Michael Jackson feared he would be shot dead on stage during his scheduled comeback performance in London and planned to wear a bulletproof vest for the This Is It concerts, his British security chief asserts.
The legendary musician was under such pressure before his press conference at London's O2 Arena in March 2009 that he had to drink half a bottle of whiskey to calm his nerves, former bodyguard Matt Fiddes told The People.
Michael had got it into his head that someone would shoot him, so he drank the whiskey, virtually a half-bottle, to steady himself, Fiddes said. He was certain he was going to get shot because of all the bad press from his past.
It was his first public appearance for ages and he believed he was going to get murdered. He was p***ed four or five hours before the conference. It was a mad panic. We were all trying to get him to sober up.
Fiddes' statement came after the first week of the involuntary manslaughter trial in Los Angeles of Michael Jackson's physician. Dr. Conrad Murray, 58, is being portrayed by the prosecution as an incompetent doctor whose gross negligence in administering propofol -- a risky drug which requires close monitoring of patient in controlled medical settings -- led to Jackson's death on June 25, 2009.
Defense attorney Edward Chernoff argues that Jackson caused his own death, unable to cope with his deteriorating finances and pressures to live up to expectations after a 10-year hiatus.
Fiddes recalls the day after Jackson's rather disappointing five-minute performance on the launch of his comeback tour. Michael said to me, 'I fear I'm not going to make these concerts or may get assassinated on stage. Please can you make sure my children are OK.'
He was a mess. He told me that during his four-month trial before being cleared of child molestation in 2005 he had to wear a bulletproof vest every day, Fiddes said.
Michael said he'd have to wear one through the concerts and wasn't sure how he'd get through them because of his worries.
This was the last time I saw him alive.
The prosecutors played an incredibly sad tape of Jackson's voice on the opening day of his death trial, recorded just weeks before his death, coupled with a photo of his lifeless body.
The King of Pop said in an almost unintelligible voice: We have to be phenomenal. When people leave this show, when people leave my show, I want them to say, 'I've never seen nothing like this in my life. Go. Go. I've never seen nothing like this. Go. It's amazing. He's the greatest entertainer in the world.'
Fiddes said Jackson sounded incoherent and almost erratic when he spoke to the star on the phone three days before his death.
I spoke to Michael on the phone three days before he died and he seemed really high, almost out of it.
Thirteen witnesses testified in the first week of Murray's trial, with evidence suggesting that Jackson was clinically dead before he got to the hospital.