What Bob Jones really thought about Michael Jackson
Our comments section is quickly turning into a forum where a lot of valuable things eventually get lost due to the impossibility to find them. I’ve decided to overturn this tendency and start posting the most interesting comments as separate pieces. These will be mere improvisations as you understand as there is no time to do proper research on the subject.
The article is too valuable to be forgotten. It was written on September 2, 1993 or at the time when the Chandler allegations broke out.
As Rockforeveron rightfully notes,
“to say he praised Michael Jackson is an understatement. He said MJ was chosen by God….
BOB JONES: The Man Who Stands Firmly Behind the Man in the Mirror
Los Angeles Sentinel
By CAROLYN BINGHAM
Do you believe in prophesy? I do. Now more than ever. Everyone is party to the fate that has befallen the legendary Michael Jackson recently, but no one, but perhaps Michael himself, feels it more than Bob Jones, vice president, MJJ Productions, Michael’s right arm.
This didn’t start out to be a piece in defense of the famous pop icon, nor when the interview was taped, were either Bob Jones or myself aware of the charges that would soon be leveled against the young superstar. We talked Wednesday, Aug. 18, three days prior to Jones accompanying Jackson on his now infamous world tour.
It started out to be a “what’s he really like” piece, but in light of recent events rearing their ugly head, I felt the public had a right to know Jones’ foreboding. He was a frightened man, but not in the way you’d suspect. Uncannily, although most probably, his fears were realized when he himself was least undupable. But herein lies Jones’ prophetic statements which in my naïveté, I thought his anxiety unfounded. After all, how could you stop the wake of Michael Jackson. But in his wisdom, he knew the inevitable. A curse came with Michael’s kind of stardom. A curse where he was damned if he did, and damned if he didn’t.
In a roundabout fashion, Jones took me back to his first days on the job in Michael’s camp. Prior to that he worked public relations for Motown and prior to that public relations with the famous firm of Rogers and Cowan Public Relations.
“I came to work for Michael in December of 1987 and have not regretted it one bit. And I thought having worked with the Supremes, the Temptations, the Commodores, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, the Four Tops–all of those people who were a part of the Motown stable–that I had seen it all. That I had seen everything America had to offer.
“All of a sudden, we went to the first out-of-the-country date. We went to Rome, Italy, and we played the Coliseum in Rome to 55,000 people. We did three nights at 55,000 persons per show. It was mind-boggling. I had never seen anything like this. To see zero blacks there. It was mind boggling, and to see that one black man had drawn all these people in to see this show, I was awe struck. We not only played Rome, we played touring Italy. We went to Paris, France, and the audiences kept growing, and we went to London, England, and played five nights at Wembley Football Stadium at 72,000 persons a show. All coming out to see this one black man. I saw white folks passing out and fainting and all of this sort of stuff, and I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe it, and it really frightened me.”
I sat perplexed in Jones’ office by his diffidence, but now I see the farsightedness in his statements. “Because I’m aware and a believer in the system … when you sit back and know that you can take the president and our mayors and our governors and put them all in a stadium together, and you can’t draw 20,000 people, and to see a black man draw these kind of people, I became frightened, because I know how this system operates.”
Now for the prophecy.
“They are frightened. The system becomes frightened if they see a black man with this kind of power, and especially a black man that they don’t have total control over. That they have not given a white woman and who doesn’t have the white babies and the monies going back into the white system. A black man who is basically clean, that they can say nothing about, who neither smokes nor drinks.
“The system is not ready to conceive of this and who ( Michael) is like a pied piper to white youth. Who if he decides to make a statement or take sides in situations, I’m sure the same system would remove. It becomes detrimental to what the system in America, in the world, is all about. Nobody but the Pope has followings like this.”
We go off on another tangent, try to make him crazy. They try to do everything. The system would rather praise Elvis Presley, who we all know was a drug addict. They make every excuse in the world rather than say this man was a drug addict. He died from an OD of drugs. If they could just come back to the same sober fact.
