Bad Tour Girl/Fair weather frienemy:
September 14 1987
Press from the tour:
Sheryl Crow’s story is the kind of fairytale that Hollywood would have put on the screen in the 1930s, with Ruby Keeler in the starring role.
Two years ago, Ms Crow was a grade school music teacher in St Louis.
Now she sings love duets with Michael Jackson three or four nights a week all over te world.
About six months after arriving in LA, she and three jingle singing friends auditioned to be backup singers for Jackson’s first solo concert tour. The next day they got the job; Jackson liked their videotape audition. The day after that they began rehearsing.
Miss Crow, 26, still has to pinch herself sometimes to believe that it’s true.
“The first time I came in contact with him it really was like a dream come true for me, but I don’t think about that anymore because I work with him,” said Ms Crow.
“Oddly enough, getting through the rehearsals was much more intimidating than walking out on the stage in front of 30,000 people. The first couple of weeks (during rehearsals) I was not sleeping very much. To tell you the truth, the magnitude of this tour did not click in until we walked out onstage in Japan.”
In the show, Miss Crow plays co-star to the world’s biggest rock star. She sings a duet with him on “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You” and usually plays the dancing temptress in a re-creation of the choreography from the popular video of “The Way You Make Me Feel.” The duet has taken different shapes during the tour. Sometimes Jackson and Miss Crow sing it to each other, sometimes he projects his parts to the audience. Sometimes she plays the aggressor, sometimes he does. The collaboration is intense, she said, but she knows it’s acting.
Neverthereless Miss Crow’s romantic duet and her flirtatious dances with Jackson have set the tabloids to gossiping about them.
“I kind of expected it just because of what the media does with Michael” she said. ”They don’t get enough information from him so they create a lot of information. I didn’t expect anything quite so drastic as (headlines about) having his baby”.
What’s it like to work with Jackson?
He’s not overwhelming; he’s not an intimidating person,’ Ms.Crow said. ”Once you start to know him, he’s a very normal person. He’s a very warm, caring person. There’s obviously nothing to be afraid of.
He’s not a tyrant or an ogre , but he’s very serious about what he does.”
Onstage, Ms Crow finds it difficult not to watch Jackson, especially when he performs his awe inspiring Moonwalk during Billie Jean right in front of her. Offstage, Ms Crow has been adjusting to life on the road. Family members, college sorority sisters and new found fans call on her.
“It’s like being at your own wedding reception and you need to say something to everyone,” she said.
“What I do is like a fantasy for other people – a dream come true. People ask me what he’s like. I can relate to that position. I would be doing the same thing, I’m sure. That’s why I love talking to people about this because, for them, it’s an exciting experience they live vicariously through me.”
Michael, Glenda Audios, 2:2, Sometime During Bad Tour?
Michael: The other day, after my video came out,.. I don’t know what happened. They kicked me out of the trailer with my own band and stuff. And I’m on tour and stuff. Travelling with my (I) people and stuff like that. And..–. “Who was that”?—ya know, it was like– I don’t associate with them. Only if there’s a rehearsal, or I have to be on stage. When we’re back in the hotel room. I don’t associate, really, with those people.
Glenda: Not any of them?
Michael: No, I don’t associate with them. I stay off to myself.
Glenda: Why? Isn’t there anybody you could be real close to?
Michael: No. I feel uncomfortable- It’s like… okay, this is my band, we got Michael here, we got so-and-so.”
Glenda: (Started, interrupted by Michael)
Michael: We got Sheryl, we got, you know, Jennifer. And, I just don’t associate with people.
Glenda: Do you, um? Okay. Maybe is it hard for you to (sigh) to be so open?
Michael: I just–
Glenda: In a way, in a way, and to be looking at someone in the face or having someone look at you in the face cause you don’t want them to….cause
Michael: You know what, I don’t want them to get close and I don’t want them to see in my soul. And then I deal with this anorexia thing… I feel sad..
Glenda: Don’t, Michael. You look really good. (Silence) You look really good.
