[artist id="1102"]Michael Jackson[/artist]'s longtime manager, Frank DiLeo, was in the hospital the night the singer died in June, and on Tuesday night, he spoke up for the first time since Jackson's passing to refute some of the rumors circulating about the King of Pop.
DiLeo, who worked for Jackson from 1984-1989 and then was rehired by the singer earlier this year, appeared on "Larry King Live" to clarify stories about Jackson's alleged reluctance to perform 50 shows in London, speak about the singer's health and business acumen, and explain why Jackson has not been buried yet.
DiLeo said he first heard about a disturbance at Jackson's rented Los Angeles-area home on June 25 from a fan who called him to report an ambulance out front. The veteran music-business manager said he rushed to the hospital, where a nurse came out and informed him that the 50-year-old singer had died.
"I almost fainted," DiLeo said. "She just looked at me and said, 'He's not going to make it. He's gone. But we'll keep working on him until his mother gets here.' " DiLeo said he was devastated and cried for days for the man who was a client, but who he also considered a close friend.
Seeking to refute rumors that Jackson had a life-threatening addiction to prescription medications, DiLeo said the singer had been "physically OK," eating well and in good spirits while rehearsing for his planned 50-show comeback at the O2 Arena in London. He also clarified that promoter AEG Live had taken out an insurance policy on non-performance, should Jackson not be able to make the shows that has not yet been paid.
Following Jackson's death, reports surfaced that Jackson felt he'd been pressured by AEG to play more shows than he was comfortable with, an allegation DiLeo disputed. "Michael knew there was more than 10 shows," he said. "He knew there were 50 shows. Sometimes Michael would like to say, 'Gee, I'm only doing 10. I woke up, now I'm doing 40 more.' ... But what he was saying was that by popular demand [he had] to do 40 [more]. And incidentally, there were enough ticket requests to do 85. ... The manager at the time and three attorneys read the contract to him. He knew how many shows he had to do."
In fact, the reason the total was 50, DiLeo said, was because Jackson was intent on handily beating his long-time rival Prince's record of 21 shows at the O2 and making it into the Guinness Book of World Records.
"Michael's a very competitive person in everything he does," he said, scoffing at suggestions that Jackson had been bullied or manipulated into doing more shows than he was comfortable with. "Michael Jackson has done and always did what he wanted to do. No one controlled him."
Asked to respond to suggestions by Jackson's father, Joseph, that foul play may have been involved in his son's death, DiLeo said he didn't know what killed the singer, either.
"Something happened to Michael Jackson," he said. "We really don't know until the toxicology reports. ... No one was sent up there to do any harm to Michael that we know of. I'm not sure what he's talking about. Did the doctor make a mistake? I don't know."
DiLeo was seemingly referring to Jackson's personal physician, Dr. Conrad Murray, who is at the center of a manslaughter investigation into Jackson's death. DiLeo said he knew of Jackson's struggle with drug dependence "in the past," but that he was not aware if it was ongoing, citing the strenuous four-hour insurance physical Jackson was required to undergo in order to get the non-performance coverage from Lloyd's of London.
"They said he was in great health," DiLeo said. And though he did not work with him in 1993 and 2003, when Jackson was accused of sexually molesting young boys — the first case was settled out of the court, and Jackson was acquitted in the second — DiLeo said he is confident that the singer was not guilty of the charges.
"I know Michael. I know what he felt about people. He was a kind soul that wouldn't touch or harm a child," DiLeo said. "In that first one, I told him to fight it. If he was alive today, he would tell you ... 'I should have listened to him.' When the second time came around, I knew he was innocent. I knew what happened. The people were moochers."
Finally, when Larry King wondered where and when Jackson would be buried, DiLeo explained that the family does not want to inter the body until the final toxicology report is completed, which officials recently said could take several more weeks.
"That brain tissue has not been released back to the family," he said. "They can't really bury him until he is whole. Simple as that. I think there is still a division in the family between [burying him in] Neverland and somewhere else."