Interview by Sarah Levy
Founder of magicmusic.com
Seth Riggs on Michael Jackson
Video and Full Transcript
Seth Riggs: Michael was, as everyone knows, a very phenominal performer. If they have a good a voice as Michael and can accomplish three and a half octaves, actually three octaves and a minor six he could vocalize and with all that dancing – 21/22 songs. Full out dancing and maybe a couple of ballads and I use to vocalize him on tour three times a day: 12 – 1pm 4 – 4:30 pm and 8:15 – 8:30 pm before he went on. So if he was extravagant one afternoon I’d put him back in and tell him where the mistakes were and tell him what and what not to do and he would go back and you know, revitalize his connection and bingo – off he’d go.
Sarah Levy: When did you start coaching him?
SR: 32 years ago…. 32 years ago..
SL: How was your first meeting. Do you remember the first meeting?
SR: Yeah. First meeting I went — we were going to go out the front door and the carpenter said “no, we’re putting in new stairs so you have to go up over the roof”, I said “what?” “You have to go up on the roof” so he gave us a ladder and we had to crawl up the ladder, walked across part of the roof and there was a couple of steps up and there was a door. So I walked over and knocked on the door and this voice says “hello” and I said, “is that you Michael?” “Yeah, come on in.” So I came in and there he was holding a chimpanzee by both rear feet and with a washcloth he was cleaning up his butt and put a diaper on him. That was my first meeting with Michael. (smiles)
SL: Thats very interesting.
SR: And I taught him in his bedroom all the time because he was very comfortable there and he had all of his toys and things like that around him. He had a two story bedroom and he had mannequins in there; a little girl in a tutu and a little boy in a tuxedo and they’re leaning on the top balcony looking down at him. Pinnochio was hanging on the stairway up to the balcony and if you hit him he would bounce up and down (smiles) and I’d be in there vocalizing Michael on the piano and the chimpanzee would hit Michael in the shoulder and then push Pinnochio who would go up and down and then he would clip me on the shoulder and Michael thought that was so funny. (Laughs) So our lessons were punctuated by animals moving in and moving out.
His heart was on his sleeve (begins to cry) whenever he heard there was somebody in distress he went to rescue them. When a young boy was put in a room and set on fire by his fire by his father and was burnt very badly, Michael read about it and immediately he flew up and the young man was all bandaged in the hospital and one little hole here (motions to his mouth) and everything else was a mass of bandages and he said, “I don’t know what I’m going to do, what am I going to do?” and Michael said, “don’t worry, I’ll take care of you for the rest of your life.” And he did. He always had something for that fellow to do.
SL: What is your favourite memory of Michael Jackson?
SR: (Long pause) There were so many. Mostly they had to do with his heart. He had a great heart (begins to cry) he went everywhere when somebody was in trouble. He went and shelled out money to buy what they needed or to fix their lives. When that little boy Ryan White was given a transfusion of bad blood and got AIDS. He went and buried a young baby that was drowned because her mother threw her off because the father walked away and wouldn’t feed her, so that baby was thrown in the river or whatever off the bridge and the little brother was thrown from the bridge and the woman jumped in. Somebody was able to get the mother and the other child but the baby was drown. Michael read about it and he immediately went down to Long Beach and everybody was waiting for the funeral and the father came back and saw all the trouble he caused and in a way was responsible for his son’s death or whatever someone said, “why isn’t this funeral started?” and he said “the person paying for it hasn’t gotten here yet”. About that time up came a limo and who stepped out? Michael. Didn’t matter where we were. We were in Liverpool and Michael read in the paper that a young person was brought up by wolves and immediately he began to cry and said “how terrible, we have got to get a fundraiser for that little fellow.”
People constantly trying to get money out of him. He was accused by a young boy of molestation and when the trial was over — he was acquitted — and later on, the boy admitted that his father had talked him into that – talked him into saying that, and that it wasn’t true and later the father committed suicide.
There are a lot of things that people don’t understand about Michael. HE WOULD NEVER, NEVER UPSET A CHILD IN ANY WAY. He may give them too much popcorn, too much ice cream. Up at the Ranch there were these great big things of Hagen Daz Ice Cream all over the place, out in the parking lot, in the soda fountain. I used to go out there early with no breakfast just to go to the soda fountain and have a big dish of Hagen Daz for breakfast and every year we would take all the kids and the parents up to Neverland Ranch and the parents would come over to him, I’d be sitting there watching because I’d been through all that – I’ve known him for a long time. I was with him when he bought that place and they would come up with tears in their eyes and say “where have you taken us?” “I’ve taken you to you childhood. I’ve taken you to Neverland, this is where Peter Pan is.”
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