Jones feels Michael is in a league of his own, “He doesn’t deteriorate his body, his health. He’s a clean-liver, and if they could, I’m sure they would–well you read the press reports–they try to make him weird. They find Michael Jackson with a marijuana cigarette, forget all the other stuff, they’d destroy him.
“Anything that the system can’t control, it does not allow to exist. We’re not all of those who have dared challenge the system. I’m a firm believer, we live in a society that is programmed–these people are walking idiots, programmed idiots. That idiot box tells us what to buy, when to go–it’s football time so come watch your television show–and the couch potato goes plop. It’s amazing how man no longer uses his mind to think, and the system is aware and the system knows it. So they take advantage of it. In politics. In everything else.”
Jones intimate alliance with the standout superstar follows Michael Jackson for 30 years. He was there representing James Brown, and that was during the hey day of James Brown, when he had put out such records as ‘Say it Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud,’ and he was the number one black man in America. I began to work on the Motown account. Among the acts that e Jackson Five first debuted their act in Los Angeles. He worked for Rogers and Cowan Public Relations when they were handling all the Motown acts.
“I worked at Rogers and Cowan and learned from some of the best. At that time Rogers and Cowan was had the James Brown account. We had a party one night for James at The Playboy Club when it was on Sunset Boulevard. It was for an artist called Randy Crawford and a group called the De Felise Trio (excuse spelling). They were recording for James Brown’s sub label. “And we had a big press party at the Playboy Club which was from 6 to 9 p.m. At nine o’clock the same night, there was a party that Rogers and was also having at The Daisy Club to introduce a new group called the Jackson Five. So the people came to the party that I had for James, and then about 8:30-8:45, we shut down and everybody rushed over to The Daisy to be there for the debut of this young group that Motown was introducing. And that was the first night that I met The Jacksons and the first night that I saw them perform.
“I was still at Rogers and Cowan at the time, but I worked on The Jackson Five account also. I was covering all their interviews, etc. That was the beginning of my association with The Jacksons, and even though I was working at Rogers and Cowan, I would tour with The Jacksons when they toured on their first tour dates.”
That was the introduction of a lifelong cultivation of friendship between Jones and Michael. Of the juvenile Michael, Jones states, ” Michael was always a devilish little kid. He loved to play games and loved to run in your room and see what you had in there or if you had a beer or something in there because he was gonna go and tell the whole tour about it. He loved to pillow fight. He always loved animals and rodents and things like that. Actually, I don’t like rats and never have, and he had pet snakes, and I don’t like snakes, so he always made it a point to run me around. Rats and snakes, that was enough to get me out of that room and as far away from him as I could.”
You can take sides if you chose to, and everyone has an opinion. I’ve met Michael, and I chose to believe the best about him. I saw his compassion and his loving kindness towards children. Yet, although I chose to believe all things, I know all things are not expedient for me. But Jones has lived with Jackson upwards of 30 years, and if there was an inkling towards misbehavior on Michael’s part, he would have gleaned it, or Michael is a darn good actor at espionage.
In ending this first of a two-part story on Jones’ long association with Michael, and what happens when mega-minds converge, let me end on Jones’ words and Jesus’ and not Michael’s detractors for we’ll all have to wait until the final verdict is in. And then will we even know the thing-in-itself, Jones’ above statements make it abundantly clear, can we ever be really sure? Jones told me, “God has given him some kind of gift, and he ( Michael) believes in sharing that gift. And he realizes that there is something that God has given him that is special, and that is the reason he does and shares with the kids and the youth the way he does.” Truth. God knows. Michael has always let his moderation be known to all men.
And in the immortal words of Jesus, “Let he who is without sin among you, cast the first stone.”
One would assume creating a legacy for the eminent Michael Jackson is one easy task. Just sit back and let Michael do his thing. Not so, says Bob Jones, vice president, Communications and Media Relations, MJJ Productions, whose job it is to never let the superstar’s name die in the embers of oblivion, as has been the fate of many that have gone before him.
