Monday, September 25, 2017

‘I was always … with him’

September 10, 2017 by  
Filed under Highlights

QUESTIONS & ANSWERS | BILL WHITFIELD

In the second installment of a two-part interview, bodyguard Bill Whitfield recalls his life protecting Michael Jackson.

Bill Whitfield’s “Remembering the Time: Protecting Michael Jackson in his Final Days.

How did Michael feel about some of the social issues affecting the black community?

Well, I know based on his own personal experience with law enforcement he hated cops. I think that came from his personal experience he went through during his trial — when the police searched his house. He felt they ransacked and contaminated Neverland, and he never went back to his home. There was one particular instance when we were driving and Michael always sat behind me in the passenger seat of the car. I was paying no attention to a police car that pulled up on the left side of us and he told me, “Bill, slow down and let the devil pass.” You really couldn’t see inside the patrol car, but I think it represented law enforcement that negatively impacted him during his first and second trials.

Did Michael ever invite you to bring your daughter to his house?

Yes, he recognized that I was always working and always with him. So, he would asked who was taking care of my daughter and asked me to bring her to his home. He would talk to my daughter by phone and brought her a new iPhone when it first came out, for her birthday. But I always wanted to keep my personal and professional life separate — and my daughter was well taken care of my family and friends while I worked.

The Lifetime movie based on your book indicated that there were times you didn’t get paid by Michael’s management. Did you ever get paid for your services before his death?

Finally, when it was all said and done — no, I didn’t get paid. Had I wanted to be like everyone else, and leeched on to what he owed me after he passed away, I could have gotten payment from the estate. But to be perfectly honest, Mr. Jackson is no longer here — and as far as I am concerned, his debt with me is settled.

Did Michael feel his final days on earth were coming?

The name of Michael’s final tour, “This Is It,” really meant just that as it related to touring the world again on that level. He once asked me, “Bill how do you feel about living abroad?” Honestly, I told him that I wasn’t cool with it. He would also hint on how much money he was expected to make from the This Is It Tour — that would have financially set him up for life, and he would never need to go on tour again. I am often asked whether Michael broke when he passed away. I say a man like Michael could never go broke, based on all his assets. He owned so much.

How was Michael’s overall health before he passed?

I never felt he had bad health. I did feel he was in a bad place emotionally. I don’t care what anyone says — stress can kill you. Personally, I think it was bad management, financial accountants who took advantage of him and family issues that caused him stress. People also ask, “Did Dr. Murray kill Mr. Jackson?” I say we all killed Mr. Jackson. We all played a part, and ultimately stress killed Mr. Jackson because what causes one not to be able to sleep? Stress. So, I don’t put all the blame on Dr. Murray for Mr. Jackson’s death. He played a part but not 100%. It was all a combination.

What about the family stress?

He hated seeing his children living the same life he had to live when he had to withdraw himself. Living behind a curtain in secrecy. His children only wore their masks when they were out in public with their father. I would, along with other security, would take his children out to places — such as to get ice cream — and they won’t have to wear their mask hiding their faces. Only when they went out with their father would they be required to do so,

Bill Whitfield, Paris and Micha

in order to not be exploited by people.

What Jackson family member do you believe Michael was the closest to?

I would have to say it was his mother. Many people think it was Janet, but from what I observed it was his mom. Janet only showed up to his home once, with the entire family. It was late at night and I had to wake up Mr. Jackson. This was something you just didn’t do — but I did. I told him that his family members were demanding to see him. He asked, “Do you know what time it is?” I responded, “Yes, but they are demanding to see you, and they  won’t leave until they do.” Mr. Jackson, said, “I will only see my brothers. He asked if Randy was there. I said, “I don’t think so.” He told me he would only meet with his brothers but not with Randy. I went back downstairs to the gate and told the Jackson family that he has agreed to only meet with his brothers. Janet asked, “What about me?” I told her, “Sorry ma’am, Mr. Jackson will only see his brothers.” I had to play the bad guy, and it was very stressful.

What really made Michael happy?

He loved to see his children active and playing. Running around the house and taking them to amusement parks. Also, he loved their birthday celebrations. He also loved making music and dancing around in the studio. Mr. Jackson also loved to go people-watching and going out in public. But when crowds of people would recognize him and rush him to get autographs or photos — that would scare him.

Anything else you would like to add?

I just want your readers to know that my book, “Remembering the Time: Protecting Michael Jackson in his Final Days,” gives more details than the Lifetime movie, “Michael Jackson: Searching for Neverland.” I will soon give a book signing in Las Vegas, and sell the book and give proceeds to the Vegas homeless shelters. Mr. Jackson’s did this — and I want to continue and carry on to support the homeless.

 

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