Performing On Stage


"I´m totally at home on stage. That´s where I live. That´s where I was born. That´s where I´m safe."

Michael Jackson



“Being on stage is magic. There’s nothing like it. You feel the energy of everybody who’s out there. You feel it all over your body. When the lights hit you, it’s all over, I swear it is.”

Michael Jackson in 1982 interview with Gerri Hirshey



"You are connected to a higher source and you just go with the moment and you become one with the spirit, and not to sound religious or anything but it is a very spiritual, very much like religion and er it's a God given gift and you just go with it, and I'm honored to of been given it, and it's fun to become one with the audience, its a oneness, you know"

Michael Jackson, online audio chat, Oct 26th, 2001



"He can tuck his long, thin frame into a figure skater’s spin without benefit of ice or skates. Aided by the burn and flash of silvery body suits, he seems to change molecular structure at will, all robot angles one second and rippling curves the next. So sure is the body that his eyes are often closed, his face turned upward to some unseen muse. The bony chest heaves. He pants, bumps and squeals." 

Gerri Hirshey, for Rolling Stone Magazine



"There is no greater bliss than dancing and performing. It is like a celebration and when you are caught up in that place, where certain performers go when they become one with the music, one with the audience, if you are on that level, it is like being in a trance, it just takes over. You start to play off each other and start to know where you are going before you get there. They have got to know where you are taking it and respond. It is like playing ping-pong. It is like when the birds go (migrate) and they all know when they are going. Or like fish. They are telepathic, they are on the same line. That´s what happens when you perform, you are at one with the musicians and the dance and the music and you are in this trance. And man, you got ´em. They are in the palm of your hand. It´s unbelievable. You feel you are transformed. (...) It is divine, it is pure, it is revelation without making it sound spiritual or religious, but it is a divine energy. Some people call it the spirit, like when the spirit comes into the room. Some people look down on it. Religions sometimes look down on it because they try to say it´s demonic, it´s the cult, it´s the devil. It isn´t. It is God-like. It is pure God-like energy. You feel God´s light."

Michael Jackson in "MJ Tapes"




"The cliches seem to fall away when you watch Michael perform. When he says he´s inspired by things spiritual you believe him. And when he says that four letter LOVE, you believe him too."

Molly Meldrum, 1987



Question: I wanted to ask you, just as... in performing... and recently you've done a couple of shows, you did a couple at Madison Square Garden and you did a show at RFK stadium, a benefit concert, and you know, obviously, you know, you.... live performance has been one of the things that has distinguished you throughout your career. You've been offstage for a while. I wonder if you could talk a little bit about what it was like to be out there again in front of an audience and, you know, getting that opportunity to perform again.

Michael Jackson: "It was, um, it's hard to explain. It was quite exciting, to feel the audience and to see them and to be accepted so warmly by them. Um, it's just an incredible feeling. It really is. They're there to support you and to love you and to hear their favorite songs and you're just standing there and they're just giving you so much adulation and love and the sprit is just full of love, it's wonderful. It's very emotional. It, uh, brings me to tears. It's wonderful."

Question: „I remember in your book you describe that like sometime on stage is when you feel the most alive, that those are the moments that, you know, really are the whole -- kind of the most transporting for you.“

Michael Jackson: "It is. It's being offstage that's difficult for me. Uh, being on stage ... either writing music or writing poetry, and being on stage, and watching cartoons are my favorite things to do in the entire world. Um, that's what brings me to life. I love that. That's what inspires me to do what I do, you know?"

Online audio chat, Oct 26th 2001



"I always enjoyed the feeling of being onstage—the magic that comes. When I hit the stage it’s like all of a sudden a magic from somewhere just comes and the spirit just hits you and you just lose control of yourself. I came onstage at Quincy’s [Jones] concert at the Rose Bowl and I did not want to go onstage. I was ducking and hiding and hoping he wouldn’t see me hiding behind people when he called me on. Then I went up there and I just went crazy. I started climbing up the scaffold, the speakers, the light gear. The audience started getting into it and I started dancing and singing and that’s what happens."