Bob Jones is mighty in battle for that cause, just as dynamic at what he does as Michael is potent in his performances and songs.
Jones as a dynamo, helps Michael, the diplomat, deal with the rigors of superstardom, while keeping Michael’s name going long after the superstar has ceased and deceased. It is Michael who makes the headlines, but Bob Jones who manufactures them.
Jones says, “There is an important factor that Michael feels. Michael has studied and read about all the legendary performers. He studied their mistakes, and he knows one thing, that if we don’t create a legacy, there will never be one for us. “Because until Natalie sang ‘Unforgettable,’ Nat Cole was forgotten. Sammy Davis–it’s only been four years–and you don’t hear anything. Sammy was the greatest, and he kissed a__ whenever he had to, to try to hold on to make you like him, and even though he was dying of cancer, he had to go out there, work around the world. “Whereas when theirs (whites) go down, they give them a talk show or something, so they won’t have to go through those struggles. There is none of that for us. When those football players come off that field, they either go to a cigarette company, a beer company or a whiskey company. That’s it. Otherwise it’s over. The white boys get announcers on television. There’s a whole new career that’s for them. It’s not for us, and my thing is to try to create a legacy for Michael.”
To date Jones has been successful at Michael’s bequeathal building, albeit even with the fame of Michael, Jones has hit snags in the way to immortalizing Jackson. Jones was able to get the renaming of the auditorium at the school Michael went to, to the Michael Jackson Auditorium. Jones has created awards such as The Boy Scouts coming out with a Michael Jackson Award, BMI Publishing has a Michael Jackson Award, as does Jack the Rapper, “To keep the name going. Because,” Jones says, “if you don’t darling, do you realize the greats that have gone down that have been black. You don’t hear anything about these people. It’s over for us once we are done. And if we don’t place your name on a building or your name somewhere …”
It isn’t an automatic given to assume Jones’ job is cushy. “It isn’t automatic,” he explains to me. “I’m working right now to try to get them to rename the elementary school Michael went to the Michael Jackson School. First they said, you’ve got to be dead. Why do you have to be dead? Your contributions are done while you’re alive.”
Jones also bears the brunt of the trouble with the mural in Hollywood which they have been working towards more than three years. “We started over three years ago with the Hollywood Arts Council. They approached me about doing a mural for Michael Jackson. Then some red necks out of the woods said no we want Orson Wells. Anything but a black man up there on that wall. So it’s that kind of thing. Look, racism is alive and well and festering here in Los Angeles. I don’t fool myself.”
Jones came to inherit his job by a long arduous path. He got into the journalism business while attending USC. There he was a big fan of the late Walter Winchell and Louella Parsons. And he saw all the Hollywood parties going on and wanted to attend them. He started out by writing a column about kids in high school for the California Eagle, and that didn’t last long, and then he moved over to the Herald Dispatch where he was a writer and entertainment editor at the height of that publication. After syndicating his Hollywood column to more than 80 black newspapers, a little down the line he met Bobby Darin, who was quite an entertainer during those early days, he says.
They became fast friends, and that association would lead him to his next job as a publicist for Rogers and Cowan Public Relations. Jones had tried to secure a job at Motown earlier, but he says, “Now mind you, I had applied to Motown before going to Rogers and Cowan, and as typical of what we sometimes go through, I guess I didn’t qualify until I was accepted by Rogers and Cowan.”
From Rogers and Cowan, Jones went to Motown and thought he would die there. But as fate would have it, Michael Jackson called him one day after the release of “Bad.” Jones skeptical, they met, and Michael asked him what it would take to bring him on board, and Jones told him. Michael only had one stipulation, “He said, ‘you got the job as long as you handle telling Berry Gordy and not have me having any problems with Berry Gordy. We have a good relationship.’ I said Okay,” and Jones proceeded to make the transition from Motown to Michael’s camp.
