Episode 054 – CJ DeVillar Special

CJ DeVillar is a bassist and mix engineer who’s had the honour of working with artists like Quincy Jones, Boyz II Men, Van Halen and Yolanda Adams – but he joins us today, of course, to discuss his work with the King of Pop, Michael Jackson. He tells us how he came to meet and work with Michael and shares some intimate memories from the studio, where he and Michael worked on songs including Break of Dawn, Blue Gangsta and A Place With No Name. Jankins, host of the Moonwalk Talks podcast, joins us for this special interview with one of Michael’s collaborators during some of the last studio sessions of his life.

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Episode 052 – Michael Prince Special

Michael Prince worked with Michael Jackson from the mid 90’s onwards, eventually becoming Jackson’s closest studio engineer, a man whom was trusted to capture the King of Pop’s most personal creative visions. From the HIStory World Tour, to the Invincible album, to the beautiful charity single What More Can I Give and right up until This Is It and the final studio songs Michael Jackson was working on, Michael Prince was involved.

Michael Prince backstage at Michael Jackson’s 30th Anniversary Celebration in New York

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Thanks to listener Cody Covington, we now have a full transcript available for this episode. Our deepest thanks and gratitude, Cody.

Michael Prince, Michael Jackson and their team of audio technicians on the HIStory World Tour

Episode 050 – Tito Jackson Special

Welcome to Season Three of The MJCast. On this episode, hosts Jamon, Q and guest hosts Charles Thomson and Laura Nicholson are joined by none other than Tito Jackson of The Jackson 5, The Jacksons and now a proud solo artist. We kick things off by discussing Tito’s recently released solo album, Tito Time before delving back into the history of The Jackson 5, The Jacksons, his own immediate family and his three boy’s band, 3T. We wrap the show up with a discussion around Tito’s memories around his brother, the King of Pop, Michael Jackson and what’s on the horizon for both him and his brothers.

As mentioned on Jackson Source… “Born the third eldest and second eldest brother, many have credited him for the start of the Jackson musical dynasty after his father caught him playing his guitar as a child. A gifted child at a young age, Tito heralded his talent from his father, Joseph, who was the leader of a blues band, called the Falcons. Tito and his brothers Jackie and Jermaine played with Joseph’s guitar with Katherine’s blessing until Joseph returned home from work. The boys were careful until one time when Tito got used to the guitar that he broke a string. When Joseph went to investigate and found out that his eight-year-old son had been playing with it, he threatened to ‘whup’ him, then changed his mind and got Tito to play for him. Joseph was impressed by Tito’s talents and equally impressed with Jackie and Jermaine’s vocal talents. It was at this point that Joseph began to envision a singing group for his sons.
By 1967, the lineup had included younger brothers Marlon and Michael and they were now known as The Jacson Five. By the time Tito was fifteen, he had moved up from rhythm guitar to lead guitar while Jermaine played bass and sung co-lead with Michael. Tito and his brothers found success after signing with Motown in 1969 and went on to score huge hits from that time on.”

“Around the same time, Tito had fallen for his highschool sweetheart named Delores ‘Dee-Dee’ Martes and the two married in 1972. The couple went on to have three sons: Taj (1973), Taryll (1975) and TJ (1978). Tito was often known as ‘the quiet member’ of the Jackson family and also ‘the most serious’ of the group.”

“Tito remained with the group when they signed with Epic in 1976 and left the Jackson 5 moniker to be simply known as The Jacksons. By the end of their careers together in 1990, Tito settled into his private life but not without divorcing Dee Dee that year after eighteen years of marriage. In 1997, Tito and his brothers were inducted to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Around the same time, Tito was managing his three sons’ own music career as they had formed as 3T.”

“For over 50 years, the Jacksons, the first family of pop music, has been charting hits and in 2016 Tito joined his brothers and sisters and scored his first solo hit on the Billboard charts with the single Get It Baby from [his new] album Tito Time, becoming the ninth and final Jackson family sibling to place a solo single on the charts.” We hope you enjoy this interview with the man himself, Tito Jackson.

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Episode 047 – The Dangerous Philosophies of Michael Jackson Special with Elizabeth Amisu and Karin Merx

On this special episode of The MJCast, Jamon and Q interview academics Elizabeth Amisu and Karin Merx on Elizabeth’s new book The Dangerous Philosophies of Michael Jackson: His Music, His Persona and His Artistic Afterlife. Topics include their own histories, their roles in The Journal of Michael Jackson Academic Studies and Michael Jackson’s Dream Lives On podcast, Elizabeth’s writing and publication process, Karin’s artistic process in creating the book’s cover (The Michael Jackson Respect Portrait) and of course many topics on Michael Jackson himself.