Michael: (After a silence- very low, strained) I don’t look good. I (I)
you’ve worked a lot with Sheryl Crowe. Were there ever talks about a duet with Michael ?
Michael told me he was hurt by some statements Sheryl made to the press about her touring with him. I just let the two worlds stay apart.
Sheryl, People, September 12, 1994
While scrambling for studio work, Crow heard that Michael Jackson was looking for backup singers for his 1987 world tour. She crashed the closed auditions, landed a job and spent 18 months on the road with Jackson. “He was never around,” she says. “For all the time I saw him, I could’ve been on tour with Tom Jones.”
Crow was after all, not simply a background singer. In an effort to bolster Jackson’s image, his publicists began feeding stories of a Jackson-Crow romance to the tabloids; the Globe even reported she was pregnant with child.
”I did spend a certain amount of time in therapy after I came home from the Jackson tour, says Crow, who suffered a six-month bout of extreme depression. ”To go from being a schoolteacher in Missouri to that whole scene, with the very mafioso sort of management, was too much.”
Q: You sang backing vocals with Michael Jackson for 18 months so you’ll know the truth about this. Is his nose really held on with magnets?
SC: I refuse to answer. I’ll plead the Fifth. Because I might know the answer to that.
Q: What did you learn from working with him?
SC: I learned that it’s very important to learn the names of those who work for you. He never learned my name. In eighteen months, he never once called me by my name and in a situation the name is everything — it’s your identity and if someone can’t be bothered to ask you your name then there is no identity. You can’t have people give their time and their energy and their lives to you and you don’t even know their name Forget it.
Q: What did you call you when he spoke to you? Cyril?
SC: He didn’t speak to me. Someone else would speak to you on his behalf. It was a Woody Allen-type situation. It would be, Michael wants this, Michael thinks that. But in his defence, watching him every night was amazing. Every evening there would be moments in the show that defied any kind of negativity. He’d go out and do those moves that he’d created and sing that music that no-one has done before and you’d be standing there thinking, This is unique. For that reason I have a lot of respect for him but his manners need a little work. Being around him was like going by a car-crash. You just can’t keep your eyes off of him and you can’t figure out why. Good or bad there’s this weird curiousity and when he walks into a room the enery shifts.
Michael Jackson appears on the TV and she visibly bristles. “There he is,” she sneers, her top lip curling, “Mr Sociable.”
Sheryl, Telegraph, 26 Nov 1998
“He didn’t really hang out with the band, so there was never a sense of camaraderie,” she says. “He’s a little reclusive. I haven’t seen him since the last gig, and he never called me by name. I don’t know if he even knows who I am now. I’m sure he’s been told. But does he care? I doubt it.”
Sheryl, Interview, 1999
Do you think Michael Jackson would make a good boyfriend?
(Long pause) That whole story, that I was having his baby, goes to show that whatever’s written about him could be true, could be false. It’s a weird thing with Michael. I worked with him for 18 months and I never really got to know him. I guess that kind of says a lot.
Sheryl, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Apr 23, 1999
Q. When was the last time you spoke to Michael Jackson (Crow was a backup singer on Jackson’s “Bad” tour)
A. The day the tour ended in 1989. I haven’t seen him since. He didn’t say good-bye, and that was the last time I ever saw him.
I never really forgave him for canceling in St. Louis. He canceled twice. Four hundred people drove up in buses to see the show.
(Note: Michael was suffering from laryngitis after having caught a cold)
Sheryl, July 1999
What was it like working with Michael Jackson as a backup singer on his 1987-88 Bad tour?
That was interesting for a number of reasons. First I had not been out of my own country I had barely been in LA. I got to see a lot of the world in a pretty upscale fashion. He’s obviously an interesting character. I didn’t really know him and he didn’t really know me or the rest of the band for that matter. Overall it was an outlandish experience.
Who would have thought that his whole empire would come crashing down and you’d turn out ot be a bigger star than he nowadays?