Jones tells me that Michael was always a very, very inquiring mind, who wanted to know what was going on and who wanted to delve deeper of how things worked. “Perhaps,” he says, “a great degree of his success today is based on the fact that he had an inquiring mind, and he wanted to know and he wanted to explore and find out what was going on above and beyond his brothers.”
The Michael Jackson mystique and mania, Jones says he thinks is food to Michael Michael’s ego. “It’s soothing to know that God has given him this kind of a strength, and he doesn’t misuse or abuse it in the wrong manner.” Jones tells me of firings when people on Michael’s staff take advantage of the fans. Jackson doesn’t tolerate it.
Jones credits Michael Michael’s mother for much of the talent that Michael absorbed. “They don’t give his mother enough credit. They didn’t have a television during those early years back in Indiana, and they lived in what amounted to a box. And the mother liked country music. They’d have hootenannies and sing, because it was the way they entertained themselves, and that was what brought them along and developed this great thing. At least there was a togetherness. That everybody participated. I think it was the beginning of the end of that togetherness within the family.”
Jones says Michael is very close with his mother and tries to be close with his family, but it becomes difficult. “It becomes very difficult,” Jones emphasizes.
When I ask Jones is Michael a shrew businessman? he replies, “He’s a kid at heart, but he knows what he wants, and I have the good fortune that he knows me over the years. I don’t have to be a hand-holder.” He goes on to say that Michael doesn’t like entourages, and Michael’s very private. Jackson wants to be by himself.
Jones find himself being the bull fighter in Michael’s arena. Jones fought to have the Oprah Winfrey interview advertised in Ebony and Jet and on BET. During those face-offs, Jones found himself saying, “Wait a minute, let’s back up. Oprah may not care, but that’s the reason I’m here. I care. And it’s most important. Michael Jackson is black, first and foremost.”
Besides acquiring certain properties for Michael’s private collection and handling all facets of the awards shows, it is Jones who goes to the black book stores and buys hundreds of black books at a time so that Michael knows who the black inventors are, so he knows who the black composers are.
“He has been educated about his people,” Jones says, “Those things are important, because if you don’t know where you came from and who you are, you don’t know where you’re going. And he knows, and he tells me all the time, ‘Bob don’t give up. Never give up, never say no,’ he says. ‘That’s what the system wants you to do is to say no and give up.’ And he says, ‘I never give up. I never disbelieve that it can’t happen.’” Jones says he has been around the entertainment industry for 40 years, but Jackson has taught him things, “and it causes me to continue to grow.”
Of Michael and Jones’ activities on his behalf, Jones states, “He’s a gentle … one of the nicest–he doesn’t use curse words. It’s like, because when I know what a dog-eat-dog world it is out here, thank God that he has me and a few others like me to fight off the lechers, because there there, and I’m able to become that alter ego and say go to hell. Because you won’t believe the propositions that come here.
“He is truly the nicest, and if there is anything such as being God-like, he doesn’t smoke, he doesn’t drink, he doesn’t believe in thinking bad thoughts. That’s why I am suspicious of most of them who come through here, because everybody has an agenda, and it’s either to get over or something, and we live in a society of that.
The society we live in is ruthless, and it’s all the buck and nothing else, and that’s what America’s become. When I look at him ( Michael) I say, ‘It’s good that God chose you.’ That’s the way I look at it. It’s good that God chose you.”
Let us not be swayed by the well-known story that Bob Jones grew terribly angry and revengeful when he was fired by Randy Jackson in 2004. Sending a letter with a photocopy of Michael’s signature on it and without an explanation too, after Bob Jones’s 17 years of working for Michael, was indeed not the politest and cleverest thing to do.
Bob Jones didn’t conceal his fury for MJ as numerous articles of the period show it. However we do not even know whether it was Michael who took the decision to fire him (he had other matters on his mind on the eve of the 2005 trial) or whether the dismissal was Randy Jackson’s own and a little too clumsy attempt to cut on the expenses to afford the lawyers.
