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CNN Larry King Live

Michael Jackson Tapes Revealed

Aired September 29, 2009 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, a live prime time exclusive, what you didn't know about Michael Jackson until now -- 30 hours of tapes reveal what he really thought about Madonna.


MICHAEL JACKSON: She's not a nice person. I have to tell you, she's not a nice person.


KING: The fear of his father.


JACKSON: He would just whip you all over your face, your back, everywhere.


KING: And an even bigger threat -- aging.


JACKSON: I just don't want to look old and start forgetting. I want to always be youthful and have the energy to run around and play hide and seek.


KING: You'll hear it all from Michael Jackson himself. The man who recorded the shocking remarks is with us for the hour.

Did Rabbi Shmuley Boteach betray the tragic pop icon by revealing private thoughts to the world?


We welcome Rabbi Shmuley Boteach to LARRY KING LIVE.

He's in our studios in New York.

He was Michael Jackson's friend and spiritual adviser. And between August 2000 and April 2001, he taped some 30 hours conversations with Michael. The results the basis of a new book, "The Michael Jackson Tapes: A Tragic Icon Reveals His Soul in Intimate Conversation." There you see its cover. We welcome the rabbi to our show.

How did this come about?

Why were they recorded, Rabbi?

RABBI SHMULEY BOTEACH, RECORDED THE MICHAEL JACKSON TAPES: Well, Larry, I was Michael's guest, along with my family, for his 41st birthday at Neverland in August of 2000. And it became clear this was not a happy birthday. Michael was lifeless, he was indolent and he was energy-less. And the principal was he felt the world hated him. He felt utterly misunderstood. He felt that the 1993 allegations against him had destroyed the public's perception of him. And the solution was to tape the conversations that he and I were having so regularly about depth. It -- the solution was to have Michael heard in his own voice.

These conversations were -- were taped not only with Michael's assent, but at his behest. He wanted to break through the filter and screen of the media which he felt had always mis-portrayed him and be heard in his original voice.

KING: When?

BOTEACH: We started...

KING: When did he expect you...

BOTEACH: Well, we...

KING: When did he expect you to make them public?

BOTEACH: Well, we taped them over 10 months. And they are about 30 hours of conversation. And the plan was that this book was going to be published in 2003, 2004. Tragically, in November of 2003, Michael was arrested on allegations of child molestation. And it made the publication of the book impossible, because the whole purpose of the book was to portray Michael sympathetically. Well, the public was not ready to hear anything sympathetic about Michael. And even though he was exonerated, thankfully, in 2005, his reputation was tattered and there was just no real sympathy in the public to -- to hear him in his own voice.

What changed, of course, is when he passed away. And I think the public finally began to judge him more charitably. They finally began to understand that there was pain and suffering to this man's life that had always been overlooked. And that's why these conversations are so powerful, because Michael has -- is so searingly honest about his broken childhood.

KING: Well, all right...

BOTEACH: And he's asking people to understand what he endured.

KING: We're going to listen to a clip. We'll be listening to many we'll be playing tonight. In it, Michael Jackson speaks about what motivated everything he'd done and achieved.



JACKSON: And I'm -- I'm going to say something. I've never said it before and this is the truth. Shmuley. I have no reason to lie to you. God knows I'm telling the truth. I think all my success and fame -- and I've wanted it, I wanted it -- because I wanted to be loved, that's all. That's the real truth. I wanted people to love -- truly love me because I never felt really loved.


KING: You write that you got shivers when Michael said that.


BOTEACH: Could you imagine, Larry, the most famous entertainer on Earth, an international icon, saying that the entire reason he picked up a microphone and learned to move his feet so briskly was because he simply wanted to be loved?

It -- it dawned on me that Michael experienced a level of abandonment and loneliness that staggered the imagination. And it was like he was trapped and isolated by his celebrity, that he was in a place that few of us could really even reach him. And that's why I was so deeply moved by his comment.

KING: His need to be loved often came back to his relationship with one man, his father, Joe Jackson.

Listen to this.


JACKSON: If there was a children's day when I was little and I looked at my father and I said, "OK, dad, Joe, what are we going to do today?," you know what that would have meant for me? He'll go, "Well, you want to go to the movies?"

QUESTION: That's great.

JACKSON: That would have meant so much to me, Shmuley.


KING: How did you feel when he said that, Rabbi?