I’m having more success than he is now but nobody is going to as big star as he is. You can go to India and everyone in evry household will know who Michael Jackson is. He’s definitely the biggest star on the planet. But, I wasn’t standing behind him on stage thinking ”In a couple of years, I’m gonna give you a run for your money”. You don’t think that way but you certainly dream this way.
You had gotten some attention in the tabloids as Michael’s secret girlfriend. How did you deal with that kind of bizarre attention?
I really didn’t pay too much attention to it. I thought it was funny. It didn’t make my grandmother very happy. I just thought it was tabloid b.s. Its amazing how people actually read that stuff and actually believe it.
[22:15] [chris__msnbc] Question from David Ribeiro: Did you enjoy your stay in Lisbon Portugal ? I’ve seen you live 6 times and that was the time you looked the happiest, you even did the moonwalk like Michael…
[22:15] [sheryl_crow] Oh my, I must have been happy!
Sad Sad Mariana: Sheryl, what has been your funniest moment onstage?
SHERYL CROW: I think my funniest moment was in 1988 with Michael Jackson, wearing 4″ stilettos heels and a tight dress while doing intricate choreography on stage, and wiping out in front of thousands of people, and having Mike laugh while I drag myself up.
Sheryl bio, “No Fool To This Game,” 2002
Michael’s manager Frank Dileo, called me around March of 87 and asked me to put the band together within a couple of weeks. Greg (the guy at the left of MJ with his arms crossed) was not on board yet, so I auditioned drummers, guitarists, and keyboard players; some really incredible musicians and some really horrible musicians. The group came together within a couple of weeks, Greg joined as the musical director, and it was like the ultimate band for me. Well one day the backing singers all showed up and there was Sheryl. I said ”Sheryl ! Do you remember from Chick Korea?” She said ”Oh, yeah,” but her attention was on Greg. He was the star musician.
Also, its not true that she crashed into the audition to be on tour. Darryl Phinnessee (The guy who sings I’ll be There with MJ) assembled a group of singers including Sheryl and they taped together the audition where after introducing themselves they sung a couple of song.
Someone who was there when Michael watched the auditions said that when MJ heard the first song they performed :”Jukebox Saturday Night” he went, ”That’s them!”
Darryl said the story of how she got the gig might have been distorted because he himself asked to keep the answer nebulous. So, that his friends who were also contracted singers wouldn’t be mad at him because he didn’t call them to audition.
”We had a lot of interaction during the first rehearsals, and some interaction at the start of the tour, but that became less as the tour went on, says singer/composerDarryl Phinnessee. whose subsequent credits would include writing the theme music for popular TV sitcom Frasier. ”We’d always pray before going onstage, so we’d see him then, and then the only other time that we’d see Michael with any consistency would be when we’d go to an amusement park. If a city had a major amusemet park, they’d close it for him and we would go there, just the enoturage. Also, if a place threw a really big dinner, we might see him, but there was not a lot of personal stuff”.
Michael would walk by the end of the show, point to the band members, and shout out each of their names. However, with us he would just go ”Whooo!” He’s very methodical, and even in rehearsals he would do the same thing. We rehearsed at Universal for the (opening) Japanese leg of the tour and when we came back the record had been released, so we added new songs and rehearsed those in Florida.We rehearsed for just under a month and one day we took it upon ourselves to put cardboard signs around our necks with our names written on them. Well he came over, and just as he got ready to go ”Whooo! for whoever was first in line, he looked, kind of stumbled back, laughed and said ‘Oh, I’m so sorry’.It was a good joke and after that he knew our names”.
Given this tendency for multiple bookings at a particular venue, the Bad tour was unlike most other productions where everone and everything would ship put immediately following a show. Instead MJ’s gig often afforded its participants the luxury of staying in each location for several days at a time, as well as rest periods at regualr intervals.
“For a lot of us it was like a long, paid vacation” says singer Darryl Phinnessee. ”Everywhere we went it was like ‘Michael Jackson Week’ and there’d be people coming out of the woodwork-store owners presenting their goods, someone with a yacht wanting to take you out, the biggest clubs inviting you over. Just anything and everything you culd imagine in terms of people offering you stuff.
