Jackson Wasn’t Ready for London Comeback, Says Father

LOS ANGELES ~ The father of Michael Jackson has slammed the gruelling 50-date schedule drawn up for his son’s comeback, saying the star was not capable of completing the series of sold-out concerts.

In an interview aired by ABC News on Monday, Joe Jackson said he had harboured concerns about his son’s schedule, which had been due to get underway in London on July 13 until the tragic King of Pop died on June 25.

Jackson, 79, said his son had initially only wanted to perform in 10 concerts before more dates were added.

“Michael only agreed to 10 shows. Then they went and added all these shows,” Joe Jackson told ABC News.

“I was worried about his health because all the shows I’m seeing, no artist can do all those shows, back-to-back like that. I knew Michael couldn’t do all those shows without a rest in between.”

Jackson’s misgivings were echoed by his son’s financial advisor Leonard Rowe, who also told ABC News that the star was in no condition to make a comeback, describing reports that he was in good shape as “totally untrue.”

“Michael Jackson was not ready. He was not fit. If you can call weighing about 110 to 115 pounds fit. Besides that, MJ told me himself that he never wanted to do 50 shows; he only wanted to do 10,” Rowe told ABC.

Randy Phillips, chief of concert promoters AEG Live, told ABC that it had been Michael Jackson’s idea to increase the original run of concerts from 31 to 50, saying the singer would have been averaging under three shows a week.

“If that was too many, then one would have been too many,” Phillips said.

Jackson’s physical condition in the days leading up to his death last month has been the subject of intense debate, with sharply different versions offered by the singer’s associates.

Phillips had earlier said Jackson, 50, appeared to be in “fantastic” shape at a concert rehearsal on the eve of his death.

Another member of the rehearsal, magician-comedian Ed Alonzo, said Jackson “looked great and had great energy.”

However reports detailing alleged findings from Jackson’s autopsy have painted a different picture, with CNN and ABC both reporting the star’s body was riddled with needle marks and had several collapsed veins.

Jackson, 50, died on June 25 after suffering an apparent cardiac arrest at his rented mansion in an up-market neighbourhood of Los Angeles.

Meanwhile, the promoter of Michael Jackson’s planned comeback concerts in London said he was in talks with the late pop star’s brothers and sisters about a one-off tribute show.

The president of promoters AEG Live, Randy Phillips, said he was “confident” of making a decision this week about whether a show would go ahead on Jackson’s birthday on August 29.

Jackson had been preparing for a string of sold-out concerts called This Is It at London’s O2 arena before his sudden death late last month.

“The number one item I’m discussing is presenting This Is It the production, hopefully with the Jacksons and maybe Janet, and other artists,” Phillips told BBC 6 Music radio station.

“We have to make some hard decisions this week; otherwise it will be too late to even contemplate doing anything on (the) 29th,” he added.

Phillips said he had also held negotiations with Kenny Ortega, the director of hit movie High School Musical, who had been directing Jackson’s concerts.

“What we’re thinking about is one massive tribute that’s broadcast around the globe. We’ve opted to go to broadcast television, either cable/satellite, or traditional broadcast,” he said.

Hundreds of fans have gathered outside the O2 Arena in the British capital this week to mark what would have been the start of Jackson’s 50 planned concerts.

AEG Live have said they will offer a full refund to all fans who were due to attend. Alternatively, ticket holders can send off for their specially designed tickets to keep as memorabilia.

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