BOTEACH: The way I feel right now. I could cry right now listening to his voice again. You know, Larry, Michael was trying to share with the world that our culture thinks somehow that fame and fortune are an acceptable substitute for love and affection. But Michael discovered that these are empty gifts that leave you bereft. And so here he is saying I've done all this and become so famous and it was an attempt to be loved by the public -- to substitute the neglect of my childhood. And all I wanted was a real relationship with -- with my father.

And he once told me a story that was equally chilling. He said, Larry, that he has one memory, when he was a child, of his father -- Michael was about five -- picking him up at a carnival and putting him on a pony. And he said that the memory of that single incident of his father putting him on a pony was enough to make him believe that there was love in his father's heart for him and that he knew that he and his father could begin in a relationship from that point on.

KING: Yes.

BOTEACH: So he always held out this hope -- and listen the way he cries when he says that. But he just wanted a day for children where they would have the right to demand attention from their parents -- to demand it. And, really, it's in Michael's honor that I launched a program called Turn Friday Night Into Family Night, to create that national family dinner where children can say to their parents, turn off your crackberries (ph) and turn off the phones and turn off the -- all the other distractions because we're important, too. Make us feel valuable.

KING: At one point, Michael proclaims that: "I am a lion, nothing can hurt me." When he's performing, you point out that there are really two Michael Jacksons. We'll have more with the Rabbi when we come back.

The book is now available everywhere, "The Michael Jackson Tapes."

You're watching LARRY KING LIVE.

Don't go away.


KING: This is a guaranteed best-seller, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, "The Michael Jackson Tapes."

Let's listen to another clip. This is Michael Jackson responding to the Rabbi's asking if someday he might say that's it and quit public life.


BOTEACH: So would you say the best thing that ever happened to the Beatles is that they broke up?

I mean that's why they didn't have this longevity they suddenly went kaboom?

JACKSON: Yes. Marilyn Monroe died young. You couldn't see her grow old and ugly. I mean, that's the mystery. Once they be funny and old now and we wouldn't care.

BOTEACH: So is that an argument, Michael, for you to say one day, that's it? JACKSON: Yes. I would like to in some kind of way disappear where people don't see me anymore at some point and just do my thing for children, but not be visual. To disappear is very important.


KING: Rabbi, what did you make of that?

BOTEACH: Well, there's a -- there's a number of very relevant things in that clip, Larry.

First, Michael says that the essence of longevity in the public eye is mystery. No one has ever understood the power of mystique the way Michael did. We were once in his hotel room and there was Britney Spears on the television. And Michael turned to me and he said to me, "I don't believe that she'll have any great longevity in the public eye because she doesn't understand the power of mystery."

Michael truly understood that people should all -- that less is more.

Having said that, I believe he took it to a bit of an extreme. And that's why this conversation began to trouble me.

When Michael said he wanted to disappear, what did he mean by that?

Michael became dependent on the adulation of the crowds. And he was honest about that dependency. As he said in the -- what we played just before the -- the break, he needed public adulation to feel loved. But look at the strange calculus. In order to feel loved, you need to disappear.

And Michael began to feel that making himself too available, making himself too ubiquitous, would actually undermine his celebrity. But that also meant that he couldn't just lead a normal life. If he went out into the street, he had to wear a mask. If the children went with him, they had to be veiled. He took this calculus of mystery to a bit of an extreme. And I think it began to isolate him. He spent way too much time at Neverland. He wasn't sufficiently connected with his family.

And in our relationship, I tried to reconnect him with ordinary people, to lead a more ordinary life, because I think Michael feared ordinariness.

KING: Yes. Another clip takes the disappearing idea to a darker place. The Rabbi asked Michael if he wanted to die young.



JACKSON: My greatest dream that I have left -- I've accomplished my dreams with music and all that and I love music and entertainment. It's this children's initiative, this thing that we're doing that -- because I don't care about it. I really don't. I don't care about it. I honestly don't. I mean what keeps me going is children or else I would -- I would seriously -- I told you before and I swear to God, I mean every word, I would -- I would just -- I would throw in the towel if it weren't for children and babies, you know. That's my real honest -- and I've said it before, if it wasn't for children, I would choose death. I mean that with all my heart.


KING: I know, Rabbi, you're not a psychiatrist.

Do you think he had a death wish?

BOTEACH: Well, I would certainly say that Michael had lost the will to live. What kept him alive was his children. He was an extremely devoted father -- dare I say even exemplary. And I think his devotion to Prince and Paris, who I knew extremely well, Blanket, who I never met, kept him alive.