The Guardian says it pointblank that Bob Jones wrote his (dreadful) book because he was pissed off and broke – which made him seek revenge:
September 9, 2005
Jones wrote the book, he says, because he was pissed off. And broke. Principally broke. For, while he never signed a confidentiality clause, an alarming oversight on the part of Jackson and his managers, Jones’s goodbye after 24 years working on and off for Jackson came at the hands of a messenger.
A note bearing the photocopied signature of Jackson was handed to Jones. “Your services have been appreciated,” it read. “We’re going in a different direction, we no longer need you, good luck in your future.”
Jones was left with no income and no pension, not even the holiday pay he was owed. But he took care of that.
“I do feel that I was owed a bit more than to have to go to the state of California to get my vacation pay,” he says.
However what Bob Jones seemed most angry about was that Michael’s legacy (the way he understood it) was thrown away into a dustbin despite him “working on it” for 17 years. Jones said he warned him that his life-style was doing him irreparable damage, but Michael totally disregarded this danger (I am not surprised – he knew he was innocent and didn’t want to adjust to someone else’s dirty thoughts).
It looks like Bob Jones was most frustrated by the uselessness of his efforts, and even though he said pretty nasty things about Michael the Guardian journalist noted that Bob Jones still retained a “fierce loyalty” to Michael Jackson and was embarassed by what he was saying about him in the book:
In 1987, Jackson asked Jones to take over the singer’s PR. Jones agreed, signing a two-year contract which was left to run for nearly 17 years.
It wasn’t until 1989 and the European leg of the Bad tour that Jones realised there was something genuinely untoward about the singer. “We were in Paris and we’re going to the Louvre and the paparazzi is there on motorbikes following,” says Jones. “We got to the Louvre and he got out of a bus hand-holding one of these little boys.”
Alarmed at the implications for Jackson’s image, Jones challenged the singer, to be told that he didn’t care.
“I told his manager, I said you’re going to get into trouble, this can’t happen. And I also told the attorneys and the business manager. These attorneys and the manager making all this money, I guess they thought I was some kind of fool trying to buck the system.”
Jones seems wary and angry, a little embarrassed at the indignity of doing the promotional rounds for a book trashing the man he spent most of his working life defending.
Despite the sense of grievance, there is still a fierce loyalty to Jackson, or at least to the notion of what Jackson might have been.
“Michael’s bigger than Elvis Presley. Elvis didn’t write any music,” he says. “Elvis sang and did what the Colonel [Parker] told him to do. He is the biggest thing black that the world has ever known. We were received by kings and queens as a head of state. And then, all of a sudden, allegations.”
Despite all his work to create a myth as the Peter Pan King of Pop, says Jones, people will only remember Michael Jackson for one thing. “He damaged whatever legacy he has. When people think of him now, they think of molestation.”
Frankly, to me it sounds more like sadness that Michael allowed the “system” to which he referred to in 1993, to ruin him. He evidently thought that it was Michael’s recklessness which landed him in all this trouble – which is absolutely wrong. If Bob Jones was right about the “system” they would have found a way to ruin him anyway – even if he had lived up to all their formal standards and had never given them any pretext.
However Bob Jones’ s words backfired at him. Now he will also be remembered not only for his beautiful and sincere words said about Michael in the midst of the 1993 allegations, but for the damaging role he played in his life as a disgruntled former employee…
I’ve also found this quote about Michael Jackson’s reaction to Bob Jones’s book which, as I am told, is attributed to Stacey Brown:
“In October of 2005, Michael and Tom Messereau went over the book in London and Michael later reached out to Bob and expressed that while he didn’t like the book, he didn’t think it was too big a deal and understood that Bob needed money”.
Though Stacey Brown is far from being trustworthy, forgiveness of other people was an inherent part of Michael’s nature, so I tend to think that these words are true. And if so, it means that Bob Jones WAS right when he said about Michael (and himself):
- “He is truly the nicest, and if there is anything such as being God-like … he doesn’t believe in thinking bad thoughts.