”Michael Jacksons’s Secret girlfriend” screamed a headline in the National Enquirer alongside a photo of Sheryl. Since she was duetting with Jackson onstage every night, it was tabloid logic to conclude that they were also making sweet music together behind the scenes. Just as naturally, sister paper The Globe took things a step further, alleging that Sheryl was carrying Michael’s baby. Standing in a grocery store in Kansas City childhood friend Debbie Welsh noticed the Globe’s front page and immediately bought every copy in the hope of preventing other shoppers from seeing it. Back on the road Sheryl wasn’t nearly as perturbed.
”She went along with the ride and she thought it was funny,” says Rory Kaplan. “She didn’t get pissed off. She was really cool about it.”
And why not? Even idotic publicity is better than no publicity. Kaplan agrees. ”I should have been having Michael’s baby!” he asserts.
At the same time, Darryl Phinnessee was hardly surprised by Sheryl’s composed reaction to the media gossip. ”I think she was very single-minded about making it,” he says. ”Our own relationship changed somewhat when she got on the tour, and although I hadn’t necessarily seen her single-mindedness before that, I certainly saw it afterwards. You know, she started to focus on having a friendly relationship with the band leader, while at the same time almost treating me like I expected something from her for getting her on the tour. It was like she was responding to that without me even doing anything for her to respond to. She stayed friendly , but she was clearly putting distance between us while now focusing on the band leader.”
That band leader was Greg Phillinganes, one of three keyboard players on the tour, whose job was to shape the selected band members into the best and most cohesive unit possible. ”They not only blended well together, but they also fit in with Michael ‘s request at the time for trying to have a multicultural look.” Phillinganes observes. What wasn’t in the plan was a romance between the musical director and the lone female singer.
“It was kind of a bad timing on my part because I was married” Greg concedes. Nevertheless, he and Sheryl developed a strong relationship early in the tour, and this incorporated a teacher-pupil dynamicon the musical level.
However, on the ”Na-Na Song” (co-written with other guys), she’d come straight to the point by asserting that she might have furthered her career if she’d serviced the ”dong” of Frank Dileo, Michael Jackson’s manager at the time of the Bad world tour. The ”Na-Na Song” would very nearly prompt Frank Dileo to sue, yet even at the tail end of 1988 he had to deal with Sheryl’s comments about him to several of her fellow musicians.
”Towards the end of the tour I remember her being upset, although she didn’t mention any details”, says Darryl, while Greg opines that ” it was based on a misunderstanding. I there were certain things that were not clear between what Frank expected and what Sheryl expected or what she wanted. You know, Frank might have been expecting more out of Sheryl in return for what he could do for her, while Sheryl was just looking for whatever he could do for her that was it.
”Things can easily be misinterpretated between women and men, but it was weird because I ended up being in the middle. She would talk to me about him and he would talk to me about her, and it was like ‘Oh, this is interesting. This is all I need. I have my own problems and now I’m hearing this’. When Frank would talk about Sheryl he seemed to be unsure about where he stood with her in general. He obviously knew that she wanted any help that he could give her career, and she obviously saw him as a good choice based on his relationship with Mike, but I think he might have wanted more at the time than she was willing to give”.
Sheryl’s relationship with Greg Philliganes, always awkward given his marital status, had basically fizzled when the Bad tour ended. Thereafter, his attempts to sustain or ressucitate Sheryl’s interst were invariable rebuffed.
”I was still trying to keep things going on when she went on the road with Don Henley’s band, but it was kind of unhealthy” Greg admits. ”I remember sending her flowers at every gig she did, but she wasn’t interested…. I would like to think that what we had was genuine, but I’m sure there was also a self-serving element to it. Sheryl was very intent on aligning herself with people who could help her, but at the time I was a bit messed up emotionally and I felt-or I wanted to feel-that there was something genuine to what we had. For a period of time there might have been, but it didn’t last. It always seemed to me that Sheryl was searching for something more; searching for her own identity, which she would find a few years later.”