But I think toward the end of his life, he was just going through the motions of existence. It became barren and it became bare. And the main reason -- and he says it right there, Larry, Michael wanted to consecrate his fame to a higher cause. He was -- he was honest enough to understand that you can't live for yourself. And that cause was children. But after the '93 allegations, it became very difficult to work with kids. So what I did is I got Michael to work with parents, to get parents to prioritize children.

But after the 2003 arrest, it became almost impossible to work with children. And I think after that, Michael had lost the will to live.

KING: On CNN in April of 2004, you said -- you said your greatest fear was that Michael's life would be cut short.

So how did you react when that came to pass?

BOTEACH: My first emotion, truth be told, was anger. I was -- I was angry.

I said Michael, how could you do this?

You orphaned your children. You knew this could happen. You knew that you needed the staples of a normal life. You knew that some of the prescription medications you were taking were in -- were in dangerous quantity. You knew all this. And you also knew what gaining control of your life would -- would take and you could have done it.

Why did it end like this?

It didn't have to end in tragedy.

But then -- I was in a van when this happened. And I turned around and my children were crying. And they remembered Michael very fondly. Michael was extraordinarily kind to them. And as they cried, I began to mourn.

And I think, Larry, that we, in this country, have never really mourned Michael. He became a caricature for us. We -- we mourned the death of an entertainer, but not the death of a man. And you can see from these -- these painful conversations how desperately he yearned to be known as a man. I mean just listen to the emotion in his voice.

KING: Obviously, yes.

Let me get a break and we'll come right back.

Mackenzie Phillips is our guest tomorrow night.

Back with Rabbi Shmuley and Michael Jackson's confessions about Brooke Shields, in 60 seconds.


KING: Michael Jackson's conversations with Rabbi Boteach about women and relationships are an intriguing mix of candor and discretion. While he was in his early 40s when the tapes were recorded, there were moments when Michael sounded like a romantic adolescent.

Let's hear from Brooke Shields at his memorial and then from Michael himself.


BROOKE SHIELDS, ACTRESS: Both of us needed to be adults very early. But when we were together, we were two little kids having fun.



JACKSON: That was one of the loves of my life. I think she loved me as much as I loved her. You know, we dated a lot. We -- went out a lot. Her pictures were all over my wall, my mirror, everything. And I went to the Academy Awards with Diana Ross and this girl walked up to me and says, "Hi, I'm Brooke Shields." Then she goes, "Are you going to the after-party?" I go, "Yes." She goes, "Good, I'll see you at the party." I'm going, oh my God, does she know she's all over my room?

So we get to the after-party, she comes up to me and she goes, "Will you dance with me?" and I went, "Yes, I will dance with you." So we went on the dance floor and we danced.

BOTEACH: How old are you now?

Twenty. This was during "Off The Wall," around that time.

JACKSON: Yes, around that time, twenty-something, maybe like 23, something like that. And, man, we exchanged numbers and I -- I was up all night singing, spinning around in my room, just so happy, you know. It was great. And we date a lot after that.


KING: Michael's tough talk about Madonna and why his marriage to Lisa Marie Presley ended and his distrust of women in his own words, just ahead.


KING: The book, "The Jackson -- The Michael Jackson Tapes."

The guest, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach. The tapes delve deeply, and sometimes painfully, into Michael's relationship with his father. This is Michael talking about his physical abuse.



JACKSON: He would make you strip nude first. He would oil you down. It would be a whole ritual. He would oil you down. So when the foot of the -- of the ironing cord hit you, it just you know -- and it was just like me dying. And he would just whip you all over your face, your back, everywhere. And I would always here in the mother in the back, "No, Joe, you're going to kill them, you're going to kill them, go." And I was like -- I was -- I would just give up, like there was nothing I could do, you know. And I hated him for it. I hated him.


KING: Joe Jackson, Rabbi, was a guest on this show after Michael's death. He had this to say about allegations that he was abusive to his son.



JOE JACKSON, MICHAEL JACKSON'S FATHER: There's a lot of people in America, Larry, a lot of people in America spank their kids, you know?

They -- if they say they don't, they're lying. They're lying. Now, Michael was never beaten by me, never beaten at all.

KING: OK. You're on record.


BOTEACH: Well, Larry, I'm not here to...

KING: Rabbi, does -- what do you make of that?

