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Remembering Michael Jackson

Aired June 25, 2009 - 23:59   ET


LARRY KING, CNN ANCHOR: A child prodigy, who lived through illness, a sex scandal and massive money trouble. Killed by heart disease, age 50. Smokey Robinson and other giants in the business are here to say good-bye to one of the great entertainers ever.

Next, on a special live edition of LARRY KING LIVE.

Good evening or good morning depending on your time zone. Welcome to our continuing coverage of the death of Michael Jackson. This is a special midnight edition of LARRY KING LIVE.

We have this statement from UCLA. It reveals details of Jackson's death. And it reads, the legendary king of pop, Michael Jackson, passed away on Thursday, June 25th, 2009, at 2:26 p.m.

It is believed he suffered cardiac arrest in his home. However, the cause of his death is unknown until the results of the autopsy are known. His personal physician was with him at the time, attempted to resuscitate Jackson, as did paramedics who transported him to the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center.

Upon arriving at the hospital at approximately 1:14 p.m., a team of doctors including emergency physicians and cardiologists again attempted to resuscitate him for a period of more than an hour but were unsuccessful.

Jackson's family requests the media respect their privacy during this tragic period of time.

This will be a special two-hour edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Later we'll be repeating interviews with Celine Dion and Cher.

In this hour, we'll be talking with the legendary Smokey Robinson. The R&B song singer and song writer, former executive from Motown. He's being honored tomorrow with the ASCAP Rhythm and Soul Heritage Award here in Los Angeles.

Carlos Diaz, the "Extra" correspondent, who is always atop news in the entertainment world. Later, we'll be joined in a little while by Suzanne De Passe, an extraordinary lady, CEO of De Passe Entertainment. At age 19, she was Berry Gordy's creative assistant at Motown and she discovered the Jacksons.

She also, by the way, knew Farrah Fawcett very well. We'll talk about that, too.

But let's first go to Ted Rowlands at the UCLA Medical Center in the aftermath of all of this. There are still people there, Ted?

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Larry. A lot of people still here. And a lot of different emotions. You look around here. A couple hundred people are still here. There are some people dancing over behind here. They've got a boom box. They're playing Michael Jackson songs.

A lot of cheering. Almost a celebration on a lot of levels. A lot of people have signs. People have candles as well. This woman has been reading her bible. So it runs the -- the range of emotion.

One of the people out here is Cheryl.

Cheryl, why are you here? And what did Michael Jackson mean to you?

CHERYL, MICHAEL JACKSON FAN: Michael Jackson was an icon for my generation. Still, I'm just -- I cannot believe that this has actually happened. But I'm happy to come. There was a lot of people. But I met so many friends just in five minutes, all race, creed, color. And everybody was just celebrating on one accord.

ROWLANDS: You hear about Michael Jackson dying. Why come here?

CHERYL: Just to be here with the people to celebrate in spirit of peace and the harmony and love. There was so much love here. Instead of people mourning, we all got together and just joining in love. And now we're going to be praying in a few minutes.

ROWLANDS: All right. One of the biggest fans we've found so far, Larry, is Melvin here. He works in the area. Made the sign. Didn't go home to make this sign. He had these photos.

Tell us, Melvin, in your actual office, give us a sense of what Michael Jackson meant to you and your connection to him.

MELVIN, MICHAEL JACKSON FAN: Michael Jackson meant growing up. I grew up with Michael Jackson at my old school. I go back to "I Want You Back." Madonna (INAUDIBLE), to Berry Gordon in Gary, Indiana. I'm a big Michael Jackson fan. I never missed a concert. Never, ever, ever.

It was $5 my first concert. My mother and father had to come up with some sort of way, eight of us in my family, nine counting me. There's nine of us so I can relate with Jackson family so much. So much.

I'm going to miss you, Michael. And Michael, his music will live forever. It will never die.

ROWLANDS: When you heard he was dead, what did you think in?

MELVIN: I couldn't believe it at first. I work in the area. Like I said, I had to come down here and see what I see. And when I heard that third Michael Jackson song on the radio, I knew something was wrong. Something has to be wrong. You don't play three songs in a row unless you're in a mix. And they (INAUDIBLE) with Mike. Three songs in a row, I knew something had happened. But I knew he'll live on forever and his videos will live on forever. If it wasn't for Mike there wouldn't be no MTV. I'll say that right now.

ROWLANDS: All right, Melvin, an example, Larry, of the fans that have come down here. They started coming down here when the word started that Michael Jackson had been brought here for treatment. And there were a few hundred people in here when the word came out that he had died at 2:26 this afternoon.

