by J. Randy Taraborrelli; Hachette Book Group, 2010; 814 pages; $14.99
J. Randy Taraborrelli’s meticulously researched biography of Michael Jackson was obviously written out of deep love and admiration. He and Jackson were friends from their early teens until the singer’s death in June 2009. The book chronicles the embattled entertainer’s humble beginnings in Gary, Ind., his first brush with fame as the youngest member of the Jackson 5, his meteoric success as a solo artist and his countless legal problems later in life.
This newly revised edition now includes a chapter offering insight into the singer’s final days and the aftermath of his death. But the heart of this book consists of the details pertaining to Jackson’s short-lived marriage to Lisa Marie Presley and his two well-publicized battles with accusations of child molestation.
Taraborrelli often offers conflicted feelings about Jackson’s guilt or innocence concerning the molestation charges, but concedes that at best the singer used questionable judgment in his association with young boys (Jackson was acquitted of the charges in both cases).
As a friend of the family, Taraborrelli had access to some of the inner workings of the Jackson clan, including Michael’s tumultuous relationship with his abusive father. He also touches on the issues of jealousy and financial problems suffered by the Jackson siblings after Michael’s rise to international superstardom. Simply put, this page turner is full of revelation after shocking revelation about the King of Pop.
In a letter written to the author in 1995, Jackson says, “Why not just tell people I’m an alien from Mars. Tell them I eat live chickens and do a voodoo dance at midnight. They’ll believe anything you say because you’re a reporter. But if I, Michael Jackson, were to say, ‘I’m an alien from Mars and I eat live chickens and do a voodoo dance at midnight,” people would say, ‘Oh, man, that Michael Jackson is nuts. He’s cracked up. You can’t believe a damn word that comes out of his mouth.’”
But believe me, if you want a fascinating look into the life and death of the enigmatic pop star, this is it.
Buck McPherson is the singer for the rock band McPherson Struts.