How was Michael Jackson personally
The musical "Beat it!" can also be seen in Heilbronn on April 23, 2019
In the interview ex-Bravo-Editor-in-chief Alex Gernandt, as he experienced the "King of Pop" in many personal meetings.
The "King of Pop" was, is and will remain a phenomenon: even more than nine years after his death, Michael Jackson will not be forgotten. Today "Jacko" would have been 60 years old. For this anniversary, the musical "Beat it!" on tour. On Tuesday, April 23rd, the homage show will also be guest at the Heilbronner Harmonie at 8 p.m.
On Michael Jackson's 60th birthday, someone who got to know the superstar very privately has a say. Alex Gernandt is not only a consultant for the "Beat it!" Musical, but also has "Jacko" as a former Bravo-Editor-in-chief met exclusively 16 times. In the interview, Gernandt talks about great, emotional moments, backstage experiences and the absolute uniqueness of the "King of Pop".
echo24.de: What significance did Michael Jackson have for them Bravo reading youth from back then?
Alex Gernandt: Michael Jackson was a megastar, admired by millions and unreachable. He was on the cover of the magazine over 30 times Bravo, he won eleven gold medals Bravo-Ottos as the most popular singer. In 1993, as a reporter, I managed to meet him personally for the first time in Istanbul at a concert on the "Dangerous" tour. That was really special at the time because he always refused to talk to the media. The reports in theBravo the fans also got to know him from his human side. Every time I met I had to translate my last story about Jackson into English word for word. When I once wrote: 'Michael's HIStory show is sensational!' he asked me incredulously: "You really wrote that? - Did you really write that?" That was by no means flirtatious, but really meant seriously - and says a lot about Michael Jackson as a person! "
What is it that still fascinates people about Jackson today?
First and foremost, it is his immortal hits, his groundbreaking music videos and his legendary stage performances. Michael Jackson counts for me next to Elvis Presley, the Beatles, Bob Dylan, David Bowie and Tina Turner among the most important artists in pop history. From the 1980s onwards, Jackson single-handedly redefined show business and raised it to a new level with his work. The work he leaves behind is absolutely timeless. Hits like "Beat it", "Thriller", "Smooth Criminal" or "Earth Song" still sound as exciting and gripping today as they did then!
You got to know Jackson personally and accompanied him for a long time. What kind of person was he?
I came to know Jackson as an extremely diverse, positive, and smart person. He could be playful like a child, amused himself with the smallest gags, but at the same time was very educated and well-read - and a tough businessman who fought hard for his artistic visions and interests in order to achieve success. He rarely made compromises. He always seemed surprisingly modest to me, was polite, often shy and anything but the often suspected puppet. An absolute perfectionist who subordinated his entire life to success, who wanted to prove himself over and over again, and who never rested on laurels.
In terms of professionalism, there was probably no comparable artist at that time. What was Michael Jackson's most outstanding quality from a professional point of view?
His absolute will to succeed, his absolute commitment. Michael gave everything! He had learned this from his father Joseph in an often inhuman way. Michael was very hard on himself, a total perfectionist who knew exactly what he wanted - and what not! Most of the ideas came from Michael alone - for songs and lyrics, music videos, outfits or spectacular shows. During his unforgettable "Wetten, dass ..?" Appearance in November 1995, he explained to the director during the rehearsal for half an hour how the stage lights should be set for "Earth Song". It went almost insane - but the performance is still remembered today!
You have seen a lot in your work with Jackson. Are there any exciting, funny or moving stories that you can think of? On tour or during video shoots, for example?
Every single encounter with Jackson was a privilege because he was extremely media-shy. It was very lucky that over time I was able to win his trust and that I was repeatedly invited to his concerts, video shoots and TV appearances all over the world. I particularly like to think back to the video shoot for "They don't care about us" in February 1996. The film was shot in the streets of Salvador da Bahia and in the slums of Rio de Janeiro. It was dangerous in the slums of Rio, murders were the order of the day there. But Michael insisted on shooting the video for the socially critical song in authentic locations! For Michael's managers, this led to sweating. To guarantee the safety of the team, director Spike Lee made the male favela residents on the set "bodyguards" and gave them a few dollars to prevent the situation from escalating. The boys felt honored and stayed calm.
It wasn't all positive headlines about MJ ...
I've often seen Jackson up close and looked behind the mask. He never wore a face mask at meetings. Hair-raising things were often reported about him that were supposed to serve the greed for sensation. Hardly was it mentioned that he had suffered from the white spot disease Vitiligo since the 1980s and had his skin bleached for this reason. It quickly became: Michael Jackson doesn't want to be black, which was definitely not true. I was often able to accompany Michael when, for example, before his concerts in Budapest or Bucharest he visited hospitals and orphanages, distributed toys and handed over donation checks. Jackson tried to communicate with the sick kids, he took his time. You could tell that it comes from the heart and wasn't a quick PR campaign for the image. On the contrary: he didn't want photographers with him at all.
Are there still artists today who can hold a candle to the "greats" from back then?
No! Of course, the pop world keeps turning and there are always new talented artists successfully at the start - such as Ed Sheeran, Drake, Beyoncé or Helene Fischer. But: there won't be a Michael Jackson a second time! His combination of talent, creativity and charisma was unique.
What does a show like "Beat it!" can to meet Jackson?
First and foremost, it has to entertain, cast a spell over the audience and inspire them! I experience "Beat it!" as a very successful musical biography: It honors and celebrates Michael Jackson, the artist and his life's work, skillfully and respectfully. The dancers and actors on stage are highly talented and perfectly convey the spirit of Michael, especially Dantanio Goodman and Koffi Missah, who portray the adult and young Jackson. It is a show full of emotions, with outstanding dance performances and all of Michael's great hits, which still inspire millions of fans around the world today.
"Beat it - The show about the 'King of Pop'" will be guest on Tuesday, April 23, 2019, at Harmonie in Heilbronn.
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