Shaye Areheart Remembers Michael Jackson

Screen shot 2013-01-31 at 3.40.06 PM

In 2009 Michael’s book “Moonwalk,” was reissued. Shaye Areheart, Editor remembers Michael, writing the book and his hesitance to release the original book. And in a 2010 interview recalls Michael’s love of books.

One of his original editors, Shaye Areheart told MTV News that the Michael Jackson found within the book’s pages is not the one we’ve come to hear so much about in the years after the molestation accusations and the months since his death from an overdose of surgical anesthetic in June.

“I didn’t believe those stories,” she said. “I thought it was untrue. I think you don’t change that much. I knew Michael pretty well for those years. He was a fundamentally gentle, kind, decent person who revered children, who felt that children were angels on Earth. That’s not the sort of person that would take advantage of a child. I never did believe those stories.”

During the four-year production process on “Moonwalk,” Areheart would sit with Jackson in his Encino, California, home, asking the singer questions and recording his answers about his childhood and family, his early Motown experiences, the isolating effects of superstardom and the bizarre rumors that often enveloped him.

As the book neared completion in November 1987, Jackson was in Australia for the international leg of his Bad tour. Areheart traveled to Melbourne, and for the next two weeks, they sat in hotel rooms as she read aloud the story of his life. “He loved to be read to,” she said, adding that the idea of reading through the manuscript seemed like “the most boring idea he’d heard in his life.”

But weeks before the book was to be published, MJ hesitated, worried about all that he’d revealed, fearful that his effort to tell the truth about his life would only feed the tabloid fire.

“He really wanted to do this book,” Areheart explained. “He wanted to set the record straight. He felt like there had been so many falsehoods. And then all of sudden, he felt like somebody who’d just been exposed and thought, ‘Maybe I don’t want to publish this book.’ ”

MJ eventually decided, though, that publication should move forward. “Moonwalk” hit bookshelves in 1988 and shot to the top of the New York Times best-seller list. The reissued version carries a new introduction from Motown head honcho Berry Gordy, as well as an in-depth afterword by Areheart. The pages are filled with color photos that Jackson himself selected, including behind-the-scenes looks at video shoots, old family photos and one of him in a red-and-gold kimono with a huge smile on his face.

Areheart found out about Jackson’s death while she was at a book party. She’d spent time with MJ in the years since the publication of “Moonwalk,” collaborating on a collection of poetry, short stories and paintings and making plans for future books. As news trickled out about the sordid details leading up to his death, Areheart said she was in shock. “When I knew Michael, he didn’t even drink,” she said. “The guy did nothing. He was healthy and very proud of his health. He was a vegetarian. He was constantly exercising and dancing and moving. So I just” — she paused — “I just can’t speak to that.”

In 2010 Tony Cox in conversation with Shaye Areheart. Edited from interview ~

More than anything else, of course, I wish that Michael was still with us. But the interesting thing that’s happened in the year since he died — and it happened almost immediately after he died — was that people began to reevaluate what a music genius Michael Jackson was. All of his backlist and albums went to number one.

People were in absolute awe of the genius of this man. I think it was easy to have that forgotten when many headlines were tabloid nonsense.

I personally never saw anything quirky or odd about Michael. He was full of fun; he was someone who loved to have a good time, loved to play practical jokes on people — and loved to laugh. He was incredibly intelligent and read all the time — always carrying a book around with him that had words underlined, comments of his own in the margins.

I once spent two or three hours in a book store with him in San Francisco between interviews because he was just so crazy about learning and about knowledge. He was fascinated about entertainers who came before him and entertainers who were his contemporaries. He was a very interesting man, but I never saw anything or heard anything that would give resonance to any of the headlines that many people hung on.

People love Michael Jackson for the entertainer he was, for the musical genius he was. People were always conflicted by stories in headlines and whether or not there was any truth to them. He was found innocent when he was in court…And I think with our system of justice — if you’re found innocent, you are innocent. I don’t think it has any bearing on Michael.

He was a profoundly fine musician — an incredible songwriter, singer and performer. He just had it all. When Michael walked on stage you could not take your eyes off him. He was so dedicated to his fans and his audience mattered so very much to him that he went out there and gave it his all.

The resurgence of that interest in Michael is people seeing, ‘My god, that music was unbelievable — I have to have this album, I have to see this movie. I want to have Michael Jackson firmly in my life.’

Sources edited from ~


Buy Moonwalk

This entry was posted in BOOKS, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Shaye Areheart Remembers Michael Jackson

  1. SGAA says:

    What a beautiful and heartfelt story. This is the book (Moonwalk) that everyone should be reviewing and reading or rereading . Thank you for sharing these lovely thoughts on our beloved Michael.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s