”The whole situation between Greg and Sheryl was pretty sad” adds Rory Kaplan. ”It was a very sad thing for everybody. Sheryl went into depression and she blamed Michael and Frank Dileo, but I don’t believe that for a second. The fact that a marriage broke up, and she and Greg had a falling out, is what really went down. And it was sad because (Greg’s wife) Carla was loved by everybody, Greg was loved by everybody, and so was Sheryl, but their passion took them a little bit over the top and at the end of the day it destroyed some great friendships.”
Speaking of being uncomfortable you used to sing backup for Michael Jackson. Did you ever get to climb into the oxygen chamber with him and find out what he thinks is weird?
The really weird part is that I didn’t even meet him until three months into the tour. Here I was singing duets with him every night onstage and he didn’t even know my name. The band and crew wer completely separated from him. We never got as close as Bubbles the chimp or Elizabeth Taylor did.
They’s both frightening too.
After a while I actually did get to be around Mike and Bubbles a little. To be honest he scared the hell out of me.
No. Bubbles. He was big enough to be pretty dangerous. A chimp like that is so strong, he could probably rip your head off. Mike used to calm him down by shoving his ballpoint pen into his chest, it seemed to work. I don’t think PETA would have enjoyed seeing that.
Sheryl, 33 Things About Sheryl, Blender, 15 March, 2002
10. Crow on Jackson: “That’s a whole different interview.”
“A lengthy interview. Michael was interesting, but he was so reclusive I might as well have been on tour with Tom Jones, for all I saw of him.”
Sheryl, Blender, February 2004
When you sang backup for Michael Jackson, did you ever think, “Hmm, this fella’s a bit odd?”
DAWNEDARKO, CHARLOTTESVILLE, VIRGINIA
Uh, hello? Yeah. There was plenty of weirdness going on. For one, he barely spoke to me in 18 months, and that’s weird, because I’m fascinating, and I can’t believe that he didn’t want to speak to me. But the chimp was out on the road, and the Pepsi kid was around. It was like a weird circus. You sensed that this guy really had no sense of reality at all. It probably wasn’t even his fault. It’s so sad. He told me that his purpose on the planet was to save the children. From what, I don’t know.
“He’s, you know, kind of a sad character,” she sighs, “but I think I got to see him on that tour before everything went spinning way out of control.”
By 1988, Crow was a new woman with a memorable gig: Poured into a tiny black dress, curly hair that was bleached, sprayed, and frizzed into the shape of a lamp shade, she was singing backup on tour for Michael Jackson. Whose baby, one tabloid proclaimed, she was carrying.
She rolls her eyes. “Well, that definitely had my hometown on its ear,” she recalls. “But in hindsign, I now think a lot of those stories were planted by Jackson’s people, in order to keep Michael associated with love and attractive women. They said he was having a birthday party for me. Which was true-but he didn’t come! He didn’t even know my name.”
With the BAD tour over, she found herself back in LA, considerably less attractive (“After all that bleaching I had only a few hairs left,” she recalls) and less flush. She was a waitress with no future. And she crashed.
“What people didn’t tell me was when you come off the road, that’s the nature of coming off the road. You’ve been in this whirlwind situation. You have to totally reacclimate to the reality of being at home. It was difficult for me to make that transition. I thought, Gosh, I dont know what to do with myself anymore. And I didn’t really feel like doing anything.”
Q: Is it true that you crashed that audition for Michael Jackson?
Sheryl Crow: I did. Yeah.
Q: That made a big difference in your career?
Sheryl Crow: Made a huge difference. I didn’t even own a passport. I had never been out of the country, and the next thing I know, a month later, we were playing for 70,000 people in Japan. So it was very life-changing.
Q: That was right around Michael Jackson’s heyday. What was it like to work with him?
