Michael Jackson's last moments are about to be revealed to the world
The final moments of Michael Jackson’s extraordinary career are about to be revealed in a highly anticipated documentary which is set to take the music world by storm. Jordana Borensztajn reports.
Michael Jackson’s THIS IS IT captures the King Of Pop in the last months that led to what would have been one of biggest comeback tours in music history.
Jackson fans and music lovers across the globe will be offered a rare, behind-the-scenes look at the singer, dancer and creative genius as he developed, created and rehearsed for his sold-out concerts which were to take place at London's O2 Arena in July.
Adelaide-born guitar goddess Orianthi was hand-picked to be Jackson’s lead guitarist. Scoring a gig that most musicians would kill for, Orianthi worked closely with the Man in the Mirror up until his tragic and unexpected death at the end of June.
“Getting to work with him was just amazing. He’s such an icon and such a wonderful person and it was just an awesome experience,” she tells Nova, reflecting and clearly touched. “I am so grateful I got to play music with him. It was such a special time in my life, I learnt so much.”
The 24-year-old’s talent was spotted by MJ’s crew when she performed at the 51st Annual Grammy Awards as Carrie Underwood’s lead guitarist. Orianthi says Michael Jackson’s music director emailed her, asking her to audition for his tour, and at first she didn’t believe it.
“I thought it was a joke and then management reached out and it was for real. They wanted me to learn “Beat It” and “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin.” We were jamming on some blues when (Michael) walked in and then we started playing ‘Beat It’. They toned up my solo and he loved it,” she says, smiling.
This Is It Orianthi“He got up and he was really happy, and he grabbed my arm and started walking up and down the front of the stage area and he said ‘can you play that solo while walking this pace with me?’ And I was like ‘yeah totally.’ And then he hired us.
“I have never been that nervous in my life. I didn’t think I was actually going to get it. I was blown away that he liked my playing. It was just a dream come true, it was crazy. Being hired by MJ was a really special and amazing moment.”
While the young starlet has rubbed shoulders – and worked with – plenty of world-class musicians through her career, including guitar great Carlos Santana, she says her first one-on-one interaction with the King of Pop was a moment she’ll never forget.
“I remember early days, just after auditioning for him, I was walking down the corridor and it was me, and then MJ coming towards me with his bodyguard. I was like so, so nervous. I didn’t know whether to run into the room closest to me or hide… I decided to say hello because I thought he might think I’m a weirdo if I didn’t. So I said hello to him, and he grabbed my hand and he said ‘God bless you’ and ‘I’ll see you really soon.’ He was smiling and it made me smile for the rest of the day.”
While it will be difficult for Orianthi to watch raw and candid footage of the bitter-sweet rehearsal experience, Orianthi says she can’t wait for THIS IS IT. “I really want to see it. It’s going to be really, obviously, upsetting for everybody. It’s going to be really hard to sit through it but (it’s good because) all his fans are going to see Michael’s last body of work. The fans, especially the ones that have bought tickets to see him at the 02, will see what could have been.”
Fellow Aussie Shannon Holtzapfell was one of Jackson’s lead dancers who also worked closely with the King of Pop. While Holtzapfell has performed with some of music’s biggest names including Britney Spears, Fergie, Janet Jackson and Kelly Clarkson, he says working closely with the master of the moonwalk was one of the greatest experiences of his life.
This Is It Shannon Noltz“Michael was my dream – I always aspired to work with that man,” he says. “I actually started dancing because of Michael Jackson. I do what I do because of him. He was an amazing performer.”
Holtzapfell says Jackson’s death came as a horrible surprise to everyone involved in the production and that nobody saw any signs indicating he was unhealthy. “It came as a shock to us because of his energy and his spirit. To dance next to him – I mean, he’s twice my age – I’m 24, and I had to keep up with this guy. Not only that, it’s the pressure of dancing with the King of Pop. You can’t deny – no matter if you’re a fan or not – what he’s done to the pop industry and the pop world, in music videos and performances as a dancer and a singer.
“What was more special about working with him and learning from him on this, is that he tried to carry a message to the world. Michael wanted to help the environment, and to heal the world through music.”
THIS IS IT chronicles the months of April to June of this year, and has been drawn from more than one hundred hours of behind-the-scenes footage. The film is being screened globally for a limited period of two weeks only from Tuesday. For more information, head to www.thisisit-movie.com.
Orianthi’s single “According to You” is currently bouncing around radio and her album Believe is due out November 6.
Guitar goddess Orianthi has been on a wild music journey