BOTEACH: I'm not here to judge Joe Jackson. He -- Joe Jackson. He was raising nine children. And I'm not here to judge him. But there can be no question that the devastating illustration given by Michael explains so much of his brokenness. Michael shared this, holding a tape recorder to his mouth, because he wanted the world to judge him more charitably. He was saying, before you draw conclusions about my life, before you dismiss me, before you ask why do I have plastic surgery, why do I sometimes -- why am I sometimes gripped by a certain self-loathing, just understand that I've endured things that were pretty darned hard.

But he still loved his father and he still always wished to reconnect with his father. When we gave a lecture together at Oxford University, in the van driving from London to Oxford, he called his father and he said, "I want you to know, Joseph" -- even though I told him to call his father dad -- "that I'm going to speak about you tonight and I'm going to tell the world how you were responsible for my success. You taught me. You were a great manager. You taught me how to -- to perform. You inspired me. You motivated me."

So that the affection for his father never left him. There was brokenness on the one hand, but hope for the future on the other. And I really thought...

KING: All right, why...

BOTEACH: ...that the time would come when they would finally reconcile. And one of the devastating things about Michael's death is that recon -- that reconciliation never took place.

KING: Yes. You said he spoke right into the -- speaking right -- was speaking right into the microphone.

Why is some of it difficult to listen -- to hear?

BOTEACH: Well, first of all, these tapes are now eight years old and they were done just on regular Dictaphone. Also, there were two. There was one that Michael held and there was one that was also a backup. And sometimes you may be even hearing a backup.

KING: All right...

BOTEACH: But Michael wanted his voice heard by the public. And that's why these tapes -- they're not my view of Michael. This is not about me. This is Michael choosing to share his innermost self with a public that he knew was very suspicious of him.

KING: All right. He -- Michael revealed a protectiveness toward his little sister, Janet, in these conversations, and a shared hostility toward their father.



JACKSON: And I'll never forget this. Janet and myself, we'd say -- I would say, "Janet, shut your eyes." She'd go, "OK, they're shut." I would say, "Picture Joseph in a coffin. He's dead. Do you feel sorry?" She would go, "No." That's what we would do to each other as kids, we would like play games like that. She'd go -- she'd go, "Nope," just like that. And that's how hateful we were. I go, "He's in the coffin, he's dead and do you -- are you -- could -- would you feel sad? Are you -- would you feel sorry?" and of course she goes, "Nope," just like that. That's how angry we were with him. And I love him today, but he was hard.


KING: Rabbi, what was his relationship like with Katherine?

BOTEACH: He adored his mother. He spoke of his mother in saintly terms. He believed his mother did not have a bad bone in her body. He -- he worshipped her. And I think that Michael always wanted his mother to be very proud of him. He felt that she didn't have a very happy life and he did his best to bring joy to her. But she was on his lips constantly.

KING: A lot of children are physically abused and emotionally neglected and eventually they become adults.

And is there any chance he was using this as an excuse, Rabbi?

BOTEACH: Well, Larry, it was very important for Michael to take responsibility for his actions. Even if we have a broken childhood -- and one of the areas that me and Michael connected was that my parents divorced. I didn't experience anything like what Michael did, but I wouldn't say I had a happy childhood. You still have to heal yourself. You need to take adult responsibility for your actions.

But with Michael it was different. He wanted to highlight some of the pain he experienced as a child in order to make his own life into a morality lesson for the American public. He wanted parents to understand, don't think for one moment that if your child one day becomes rich and famous, that this will in any way compensate for the love and unconditional affection, the validation they require from parents.

He was saying that all of the adulation of millions of people around the world are still not enough for me. And it's a painful thing to hear, because we do live in a culture that is obsessed and saturated with celebrity adulation. But Michael was saying, I'm the most famous person of all and I'm still so lonely, still so unhappy. And I'm asking you to -- to recognize that when it comes to raising your own children.

I me, Larry, he says in the in the -- in the book, that he was the biggest star in the world after "Thriller" -- and he used to walk the streets of Encino begging -- pleading people to just talk to him. And they would say, "Michael Jackson." He'd say, "Please, stop the Michael Jackson. I'm a man. I'm a person. I'm begging you to relate to me as a man."

And we -- we ignore Michael's voice at our own peril, because our culture is going slightly off the precipice with celebrity obsession. KING: Our guest, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach. The book is "The Michael Jackson Tapes: The Tragic Icon Reveals His Soul in Intimate Conversation," an extraordinary publication.

We've got a great Web exclusive for you. Read about the other side of Usher on The recording artist writes about his life of service and how it made him a better man. He challenges all of us to do what we can to improve our world by being agents of change. Check out Usher's exclusive and inspiring blog at

More of the Michael Jackson tapes after this.