Sheryl Crow: Actually, it was probably a little bit after his heyday. It was the Bad tour. By this time, he had already done quite a lot of touring and he was very reclusive. I didn’t really have a lot of interaction with him, but every single night, he was unbelievable. You really got a sense of somebody whose creativity is just not definable. He was going out every night and doing dance moves that we had never seen before. He really changed things and came up with very original ideas. I give him a lot of credit for that.
Q: How many of there were you in the back-up vocal group?
Sheryl Crow: Four, myself and three guys. It was fun. It was long. It was a 19-month tour. So for me, it was very much a crash course in the music business, but favorable. It was a great learning experience.
Sheryl, Larry King, August 23 2006
KING: How do we know you?
CROW: Well, I was a backup singer for Michael Jackson on the Bad Tour.
That was …
KING: You what?
CROW: Backup singer for Michael Jackson on the Bad Tour. Big blonde hair, did the duet with him and …
KING: What was that like?
CROW: It was great. I didn’t even own a passport when I got that gig.
It was my first audition, I crashed the audition here in L.A. I found out from some other singers that there was a closed audition and I went down and nobody stopped me. I guess they assumed that I had been recommended by Bruce Wideen (ph) or Quincy Jones and I sat in front of the cameras and said, “Hi, I’m Sheryl Crow and I would love to go on the road with you.” And he called me back and I sang with three other singers and a few days later I was getting a passport to go to Japan and a month later I was onstage in front of 75,000 people.
KING: What was he like to work with?
CROW: It was a massive organization and it was almost — I can only equate it to being in a Broadway production that travels from town to town where the show is exactly the same every night. Lots of choreography, costumes, hair, makeup and it’s the total antithesis of what I do now but it was really a good experience.
I saw every major city in the world and went to every museum and just it was really a cultural experience, eye-opening experience but also working for somebody of that magnitude. I got to watch him and his brilliance every night.
I mean there is no denying the guy was absolutely brilliant. He was doing moves that we had never seen before and when you think about how difficult it is to actually be original, to do something that no one has ever done before, it’s awe inspiring.
KING: Did you get close — get to know him …
CROW: Not at all. No.
KING: Didn’t know him at all?
CROW: I probably had a couple of social occasions with him where I got called one night when we were in Japan to come up to his suite with his security and watch — we watched “Amos and Andy” episodes. Which people younger than me probably won’t even know what that is but that and Bubbles was on the road and it was like a circus.
And will say I felt a little bit sorry for him because there were all these people around him that were just there to facilitate his brilliance and didn’t want anything from him and he could have really cultivated some normal friendships but he’s so reclusive that …
KING: Are you shocked at what happened to him?
CROW: Oh I can’t — I don’t really have an opinion about it to really know what the truth is. So I feel sorry for him because I look at him and you can see that he’s an unhappy person. You don’t change your stance (ph) by doing all that plastic surgery and portray yourself to be happy.
KING: But what he did to an audience was amazing, right?
CROW: It was unbelievable. Truly magical. I mean just really, really …
KING: Was it hard to be a backup singer?
CROW: No, it was great. I mean it was hard to get my hair and makeup done every day because I can’t sit still for two hours.
KING: You have to sing harmony, though.
CROW: Yeah but that was great. That’s what I grew up doing, so …
Steve from London, UK asks: Jennifer, you have travelled loads of places, touring with Michael.
I would like to know, which is your favourite City, and are there any stories that stick out in your mind when it came to touring with Michael?
I have a few favorite places and I’ll name countries instead of cities: Australia, Japan, all of Scandanavia, and Spain come to mind first. Stories: there are a few but one that sticks in my mind was hanging out with Sheryl Crow who was singing on the Bad Tour, when we were in the Tokyo Disneyland which MJ shut down for us all to play in.We were looking at things in a shop when MJ came up behind us and started talking to us. It surprized us because we’d only seen him surrounded by security whenever we were out with him and never bothered trying to get close.
