This week, the world is watching the trial of Michael Jackson’s doctor, Conrad Murray, who stands accused in the 2009 death of the pop icon. In the hours before his death, Jackson was preparing to take his ill-fated “This Is It” London show around the world, and then to make movies including a film version of “Thriller,” the show’s director testified Tuesday. Videos were played to the court of Jackson rehearsing “The Way You Make Me Feel” and “Earth Song” — his last before he died on June 25, 2009, months before he was due to take the show to London’s O2 Arena.
Among the court spectators are Jackson’s family, a close-knit group that has maintained solidarity in the face of public scrutiny. Jermaine Jackson — older than Michael by four years — has now released “You Are Not Alone: Michael, Through a Brother’s Eyes” (Touchstone/Simon & Schuster, $26). The book is a keenly observed memoir tracing his brother’s life starting from their shared childhood and extending through the Jackson 5 years, Michael’s phenomenal solo career, his loves, his suffering and his tragic end.
In tackling this family story, the older Jackson has to share his own. Jermaine, the fourth-born in the musical family dynasty, was an original member of the J5. He forged his own career as a solo artist and singer, record producer and composer. In recent years, Jackson has served as an informal spokesperson for the Jackson family, and was the one who announced his brother’s death to the world.
In this raw, honest and poignant account, he reveals Michael the private person, not Michael “the King of Pop.” The text is a sophisticated, no-holds-barred examination of the man, aimed at fostering a true and final understanding of who he was, why he was, and what shaped him.
Jermaine doesn’t flinch from tackling the tough issues: the torrid press, the scandals, the allegations, the court cases, the internal politics, the “This Is It” tour and disturbing developments in the days leading up to Michael’s death. Anyone trying to make sense of the artist whose death was so premature will find this book to be both a fascinating read and a visual treat as it is chock-full of never-before-seen family photos. Where previous works have presented only thin versions of a media construct, he provides a rare glimpse into the complex heart, mind and soul of a brilliant but sometimes troubled entertainer. As a witness to history on the inside, Jermaine is the only person qualified to deliver the real Michael and reveal what made him tick, his private opinions and his unseen emotions through the most headline-making episodes of his life.
“Michael wanted his music to speak for him and transcend all of the misconceptions,” writes Jermaine, who obviously knows the real Michael as only a brother can. “This book addresses everything and says the things he never got a chance to say.”