Michael Jackson's body has been moved from the UCLA Medical Center. The autopsy is scheduled for tomorrow morning. They say they could have autopsy results as early as tomorrow afternoon. Larry?

KING: Ted Rowlands will stay on the scene. We'll check back with him later.

Kara Finnstrom has been outside Michael Jackson's house since all of this happened, this tragedy happened earlier. What's happening there now at this late hour?

KARA FINNSTROM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Larry, just up the block from us is his home. And within the last hour the coroner's officials have left. Detectives remain on the scene there continuing their investigation.

But we're now panning an area here where some of his -- you know, very ardent fans have started to gather. Again, this is just about a block away from his home but it's the closest they can get because police have sealed off the area.

I just want to step over here to a tribute artist who came out here earlier today. And you said this has been one of the saddest days of your life. Talk to us about the impact that Michael Jackson has had on you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Today we've lost an international treasure, the last of the great song and dance man, Michael Jackson. It's right up there with the passing of Princess Diana. This is something that millions of people will never forget. It's devastating.

The one thing people forget is that Michael had a beautiful heart. He did everything in his power to try to make the world a better place through his music.

FINNSTROM: We thank you for joining us. I want to quickly bring in also -- you can see, Larry, we've got lots of families here as well. And a mother who brought her kids out here tonight.

And tell us why you brought your kids out here all bundled up and you wanted to be part of this?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, just to show them that Michael Jackson was a huge -- he's a legend. And we're going to miss him a lot. And many of his songs actually should remind people to come together.

It doesn't matter, you know, what race you are, everybody should be united. And it shouldn't have to take for somebody to, you know, pass away to make a difference.

FINNSTROM: Thanks for joining us tonight.

Larry, detectives do tell us they will be up the block throughout the night. And the folks out here, the crowd has really started to grow. They've started to light some candles and also to make some small tributes to him. Pictures. We found a hat and some gloves left down here. Just small remembrances that his fans are bringing out.

KING: Thanks so much, Kara. We'll be checking back. Keep your vigil.

OK, we're with Smokey Robinson and Carlos Diaz. And on the phone, Suzanne De Passe.

Smokey, what's your first reaction when you heard this?

SMOKEY ROBINSON, R&B SONG SINGER AND WRITER: Just I couldn't believe it. It was unbelievable to me. I -- I've gone through this many times with the Motown artists and the Motown family of artists.

And this was just devastating. I mean, I just couldn't accept it at first. I think about, you know, Michael was a young man, and time goes by so quickly. I -- I thought about the fact that last year we started to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Motown Records, and when we were starting out with the record company, he was being born.

And the 50 years seems like that they have gone by overnight, instantly. So that's how his life was. But, however, he has left such a legacy. He -- he was remarkable. He revolutionized the presentation of a song and he revolutionized the making of videos and like that.

He's got so many young artists imitating him, today, or mimicking him or trying to. He was just a remarkable artist.

KING: We're going to cover a lot of that. On the phone from Palm Springs is Suzanne De Passe. Had so much to do with all of this. At 19, she was Berry Gordy's creative assistant.

You discovered the Jacksons. How, Suzanne? What was -- tell us what happened.

SUZANNE DE PASSE, DISCOVERED JACKSON 5: I hope I'm not just by phone, because I have just taken a 30-minute ride to get here. So...

KING: Where are you?

DE PASSE: You know...

KING: There you are.

DE PASSE: I'm in a television studio. Here I am. OK.

KING: OK. Good to see you.

DE PASSE: Well, you know, as much as I -- good to see you, too. And on this terrible, terrible circumstances. I would dearly love to take credit for discovering the Jackson 5, but really what I was, was the conduit for them to get to Motown.

I had just gone to work for Mr. Gordy in 1968. And he was a very imposing figure. And I was so happy to be at Motown and I was asked to come to see this group at Bobby Taylor's apartment. We lived in the same apartment building.

And I walked in and I saw these kids. And they were unbelievable. And I called Mr. Gordy and I said, oh, I've just seen the most fantastic act. And he said, great. And I said, yes, these kids. He said, kids? I don't want any kids. Stevie Wonder is enough of a handful. Go find some talented adults basically.

And, you know, I was terribly new and terribly green. And I didn't know what to do. And I just had been so profoundly affected by their talent that I went back one more time, mustered up all my courage. And I said, Mr. Gordy, you just have to see these kids. And he finally relented and he agreed to audition them. And the rest is history.

KING: As they say, it's history.

DE PASSE: And from that point -- yes. It was history. And I have to say this event today is so astonishing because having known Michael when he walked in the doors at Motown and this dear, sweet spirit and mischievous little boy and sweet, you know, impish way that he had along with all of the talent. You know? And it just -- it breaks my heart. It just breaks my heart.

