My instant reaction to the announcement of Michael’s appearance at the O2 was to leap on the first available train down from the Lake District to London. I bought an umbrella to present to him and decorated it with gold ‘MJ’ lettering, a drawing of a butterfly and the words ‘Welcome Back.’

I was drunk on excitement. I was going to see Michael again!

Michael’s words were meant to ignite a year of intermittent encounters with him. Yet there was a tangible uneasiness amongst fans. Something seemed terribly amiss.

Michael was killed mere weeks later.

The subsequent inquest into how this happened revealed that behind the scenes of the O2 press conference, Michael had been being bullied. That Randy Phillips had hit Michael and screamed at him “so hard the walls were shaking”, complaining the reason why a terrified Michael was taking so long to take to the O2 stage was because “we still have to get his nose on properly.” Referring to Michael as “the freak.”

Of course, us fans knew none of this. And in spite of our reservations, we chose hope and the seductive thrill of anticipation.

After all, Michael was back.

The consequent ‘This Is It’ project was an empty hearse. A soulless vehicle. It was a snuff movie that took advantage of the world’s grief at Michael’s death, in order to feed the greed of those that coerced Michael into cooperating with the project by using his vulnerabilities and insecurities against him.

In the opening of the ensuing AEG case, the defence threatened “to expose the ugly of your family and your son.” Katherine’s lawyer, Brian Panish asked her, “And how does it make you feel to hear that they’re going to tell everyone that your son is a bad person?” To which she replied, “Makes me feel real bad, because I know my son was a very good person. He loved everybody. He gave to charity. He’s in the Guinness Book of Records for giving the most to charity of all the pop stars. I’m so nervous. I’m sorry.” Panish also asked, “And why is it that you’re here to testify today?” Katherine replied, “Because I want to know what really happened to my son, and that’s why I’m here.”

The distressing details Katherine Jackson had to endure as the court described her son’s physical and mental demise towards death evoked tears, both for justice and remorse. Her recounting the moment she learned Michael had died was nothing short of harrowing,

“Everything went dark, and I just heard screaming.”

A majority of the jury agreed that AEG Live escaped prosecution on a mere technicality.

The Estate refused to support Michael’s mother and children in the lawsuit against AEG.

‘This Is It’ tickets sold out in record time. Hundreds of thousands of people continued to queue and crash websites even after a million had already been sold. A dearth of confidence after the media’s attempted assassination of Michael after the 2005 trial had crippled Michael.

This record-breaking reaction that demonstrated how much he remained loved by the public must have provided Michael with some solace and happiness in his final days.

I hold onto this.



The First Book of Michael by Syl Mortilla is available in paperback and on Kindle at and for all other eBook devices at

Italian translation available here: