While in Thailand in 1996, [artist id="1102"]Michael Jackson[/artist] sat down to answer some of his fans' most pressing questions, including whether "Billie Jean" is based on a real person and if Jackson has ever felt nervous onstage. Jackson — who was candid, good-natured and relaxed during the interview — opened up about his childhood, his music and even what he would do if given the chance to have a day off from fame.
"There is a girl named Billie Jean, but it's not about that Billie Jean," he said when asked about the inspiration behind his 1983 hit single. "Billie Jean is kind of anonymous. It represents a lot of girls. They used to call them groupies in the '60s. They would hang around backstage doors, and any band that would come to town they would have a relationship with, and I think I wrote this out of experience with my brothers when I was little. There were a lot of Billie Jeans out there. Every girl claimed that their son was related to one of my brothers."
Jackson admitted that it is interviews that make him more nervous than actually going onstage and performing. The usually shy singer put his guard up a bit during this particular question, seeming unable to fully explain how uncomfortable he feels about being interviewed.
"I don't remember ever being afraid to go onstage. I'm more comfortable onstage than giving this interview right now," he said. "In truth, I really don't like being interviewed. I swear to God, I feel it's such an intrusion. Every interview I've ever done, I've been forced into it."
Jackson, who was probably one of the most recognizable celebrities in the world before [article id="1614744"]his death last month[/article], admits that even if he could hide and get a day off, he'd just spend it working. "[I'd] probably [go] to Neverland or an island isolated somewhere," he said. "What would I do? Probably write music or create some music or stage play or something. Something creative. I never stop working."
As a child working with his brothers in the [artist id="9867"]Jackson 5[/artist], he had the chance to work with everyone from his good friend [artist id="15373"]Diana Ross[/artist] to [artist id="7985"]Marvin Gaye[/artist]. And, in this 1996 interview, he said the environment on the Motown label "was very friendly" and recalled some of his favorite memories from that period in his life.
"Marvin Gaye used to come to my house at least twice a week to play basketball with my brothers," he recalled. "[artist id="19226"]Stevie Wonder[/artist] would come by for gatherings and parties. I would go to the Supremes' house with Diana Ross when she would invite the other girls over, and there was really, sincerely one happy family. We would have a baseball team where we'd played against one another. And I was just really little, and they'd let me bat, and it was really a happy family. And I do miss all of them. Even the Temptations would come over to my house all the time."
MTV's live coverage of the Michael Jackson public memorial service at the Staples Center in Los Angeles will begin on Tuesday at 12 p.m. ET / 9 a.m. PT.
For complete coverage of the life, career and passing of the legendary entertainer, visit "Michael Jackson Remembered."
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