KING: Carlos Diaz, from a reportorial standpoint he was -- Presley and John Lennon are the stories of music in this. The death of music. People dying and musically involved. Yet the stories a lot of heart for this...

CARLOS DIAZ, CORRESPONDENT, "EXTRA": You remember where you were when you heard Elvis Presley died.

KING: Sure do.

DIAZ: Same with John Lennon.

KING: Sure do. I was on the air.

DIAZ: Yes. Well, you will always remember where you were when Michael Jackson died and I think that, you know, it speaks to how popular and how much of an affect he had on the world.

When the sun is now coming up in other parts of the world and people are now waking up to the news that Michael Jackson has passed away. And there is not a corner of this planet that Michael Jackson's name is not known. And that's the true mark -- and listening to Suzanne right there, you can -- she didn't -- you heard what she said. She didn't say passing. She didn't say -- she said event.

People are still, I think, in denial that Michael Jackson is gone forever.

KING: He was loved despite scandalous things said about him, right?

DIAZ: You know, the thing is, I think people look past that. You know that's all they've had to focus on in the last few years. And hopefully -- we were interviewing Jamie Foxx at "Extra" when all this went down. And Jamie Foxx had just a great comment,

He said you know what? It is this time where we need to embrace Michael Jackson's talent and his love for music and his love for his fans and not the controversy.

KING: Janet Jackson's manager gave this statement. "Jacket is grief stricken and devastated at the sudden loss of his brother. She's in pre-production of a film, is flying immediately to California to be with the family."

We'll be right back.

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KING: Smokey, when did you first meet him?

ROBINSON: Oh, I first met Michael when the kids first came to Motown. And they did a show, actually, at Berry's home in Detroit, they did a show for us there. And they were so dynamic. To see a little guy like Michael was at that time, singing like he had been here forever, you know, just singing like an old man, was just an incredible experience.

KING: Did you know he was going to be a hit?

ROBINSON: Oh, absolutely. It was obvious.

KING: This was no doubter, right?

ROBINSON: It was a no doubter. It was obvious. Because like I said, this guy is -- you know, he's like an old soul. He sang like he had lived it all before, when he was 10. So -- yes, I knew he was going to be great.

KING: Suzanne, did you though it, too?

DE PASSE: Absolutely. And as much as one can know anything in this business, I think that he had the charisma, the talent, the voice, the everything you take. When you think about the it factor is, that's what he had at that age. He was phenomenal. And then when he wasn't performing, he was, like, this regular kid that was wanting to color and get candy and mess around. You know? It was just an amazing combination of elements.

KING: Did Berry recognize it as soon as he saw him?

DE PASSE: Oh, yes. That's one of the things that gave me job security for many, many years at Motown is that...


DE PASSE: You know, I had -- I had to talk him into it. And I think that -- yes, but, of all the people in the world who recognized his talent, Berry Gordy was, you know -- I mean what he mobilized from the time he saw Michael, I mean, and the group was signed and Michael and the Jackson 5 had three number one records in a row before they ever went out to perform.

And I had the opportunity to take them out on their first tour and clearly didn't know what I was doing. But we all figured it out together and, I mean, it was so incredible to see what young kids, in particular, young African-American kids, how they embraced the Jackson 5.

And, I mean, we went from being completely anonymous -- I should say the boys went from being completely anonymous to being absolutely on lockdown not able to go anywhere in a period of a few months. It was phenomenal.

KING: Could we say, Carlos, with the current state of records and downloading and the like, nothing will ever outsell "Thriller?"

DIAZ: There will never be another "Thriller." I mean that's the number one selling album of all time and it will always be because now you -- like you said you have iTunes and this and that. I mean -- and the thing is, you know, listen to these guys talk about Michael Jackson as part of a Jackson 5, it shows the generational lines he's crossed.

I mean, you know, he was such a great performer in the '70s with Jackson 5. But for me, I mean, when "Thriller" came out I was 11 years old. And you know, I remember. Yes, and Smokey was 12, you know? But the thing is, I mean, you know, it absolutely...

DE PASSE: Thank you for sharing.

DIAZ: Yes. It absolutely takes so many people who are in their 30s right now just basically, you know, through their adolescence, you know, growing up to Michael Jackson.

KING: Kenny Rogers is next. Stay with us.



KING: What do you make of this anniversary of "Thriller?"

JANET JACKSON, MICHAEL JACKSON'S SISTER: It's huge, it's big. Number one everywhere. Good for him. 25 years. How fast did that go by?

KING: When that came out, when it was recorded, did you think it would be what it became?

JACKSON: I knew I loved it. I knew that I loved it. As a matter of fact, he played, as he always did -- when we were very close growing up. And every time he'd complete a project, he'd play the entire album. He had a great sound system in his car.

