New book offers glimpse of Jackson's personal life
NEW YORK (AP) — A personal assistant-turned-personal manager to Michael Jackson said the King of Pop had been taking propofol as early as 1999, and that the singer was drugged up ahead of his 2001 30th anniversary concerts.
Frank Cascio, who became a family friend to Jackson at age 5 and eventually one of the singer's closest friends and employees, writes in a new book that he first noticed Jackson taking the drug Demerol while accompanying the singer on his "Dangerous" tour in 1993.
He writes in his new book, "My Friend Michael: An Ordinary Friendship with an Extraordinary Man," that Jackson started the first of two anniversary shows in 2001 an hour late as a result of being drugged up in his dressing room.
"My naive belief that Michael wouldn't let his medicine interfere with the show blew up in my face," Cascio writes. "I can't begin to describe my disappointment and panic at this moment."
The Associated Press bought an advance copy of the book, which is set for release Nov. 15 by William Morrow, an imprint of News Corp.'s HarperCollins.
Cascio became a friend of Jackson's after his father introduced him to the singer; Cascio's father worked at the Hemsley Palace in Manhattan, managing the hotel's towers and suites, where Jackson stayed. Following that, a 5-year-old Cascio and his younger brother Eddie, spent time with Jackson at his Neverland Ranch.
He says Jackson was first introduced to Demerol in 1984 when he burned his head during a Pepsi commercial shoot, and Cascio writes that he first noticed Jackson using the medicine on his "Dangerous" tour.
"Now, on tour, and again in deep physical pain, Michael turned back to those drugs," he wrote.
Cascio says Jackson also took propofol in 1999 in Munich when the singer was 50 feet in the air and instead of coming down slowly, the platform Jackson was on fell down. Cascio also writes that Jackson had taken Demerol to treat the skin disease vitiligo, and grew worried about his drug use.
"It had become clear to me that Michael's drug use was escalating," he wrote. Cascio said sometimes he paid doctors in cash "because all of Michael's medical issues had to be kept from the public and their cost off the books." He also said he had some of the prescriptions written out in his name.
"Over the years, I had grown accustomed to seeing doctors coming and going, particularly in late tours, when Michael was under great stress and needed help falling asleep."
Cascio said he wanted to seek out help, but didn't know who to turn to. Ahead of Jackson's 2001 anniversary shows, he said he spoke to Janet, Randy and Tito about their brother's drug use. He writes that Jackson's siblings approached him, but the singer "simply pushed them away."
The pop star's doctor, Conrad Murray, was convicted Monday of involuntary manslaughter for supplying the insomnia-plagued Jackson with the powerful operating-room anesthetic propofol to help him sleep as he rehearsed for his big comeback.
"But in the end, physical and mental anguish prevailed, and Michael died in his endless quest to attain some inner peace," Cascio writes.
"My Friend Michael" also takes a look at some of Jackson's personal and professional moments, providing a somewhat behind-the-scenes look at the King of Pop's life.
Cascio writes that he and Jackson "had gotten stoned on a few occasions up in the mountains," and that Jackson would drink wine out of juice bottles and soda cans.
Cascio and the singer grew close, and in 1993 when Jackson had been accused of child molestation charges, he asked the Cascio family to visit him in Israel while he was on tour. He later asked if the young boys could stay on tour with him.
"He went to my father and broke down crying," Cascio writes. "People might question my parents' judgment in sending two young boys off to spend time alone with a man who had been accused of molesting another boy. But to us, the suggestion that we were in any danger was completely absurd."
Jackson invited Cascio to work as his personal assistant a year after he graduated high school. He later became his personal manager.
Throughout the book, Cascio writes that Jackson never had sex with children, but had a love for them and wanted to father 10 kids in total.
Cascio says Princess Diana was at the top of Jackson's list of women he wanted to date, and that Jackson made out with one of his fan club members.
"He tended to like tall, slender women whom I'd describe as nerdy in a sexy way," he writes.
Cascio also said that Jackson used to claim that dancer and rapper Omer Bhatti, long rumored to be his love child by a Norwegian woman, was his son, though Cascio did not believe him. Jackson later admitted that it wasn't true.
"By way of an explanation, Michael gave me the same reason he'd given for his marriages to Lisa Marie and Debbie Rowe. He needed to show the Saudi prince and the rest of the Arab business world that he had a family," Cascio writes.
When he worked as his personal manager, Cascio said he had to interfere when John McClain, now the co-executor of Jackson's estate, and the director of Jackson's "You Rock My World" music video, wanted the singer "to use makeup to darken Michael's skin for the video" and "to fill in his nose with putty." Cascio said Jackson locked himself in a bathroom and cried.
"They think I'm ugly?" Jackson asked. "They think I'm a freak, they think I'm a freak, they think I'm a freak."
Mesfin Fekadu covers entertainment for The Associated Press. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/musicmesfin