Steve was contacted by various media outlets for his thoughts on the untimely death of Michael Jackson (June 25, 2009). The following are his comments. Excerpts may appear in other publications such as Time Magazine & Billboard Magazine.
What are some of your memories of working with Michael Jackson on “We Are The World”
I was originally contacted by Lionel Richie’s manager, Ken Kragen who told me that Lionel & Michael had written a song called “We Are The World” for a project they were doing together called U.S.A. For Africa. He wanted to know if I was interested in joining the choir with many other recording artists. I said, “Sure…that would be fantastic!” The next thing I knew I was at A&M studios in Hollywood in a room full of so many artists that I grew up with and admired.
After we had done the chorus choir of “We Are The World” it was time to do the verses. They told everyone to look at the floor and if your name was there, you were selected for a verse step-out vocal. I glanced at the floor and written on gray duct tape I saw the names of Michael Jackson, Tina Turner, Ray Charles, Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, Cyndi Lauper, Diana Ross, Kenny Loggins and so many more that I was stunned. Then I glanced down and saw my own name on the floor and I got pretty nervous. Lionel Richie had called me earlier and discussed why he wanted me to be there and I believe he had a lot to do with me having a step-out moment. I wasn’t sure what they were going to have me sing, but from that point on, I was all ears – trust me!
For the longest period of time, I really wanted to meet Michael Jackson but for whatever reason, it just never happened. During the recording session, I remember how barraged Michael was with so many artists trying to talk to him. Out of respect, I left him alone. Instead, I went into the catering room and hung out with Bette Midler and Paul Simon.
Years later during the live rehearsals for the “Bad” tour, I finally got to meet and talk to Michael. He was very gracious and made me feel very welcome. I felt so lucky to stand stage left while they ran the entire, full dress rehearsal of the show. What an experience to watch him perform that close up!*
Do you have a favorite Michael Jackson song?
Michael’s total body of work is so beautiful and massive that it’s really impossible to have any one favorite. I know that every single time he released new music, the quality was always amazing and cutting edge. No artists ever wanted to release their music at the same time that Michael’s was released simply because the anticipation and subsequent sales from his records was too much for anyone to compete with.
How do you feel Michael has changed the music business?
Michael was always reaching for great songs, great vocal performances, better recording and production values, better and better music videos with new dance moves, and great sing along hooks that are still to this day, truly timeless.
I think everyone will remember the first time they saw Michael do the Moonwalk on television. I could not resist jumping up and trying it at least once or twice because it was such an amazing move. After many failed attempts, needless-to-say, I never tried that again.
Lastly, I’d like to add that the first time I ever heard Michael Jackson sing was on the Jackson 5 single “ABC.”
Immediately, I knew how truly talented and gifted he was.
- Published by admin in: Articles