So we'd sit in the car and we'd listen to the album from front to back. And I loved every song I heard.


KING: Let's check in with Kenny Rogers. He's on the phone. The great country music superstar. He took part in that 1985 "We are the World USA for Africa" music video and album.

Tough day for you, Kenny. I know you knew Farrah Fawcett, you knew Ed McMahon. They come in threes. How did this hit you?

KENNY ROGERS, COUNTRY MUSIC SINGER (via phone): It's been -- you know, Smokey and I were talking and you try to find something to smile about, something to laugh at just to keep you going and get you through this.

KING: We're having a bad connection, Kenny. We're going to check back with you in a minute. We'll try to straighten that up. Let's go to New York, where it's about almost 25 after 12:00 in the morning.

Richard Roth, our UN correspondent, is uptown a bit at the Apollo Theater in Harlem. What's happening, Richard?

RICHARD ROTH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Larry, this is an amazing scene here in front of the legendary Apollo Theater in Harlem. For hours now it's almost like Michael Jackson's last concert. It's an air of celebration of his life and times.

Michael Jackson played here with the Jackson 5 in the late 1960s and was here in 2002 for a Democratic Party fundraiser and walked the streets of Harlem. People have been dancing, have been cheering, playing Michael Jackson songs.

Your reaction to his passing and what he meant to you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My reaction to his passing which is, like, unbelief. I thought I was sleeping. It was a horrible dream. Because my grandmother's nephew used to work for him as a body guard. And so when I was younger I would hear reports about him unlike the media would talk to him.

And so this person that passed away means a lot to me because he's not just a figure, I kind of understand him as a person.

ROTH: What about the -- what's happened here the last few hours? It's almost like a party.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a wake. It's a mourning. It's a funeral. It's a party. It's a celebration of life. It's everything. It's everything wrapped into one because there's so many emotions. Because he meant so much to the whole entire world. It's not just Harlem. It's not just Manhattan or New York. It's the whole world.

ROTH: What did Michael Jackson mean to you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's the king of entertainment. Not just the king of pop. He is an idol to everyone around the world. Reaching around the UK, America, Africa, Australia, everywhere.

Michael has reached greatness that can never ever be matched.

ROTH: And you believe that marquee up there? Michael Jackson, a true Apollo legend?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's a legend, period. Not just with the Apollo. He's a legend for the entire world.

ROTH: Thank you both very much.

That's part of the -- some of the comments here outside of the Apollo Theater. People are going to be here out for hours. There's a huge crowd across the street also celebrating Michael Jackson and what he meant to them. They've been playing his entire catalog of music, Larry, all night long. "Beat It" and "Billie Jean." Heard them all here again.

KING: Amazing. Thanks, Richard. Richard Roth in Harlem.

Back to Kenny Rogers. We've straightened out the phone situation. You were saying, Kenny, about Michael and what it meant to you.

ROGERS: Well, I was just saying that Smokey and I were talking in the commercial break and we were trying to find something to laugh about. You know, just to get you through with some sense of sanity.

And I did a show tonight. I found out just before I went on the show. And I have to tell you, it impacted me so heavily in my show because it's hard to go out and do what I do and know that this has happened.

This is the third person in the last week that I've known, that I knew really well. And it is -- it just breaks your heart. And what troubles me the most is that, you know, the whole people jumping on the wrong things about Michael. This -- I agree. This is a chance to celebrate his life.

Whatever happened or didn't happen. It really is academic. You know? This guy represents so much to everybody. I did a book called "Your Friends and Mine." It's a photography book. And I called him, I said, Michael, I'm promise you you'll only be here 15 minutes. He said, I'm coming, and I'm bringing bubbles with me. And he was there for eight hours. He stayed there and wanted to chat and talk. And we took pictures.

I think I took the first picture of him with his head off. Because he said, I want to see what this looks like. So -- it's just -- he was just such a special guy. You know? And you don't meet guys who have that kind of success that really are able to communicate at a different level. And that's a success I would not wish on anybody.

KING: Kenny, as a success -- you're a country artist. How did you view him artistically?

ROGERS: Well, I mean, how do you view anybody that's has that kind -- first of all, you start off envying and then you're just thankful you don't have to go through what he went through. I mean that would have been treacherous for anybody. And so I loved his music.

I thought that between he and Quincy Jones, they started a whole new -- they literally revolutionized the music business, literally. And there are very few people that represent certain eras of music. He definitely was one of them.

KING: Boy. And you also -- you knew Farrah Fawcett, too, didn't you?

ROGERS: Yes, and you know, that's another real tragedy. She's not getting her moment, you know?