KING: Here's some of what Michael Jackson recalled to the Rabbi about his relationship with his first girlfriend, Tatum O'Neal.


JACKSON: When I held Tatum's hand, I was like intense. It was the most magical thing. It was better than kissing her. It was better than anything.

I remember, we were at a -- her, Ryan O'Neal and myself, we went to this club. I don't know the club. It was called the Roxy.

And we're watching a band. I was sitting there. And underneath the table her hand -- and she was holding my hand, and I was like melting. To me, that was magical.


KING: Rabbi, you say you never flat-out asked Michael about his sexuality or whether his marriages were consummated. Do you think he was a heterosexual?

BOTEACH: Michael, in my presence, always expressed profound attraction to women. And I think that there is a magical quality, to use his word, in the way that he describes his relationship with Tatum O'Neal or with Brooke Shields.

Notice that Michael respects women. He feels that relationships should not be about sex. He feels that there's something very unique about just holding a woman's hand. He was a great romantic. But he had been damaged, by his own admission, by the toxic and vulgar images that he had witnessed when he was just a boy of about five, as he describes in the book, when the Jackson Five were performing at strip clubs.

He was too young to absorb these very adult images. And I think it led him to conclude that women, at times, could use their sexuality to gain control over men and to get things from men. So, it also made him weary and suspicious of women. And Michael shared this in the book, as he wanted parents to understand, be careful what you let your children watch on TV and what you let them do, if it's too early. KING: And we'll back up what you just said, the romanticism aside. These tapes reveal a deep suspicion of women. Watch -- listen to this excerpt.


JACKSON: Women can do some things that make guys very unhappy. I see it with my brothers. I see my brothers crying in tears and pulling the grass out of the lawn out of frustration because of their wives.

BOTEACH: Do you think all their wives were interested more in their success than in them?

JACKSON: Absolutely. They were after their money. That's why I said to myself, I'll never be married. I held out the longest. I stayed at home until I was 27, 28.

BOTEACH: What was part of the attraction to Lisa Marie? That she had her own money? She had her own fame. You knew it wasn't about any of that.

JACKSON: Absolutely. She didn't take a penny, didn't want anything.


KING: Was he something of a misogynist, rabbi? Do you think he feared women?

BOTEACH: Michael actually says in the book that women are smarter than men. He says that Walt Disney always hired women, and he adored Walt Disney.

Michael had exposure to images as a child that I think were deeply corrosive and damaging. And he's very open and honest about that exposure. And I'm not sure he ever fully healed from it. And it's quite tragic that he didn't, because you see the love he had for Lisa Marie Presley.

Michael would have really flourished with a wife who could have curb his excess, because Michael, at his core, was a good and loving man. He strove to be a noble spirit, but he crossed so many lines. And had someone been there to say, I'm sorry, Michael, put that prescription drug medication away and just thrown it in the garbage -- had someone said to you him, you have to get up at a normal hour and go to sleep at a normal hour --

This is a lot of what I was doing in his life. But I wasn't his spouse, obviously. I was just his friend, and there was only so much I could do.

So the suspicion of women and the failed marriages I think had, unfortunately, a tragic result.

KING: More with Rabbi Shmuley Boteach on the Michael Jackson tapes. His book just published. We'll talk about Madonna and Michael next. Stick around.


KING: We're back with our rabbi friend, and the book, "The Michael Jackson Tapes." The recent MTV Video Music Awards included a special tribute to Michael Jackson. The first to take the stage was Madonna. Here's a little of what she said.


MADONNA, SINGER: Most of us had turned our backs on him. In a desperate attempt to hold on to his memory, I went on the Internet to watch old clips of him dancing and singing on TV and on stage. And I thought, my god, he was so unique, so original, so rare. And there will never be anyone like him again. He was a king.


KING: Well, the comments Michael made to the rabbi about Madonna were a lot less flattering. Listen.


JACKSON: Madonna laid the law down to me before we went out. I am not going to Disneyland, OK? That's out. I said, I didn't ask to go to Disneyland. She said, we are going to the restaurant. And afterwards, we are going to a strip bar.

I said, I am not going to a strip bar, where they cross dress. Guys who are girls, I said. I am not going to there. If that's how it is, forget this whole thing. I told her and settled on going to -- Afterwards, she wrote some mean things about me in the press. And I wrote that she is a nasty witch, after I was so kind to her. Have told you that we were at the table eating, and some little came up, oh my god, Michael Jackson and Madonna. She goes, get out of here. Leave us alone.

