It’s Michael Jackson’s birthday this weekend. The pop superstar, who tragically died in 2009, would have been 62 on August 29. His final years have become viewed as the tragic and tarnished decline of a once-golden idol. Yet his bodyguards Bill Whitfield and Javon Beard, who served as Jackson’s security team from December 2006 right up to his untimely death, reveal a complicated picture of a man beset with paranoia and ready to run, who always carried a briefcase with $200,000 in cash, his children’s passports and the Oscar statue for Gone With The Wind.
They told Express Online: “We had the privilege of serving as Michael Jackson’s personal Las Vegas security team for the last two and a half years of his life.
“In that time we got to know a man, a kind and generous person and a loving father, who was completely different from the cartoonish figure portrayed in the tabloids.”
One of their biggest revelations concerns the star’s girlfriends: “Mr Jackson had at least two secret girlfriends who lived abroad. We met them when they flew in to visit during a summer vacation in Middleburg, Virginia.
“He kept their presence a secret from his family, his managers, even his children. We were the only two privy to their arrival, and even we were never told their real names; he referred to them only as Friend and Flower.”
“Most people also know that in public, Mr Jackson required his children to wear masks in order to hide their identities from the paparazzi.
“That wasn’t the only precaution he took. He also gave the children code names to use with each other and for us to use over the radio. They were never to use their real names outside of the house.”
Relations with the rest of his family were very strained by the end of his life.
“By the time he returned to America from Bahrain and Ireland in late 2007, Mr Jackson was almost completely estranged from everyone in his family except his mother. She would drop by unannounced and he always welcomed her.
“Everyone else had to have an appointment to see him. Even Janet. On numerous occasions, his famous siblings would arrive, sometimes breaking through the security gate, only to be turned away.”
Trapped indoors by fans and paparazzi, the star found ways to keep himself entertained.
“Michael Jackson was a huge reader. He devoured books on history, art, science, you name it. On a single trip to the bookstore, he’d drop $5,000 on books like he was buying a pack of gum.
“During a 2007 visit to Los Angeles, he found a used book store he liked so much that he bought it for $100,000 cash on the spot and had the entire collection hauled back to his Las Vegas home…
“Michael Jackson may have been the King of Pop, but in his private time he listened almost exclusively to classical music. Bach, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky – that was the soundtrack running in his car and his house all the time.
“One of Mr Jackson’s favorite pastimes was playing basketball. He and his brothers learned how to play at Marvin Gaye’s house back in the Jackson 5 days. He would go out to the driveway all the time and just shoot hoops by himself for a few hours. It was his way to relax and unwind. He had a pretty good jump shot, too.”
Published at Fri, 28 Aug 2020 18:19:00 +0000