KING: Yes.

ROGERS: God knows Michael deserves everything he's getting. That's not what this is about. But it kills me that she's going to be slipped under the carpet kind of because of this because she was an incredible person with a struggle like none of us can even imagine.

We used to play tennis a lot when I lived in L.A. And she would come over and she would hit tennis balls with us. And she was just the sweetest girl. And I always loved that about her. She could -- I didn't even really know her. Someone introduced me to her. Can I come hit with you guys? This was at the peak of her success.

KING: Regular guy. Thanks, Kenny. As always.

ROGERS: Absolutely. Thanks for having me.

KING: Hope to see you soon.

Suzanne De Passe, still with us in Palm Springs for a couple of moments longer. You knew Farrah Fawcett. In fact you were executive producer for Farrah's Peabody winning TV mini-series, "Small Sacrifices."

What was she like to work with?

DE PASSE: Well, you know, she and I were actually friends before we did the mini-series. And many of our other friends said, you know what, you guys? Because I had found this book and Farrah was a new mother and it's very tough piece of material.

And I sent it to her because I thought she'd be perfect. And she and I decided we were going to do this. And everybody around us said, oh my god, you guys, if you work together, you know, you're going to end up, it's going to cost you the friendship. You know, it's going to be tough.

And we became so much closer as a result of working and we were trying to find a leading man. And we couldn't find anybody, we couldn't find anybody. And I looked out of her trailer window one day and I saw Ryan playing with Redmond. And next thing, you know, Ryan was in the miniseries.

And all I can say is she was one of the most giving, lovely, human beings. What a dear, dear woman, and I just am having one of the worst days of my life, to tell you the truth.

KING: Yes.

DE PASSE: Because even though we knew she was not well and having the -- you know, sort of was near the end. I mean when you hear and then to hear about Michael ten minutes -- I mean, it's just beyond.

Farrah is and will always be one of the highlight people of my life.

KING: Thanks, Suzanne. Thanks for being with us. Suzanne De Passe has so much to do with both. Farrah Fawcett, sadly, is page five tomorrow.

DIAZ: Is it sad, though? Because...

KING: That was expected.

DIAZ: ... You have to Wonder. Ryan O'Neal, you know, has now got the tough task of burying the woman that he loved and also, too, you know, their son Redmond has to basically get out of jail. It's been announced today that he'll be released from jail to attend the funeral. So you have a little bit of controversy there.

Do you Wonder, maybe, OK, now, you know, that media spotlight is off of them, and they can focus on having, you know, a heartfelt normal burial of this amazing woman? I don't think we're going to forget who Farrah Fawcett is because of this tragedy with Michael Jackson. Maybe it allows them a little bit of space.

KING: But she didn't get page one tomorrow.

DIAZ: Is that going to be -- she'll always be Farrah Fawcett. She'll always be Farrah Fawcett. ROBINSON: It's a rough situation, but when you're expecting someone to go, you know, it's...

KING: Highly different.

ROBINSON: Entirely different.

KING: Kenny mentioned Quincy Jones. Here's what he said about his friend, Michael Jackson: "I'm absolutely devastated of this tragic and unexpected news. For Michael to be taken away from us so suddenly at such a young age, I just don't have the words. I lost my little brother today, and part of my soul has gone with him."

We'll be right back.


KING: We're back on this special edition of LARRY KING LIVE, a two-hour edition. We started at midnight. We'll go until 2 a.m., 11 p.m. Pacific Time.

Earlier I asked Cher her feelings as she heard about all of this.


CHER, SINGER (via phone): You know, I was just sitting here listening to you talk. And I'm, like, having a million different reactions. Things that I didn't expect I would feel.

But, you know, when I think of him, I think of this young boy, that teenager that I first met. This, like, adorable boy that I met who, you know, loved to look at my beaded socks, and, you know, said to me once, "Cher, do you think we could just go to the movies?" And we looked at each other and we went, "Nah, I don't think so." We talked about, well, let's rent the movie out, and we'll just bring all of our friends.

And you know, and then a young man that I remember, you know, dancing with all night and going to see "Dreamgirls" with. And, you know, just -- I think of him more like that, because in later years he -- I didn't see him that much and when I did see him, his behavior was very strange to me. And so I didn't relate to that person as well. I didn't really understand him.

Last time I worked with him, you know, we were doing something with Dick Clark. I don't remember the show. And he and I were rehearsing after one another. And he -- they were carrying his baby -- I don't know -- I couldn't see, because they had the baby all wrapped up. And I don't know if it was a baby or a toddler. I don't really know how old the child was. Carrying it in this kind of blanket from the -- from our trailers outside into the rehearsal area onstage.