I said, don't you ever talk to children like this. She said, shut up. I said, you shut up.

Yes, that's what I said. Then we went out again and went to the Academy Awards and she is not a nice person.


KING: Wow. Rabbi, it would be a guess. Do you think his opinion of her might have moderated since those tapes?

BOTEACH: Well, let's be very fair to Madonna. These comments by Michael were said about his experiences with Madonna years and years ago, when she had an extremely testy public image. She was the Material Girl, the bad girl. And I think Michael was reacting to that.

He did say to me -- he predicted that once she became a mother, that the nurturing instinct in her would become much more pronounced. And I think that indeed has happened.

What I don't think Michael needs, however, is these kinds of tributes at music awards, where we call him things like King. Let's remember that a man died. Let's stop making him into some sort of caricature of a performer who died. There is a time to mourn this man, and to see him as a fallen American icon so that our culture and our country learns from his example, so that we actually make some modifications, some changes, so that family comes before the public, so that spiritual purpose comes before fame and fortune. Because otherwise, Larry, he died in vain. And there's nothing redemptive to be extracted from his tragic example.

KING: One of the most stunning exchanges in this book, a lot of people talking about it, involves Hitler. Michael suggests that he could have transformed the Nazi leader. Listen.


BOTEACH: Do you believe if you were face to face with Hitler --

JACKSON: Absolutely. Absolutely. He had to have had a lot of yes people around him, who were afraid of him. I absolutely --

BOTEACH: Even if you had an our with Hitler, you could somehow touch something inside him?

JACKSON: Absolutely. I really believe that. I know I could.


KING: In your comments about that in the book, you suggest that this was crazy stuff, rabbi. You say the comment sounds almost messianic. What do you make of it?

BOTEACH: Well, think about it. First of all, let me say something categorical. Michael was not in any way an anti-semite. And I'm very, very troubled by the commentary on the Internet that this suggests that Michael did not hate Hitler. Michael loathed Hitler. And in an other part of the book he calls him the devil.

He was making a different point. Michael wanted to believe there was good in everyone. I said to him, I'm sorry, Michael, there are people who have erased the image of god from their countenance, because of the genocide that they have enacted.

Michael was not a bad person. But he was hopelessly naive. Now, it is true that one of the things that undermined so many of our celebrities -- and let's face it, many of our celebrities are troubled. It wasn't just Michael who evinced a troubled soul -- is this idea that they have special healing powers. John Lennon discusses it very eloquently, that they used to bring so many disabled children and put them in the front row of Beatles concerts, as if the Beatles could heal them.

So Michael had all these people worshipping him. And at times, it could go to his head, and he could think that maybe he could get through to almost anyone.

That's why it's so important for celebrities to be grounded.

Larry, Michael was a very religious man. Let's not forget he was not just a Jehovah's Witness. He was actually a Jehovah's Witness missionary. He used to pioneer every Sunday, even after he was the most famous entertainer alive. He would knock on people's door. As he recounts in the book, he would debate agnostics. He would debate atheists. He would actually spread the message of god.

And as long as he was religious, I think that the messianic complex -- he was more humble and he was more grounded and centered. Michael sent me to interview his mother Katherine for the book. It's one of the most fascinating chapters in the book. In that chapter, Katherine Jackson deeply laments that Michael disfellowshiped himself from the Jehovah's Witnesses church, because the church emphasized humility to Michael. And we all need to know, even great celebrities -- we need to know our limitations.

KING: Well said. The book is "The Michael Jackson Tapes." Our guest is Rabbi Shmuley Boteach. The subtitle "A Tragic Icon Reveals His Soul in Intimate Conversation."

Michael's special friendship with children. Why was he drawn to AIDS patient Ryan White? You'll find out in 60 seconds.


KING: Michael Jackson was one of many celebrities who befriended Ryan White, the American teenager who became the face of AIDS in the mid-1980s. And here's what Michael had to say about him, and what he got from the experience of reaching out to children who are sick or in trouble.


JACKSON: I listened to Ryan White, 12 years old, at my table at Neverland, the dining room table, telling his mother how to bury him. And he said -- I heard it all sitting there. He said, mom, when I die, doesn't put me in a suit and tie. I don't want to be in a suite and tie, mom. Put me in Oshkosh jeans and t-shirt. Please don't put me in a suit and tie.

And I said, I have to use the bathroom. I ran to the bathroom and cried my eyes out. Hearing this little boy tell his mother how to bury him, that hurt me. It rubbed me in a strange way.

