Monday, March 21, 2011

He was one hell of a friend!

Excerpts from David Gest's interview with The Sun
To the world, Michael Jackson was an enigma. While his music dazzled and amazed, his behaviour often baffled and shocked.
But to TV star and music producer David Gest, one of the people who knew the King Of Pop best, Jackson was a loyal friend who made him laugh and gave him memories to treasure.
David, 56, said: "There is nobody who knew Michael like I did. He was so gifted, it’s hard for me to picture him gone. There is a whole side to him people never saw.
For instance, people always think of him as talking in that high, soft voice, but he didn’t really speak like that — it was a facade.
"Still to this day I am not sure why he did it. The Michael I knew talked like a real man, acted like a real man and shook a hand like a real man."
David, who has made millions as a concert promoter and TV personality, was 16 when the Jacksons family moved into a mansion only a short drive from his own family home in Encino, California.
He first got to know Michael Jackson when he called at the house to take the Thriller star’s sister, La Toya, on a date.
David said: "It was just puppy love, nothing serious. La Toya had the flu so Michael — who was nearly 12 at the time — asked me to drive him to a memorabilia sale. I had no clue what memorabilia even was at that time."
The outing proved to be the start of a life-long friendship — and a shared love of shopping, collecting and eating in fast food restaurants.
And despite the huge personal wealth Jackson enjoyed at the height of his career, David revealed that the superstar always loved a bargain.
He said: "He loved haggling over the price in stores. If something was $4,000 (£2,400), he would cheekily start them at $200 (£120). He was an arch negotiator. People thought he was absolutely nuts but he actually got away with it sometimes."
David told how Jackson was always incredibly generous with his friends.
He said: "One time when we went to Disneyland he bought me more than 200,000 dollars-worth of rare memorabilia, spent about the same on himself and had three limousines come and collect it all."
David added that he and Jackson were inseparable as young men.
He said: "We were best friends — always staying over at each other’s houses, living in sleeping bags or going on trips together.
We both loved music and would often play a game where we tested each other on which artists had sung which songs. If I won I got to keep one of Michael’s stage costumes. If he won he got some of my film posters or a rare piece of Jim Morrison or Jimi Hendrix memorabilia."
David explained that the key to his enduring friendship with Jackson was he always treated him like a 'normal' person.
He said: "When we would take a trip together, I would always make Michael get out of the car and fill up with gas. He would say, ‘Who is the star here?’ and I would say, ‘When you are with me, I am!’
We would always go to McDonald’s, Michael loved their French fries, or KFC. He loved that chicken, although he would take the skin off because he thought that made it organic — that would crack me up.
I remember we once went to Disneyland. He was in disguise and we watched Captain EO, a Disney 3D movie which he starred in.
When we came out I said, ‘You were brilliant’ and he went, ‘Oh thanks, have you only just realised?’. Then when we got home I made him Moonwalk in my kitchen — then I tried it and fell flat on my face!"
David also revealed that Jackson was a voracious reader with a passion for classic literature.
He said: "What a lot of people don’t know about Michael is that he was always reading. He was an intelligent man. His favourite poet was Robert Burns and he was obsessed with the novels of Charles Dickens.
He would scour antique bookstores looking for first editions of his work.
He loved Shakespeare and got me into the plays too. He was also fascinated by English history, especially Henry VIII, and loved collecting costumes from that period."
David told how Jackson passed this love of books on to his own children Prince Michael Jnr, 12, Paris, 11, and seven-year-old Prince Michael II.
He said: "He home-schooled the children and always had them reading the right books. He was a great father, but he was strict. He believed in manners and showing respect to adults and behaving properly. Michael loved being a dad, he should have done it years before he did.?"
All around David’s London flat is the evidence of his lifelong love of collecting. And Jackson memorabilia, much of it signed, features prominently in his collection, which is worth around £10million.
One signed photograph carries the poignant hand-written message: ‘To David Gest. Remember, unbounded immortality is yours, just create it. Michael Jackson, 1998.’
David said: "There will never be another Michael Jackson — he was a musical innovator, a great dancer and you know what else? He was one hell of a friend."

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