here is an issue with this quote: Joe Jackson should never be described by someone who claimed that his book on Michael is "objective" as "cash strapped". That is disrespectful. Yes. Joe loves the spotlight and probably loves money but to state that about him and not knowing the whole story is lazy on the author's part. I find it weird that the author would described Leonard Rowe as an ex-convict as if that was a way of diminishing his credibility. Instead of taking a page from Roger Friedman, literally, Mr. Smallcombe should have found out the actual reason why both men came to see Michael. According to Startin' Over, pages 275-276,
"Although Michael was receiving far from unbiased business advice at this time, he did have a moment of clarity in March 2009, when he contacted Leonard and asked him to take over as his business manager. Michael even sent a letter to Randy Phillips, dated March 25th, saying that he should please extend every courtesy to Mr. Rowe. Michael told Leonard that he absolutely could not come home penniless after doing London concert which his AEG deal had committed him. He was deeply concerned that those whom he was doing business with were planning to take advantage of him, and that by the time they were done with him, they would own everything, and he would not be able to provide for his three children. Leonard was extremely moved by this request from his longtime friend, and he immediately agreed."Leonard Rowe did an interview explaining how he met Michael and that he was around him most of the time that Michael had to deal with AEG.
Where is the part where Joe and Leonard pretty much invited themselves in Michael's affairs? Nowhere. If you were to read the last chapter from Making Michael, and you are just learning about what happened to Michael during that time, you would have already made up your mind about Mr. Jackson and Mr. Rowe. You would never know that what the writer stated is not true. Now, I am not trying to imply that Mr. Smallcombe has an issue with the truth but I do wonder why did he not include the truth in his book? He decides to discuss the AEG saga in his book and wanted the reader, regardless of their level of Michael Jackson fanhood, to actually believe that what he stated in his book really happened. The writer seems to copy and paste a Roger Friedman's article in discussing Joe's and Leonard's budging in by including that Katherine convinced Michael to meet with them. It is truly pathetic how much this writer is going to go to really make Michael look laughable.
The book also would make the reader think that Michael was this messed up, defenseless person who let people step on him whenever he can. For example, when the writer discusses Randy Phillips and how Michael was opening up to Randy about what was happening in his life on page 337. I am not going to quote it because it sounds made up to me. If a reader was reading this, they would never know that Randy Phillips slapped Michael in the London press conference to announce the tour. The writer did not mentioned that part at all. The writer also did not state that Michael always wrote notes and he wrote about the leeches that were around him. Thanks to LaToya's book, (I never thought her book would be so valuable for this part of the review.) the notes Michael wrote were as followed on pages 295-296,
"I hate John Branca.
John Branca stole lots of money from me and continuously double and tripled billed me.
I hate Tohme Tohme.
Randy Phillips and Dr. Tohme are not flying with me. NO! NO! NO! EVER!
Get Joseph's help to get these people out of my life.
I don't want Frank DiLeo back in my life.
I only agreed to 10 shows.
Tell Tohme Tohme to give me back my cars."
As you can read, Making Michael is telling the reader about the AEG saga and not telling the reader what Michael did to try to get rid of these people based on the notes he written. It is obvious that the writer was never interested in Michael's side of the saga.
Now, let's get into what the book stated about Michael's finances. There were many instances where Mr. Smallcombe discussed Michael's finances and almost all of the information regarding that subject came from either Roger Friedman articles, tabloids or mainstream media that is not traditionally in the tabloid form but reported news on this subject that was bias towards Michael. Michael's side of the story was rarely told. On page 334 of Making Michael, it stated,
"By early 2008, despite the recent restructuring of his financial empire, Michael had reached the peaked of his cash flow crisis. He defaulted on repayments for his Neverland Ranch loan - a debt still held by Fortress and unaffected by the refinancing - and was told to pay off the entire $24.5 million balance by March 19 to prevent a foreclosure, which would have had disastrous financial consequences. Lenders were now refusing to loan Michael more money, but he was about to be tapped out for the final time."
The reader would read this paragraph and even the whole page and would think that Michael borrowed, spent and was given so much money that he could not get his finances in order no matter how much he tried. This would make the reader think that Michael was not smart with his money. The same Michael who had a fear of being poor and retiring penniless. The same Michael who stated on his autobiography Moonwalk on pages 257-258, regarding having control of his career,
"We did a tour years ago when this guy who ripped us off, but he taught me something. He said, 'Listen, all these people work for you. You don't work for them. You are paying them'. He kept on telling me that. Finally I began to understand what he meant. It was an entirely new concept for me because at Motown everything was done for us. Other people made our decisions. I've been mentally scarred by that experience. 'You got to wear this. You've got to do these songs. You are going here. You are going to do this interview and that TV show.' That's how it went. We couldn't say anything. When he told me I was in control, I finally woke up. I realized he was right."
