142: Reflections on John Barnes Roundtable

Brad Buxer, Matt Forger, and Brad Sundberg join host Jamon Bull for a very special episode in remembrance of the late John Barnes. From Barnes’s early work with Jackson at Hayvenhurst, to deep-dive discussions around technical recording aspects and some of their collaborative works like the brilliant song “Another Part of Me”, Matt and the two Brads take you inside the studio. Not only did Barnes and Jackson share a deep friendship, but also a unique artistic partnership that resulted in musical masterpieces that will be enjoyed by fans forever.

John Barnes was a force in the music industry for over 50 years, having worked with an extensive list of music icons, from The Miracles, to Marvin Gaye, Lionel Richie, Celine Dion, Diana Ross, and, of course, the King of Pop. His work with the Jackson family started in 1976, and he connected with Michael Jackson in 1982. Barnes and Jackson’s meeting would launch a long and productive professional, creative, and personal relationship that would last decades. The two owned a company together, called Experiments in Sound, and John became a central part of Michael’s creative team. Early on, Barnes worked on the Jacksons’ “Victory” album, and worked extensively on “Captain EO”, including creating sounds for the film and co-writing the song, “We Are Here to Change the World”. His work with the synclavier was considered revolutionary, and was a massively important part of his recording work with Michael Jackson.

During the “BAD” album recording, Barnes worked daily at Hayvenhurst, alongside Bill Bottrell and Matt Forger. While often unfairly dubbed “The B Team”, and noted for creating demos, while Quincy Jones and Bruce Sweden did the main work on this album, the reality was that the Hayvenhust team was central to the creation of the album, producing nearly final versions of many of the songs, such as “Smooth Criminal” and “The Way You Make Me Feel”.

Barnes would also go on to have roles on Jackson’s later albums, as well, including “Dangerous”, “HIStory”, and “Blood on the Dance Floor”. He continued his work with Jackson through the very end of his career, even going to Bahrain in 2006 to work on the still-unreleased charity single, “I Have this Dream”.

Barnes, who passed away after a long illness on March 19, 2022, was not only an amazing musician and visionary, but he was passionate about humanitarian issues. This was a driving force in his close relationship with the King of Pop, and included important creative work, such as co-writing the song, “We Are The World”, which raised $50 million internationally to end hunger in Africa. He was full of genuine passion for his art, sometimes at the cost of not getting the credit he deserved. In this incredible discussion, Barnes’s colleagues and friends share memories and unique stories about him and the moments which made him a true icon.

The MJCast is deeply appreciative to our special guests on this episode, and sends our condolences to John’s family and friends. The world will not be the same without him.

This episode was edited by Charlie Carter.

Guests
• Brad Buxer, who worked with Michael Jackson for 20 years, from the “Dangerous” album onwards through “Invincible”, and who became one of Michael’s closest production, music, and songwriting collaborators. He was also Musical Director for both the Dangerous and HIStory World tours. He has a close personal relationship with Michael into the final years of Michael’s life.
• Matt Forger, who worked with Michael Jackson starting with the “Thriller” album, where he was credited as a technical engineer, and continued to work on just about every project Michael did through the rest of his life. He also played a central roll in “Captain EO”. In addition, Matt is well-known for his many years of studio work with the Japanese superstar Yuming.
• Brad Sundberg, who was Michael Jackson’s Technical Director and studio engineer for 18 years, starting as an assistant on “Captain EO”, and also designed and built the extensive sound and lighting installations at Neverland. These days, Brad runs the seminar series, In the Studio with MJ, with events held around the world.

Additional Links
• John Barnes’ official website.
• Articles on the passing of John Barnes by Music Radar, MJWorld and MJVibe.

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If you have feedback on this Michael Jackson podcast episode, we’d love to hear from you. Contact us at themjcast@icloud.com or find the links to our many social networks on www.themjcast.com. Keep Michaeling!

121: The New Adventures of Charlie Thomson

Charles Thomson returns to The MJCast, joining Jamon Bull for a massive catch-up on everything the investigative journalist has been up to since the release of Leaving Neverland a year and a half ago. The duo discuss Charlie’s whirlwind year, from winning national journalism awards in the UK while simultaneously losing his job, being hired for a podcast, and unexpectedly becoming the central narrator in Danny Wu’s 1993 allegations documentary, Square One. They cover back-and-forth trips to Los Angeles (featuring a cameo by Helen Mirren!), restaurant-hopping with Tom Mesereau, parties at Hayvenhurst, an HBO court hearing, and much more. And finally, Charlie talks about being hired for a Larry Nimmer documentary, and launching his own true crime podcast, Unfinished: Shoebury’s Lost Boys. It’s been an epic year for Charlie, to be sure.

Discussion Topics
• Leaving Neverland has won a BAFTA.
• Charlie’s amazing year.

Additional Links
• Charlie’s Twitter and website.
• Charlie’s new true crime podcast, Unfinished: Shoebury’s Lost Boys.
• Danny Wu’s documentary, Square One. (You can read The MJCast review of the film and see photos from the LA film premiere here.)

Sponsors
• Audible – Great audiobooks. Great a free one-month trial (including one free audiobook) and help support the podcast by using our custom MJCast promo link.
• The MJCast’s official shop. Support The MJCast and Michael Jackson all at the same time by buying some of our merchandise.

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If you have feedback on this Michael Jackson podcast episode, we’d love to hear from you. Contact us at themjcast@icloud.com or find the links to our many social networks on www.themjcast.com. Keep Michaeling!