It was as if he was prepared for it. When he died, he was in Oshkosh jeans a t-shirt and a watch that I gave him. I'm sitting alone in this room with him, and he's lying there. And I felt --

BOTEACH: You were there when he died?

JACKSON: Yes. I felt so bad. I just wanted to hold him and kiss him and say, I love you, which I did those things when he was alive. I took care of him. He stayed at my house. But to see him just lying there lifeless -- and I spoke to him. I said, Ryan, I promise to you I would do something in your honor on my next album. I will create a song for you. I will sing it. I want the world to know who you are. I did "Gone Too Soon." That was for him.



KING: The sex allegations against Michael; did he ever get over the charges and the resulting trial? That's next.



KING: In August of 2000, you and your family stayed over at Neverland. Also visiting was a 13-year-old cancer patient. Here's some of what Michael said about his relationship with that boy.


JACKSON: He said to me last night -- he said, I need you. He said, when are you coming home? I said, I don't know. He said, I need you, Michael. Just like that, he said, I need you Michael.

Then he calls me Dad. I go, you better ask your dad if it's OK for you to call me that. He says, dad, is it OK if I call Michael Dad. He says yes. No problem. Whatever you want.


KING: Three years later, that same boy accused Michael of sexual molestation. He was tried and acquitted. Did you see anything suspicious that weekend, rabbi?

BOTEACH: Nothing whatsoever. I never believed the 2003 allegations, not for a moment. But Michael did confess on international television, Larry, to sharing a bed with this child. And not only is that deeply immoral, even if nothing happened -- and I'm convinced nothing happened. Even if a married man were to share a bed with another woman platonically, we would call it immoral. But more importantly, it opened Michael up to suspicion and the possibility of these allegations.

And one of the tragic aftermaths of Michael's life is this inability to set boundaries, this inability to understand there is a right and a wrong.

I used to hold Michael by his shoulders and I would say to him, promise me that you will never be alone with a child. He understood that he shouldn't have been. He couldn't have been. And it's so tragic that this happened.

KING: What ended your relationship with him?

BOTEACH: I no longer felt that I could positively influence him. And you only had two choices in Michael's life. You were either going to be a friend who helped him gain control of a disorderly existence, or a hanger-on, a sycophant. And I said to him, once I really felt that my influence had been neutralized, once so many of the managers had said to him, Shmuley is trying to get you to do lectures about family and to involve yourself in healing the American family; you need to get back to your concerts. You need to get back to making your albums. That's what you do. Why are you doing these free lectures, when you could be making a lot of money?

When I understood that I was neutralized, I said to Michael, I'm not going to stay here and clap while you drive your life off a cliff. If you love someone, you have a responsibility to help them. But if they will not allow you to -- and I tried everything to -- you certainly cannot wait around and watch them self-immolate.

KING: Do you think, honestly, rabbi, that if Michael were alive, he would regard this book as some sort of betrayal?

BOTEACH: Are you kidding, Larry? I think that this is the --

KING: Well, no, I mean, you broke off his relationship. Go ahead.

BOTEACH: I felt the need to terminate our relationship because I could not influence his life positively, and I was not a fan. I was his friend. This book is the most redemptive thing to happen to Michael in years, and certainly since he has death. Michael in his own words is eloquent. Michael is profound. Michael invites the public into the brokenness of his childhood.

He yearns for parents to take his example seriously, to prioritize their kids, to read them bedtime stories, to sit and have family dinners with them. As I said, I hope the families will sign up at, to give their families just one family dinner a week.

This is Michael in the way he always wanted to be known. He wanted people to understand, I'm not just a star, I'm a person. Don't judge me so harshly. I know that I'm not perfect. But you dismiss me as some sort of strange monster.

He used to always say and he says in the book, Larry -- he says, so many other stars, they don't try to do as much philanthropy, as much good as I. And yet, the press treats them more kindly. Why is that? I always say to him, Michael, you need to say that finally and have people hear you. People should let Michael speak.

KING: Michael Jackson as a father. What kind of dad was he and why did he let his children hear these tapes as they were recorded? That's next.


KING: As we've heard, children figured prominently in Michael's conversation with Rabbi Boteach. Here's another clip.


BOTEACH: Do you feel like a universal father to children, that you have this ability to love them and appreciate them?


BOTEACH: In a way that others don't?

JACKSON: Yes. And I always feel that I don't want the parents to get jealous. It happens sometimes. And it rubs fathers in a strange way, not as much as the mothers.