Michael Jackson, August 1982



“My main love for what I do is the admirers. I love the fans. Like when I’m doing a show and see the fans out there dancing and screaming, excited, and we’re bringing joy to them, that’s what I love most. And it’s just the greatest feeling in the world.” 

Michael Jackson



BOB COLACELLO: Did you like performing as a child? Did you always love it? 

MICHAEL JACKSON: Always did. I always enjoyed the feeling of being onstage—the magic that comes. When I hit the stage it’s like all of a sudden a magic from somewhere just come

COLACELLO: How do you compare acting to performing on the stage?

JACKSON: I love both. Acting is the cream of the crop. I love performing. It’s a phenomenal getaway. If you want to really let out everything you feel, that’s the time to do it. With acting, it’s like becoming another person. I think that’s neat, especially when you totally forget. If you totally forget, which I love to do, that’s when it’s magic. I love to create magic—to put something together that’s so unusual, so unexpected that it blows people’s heads off. Something ahead of the times. Five steps ahead of what people are thinking. So people see it and say, “Whoa I wasn’t expecting that.” I love surprising people with a present or a gift or a stage performance or anything. I love John Travolta, who came off that Kotter show. Nobody knew he could dance or do all those things. He is like—boom. Before he knew it, he was the next big Brando or something.

August 1982, the whole interview:





“I love performing, it is where I am most comfortable. My first on stage performance was when I was five years old, I sang “climb every mountain” and got a thundering applause that moved my grandfather & mother to tears. They said “we can’t believe how beautiful you sound’”.

Michael Jackson



"It is scary to see im on stage, and the metamorphosis that takes place... Because when he is at home he is very soft, he speaks sweetly, calmly and humbly,  and then one goes to a concert and on stage, he is a totally different person, he is outgoing and total commander."

Sammy Davis Jr.




"He was two different people, I think. He would whisper, if you were interviewing him. But then, the moment he hit the stage, he was something else then. It was just extraordinary really."

Molly Meldrum, Australian "pop guru"




"Everybody has many facets to them and I’m no different. When I’m in public, I often feel shy and reserved. Obviously, I feel differently away from the glare of cameras and staring people. My friends, my close associates, know there’s another Michael that I find it difficult to present in the outlandish “public” situations I often find myself in. 

It’s different when I’m onstage, however. When I perform, I lose myself. I’m in total control of that stage. I don’t think about anything. I know what I want to do from the moment I step out there and I love every minute of it. I’m actually relaxed onstage. Totally relaxed. It’s nice. I feel relaxed in a studio too. I know whether something feels right. If it doesn’t, I know how to fix it. Everything has to be in place and if it is you feel good, you feel fulfilled."

Michael Jackson in his book "Moonwalk"



"He is very modest, shy and pure man. When you see him on stage, hitting the moves and doing his thing, you think 'wow!'  That's all very spectacular.  But face to face he's a sweet and soft man. Very easy to talk to, down to earth but also a very, very shy person.

I learned a lot from him. About dancing, about life experiences....everything. My goal is to go try to inspire other people like Michael did with me. He is very humoristic. He loves to laugh and he enjoys life."

One of Michael's dancers, Timor Steffins



"Personally, he seemed to be a very quiet, shy and nice person and then, when I saw him at the concert in the evening, I did not believe that it is the same person."

An employee of the Intercontinental Hotel in Prague, where MJ stayed for a few days at the beginning of HIStory tour in September 1996



"Girls, they like cake, so to make them happy, I will give them some cake."

Michael Jackson refering to act of briefly flashing his chest at some point during concert performances. As told by Michael Bush, clothes designer.  (Who made easy rip shirts for Michael's cake sharing activities.)



"Girls, they like cake, so to make them happy, I will give them some cake."
-- Michael Jackson refering to act of briefly flashing his chest at some point during concert performances. As told by Michael Bush, clothes designer.  Who made easy rip shirts for Michael's cake sharing activities. 