As explained on Elizabeth’s website, The Dangerous Philosophies of Michael Jackson is “the essential companion to Michael Jackson’s music, films and books, this work offers 21 original, academic essays on all things Jackson – from film, music and dance to fashion, culture and literature. It is the ultimate collector’s item for every Michael Jackson fan, student, researcher and academic.”

Overall, Dangerous Philosophies is a phenomenal work on the depth of Michael’s art and person, and a brilliant achievement by Amisu. Whether you’re an academic yourself wishing to enrich your knowledge of Michael Jackson, or perhaps a casual MJ fan wanting to open your mind to the depth of Michael’s work, you can’t go past Dangerous Philosophies. Pick up a copy today!

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Episode 045 – Dangerous 25 Roundtable (Part 1)

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Twenty-five years ago today Michael Jackson released perhaps his most important album… Dangerous. Sonically groundbreaking, spiritually profound, sexually provocative and socially conscious, Dangerous exploded onto the music market on November 26th, 1991, taking Michael to new global audiences and cementing his position not only as the King of Pop, but an artist willing to illuminate and challenge some of the world’s most important issues. In many ways, the album is relevant now more than ever. To celebrate twenty-five years of this masterpiece, The MJCast has brought together a roundtable panel of authors, academics and researchers – all mega fans.

Q, Elizabeth, Mike, James, Andy & Samar begin the show by giving brief introductions as to who they are and their early experiences with the Dangerous album, followed by an exploration into the album’s groundbreaking sound. Next, the panel delves into the album’s masterpiece cover art by Mark Ryden, an analysis of the song and video Black Or White and the lyrical messages within Dangerous. The show finishes up with a discussion around the short films for the album. Stay tuned for Part 2 of this Roundtable as we continue our celebrations of Dangerous 25!

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  • The sound of Dangerous
  • The Dangerous album cover
  • Black Or White
  • The lyrical messages of Dangerous
  • Dangerous’ short films

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Episode 043 – Thriller Night Special feat. CJ DeVillar

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Happy Thriller Night! To celebrate Halloween 2016, Q and Jamon are joined by host of fellow Michael Jackson podcast Moonwalk Talks, Jankins along with bassist, studio engineer and MJ collaborator CJ DeVillar. CJ collaborated with Michael on a range of songs including the unreleased and authentic version of Monster (which we discuss in detail on this episode), Blue Gangsta, A Place With No Name, Break of Dawn and multiple tracks on the HIStory album.

To kick things off, Jamon and Q spring an impromptu interview on Jankins, followed by a discussion around all the latest news in the MJ world. Topics include the recent and unfortunate passing of Thriller songwriter Rod Temperton, a new Michael Jackson project as revealed by John Landis and Nick Amideo’s Monster Movie Mash video. The team then discuss Travis DeRose’ marathon moonwalk across Europe, a competition around Smooth Criminals – The Songs of Michael Jackson and a new dance video set to Black or White. The news is capped off through an update on the Sony/ATV acquisition and a brand new book coming from The Jacksons called The Jacksons: Legacy. The main discussion topic for this episode is a chronological exploration into Michael’s horror themed work.

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Episode 035 – MJ101 Special: The Performances

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On Episode 035 of The MJCast, Jamon and Q are joined by prominent Michael Jackson author Andy Healy. Andy has been writing on Michael for a number of years with his MJ101 series. Starting back with his debut MJ101 book in 2013 called Greatest Songs (which counts down his picks for the 101 best Michael Jackson songs) he then branched off and released other supplementary books in the 101 lineup, including The Short Films, The Remixes, Off The Wall and HIS2ORY.

ipadpro101Andy’s books are not only known for providing great factual detail and deep opinions around Michael’s art, but getting conversations going between fans around what Michael’s best work actually is.