And I just kept thinking, why don't they just leave this poor child, you know, in the trailer with whoever's watching him instead of just, like, carting him back and forth and back and forth? And I just thought, this is so strange.

But, you know, Michael was always adorable to me. He was always sweet. You know, so...

KING: Weren't they -- weren't the Jackson 5 on "Sonny and Cher?"

CHER: No, they were on "Cher." They were on my show.

KING: What are your memories as him as a guest?

CHER: I just remember that we laughed all the time, because I didn't know the dancing. And I kept going, "You guys, you do this all the time. Just do it one more time for the old woman, so I can not look like, you know, I don't know what I'm doing out here."

And he just kept going, "OK, come on, Cher. You're going to get this. You're going to get this. Come on, let's do it; let's just do."

And I thought, my God, you know, I'm going to dance with this boy that's, like, the best, you know, dancer in the world.

But then I remember one night we were at a party. I think it was on the Queen Mary. And we danced all night long. And I never even thought about -- that, you know, I wasn't his equal as a dancer. We were just having a blast.

He was a great teenager. He was a great, optimistic, adorable, not very confident, though. I mean, he was so beautiful and adorable, but he didn't have any confidence in that.

KING: Why -- why on earth do you think this beautiful and adorable child would go around changing his persona? Changing the way he looked?

CHER: You know, I don't know. I really don't know. Obviously, he didn't feel that. But you know, I had heard, like, strange things.

That night at that party, a guy came over and said something to me about him, and I went, you know what? This is the kind of crap that people start. They just start rumors. You have no idea what you're talking about. Get up from my table; get out of my sight. I don't ever want to talk to you or see you again.

And he said Michael Jackson is going to change the way he looks completely. And he's going to change his skin.

And I went, you know what? I can't tell you what I said. It was all kind of really -- just think of me at my worst, Larry, and you'll know what I said to him.

KING: yes. What -- his talent, how would you describe it? Was he a great singer?

CHER: Yes, he was a great singer. You know, it's like God gives you certain gifts. And some people he gives different gifts, and some people he gives more gifts. And this child was just an extraordinary child, touched by this ability to have people feel him and feel people. And he just had that sense that you get, and you don't get it from a living person. You get it from someplace else. He had it.

And, yes, he was a great singer. I mean, he was a great singer. He was one of the great singers. You can't write him off as just a pop thing, because he could sing like nobody else. He was genius, like Ray Charles. Like Stevie Wonder. Like people that, you know, like people that are -- have a gift. They just have this gift. You don't know where it comes. You don't know how long it stays. You don't know what the impact is going to be. But he was able to connect with people.

You know, he was a really soft-spoken boy. Always. Always. I remember once we were at this party and it was -- I don't know if was a New Year's Eve party. I don't remember. But I was with Val Kilmer. And Bob Mackey had made me a pair of beaded socks for my Christmas present. Val was wearing them. Michael couldn't get over them.

And he kept going, "Vanna, I just love those socks. Cher, I just love those socks."

I said, "Well, you know, they were a present from Bob for me for Christmas."

And he said, "I just love beaded socks." You know, he just was so...

KING: He was a kid.

CHER: Yes. He was just a kid.


KING: Stevie Wonder's people issued this statement tonight: "Stevie is not available for any comment for the time being. He's emotionally distraught and chose to be quiet right now."

We'll be back with other guests and Sean Combs.



JERMAINE JACKSON, BROTHER: He was a talented person. He was a wonderful person.

KING: And he's a complex person. Obviously, he's a complex person.

J. JACKSON: Yes, but look, there was Michelangelo who was different and dressed weird and this and that. And they called Einstein weird, known as one of the greatest minds ever. William Shakespeare, who we still, today, can go see his plays.

KING: Yes, genius. It's fair to try to examine it. In other words, we look at someone...

J. JACKSON: Right, right. True. But still, look at his heart. Look at his music. Look at what he's done for people. Look at the influence, and we've been influenced.


KING: We're back, and we're now joined by -- on the phone is Sean "P. Diddy" Combs, a record producer of fame. Rapper, actor, and businessman. And he's won multiple Grammys and MTV Video Music Awards. Smokey Robinson remains with us. J.C. Chasez joins us, singer, songwriter, producer, and a former member of 'N Sync. They performed with Michael Jackson several times and were the presenters when Michael was inducted into the Rock 'N' Roll Hall of Fame. Corey Feldman, actor, musician, was once a close friend of Michael's and hoped to repair a rift that occurred nine years ago. We'll ask him about that.

But let's start first on the phone with my dad, Mr. P. Daddy [SIC] Combs. How are you handling this?