“As I think back to all the musicians I’ve done music videos for, I cannot think of anybody that has had that electrifying a presence when they kick in.”

Nick Brandt, Fine Art Photographer and Film Director




"The filming of BEAT IT was the first time I experienced Michael Jackson actually performing. Up to this point, our work together was quiet and in the more intimate surroundings of photo shoots. It was 1983. Michael was extremely shy, soft spoken and gracious.

Our first scene took place in a smelly hotel room in Skid Row in LA. Cameras, lights and speakers were all crammed into a small space. Michael’s position was first lying, and then sitting on a grungy bed.  He was wearing a cute little white t-shirt with what looked like piano keys on it, and red jammy bottoms. Then he was directed, by Bob Giraldi to rise, walk and then stare into the camera lens located in the narrow doorway. Being Michael Jackson’s make up artist required me to stay close by. The only space for me was sitting on a chest of drawers, next to the camera. The lens was actually crossing above my legs and barely missing my nose.

Michael nodded his head, in acknowledgement that he was ready and understood his marks. Playback began. The music was deafening and the beat vibrated the entire hotel.

I would have fallen off of my seat, if there had been room to fall. The shy guy I had known for all these month suddenly turned into someone I hadn’t met before  The look he gave into the camera, the sexy snarl, was nothing like the person I knew up to that point. He became the music.

This was my first lesson of what a true artist was. I was fascinated by the transformation. How could someone’s nature be completely altered? When we talked about it, he explained, “it isn’t me”. He said it was God, coming through him.

This brings me to the journey. My journey at least, and maybe you would like to take a stroll down this path for a moment.

Echart Tolle said “What a liberation to realize that the ‘voice in my head’ is not who I am.

After my experience with Michael, I realized when I was creating, whether it be doing makeup and hair, or painting, when I was using my gift, I was in a state of being that was totally present and connected to what could be termed as God, (as Michael explained it) or plugged into the universe. I experience the most blissful, peaceful, and perfect place of being in this transformed state.

That explains why Michael was more at peace in front of thousands of people on stage, than he was in his daily reality.

I find that my mind, “the voice in my head” often stands in the way of my joy.

What a wonderful realization (gift) Michael put in my pocket at such a young age. You are now meeting me at the intersection. I am passing the gift to you. LYM."

Karen Faye, Michael´s make up artist and friend (




“Michael Jackson sometimes compared the reciprocal energy of a performance to a Frisbee…’you hold it, you touch it, and you whip it back.’ Audiences, he believed, were more than passive spectators; they were a vibrant community, composed of all ages, races, religions, and cultures, standing shoulder to shoulder, temporarily bound up in the collective spell of his music, imagining the world anew.  ‘You can take them anywhere,’ he effused.  This was his gift as an artist; the ability to dissolve into the stories, the emotions, the MAGIC of his music…and to take masses of people from all walks of life with him.  He called this creative BOND many things over the years:  ESCAPISM, ENTERTAINMENT, SHOWMANSHIP, ART.  BUT ULTIMATELY, FOR MICHAEL JACKSON,  IT WAS ABOUT SHARING AND RECEIVING LOVE.”  
Joseph Vogel, Man in the Music



"There' ve been times right before a show when certain things were bothering me - business or personal problems. I would think, "I don't know how to go through with this. I don't know how I'm going to get through the show. I can't perform like this."

But once I get to the side of the stage, something happens. The rhythm starts and the lights hit me and the problems disappear. This has happened so many times. The thrill of performing just takes me over. It's like God saying, "Yes, you can. Yes, you can. Just wait. Wait till you hear this. Wait till you see this." And the backbeat gets in my backbone and it vibrates and it just takes me. Sometimes I almost lose control and the musicians say, "What is he doing?" and they start following me. You change the whole schedule of a piece. You stop and you just take over from scratch and do a whole other thing. The song takes you in another direction."
Michael Jackson's response to being asked what it felt like to be performing again in a, 2001




“I am a slave to the rhythm. I am a palette. I just go with the moment. You’ve got to do it that way because if you’re thinking, you’re dead. Performing is not about thinking; it’s about feeling.”

