138: 30th Anniversary Celebration Roundtable

In 2001, the who’s who of the entertainment industry poured into New York’s Madison Square Garden arena to celebrate the career of Michael Jackson. To mark the 30th anniversary of his solo recording career, Jackson had agreed to appear at two concerts – his first on US soil since January 27th, 1989, and his first with his brothers since 1984.

Produced by Jackson and long-time friend David Gest, the shows would kick off with all-star salute to the King of Pop. Icons taking to the stage to pay tribute included Gladys Knight, Ray Charles, Destiny’s Child, Luther Vandross, Dionne Warwick, Whitney Houston and Marlon Brando. Then Jackson and his brothers would reunite to perform their greatest hits, before Jackson closed out the show with some of his most famous solo songs. The rights to the concerts were eventually sold to CBS and it was aired during prime time all around the world. Ratings reached 30 000 000 people in the US alone. Jackson and Gest generated a fortune in profits. The concerts should have been a legendary affair, but all was not well behind the scenes, and this potentially historic event turned into a damp squib.

So what went wrong? Was it a complete write-off? And how do these two shows – the last concerts Michael Jackson ever performed – factor into his legacy? Our roundtable guests get together to ask and answer these questions, whilst sharing their own memories and reflections on the shows.

This episode was edited by Charlie Carter.

Jamon Bull
Charles Thomson
Vernay Lewis O’Neal
Charlie Carter
Shawn Shackelford

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