SEAN "P. DIDDY" COMBS, RECORD PRODUCER (via phone): You know, my heart is just hurting. It's hard to explain the words. When I first heard the news, you know, I was just shocked.

And as you just watch -- you watch television and you see all the old videos, this man was the greatest recording artist of our time. This man, through his music actually, like, made a change in the world. He was the only artist that you could say people knew of this man in every country, no matter his song was in English. But no matter who country it was in, everybody knew the words to his song.

And you know, when I heard the coverage today, and I hear everybody talking about the controversy and the downs, everybody has downs in their life. This man had so much positivity and so much of a positive effect, especially on my generation.

You know, I didn't grow up listening to Elvis of the Beatles. This guy was like my hero. And he gave birth to all the artists in my generation. And I just think it's so sad to watch everybody talk about things that weren't proven. And I think it's important that we give him his day, man.

He changed the world. Like, he made me believe in magic. He made me -- he made me actually visualize the music. He made me want to make music. And I just think it's important for all the artists out there to call in and for us to be heard and let the people know how much this man meant to us.

KING: I called you "Daddy" because you're the daddy of what you do. But I know you're Diddy. And it's also getting late.

Stay right with us, P.

J.C., how did you -- how did 'N Sync and Michael Jackson come together? J.C. CHASEZ, 'N SYNC: We have a lot of strange coincidences, actually. Our first hit single was a song called "I Want You Back." His first hit single was "I Want You Back" with the Jackson 5.

But really, what it was about is we were a group that wanted to emulate that kind of performance. We -- he was, kind of like Diddy said before, he just -- he presented something for my generation to emulate, you know. And it was about the scope of things. He just wanted to do it bigger, more dynamic. And he did. He made you believe in magic.

KING: What was he like to work with?

CHASEZ: You know what? He was the nicest guy ever, you know.

KING: Very professional.

CHASEZ: Professional, but you know what? Surprisingly, it was -- when you first meet somebody that you look up to you're a little awestruck. Because you have an idea in your mind of what they are. And then you meet somebody backstage, and they're champing on a sandwich or something and you're like, "Oh, OK, so you eat like me." Then, you know, he cracked a joke and made everybody comfortable right away.

KING: Corey, what was the rift?

COREY FELDMAN, ACTOR: Oh, well, that's kind of a complicated one.

KING: Can you simplify it?

FELDMAN: Well, based on the fact that, you know, we just lost a great artist today, I'd rather not focus on the negatives, Larry.

KING: Had you resumed the friendship near the end?

FELDMAN: We hadn't yet. But we had been -- the family and I had been communicating a lot. As a matter of fact, my wife Susie and I were invited recently to Latoya Jackson's birthday party, which we attended three weeks ago, which was thrown by Jeffrey and her manager, and Janet. And we actually got to see the whole family. So it was very nice, and it was a nice...

KING: Since there was a form of separation, we don't have to get into it, how did it hit you today?

FELDMAN: That's a good question. I've been kind of a nervous ball of nerves all day, just a wreck. It was the last thing I expected. As a matter of fact, when I heard the news initially, I thought that it was possibly some sort of publicity stunt to push back the concerts in July, and I didn't think he was really passing. And once I heard that he actually passed, I haven't stopped shaking. I mean, my hands have just been shaking all day.

KING: ... sunset. Diddy, do you think he would have come back?

Diddy? Apparently, we lost -- do you think he would have come back, Smokey?

ROBINSON: Larry, I was in London about a month ago, and that was where he was going to have the 50 initial concerts that he said would probably be his last 50 concerts. But I knew that probably he was going to go around the world with those concerts.

And I was in London, and the promoter who was promoting those concerts, I was talking with him. And he said, "Well, we have to cancel the first five concerts because Michael isn't feeling well."

So I said, "OK, fine, everybody is entitled not to feel well." And -- but the proof of him being Michael Jackson, who he will always be, is the fact that he was going to do 50 concerts. And the place he was playing is a big arena-type place over in London. OK? Ten minutes or so after the tickets went on sale, they were all sold out. OK? So coming back...

KING: You can come back. Where did he go?

We have a statement from J.C.'s former band mate, Justin Timberlake: "I can't find the words right now to express how deeply saddened I am by Michael's passing. We have lost a genius, a true ambassador of not only pop music but of all music. He's been an inspiration to multiple generations, and I will always cherish the moments I shared with him on stage and all of the things I learned from him and the time we spent together. My heart goes out to his family and loved ones."

And we'll be right back.


KING: As we come back, you're looking at television coverage from France where the news is breaking in the early morning hours.

Adding to our panel, we welcome Shelley Berger here in Los Angeles. Shelley was manager for the Jackson 5 as well as many other legendary Motown artists.

Shelley, how did it hit you today?