Sheryl, June 25, 2009
“It was really surreal. I was lucky in that I got to hang out with him on a number of occasions by myself,” she recalled, “He invited me to his hotel room in Tokyo and we watched ‘Amos & Andy’ videos and the movie ‘Shane,’ just completely unexpected. He was funny, he had a big laugh, he loved practical joking and I can remember vividly going to Disneyland and going on a ride with him and he wouldn’t let the ride stop and by the end of it I was just absolutely ill. And he thought that was the funniest things he’d ever seen.”
Sheryl said that she worried about the pressure mounting on Jackson surrounding his 50 sold-out shows at London’s O2 Arena, which were to begin in July.
“I think he felt pressure in every way. He had been under real scrutiny for the last 10 to 15 years. He’d been in real financial trouble. This was sort of a comeback for him. And that’s got to be an immense amount of pressure,” she told Anderson, adding, “I’m going to mourn his loss just like millions and millions of other fans out there, and I’m grateful for a brief moment in my life that I got to stand on stage nightly and watch him sing ‘Human Nature’ and ‘Billie Jean’ and do those moves and sing those incredible melodies, that were original to him… I’m sad and grateful at the same time.”
Thursday evening (June 25), on the MTV special “Michael Jackson: A Tribute,” Sheryl Crow called in to share her memories of Jackson and her thoughts on his passing. Crow spent nearly two years on the road with Jackson as a backup singer during his world tour for Bad and also appeared in the video for “Dirty Diana.” Like many of the stars who spoke to Kurt Loder about Jackson’s death, she looked back on his career with a sense of awe.
“I can’t speak highly enough about what I got to witness every single night for nearly two years, which was the brilliance of someone who was truly innovative,” Crow said. “Before 1984, no one had ever seen moves like that.”
Crow was candid about Jackson’s demeanor on the tour, suggesting that he was already recoiling from the rest of the world. “When I started working with him, I think that was when he really started to isolate himself,” she explained. “I think he started to take into his own hands what he was going to try to project as his legacy, so everybody in the band and in the crew was kind of held at arm’s length.”Despite his reservations, Jackson still got close to Crow. “I got to go out and sing with him twice every night on ‘I Just Can’t Stop Loving You’ and ‘The Way You Make Me Feel.’ So I had more interaction with him than most. One thing I remember him telling me was that he really felt like he was sent to the planet for the children. I thought that was really telling, because he considered himself to be eternally childlike.”
She also said that she believes Jackson’s legacy is visible every day. “You can see how much of an impact he’s had when you see Usher and Justin Timberlake. They’re still using those moves, they’re still sounding like him and using those riffs. You can see how deeply effective he was as an R&B artist.”
Sheryl, 26 June, 2009
Sheryl Crow toured with Jackson for two years in the late ’80s, and she was one of the people lucky enough to get to know the personal side of Jackson. “I did a couple of duets with him. He reached out to me on a couple of occasions and invited me to come up to his hotel room to watch movies,” she recalled. “A big room with a couple of bodyguards and us throwing popcorn across the room at each other. He was just very childlike and loved to practical joke … very childlike and innocent and then he’d walk out onstage and you’d see this magnetic, very strong artistic talent up there.”
Sheryl, Time Magazine, 2009
I have so many memories of him pranking me onstage. Our quick-change tents shared a side, and as we were rushing to change our wardrobe in between songs, invariably, a grape or a carrot would come rocketing over the top at me. I could always hear him giggling through the wall. He rented out amusement parks a lot. I remember riding a swinging-pirate-ship ride with him somewhere in Germany, and because we were the only ones on the ride, he wouldn’t let the operator stop the ride, as I got sicker and sicker. He thought it was hilarious! When we were in Tokyo, I got a call from him at night inviting me to come to his hotel, where we watched Amos ‘n’ Andy shows. He laughed and threw popcorn the whole time. My most beloved memory, however, was watching him perform “Human Nature” every night from the side of the stage. There was something so genuinely vulnerable in his voice on that song, and watching the freedom with which he danced, doing the moves he invented only made me more keenly aware of the greatness I was blessed to be witnessing.
