"MICHAEL JACKSON AND FRIENDS / What more can I give"
Munich, Germany - June 27, 1999
Michael was headlining two benefit concerts for the International Red Cross, Nelson Mandela's Children's Fund, and UNESCO. MICHAEL JACKSON AND FRIENDS.
The roster of performers and their entourage flew from Seoul, Korea where the first concert was held, to Munich on a chartered plane.
It was such a wonderful flight because we were able to spend some time and get to know everyone. There were performers from all over the world.
We arrived at the Munich Olympic Stadium in the afternoon on June 27, 1999 to prepare for Michael's evening appearance.
Michael introduced Andrea Bocelli in the late afternoon.
The sun was setting. The darkness changed the entire feeling of the arena. It was a hot summer evening. The crowd had been enjoying performances by other artists all day: Luther Vandross, The Kelly Brothers, Ringo Starr... but it seemed the audience was waiting for Michael. The excitement was building.
Magically, the stage was being transformed with emerging walls of lights, screens and equipment that had been created for Michael's show, that were hidden behind the other performances.
Michael Jackson, Michael Bush and myself were using the last minutes to take care some details in the dressing room, just stage right. A long check list: Microphones, wires, wardrobe changes, towels, song list, ice, Gatorade, fans, grease paints, powder. Michael did some stretches to warm up, as the lights lowered in the house.
I could feel the energy of anticipation the crowd directed towards us. Any hint of Michael's appearance created excited chaos in the crowd. He would peek out at the audience from behind the curtains. The band came up the back stairs. Michael met them for the traditional prayer joining their hands.
The show began with all the frenzy and excitement that they all did. We have been doing this for many years. After I prepared for the next change, I watched from stage right.
Everything was going perfectly.... the medley...Beat It...Black or White with Slash...
The local performers for Earth Song started filing on stage. Earth Song began... then the bridge appeared, just as it had done in Korea. The children and adults slowly entered and filled the stage. The song builds.... Michael flies up the bridge and gyrates and pounds his feet, twirls as the bridge lifts away from its braces. Smoke, explosions, bombard our eyes and ears...the bridge continues higher and higher, but unlike rehearsals, and the last show.... it didn't pause at its pinnacle... INSTEAD it came careening down gaining speed with Michael tightly grasping the railings... still singing. I started screaming, but I could not even hear my own voice over the pyro, music, and the audience. I started running out from behind the stage in horror as the bridge quickly disappeared below the front of the stage, slamming down on the concrete floor. Security grabbed and stopped me, thinking I was going to ruin the performance.
Backstage, there was crying and screaming, only the crew and performers knew there was something desperately wrong. From our vantage point we had lost sight of Michael, as the bridge had fallen below the front of the stage. My heart stopped beating, while in the strong arms of a perplexed security guard. Even though the show continued for everyone else, time stood still for me as I could not imagine how Michael could have survived such a fall.
But slowly, and after what seemed like an eternity, as the music and applause continued, I saw one arm reach for the floor of the stage...then a long lean leg, another arm, another leg...he was up, center stage... finishing the end of Earth Song! My mouth dropped open in relieved amazement .
Looking dazed, he made his way to our side of the stage. "Michael, sit down...."
"NO!" He demanded.
"Security... please get him to the hospital!" I was begging.
"NO!" He grabbed the microphone and ran out to finish performing "You Are Not Alone".
I could not believe what I was witnessing. He finished the song, took his final bow, and returned once again to his stage dressing room and then... collapsed. Security whisked him off to a hospital in Munich.
Band members, dancers, Slash and crewmembers all shocked and amazed at what we had witnessed wrapped up the show with prayers in our hearts.
Once back in the hotel... I started making the phone calls to find out how he was. I got the reports that nothing was broken, but he was badly bruised, and his back was very badly strained. It had been a miracle. Being the performer he was, he knew how to land.
The next day we were to leave for Paris for a photo shoot. This had been postponed until
He was better. I asked him...why did you continue? I cannot believe you were able to do that.
"You know Turkle, the only thing that I heard in my head, was my father's voice saying to me, MICHEAL, DON'T DISAPPOINT THE AUDIENCE!"
On Jackson Hurt In Bridge Stunt; Dazed and Confused (Daily Record June 29, 1999)
Star goes down in a blaze of fire as prop collapses
Michael Jackson had a miracle escape from serious injury after a stage prop he was standing on crashed down in front of 60,000 people.
Jackson was performing on a bridge which rose 60 feet during the show.
It was supposed to lower him gently back on to the stage after a massive fireworks display in Munich's Olympic Stadium. But things went seriously wrong. First he was hit by a wayward firework and burned. And then the bridge hurtled down throwing Jackson, 40, into the orchestra pit.
The singer was badly bruised and his legs were grazed in the crash.
Concert organiser, Briton Rikki Patrick, said: "We think a cable must have snapped or something. It was really frightening. People in the audience were screaming and crying. Security men were running everywhere. It must have been terrifying for Michael. But he managed to scramble back on stage. He staggered off to one side where I was standing and collapsed on to a chair. I could see he was in a lot of pain and bleeding at the back of his head. " Mr Patrick said it was obvious the star was very disorientated.
He said: "He went back on for the Earth Song but just couldn't hold it together and had to leave half-way through." Jackson collapsed after the show and was taken to hospital.
Mr Patrick said: "For a time, he didn't seem to know where he was. His management did not want him to continue at all but he insisted. He was very brave."
Millions watching the eight-hour spectacular live on television saw Jackson rubbing his arm after the crash.
An eyewitness said: "Because Michael got back on stage, I don't think many people realised anything was wrong."
But the singer was driven with a police escort to the Rechts Der Isar hospital where Manchester United's injured players were taken after the Munich air disaster. He was treated for bruises and minor burns and released after several hours.
A clinic insider said: "He was in a lot of pain. He clearly fell very heavily."
Jackson has had narrow escapes from stage effects in the past. His hair caught fire when a smoke bomb misfired during the filming of a soft-drink commercial in Los Angeles in 1984 and he suffered second-degree scalp burns.
Jackson led 30 top stars in Munich including Status Quo, Boyzone and Luther Vandross, who raised pounds 1million for children's charities.