For years, the Jackson family largely presented a unified, denial-filled front in response to allegations of [artist id=”1102″]Michael Jackson’s[/artist] alleged addiction to prescription medication. But, following in the footsteps of sister LaToya, who was paid to speak to a British tabloid about her feelings that Michael was “murdered” by a shadowy group of conspirators, older brother Tito, 55, has broken his silence to a rival British tab, The Daily Mirror.
In a lengthy interview, Tito told the newspaper — which seems likely to have paid him for his time, as The Daily Mail did with LaToya — that the family was so concerned over Michael’s alleged abuse of prescription pills that they planned a military-style intervention at Jackson’s then-home, Neverland Valley Ranch. (Representatives for the Mail had not responded to MTV News’ request for comment at press time.)
“I never saw him on drugs. Not once. He deliberately did it away from us. He didn’t want his family to know anything about that part of him,” Tito reportedly told the paper, adding that Jackson did everything in his power to hide his activities, even ordering his staff to bar his brothers and sisters from the ranch.
“We had to act,” he explained, saying that as rumors grew of Michael’s addiction his siblings rushed passed the security guards to confront Michael. “It was me, my sisters Janet, Rebbie and LaToya and my brothers, Jackie and Randy … We bust right into the house and he was surprised to see us, to say the least. … We went into one of his private rooms and had a discussion with him. Some of us were crying.”
Tito claimed that the siblings kept asking Michael if it was true he was using drugs and the singer kept denying it, saying they were overreacting and asking a doctor who was on hand to assure them everything was OK.
Investigators are still trying to determine what caused Jackson to collapse and die on June 25 at the age of 50, apparently of cardiac arrest. Numerous news outlets have reported that the singer was taking a number of prescription pain medications and anti-anxiety drugs at the time of his death and that he was also allegedly using the powerful doctor-only approved anesthetic Diprivan as a sleep aid to counter his chronic insomnia.
Tito said that despite the assurances, the siblings didn’t take Michael’s word and attempted to speak to him about the problem for hours, to no avail. He did not say when the intervention took place, but noted that the family subsequently tried “many times” to speak to Michael about the issue, but were shut out by his handlers.
“I don’t know if they were just doing their job or if it they were part of some kind of conspiracy,” he said, adding that the security staff would often set up roadblocks to keep the siblings out. Tito said he first became aware of Michael’s alleged problems with prescription drugs after the singer was treated at a rehab clinic in 1993.
“He had been taking pain medicine because of the burns to his scalp and evidently he got some type of addiction from it,” Tito said, referring to injuries Jackson suffered from burns during a 1984 shoot for a Pepsi ad.
Though LaToya claimed that Michael was killed by a group of conspirators trying to get their hands on his money, Tito said he is not convinced of that. “I don’t know whether he was killed or not,” he said. “But I would say that sometimes he had people around him that were not in his best interests. … Whether his death was an accident or whether it was deliberate, something has gone on and we need to get to the bottom of it.”
On another topic the family declined to discuss over the years, Jackson’s proclivity for image-remaking plastic surgery, Tito said that obsession may have come from taunting the singer endured from family patriarch Joseph Jackson when Michael was young about his nose and acne. “Michael’s plastic surgery started around 1979, when he went solo,” Tito said. “It was just something that a lot of entertainers were doing at the time. … It started with just an alteration of his nose. He never told me why, but I think he thought it would improve his looks.”
The former member of the Jackson 5 also countered reports in a new unauthorized biography by Canadian writer Ian Halperin, who said that near the end of his life, Michael was obsessed with fears of his own death.
“Michael was one of those people that was always worried about someone having to take care of him,” Tito said. “He didn’t want to turn into someone who couldn’t make it up the stairs or couldn’t make it to the bathroom. … But I don’t think losing his life at an early age was part of his plan either. … He never talked to me about dying, but most of us are a little in fear of dying.”
For complete coverage of the life, career and passing of the legendary entertainer, visit “Michael Jackson Remembered.”
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