Today, as an exclusive for The MJCast, we are proud to announce the launch of Andy’s brand new entry in the MJ101 series, The Performances. Listen to this latest episode of The MJCast which features a fascinating interview with Andy Healy to learn about his early years as a fan, his writing process, his own thoughts and opinions on Michael’s catalogue and of course lots of great detail around his new book…

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  • Jackson Source
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Episode 033 – Vindication Day Special with Scott Ross

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Eleven years ago today, on June 13th 2005, the King of Pop Michael Jackson was acquitted of molestation allegations in a trial that took an insurmountable toll on his life. Although this day is not one we celebrate, it is one we remember each year for the fact that Michael was finally vindicated for the heinous allegations brought against him. On this special episode, The MJCast’s Legal Correspondent Charles Thomson along with regular hosts Jamon Bull and Q interview Scott Ross, a somewhat overlooked figure of the trial, but one whose work lead attorney Tom Mesereau says was crucial to the defence team’s success.

Scott+Ross+Michael+Jackson+Pre+trial+Hearing+HikD4nt5YlelScott Ross has been Tom Mesereau’s go-to private investigator ever since they met in 2002 on the Robert Blake murder case. Mesereau describes him as the best investigator he has ever worked with. Scott has worked on notorious cases including the McMarten Pre-school molestation trial and the Scott Peterson murder case, as well as collaborating with former Michael Jackson attorney Mark Geragos on cases such Chris Brown’s assault on Rihanna and the Winona Ryder shoplifting trial. In 2011 he worked for the defence in Conrad Murray’s trial, where Murray was convicted of Michael Jackson’s homicide. Topics of discussion include Ross’s early career, the Michael Jackson trial itself and his contributions to the defence, his thoughts around the Conrad Murray trial and Scott’s valued reflections on Michael Jackson the man.

Note: The MJCast would like to apologise for the background noise in the first eight minutes of this episode.

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Episode 031 – Making Michael Special with Mike Smallcombe

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On this special episode of The MJCast, Q and guest host Jason Garcia interview author Mike Smallcombe on his new book Making Michael. Topics include Mike’s own history, the writing and publication process, his experiences in talking with over sixty Michael Jackson collaborators and also his thoughts and opinions around many aspects of Michael’s career.

0bda52_e691823156184024973f2740ce25b857As explained on Mike’s website, “Making Michael delves deep inside the career of one of the most successful, enigmatic and controversial entertainers of all time: Michael Jackson. Side-stepping sensationalism, journalist Mike Smallcombe enters uncharted territory as he takes you behind the scenes to reveal the real Jackson, a man few people ever got to know. Interviewing over sixty of Jackson’s associates including managers, lawyers, music executives, producers, musicians and engineers – many of whom are speaking about their experiences publicly for the first time – he provides exclusive access to one of the biggest-selling recording artists in history. Featuring a foreword by Matt Forger, one of Jackson’s longest serving and most loyal collaborators, Making Michael takes readers into the studio with the King of Pop, charting the creation of record-breaking albums including Thriller, Bad, Dangerous and HIStory and the twists and turns that occurred along the way. Untold stories, revelations and secrets finally see the light of day as Jackson’s career outside the studio is also examined. Smallcombe remains objective and doesn’t shy away from exploring the fall outs, Jackson’s relentless pursuit of perfectionism and a cutthroat shrewdness and competitiveness few knew existed.”

Overall, this is a fantastic book on the breadth of Michael’s artistic career, and a brilliant achievement by Smallcombe. If you’re interested in learning more about the art that Michael gave to the world, and back story behind the art’s conception and creation, pick up a copy of Making Michael today.

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Episode 030 – Rob Hoffman Special

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Michael Jackson collaborator and studio engineer Rob Hoffman joins us for a conversation on this special episode of The MJCast. Rob is a producer, songwriter, musician and recording engineer who has collaborated with some of the most iconic individuals in popular music. From ground-breaking artists such as Michael and Janet Jackson, Christina Aguilera, Kenneth ‘Babyface’ Edmonds and P Diddy, Rob has worked with the best. And not just the best artists and musicians either, Rob has had the honour of collaborating with fellow engineers and producers such as Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, Quincy Jones and Bruce Swedien.

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But it was through his work at New York City’s The Hit Factory studios where he first met recording legend Bruce Swedien, who would go on to become Rob’s long-time mentor. This relationship made possible a four-year period as one of Michael Jackson’s core team members; working on the HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book I and Blood on the Dancefloor: HIStory in the Mix studio albums, the HIStory World Tour, the ill fated HBO special Michael Jackson: One Night Only and Michael’s seminal film, Ghosts.

Rob had an incredibly important relationship with Michael, allowing him to express himself artistically and creatively with a level of freedom that resulted in some of Michael’s most innovative, creative and complex music.

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