Michael Jackson



"It's always real and I take that moment and I pray not to cry and I usually, you know, do, because everything goes back to me from conception to us when we were little babies and children and now to see all the adulation and notoriety and it's just a work from God and it all goes through me real fast, you know? It's a blessing. I just break down and I cry at that moment, but I try not to show it to the audience, but I can't help it, you know?

Michael Jackson talking to Steve Harvey in a radio interview, 2002 in regards to his getting emotional on stage when performing with his brothers at his 30th Anniversary Special.



"Every time I saw Michael dance he would dazzle me with something I’d never seen him do before, and I always thought I’d seen everything he did. I’d watch him; I’d keep my eye on him and he’d do a spin longer than I thought was possible. He’d moonwalk faster and smoother sometimes than anytime I’d ever seen him or he was just like a machine, like Terminator, like some kind of unrealistic human being or robot, you know? I’ve seen him do some amazing, dazzling things."

Jonathan Sugarfoot Moffet, drummer



"Man in the Mirror has really become an anthem for Michael. (...) I´m not gonna say that Michael was Jesus Christ, but if you look at that performance - he´s somewhere else, at least now from the Wembley show - that´s his greatest performance ever -ever, ever, ever, ever. And you see the way that Michael sang that song - he´s not of this world, he´s on another (level), he´s somewhere else."

Spike Lee 


The Following video is from Grammy Award 1988 - Man In The Mirror LIVE - Legendado HD:



“I am not in any way, shape or form close to Michael Jackson, but I can tell you he is the reason I became an entertainer. On September 27, 1987, I stood ten feet away from him as he ascended a blinding staircase of light and broke into song. The moment solidified a dream for me. I saw waves of electricity in the crowd and I stared into his eyes and saw at once the ferocity of a lion and the patience of Buddha. I watched in awe the way he moved on that stage…like a conductor of electricity. There were waves of hysteria and he had an energy about him that was like looking into the eye of a tornado…and, yet, so calm. I looked at the effect he had on people and it was as though he was conducting magic.” 

Darren Hayes



“I don’t think I have ever worked with an artist that can cause as much excitement as Michael. When Bea and I have traveled with Michael to his concerts all over the world, we have often thought that we don’t know Michael Jackson, the performer, that amazing person on stage. To experience the music that we have recorded together in a concert, with tens of thousands of people, in a foreign land, and feel the intensity of the emotions of the crowds, is something I can’t find the words to describe! For someone like me, who usually only hears the music I’m involved with in the recording studio, to be on tour with Michael is a tremendous event. I get chills just thinking about it.”

Bruce Swedien, In the Studio with Michael Jackson, 2009




"He wanted to come out with the biggest show on earth," says Batten. "He wanted it to be like Christmas for people. His imagination was like a creative tornado. He would come up with his wildest dreams and then hire people to carry it out. It was really amazing to be a part of that."

Jennifer Batten, Michael´s lead guitarist about Dangerous World Tour



What was it like to work with Michael Jackson?

- "It was like a dream, I have to pinch myself everyday just thinking about it because he was perfection on that stage and he was so sweet to everyone and he was so sweet to me and I was really gracious to share a stage. It was exciting to come to work every day, he walks in and the room’s energy changes."

Judith Hill (from This Is It)



"What I enjoy most about performing is making people happy. Just to make a person smile means more to me than anything."

Michael Jackson



“Entertainment is about taking people away from the regular order of things when there is some chaos and pain and stress.”