I’ve been thinking about my time with Michael Jackson a lot lately. It is hard for me to put into words how important that time was. How life-changing. How very defining a time it was for me and what a turning point it would become. I will never be able to look back on the career I have had and not be grateful to Michael Jackson for giving me my first shot.
From the BAD Tour came my most important relationship in my career and certainly the best friend I could ever have. Scooter, my manager for nearly 2 decades, worked as the liaison between Michael and the sponsor, Pepsi. He was the one person who expressed his belief in my talent and invested in me from that time forward.
But, the most major impact working with Michael, or Mike, as we all called him, was Michael himself. I cannot begin to express the magnitude of the talent embodied in this individual. When Mike would come into the room, the molecules would change. He was seemingly not of this world and in one of the few conversations I had with him, I believe he felt he was not of this world. Or, if he was of this world, he could not quite figure out how to fit into it without having the impact that he had.
My fondest memories are not of the faux passion we shared during the duet, “I just Can’t Stop Loving You” or the flirting during “The Way You Make Me Feel,” but the moments I stole watching him perform “Human Nature” from offstage, doubling him on the high notes. His delivery of that song, his gravity-defying moves, were beyond regular. His talent were truly art. And, surreal, in the truest sense of the word. I can call up the amazement as if it was yesterday.
Other moments, like singing harmonies of “Rock With You,” “You Are My Lovely One,” “Startin’ Something,” almost gave him the appearance of being normal. But, he was anything but normal. And, while I got to stand close enough to get a glimpse into what was not so normal about this singing/dancing/iconic sensation, nothing any of us ever think we knew about this person should ever overshadow what made him special and what drew us all in from the moment he came on the scene as a small boy.
I will not be at the memorial today for a number of reasons. I am in the middle of doing some tour dates that have me in the Midwest but more than that, the spectacle of it all has nothing to do with the gratitude that I feel this magnificently, unique talent graced this world for a moment in time. The hoopla cannot begin to compete with the memories I got to experience on an intimate level. Although Mike might love what is going on today in his honor, I, like so many other people who loved him, will continue to quietly rejoice in the knowingness that his soul is at peace.
God Bless Michael.
July 13, 2009
Crow recently shared some of her fondest memories of performing with the “King of Pop” in her blog.
“I like to call it magic. It’s really overused where he is concerned, but I like to call it magic and I got to watch that magic every night,” Crow said.
Crow pointed out that Jackson was an innovator whose work can not be replicated.
“Originality is something that we just — we can’t define it because it’s something we’ve never seen before,” she said. “In my line of work now, where you try to find the next Alicia Keys or the next Britney Spears, or the next or the next or the next, something that’s already familiar that we know is going to sell.
“He was different than that. He was the original. He was the first guy. He was the guy that created those moves. He was the guy that created that sound.”
Although it’s still hard to accept that the “King of Pop” has died, Crow admitted that she didn’t foresee Jackson becoming old.
“I’m sad to see that he’s gone, but I could never figure out how he was going to survive becoming old. I just never could see how it was going to play out,” Crow admitted.
“You had that thought already?” Smith asked.
“Always, I could never figure out. Is this person going to be able to stand this world for that long you know? He was so fragile and really otherworldly,” she said. “I had a great working relationship with him and got to see him in more intimate moments and got to spend some quiet intimate times with him, but did I get to know him? I don’t think anybody ever really got to know him.”
The Bad Tour wound up in January 1989 and the group disbanded. In later years Sheryl Crow, a backing singer on the tour, would make several disparaging remarks about Jackson during interviews publicizing her own material. She said he was a diva, never bothering to learn people’s names.
Batten refutes this. “I think singers in general are just nuts and ultra-sensitive. One night Michael called Sheryl ‘Jennifer’,” she giggles, “and I know that pissed her off. But it’s like, so what? I mean, you got the biggest gig in the world and it’s not like Michael was unaware of who was onstage with him. We were with him for a friggin’ year and a half.”