Michael Jackson performs at the Grammys in 1988
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This week marks the 30-year anniversary of Michael Jackson’s incredible interview with Oprah Winfrey. The talk show host got into the nitty-gritty of the star’s controversial and traumatic life in an hour-long special on February 10, 1993, which aired on ABC. The monumental event became one of the most-watched interviews of all time, tallying up more than 90 million viewers. During the candid conversation with Oprah, the King of Pop opened up about the abuse he endured from his father, Joseph Jackson.
Michael had been performing since he was just a child. Singing and dancing with his brothers in the Jackson 5, the American star was just five-years-old when he began working on his routines with his family. This continued into his teenage years and eventually into adulthood when he kickstarted his solo career.
But, throughout it all, his father was constantly watching and criticising.
Michael told Oprah: “Sometimes I do get angry. I don’t know him the way I’d like to know him. My mother’s wonderful. To me she’s perfection. I just wish I could understand my father.” (Via The Mirror)
He added that being a young performer made for “very sad, sad years” for him.
Oprah prodded Michael on what got him down, and he began opening up about the abuse he endured from his father as a youngster.
“Oh, there’s a lot of sadness about my past and adolescence,” he confessed. “About my father and all of those things.”
The host asked him: “Would he… did he ever beat you?” Michael solemnly replied: “Yes. He saw me, he wanted me … I guess I don’t know if I was his golden child or whatever it was, some may call it a strict disciplinarian or whatever, but he was very strict, very hard, very stern. Just a look would scare you, you know.”
Michael then explained how the fear of his father would give him a physical reaction.
“Like there’s been times when he’d come to see me,” Michael said. “I’d get sick, I’d start to regurgitate.”
Despite the fact Michael had been wronged, he proceeded to apologise to his father. He said: “He’s never heard me say this. I’m sorry, please don’t be mad at me.” He added that he still loved his father and forgave him.
When Oprah pressed him on this issue, he added: “I do forgive. There’s so much garbage and so much trash that’s written about me it is so untrue, they’re complete lies, and those are some of the things I wanted to talk about.”
One of the “lies” Michael referred to was the rumour that he had whitened his skin by choice.
Michael went on to confirm his skin colour changed because of a condition called vitiligo.
Michael said: “It is something I cannot help. When people make up stories that I don’t want to be who I am, it hurts me. It’s a problem for me. I can’t control it. But what about all the millions of people who sit in the sun to become darker, to become other than what they are? Nobody says nothing about that.”
Despite his skin becoming naturally bleached, he confirmed: “I am a Black American. I’m proud to be a Black American. I am proud of my race. I am proud of who I am.”
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