SHELLEY BERGER, FORMER MANAGER OF JACKSON 5: Well, first, of course, was disbelief because I was in a meeting with Otis Williams, and Otis' phone rang. And he said, "I got a text message that Michael died."

And I said, it must be a mistake or something. So he called the lady who rang him. And he said, it's true. And then, of course, Otis just broke down. So that was the end of the meeting.

KING: What was he like to manage? BERGER: Well, I managed -- I was their first manager when they joined Motown. It's interesting, because I only managed people that Barry Gordy was personally interested in. So I managed Smokey. I managed the Supremes. I managed the Temptations.

And one night I was getting off the road with the Supremes, and I got a telephone call from Barry Gordy and he said, "We just signed this new group and you're going to manage them." He said, "You have to come down to the studio right now."

I said, "Why do I have to come down to the studio? You tell me I'm managing them, I'm managing them. I know what I have to do."

"No, no, no, no. You have to come down to the studio." OK. So I go down to the studio on Fairfax Avenue. There's five little kids. And he says, "This is Shelley Berger. He manages Diane Ross. He manages Smokey Robinson. He manages Temptations. Now he's your manager. Show them what you can do."

And Michael just went into this James Brown thing. And I almost fell on the floor and I said, "Sammy Davis has been reincarnated." You know? It was the same kind of electricity.

KING: Wow, how long were you with him?

BERGER: I was with him only for about a year and a half.

KING: Those were good times, then? Easy?

BERGER: Well, we just created something because Mr. Gordy, who, you know...

KING: Berry's a genius.

BERGER: He said to me, can we -- we were doing meetings and the agency, like, oh, we're going to get him on the Joey Bishop Show. We're going to get him.

After the meeting Mr. Gordy said to me, "What do you think?"

And I said, "Let me ask you a question. Do you think you can get three No. 1 records on the Jackson 5?"

Now, only Barry Gordy can say this. He says, "I already have it in the can." And I believed it.

So I said, "OK, if you can get three No. 1 records in a row, we will not put the Jacksons out until they're getting $25,000 a night." Now, understand this is 1968. So $25 -- I mean, that was top dollar. The Beatles got...

KING: You got it.

BERGER: No, we didn't get it. First record came out. It was $5,000, $5,000, $7,500. Second record came out. It was $10,000, $12,005. And you could do this, you see, because it was the driven snow. There was no price on the Jacksons.

KING: What was the third?

BERGER: The third record comes up. Now, it's up to $17,000, $17,500. Now my reputation is on the line, because I told Barry Gordy I'd get $25,000.

So I went to a good, corrupt general manager of the forum. Because that was the time...

KING: What did he do?

BERGER: I said, I will give you -- I will promote the concert. I will give you all the promoter's money for the concert, but you have to give me two contracts for $25,000: one for Oakland, one for L.A.

I said, "They're going to make more than $25,000. We'll sell the shows out."

And he said, "OK." He said, but let me ask you a question. Mr. Cooke owned the Lakers at the time. And he said, he's having a problem renegotiating Elgin Baylor's contract. Do you think Elgin Baylor can be listed as the promoter?

I said, "You've got it." I had the Jackson 5 do a thing with Elgin Baylor, and of course.

KING: What was he like as a manager?

ROBINSON: Well, he was great. See, because the thing about Motown is that people think, when we talk about the Motown families as mythical. It actually exists and still exists today with those of us who are still here.

And to be managed by someone who you love anyway and you know has your best interest at heart is -- yes, if...

KING: I can tell. Here, very quickly, was Jermaine Jackson earlier today at the UCLA Medical Center.

J. JACKSON: My brother, the legendary king of pop, Michael Jackson, passed away on Thursday, June 25, 2009, at 2:26 p.m. It is believed he suffered cardiac arrest in his home. However, the cause of his death is unknown until results of the autopsy are known.

His personal physician, who was with him at the time, attempted to resuscitate my brother. And as did the paramedics who transported him to Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. Upon arriving at the hospital at approximately 1:14 p.m., a team of doctors, including emergency physicians and cardiologists, attempted to resuscitate him for a period of more than one hour. And they were unsuccessful.

Our family requests that the media please respect our privacy during this tough time. And may our love be with you Michael, always.

(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: J.C., you're a judge on "America's Best Dance Crew."


KING: How has the Jackson dancing affecting dancing?

CHASEZ: I mean, you know, when you think about Michael Jackson and what he's presented to the entertainment world, I mean, essentially he's become a part of terminology now.

When it comes to singing, like, when it comes to percussive and rhythmic singing, it's like, oh, that's what Michael does. When it comes to dancing, it's like if you're doing something sharp, clean, it's a style of dance.