089: John Barnes Special

The MJCast’s Elise Capron and Jamon Bull are honoured to interview renowned musician, arranger, songwriter and mixer John Barnes, who has worked with an incredibly wide range of the world’s top musicians and entertainers, including, of course, the King of Pop, Michael Jackson.

John has been recording music since the early ’70s, and has collaborated with artists such as Marvin Gaye, The Miracles, Lionel Richie, Celine Dion, Diana Ross, and many more. He first teamed up with the Jackson family in the early ’80s, playing synthesizer and handling arrangements on The Jacksons’ Victory album. He also worked independently with Janet and Jermaine during this time.

Captain EO
and the Bad album marked the beginning of John’s deep involvement in Michael Jackson’s solo career. While Quincy Jones and Bruce Swedien were working at Westlake, John, Matt Forger, and Bill Bottrell spent their days at Michael’s private home studio at Hayvenhurst, bringing to fruition Michael’s own musical creations. John took on many different roles in the creative process. He was a musician, programmer, and developed ideas from the group up alongside Michael, including co-writing ‘We Are Here to Change the World’.

John worked with Michael in his later years as well, and spent time with him in Bahrain following the 2005 criminal trial in which he was found not guilty. Not only was John a crucial member of MJ’s creative team, but he has also had a major impact on the popular music landscape as we know it, both as a traditional musician and with his revolutionary work with synth sound programming. Today, John continues his work in the music industry as the CEO of Innersound Studios.

Additional Links
• 
John’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages.
• Janet Jackson – Don’t Stand Another Chance
• U.S.A for Africa – We Are the World
• Michael Jackson’s Captain EO film
• The infamous 1983 James Brown concert where both Michael Jackson and Prince were called up on stage.
• 
Michael Jackson – I Have This Dream (Instrumental)

Ad & Music Breaks
• Michael Jackson – Al Capone
• Michael Jackson – We Are Here to Change the World
• Michael Jackson – We are the World (Demo)

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If you have any thoughts, opinions, or feedback on this Michael Jackson podcast episode, we’d love to hear from you. Contact us at themjcast@icloud.com or find the links to our many social networks on www.themjcast.comMichael on!

Episode 014 – Travelling With a King Special

Epiosde 014 - Travelling With a King Special YouTube ArtOn this special episode of The MJCast, Jamon and Q interview author of the ‘Michael Jackson travel guide’ book Travelling With a King, Christophe. Topics include the book itself, his working relationship with co-author Antoine Cardinot, his fandom of Michael Jackson and the writing process behind the book. We also talk about Christophe’s French Michael Jackson magazine, MJBackstage, some of the intriguing locations mentioned within Travelling With a King and finally we delve into a discussion around Christophe’s views of places like Neverland and Hayvenhurst being considered tourist attractions.

As mentioned on the book’s official website, “Travelling With a King is the first ever travel guide totally dedicated to Michael Jackson. This fully colored and glossy paper book contains hundreds of places linked to the King of Pop, from studios to houses, venues and statues. You’ll find everything you need to know including historical and geographic details about each location. Travelling With A King – Book 1, is the first part of this totally unique travel guide. Book one contains North, Central & South America and, as bonuses, a few selected places [in] Europe and Asia. Its A5 format and light weight will make it easy to bring it with you every time you travel.”

For purchasing Travelling With a King at a discounted price, make sure to visit this special website which Christophe has created specifically for listeners of The MJCast!

Lastly, stay tuned at the end of this show to hear about various celebrations around the world for Michael’s 2015 birthday on August 29th!

Links
Travelling With a King’s official website, Facebook and Twitter pages
MJBackstage’s official website, Facebook and Twitter pages
Visit this page of Travelling With a King’s website to purchase the book at a discounted price!
Michael Jackson performing Who Is It acapella for Oprah Winfrey
Michael Jackson’s HIStory statue in Best, Netherlands
The house featured in the Michael Jackson short film Thriller.
Michael Jackson shopping at The Regis Galerie in The Venetian, Las Vegas.
LMJ Magazine’s interview with the Christophe and Antoine, authors of Travelling With a King.
The 1980’s unauthorised interview with Michael and La Toya Jackson at Hayvenhurst.
Enola Lee’s website devoted to Neverland, titled Neverland – For Michael, For Love, Forever.
Remember the Time – Protecting Michael Jackson in his Final Days, a book by bodyguards Bill Whitfield, Javon Beard and Tanner Colby
You Are Not Alone – Michael: Through a Brother’s Eyes, a book by Jermaine Jackson.
Information on Michael Jackson’s birthday weekend in Sydney, courtesy of MJ Book Club and the MJ Fans of Melbourne Facebook pages.
The Hayden Orpheum Picture Palace in Sydney is set to celebrate Michael’s birthday with a special screening of Moonwalker!
Walk the World for Michael, an annual charity event on Michael’s birthday which contributes funds by initiatives by the charity organisation, Michael Jackson’s Legacy.
Cirque Du Soleil and Michael Jackson One are set to celebrate Michael’s 2015 birthday in style!
Michael’s birthday celebration in Perth, Western Australia.
Katherine Jackson’s August 21 – 22 I Just Can’t Stop Loving You charity weekend in Gary, Indiana
Footage of Michael Jackson visiting China during the late 1980’s.

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If you have any thoughts, opinions, or feedback on the show, we’d love to hear from you. Contact us at themjcast@icloud.com or find the links to our many social networks on www.themjcast.comMichael on!