Michael Jackson



"No single performer will be as remembered and as celebrated as Michael Jackson"

Prince Albert of Monaco



“Recently, a young man asked me what it was like to share the stage with Michael Jackson. Being on stage with MJ was a ride in a whirlwind. The entire band, singers, and dancers accepted the challenge of bringing it in the same way Michael brought it. We weren’t stopping til the train pulled all the way into the station. Michael hit it hard, so hard, too hard! Every single night out, he would hammer down the show like he was trying to bust up a mountain. It was always: ‘This is my last show.’ Most of us say it, but, that’s the way he did it! He danced hard. He sang hard. He always struck me like an artist just getting in the business and trying to make a name for himself, like he had something to prove. He tried to slay it as well. We rode Tyrannosaurus Rex into the mouth of a volcano.  We surfed the lava, the board melting under our feet. Whatever MJ did, we followed him. If he stopped, we hit the brakes. If he kept going, we fired it off. All the way up. All the way down. Talk about a high. WOOO!  After each show, it felt like I’d ridden a comet to the moon. Can’t even describe it to you.  My first world tour. MJ’s first world tour. We were out to conquer the universe.” 

Dorian Holley, backing singer at all MJ´s solo tours, in  2013



“It’s really extraordinary during the whole night emotion was high, a very personal emotion because I think people who heard or saw Michael Jackson once in their life, even if they aren’t close to that music, were touched by his appearance, his charm, the beauty of his music because the first thing that has to be said is that he was a great musician.”
- Frederic Mitterand, French Culture Minister



“He was so shy, he’d sit down and sing behind the couch with his back to me while I sat there with my hands over my eyes with the lights out.  I think the thing for him was he was a complete triple treat. He could sing like nobody’s business, he could dance like nobody’s business with electric performances. So, every time he hit the stage, no matter what he was doing, no matter what type of song he was doing, all eyes were on him. I think Michael was a sheer natural, dropped on this earth by the Most High to show everyone how to do it… and, he did it. He was born with talent, you don’t learn it, no one teaches you how to be Michael Jackson in grade school. The true, true stars are people with unique and unbelievable talent like no one else. He didn’t sound like anyone else, he didn’t dance like anyone else, and he had that special something that only stars have. There are a lot of people who assume they’re stars… he was a real star. Around the world, this guy is held up in honor as the greatest entertainer. He transcended everything. He was that uber star, not just a regular star. I think now, people are trying to remember the joy that he brought into everyone’s lives, and also the sheer greatness of this talent, which is what you should be applauding at this time. This is one of those times in our lifetime that we saw a real beacon.”

Randy Jackson



“I’ve never witnessed anything or anyone as powerful as Michael."

Teddy Riley



'' Touring with Michael was amazing. I got to see the world. But the rehearsals were very difficult! As a first concert dancer, I'm used to hard rehearsals. But it was more than that. We actually did dress rehearsals with the full costume three times a day, and we did it for six weeks. And then we went on tour. And Michael's thinking behind it was that if we can do it three times a day, once a day is nothing. And everyone had the opportunity to work on the lights, the special effects, the changing clothes… it was perfect. Michael’s greatest legacy will be his children. But his greatest legacy in the entertainment world will be his music and the way he revolutionized dance. Michael has changed dance and the way dance is seen on the face of this planet. This is amazing to me”. 

LaVelle Smith Jr.



"There is absolutely no other artist on Earth with such magnetism, energy and ability to dance. His talent for the stage; If you have not seen him, I do not think he can exist again. And I'm not denying anything to other artists; I am a huge fan of Prince, of Beyonce, but the talent and magnetism he has on stage, there will be no more. There won't be in our time and I don't think there will be again. There will never be another Elvis. There will never be another Michael.”

Damon Pampolina saw Michael perform on the Victory Tour in 1984 and on the Bad Tour from 1987-89, and met him as a Mouseketeer at Florida’s Disney-MGM Studios in 1990 



“He was in charge, like an old fashion entertainer. Technology didn’t run the show, Michael ran the show. And when he stopped, you watched. You held your breath. And that’s what made Michael Jackson, “Michael Jackson” on stage. And why he was different from anybody else that you went to see in concert.”
Kenny Ortega