It is unlike Michael to allow things like what Mr. Smallcombe described in his book happen to him. Thankfully, there are now plenty of evidence that proves that Michael's financial situation was planned and that would discredit the nonsense that the writer stated in his book. The information came from court documents of civil lawsuits that Michael had to deal with. Here are blog posts that explains his financial situation -
The blog entries are very detailed in what Michael went through and it is not fully known when some of the documents in those entries were unsealed before Michael passed away. However, Michael speaking out about the conspiracy against him was known and the writer should have paid close attention to what Michael was stating and tried to tied it together with the half truths/lies that the media were reporting at the time. It would be best for the reader to take time to read the information to get the whole story.
Another issue that Mr. Smallcombe did not do a fine job explaining was Michael's fight with Sony Music back in 2002. Chapter 16 of Making Michael goes into detail about the situation and on page 305, the writer stated that the executives from other record companies were stating that Michael was "piggybacking" on Al Sharpton's artists rights movement. What does that have to do with what Michael was talking about? Nothing. Michael was not piggybacking on the movement. He was lending his voice to the movement as he should have. The writer also quoted what Tommy Mottola, the former head of Sony Music, in which he stated on pages 305-306,
"Mottolla himself didn't comment on the fiasco until many years later. 'We were al shock when eight months after Invincible was released, the poor sales flipped Michael into becoming a different person,' he said. 'Something happened and he decided to lash out at me publicly. Michael was trying to turn this into an escape hatch. He was singling me out in order to get a release from Sony. Did he really think he would embarass Sony enough to walk away from approximately $50 million in debts or from out joint venture in the Beatles catalogue?'"
The writer describing Michael calling out the record companies and Tommy Mottola a "fiasco" only tells me that this situation Michael had to go through was a joke to the writer. Why even add an opinion? The writer has no clue what Michael had to deal with and go through constantly.
Michael speaking out about the music business, one of the biggest music stars ever, about the truth about the record business was important. When I read chapter 16, I was let down that the writer did not get into what Michael was trying to do by speaking out and that is unfortunate.
I wanted to really like the book and I even went as far as telling fans on my Facebook page for the blog (the post has since been deleted) that the book was not tabloid filled. I could not believe the many mistakes that were made in the book and the holes that Mr. Smallcombe allowed to be there so that the reader would not be able to figure out what was Michael side of the story. The book was not nasty or completely negative but it was not truthful either. There were a lot of half truths and judgement calls throughout the last 150 pages of the book. I would say that 50% percent of the book are worth reading and the other 50% are not, especially if you do not believe that Michael was this complete idiot who could not get his life in order. Michael stated that conspiracy was all around him but you would never know it if you read this book. The book should have focused on his music and creativity alone and not get into his supposed "drug issues" and Sony Music/John Branca created financial crisis. The book might have been comprehensive but not enough of that comprehension the writer did would truly give Michael the justice that he truly deserved.
* This blog post is dedicated to the late, great Dick Gregory. Thank you for speaking the truth when it was not popular and being there for the people you care about. Your love for our people is legendary. This post and the blog is about the truth and Mr. Gregory represents that.*
Moonwalk. Jackson, Michael. Pages 257 and 258. 1988, 2009.
Starting Over. Jackson, LaToya. Pages 201, 276, 295 and 296. 2011,
Making Michael Inside the Career of Michael Jackson. Smallcombe, Mike. Pages. 202, 229, 264, 285, 305, 306, 334, 337 and 349. 2016.
Blog Entries -
"Michael Jackson's Involuntary Bankrupcty Attempt Explained". Updated August 2, 2017. Marcobal, marcoballetta.com, http://marcoballetta.com/michael-jackson-involontary-bankruptcy-attempt-explained/
"Going Back to the Root of Michael Jackson's Financial Problems". Updated August 2, 2017. Marcobal, marcoballetta.com, http://marcoballetta.com/going-back-to-the-root-of-michael-jackson-financial-problems/
"MJ Sony/ATV Share Sold: The Never Seen Before Trigger Clause and the Sony Purchase Option. January 31, 2017. Michael Jackson Other Side of Midnight, michaeljacksonothersideofmidnight.wordpress.com, https://michaeljacksontheothersideofmidnight.wordpress.com/2017/01/31/mj-sonyatv-shares-sold-the-never-seen-before-trigger-clause-and-the-sony-purchase-option/
Allergies and Sleep. National Sleep Foundation, sleepfoundation.org, 2017. https://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-topics/sleep-related-problems/allergic-rhinitis-and-sleep
The tweets are from Taryll Jackson (verified) and Anthony Jackson.
Pictures are from my personal harddrive. Picture of the cover of the book from amazon.com.
All videos are from youtube.com