L.A. Reid says Michael Jackson loved watching videos of Prince screwing up
According to legendary record producer L.A. Reid’s new memoir “Sing to Me,” Michael Jackson had a bit of a mean streak when it came to Prince and to Jermaine Jackson.
Reid told the story of how, in the 90s, when he and Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds were co-producing an album for Jermaine, he received a call from Jackson asking if he and Edmonds would like to stop by and discuss working with him.
Reid and Edmonds flew out to the Neverland Ranch, where they discussed music with Jackson for a while. But while they were there, Reid recalled, they got to see firsthand the vindictive side of Jackson, who gleefully showed them footage from a James Brown concert in which both Jackson and his rival, Prince, were called up to the stage as guests. Jackson nailed his appearance, but for Prince, things didn’t go quite as well.
“Prince [couldn’t] make his guitar work, frantically stripping off his shirt and trying tricks with the microphone stand and making all these poses. After Michael’s dazzling star turn, Prince fell as flat as he could, and Michael enjoyed laughing at the video,” Reid recalled.
“After that, he put on a scene from Prince’s movie ‘Under The Cherry Moon,’ the artsy black-and-white bomb he made after ‘Purple Rain,’ and he laughed some more at Prince.”
The three then ate lunch together and determined that they would work together for three weeks on music. However, when Jermaine found out, he was livid and wanted out of the record label. When Jackson heard about this, he asked, “Did he sign a contract?” When Reid replied that he had, Jackson said, “Then he’ll have to live with it because those are the rules.”
“That Michael Jackson was one shrewd man,” Reid writes. “He was not wrong, but you didn’t expect that from Peter Pan. You expect a little compassion or something. No. Cold as ice.”
Reid then recalled that Jermaine approached him one day and said, “I want to make a song about my brother. I want to talk about how he’s treated me through the years, like how every time I find producers like you guys, he takes my producers. He doesn’t care about his family or anybody but himself.”
But when “Word to the Badd!” hit the national radios, Jackson called them, upset that the song was on the air, and told them to kill it. The two brothers met at their mother’s house to discuss the issue, but Jermaine insisted that the song would remain on the air while Jackson again called Reid to insist that it be taken off.
Then, two days later, Reid recalled, “The record disappeared off the air, as if it had never been there in the first place. I don’t know what Michael did. I don’t know if Michael did anything, but it went away in a flash.”