I always say to the dads, I'm not trying to take your place. I'm just trying to help. I want to be a friend.

And the kids end up just falling in love with my personality. Sometimes it gets me into trouble. I'm just there to help.


KING: Why did he want -- why did he let the kids hear these tapes?

BOTEACH: Well, Prince and Paris were always around Michael. Michael was an exemplary father. I'm well aware of the fact that he dangled a baby from a balcony. But that was so out of character, which is why I think it made so much news.

If anything, he was an over-protective father. So Prince and Paris were always around. And since so many of these conversations took place in Neverland and in Michael's hotel suite, they just happened to be just there. There was nothing there so jarring that they couldn't participate in it. And often, you could hear on the tapes Prince and Paris making noise; Michael says, shh, I want to make sure I'm heard on the tapes.

But he loved those children, and he didn't go anywhere without them.

KING: And one other clip, children were on Michael's mind even when contemplating his own death. Listen.


JACKSON: I always said, if I have to die, I want to be buried right where there's children. Wherever there's children, I want them next to me. I would feel safer that way. I want them next to me. I need the spirit protecting me.

I always see that in my mind. I see myself. I hate to see it like that. I see myself lying there with children next to me to protect me.

BOTEACH: Why are they protecting you? What are they protecting you from?

JACKSON: I see them as protection. I see them as, like I told you, like angels.


king: Well, the site of his burial, I guess, will prohibit that, rabbi.

BOTEACH: Well, Larry, Michael yearned for innocence. He was robbed of a childhood. We in America treat childhood as a right of passage. It's something you go through in order to be an adult. And all our kids want to grow up so quickly today. Little girls want to put on makeup and kids are having sex at 15 or 16.

Michael believed that childhood was something that was supposed to stay with you. You were supposed to internalize it, and that the perfect adult was -- had childhood wonder on the inside and adult responsibility on the outside.

But he became deeply suspicious of the adult world. He felt the adult world was exploitative. So for him children meant he could be around people who treated him as someone ordinary. It's amazing that we who are watching this program maybe all yearn to be famous. America has become the culture of instant celebrity and of reality TV. But Michael yearned for the opposite. He wanted ordinariness.

So I think that being around kids meant he could be innocent.

I have to tell you one little story. I remember a family called me and said that they had a 35-year-old son who had Down Syndrome and he was like an eight-year-old. And they asked if he could Moon Walk in front of Michael. And Michael said he was doing his album and didn't really have time, could make 15 minutes. Michael gave this guy an hour and a half. We have a picture of him resting his head on Michael's chest. And Michael was stroking his hair.

And then he left, and Michael turned to me and said, Shmuley, I'm so jealous of him, because he will forever remain a child. So when you see a superstar who could find beauty in someone that we pity, that's why he made such a deep and lasting impact on my life.

And he wasn't perfect. And I'm not here to whitewash any of the things of which Michael was accused. All I'm saying is, it is time we delve more deeply into the pain that he harbored, and judged him more charitably.

KING: We have less than a minute. Did you ever want to convert him to Judaism?

BOTEACH: Absolutely not. As you know, Larry, yesterday was Yom Kippur, the holiest of all Jewish days on the calendar. I know that you don't even broadcast on Yom Kippur. We are not a proselytizing faith. We believe that people should honor their incarnation. They're perfect the way they are made. We honor the Christian faith, the Islamic faith. I wanted him to return to the Jehovah's Witnesses faith. I thought it grounded Michael. I think as long as Michael remained within the church, a lot of bizarre things that undermined his reputation were not in evidence. I think that the church really kept him humble. And I think that he should have never disfellowshiped himself. And I want to wish my wife a happy birthday today.

KING: Thank you, rabbi. Thank you. Happy birthday as well. Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, "The Michael Jackson Tapes; A Tragic Icon Reveals His Soul in Intimate Conversation."

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who's been a guest on this program, has a new book out. It's terrific. It's titled "Read My Pins: Stories From a Diplomat's Jewel Box." It's a gem, page by page. Remarkable insights into a trail-blazing woman, who's been known to wear her heart on her sleeve and send signals to world leaders with the broaches she pins to her clothes. It's a great read and beautiful photos.

Want to watch LARRY KING LIVE or CNN anytime, anywhere? You can. The new CNN i-Phone app. Download it on iTunes for a 1.99. This is even cheaper. Don't cost anything. Anderson Cooper and "AC 360." Anderson?