Best of the Memorial Service
The moonwalk, a Maya Angelou poem, and memories of softball games and KFC: The Daily Beast presents the most unforgettable moments from Michael Jackson’s memorial.
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The Most Touching Memories Shared at the Service
Paris Michael Jackson, his 11-year-old daughter Every since I was born, Daddy has been the best father you could ever imagine. I was just wanted to say I love him so much.
Smokey Robinson [I remember] the five young guys who sang and danced up a storm. A couple weeks later, they recorded my song. When I heard it, I thought to myself, ‘now they have pulled a fast one on us, because this boy cannot possibly be 10 years old.’ This is a song about somebody who had loved somebody but they treated him bad. How can he possibly know these things? I did not believe that someone that young could have that much feeling and soul. You had to know to sing something like that. This is my little brother over there. You just don’t think that you’re going to live to see him gone. But he’ll never really be gone. He is going to live forever and ever and ever and ever. He has made an enormous impact all over the world. When I do concerts, I sing “Who’s Loving You,” and young kids come up to me and sing, “Hey, you’re singing Michael Jackson’s song.”
Marlon Jackson, brother of Michael I remember a time when I went into a record store, and there was this man purchasing a lot of CDs—he was an older gentleman, he had a short Afro and crooked teeth, but his clothes were rumpled. I said, “Michael what are you doing in this store?” He said “Marlon, how did you know it was me?” “I know your walk, I know your body language, and those shoes did not help.” Michael wore the same shoes everywhere. We would never understand what he endured. Not being able to walk across the street without a crowd gathering around him. Maybe now, Michael, they will leave you alone. Michael, I love you, I will miss when we said our goodbyes. I hugged you and I said "I love you," and your response was, "I love you more."
Kenny Ortega, creator of High School Musical and director of many of Jackson’s tours, including “This is It” We were right here a little less than a week ago, and Michael was with us. We were all here. We were family, and this was our house, so when the Jackson family and Randy Phillips asked us to put together this funeral, we knew we had to do it here, we had to ask the world to join us in Michael’s house. Michael Jackson will live in our hearts for always, heal the world, make this a better place for our children, our children’s children.
Katherine Jackson, Michael’s mother Michael’s life and work was inspired by the love of God. Few are chosen from amongst us to use their words to demonstrate God’s love to bring the world together in true brotherhood. Michael was always concerned with others, and I want the world to know that despite persecutions, he was a great humanitarian.
Queen Latifah Latifah read a poem by Maya Angelou about Jackson, “We Had Him.” Beloveds, now we know that we know nothing, now that our bright and shining star can slip away from our fingertips like a puff of summer wind. Without notice, our dear love can escape our doting embrace. Sing our songs among the stars and walk our dances across the face of the moon. In the instant that Michael is gone, we know nothing. No clocks can tell time. No oceans can rush our tides with the abrupt absence of our treasure. Though we are many, each of us is achingly alone, piercingly alone. Only when we confess our confusion can we remember that he was a gift to us and we did have him. He came to us from the creator, trailing creativity in abundance. Despite the anguish, his life was sheathed in mother love, family love, and survived and did more than that. He thrived with passion and compassion, humor and style. We had him whether we know who he was or did not know, he was ours and we were his. We had him, beautiful, delighting our eyes. His hat, aslant over his brow, and took a pose on his toes for all of us. And we laughed and stomped our feet for him. We were enchanted with his passion because he held nothing. He gave us all he had been given. Today in Tokyo, beneath the Eiffel Tower, in Ghana's Black Star Square. In Johannesburg and Pittsburgh, in Birmingham, Alabama, and Birmingham, England We are missing Michael. But we do know we had him, and we are the world.
Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee Presented a resolution declaring Jackson a legend. I can tell you as a member of the United States Congress, we understand the Constitution, we understand the law, and we know that people are innocent until proven otherwise. That is what the Constitution stands for. So I mourn today, I come to thank you, for many people don’t understand the hearts of entertainers, they don’t know how big their hearts are. Michael called us into public service—it didn’t matter if we were black or white. If you were going to make a difference—look at the man or woman in the mirror.
Berry Gordy, Motown Records founder Michael Jackson was 10 years old when he and his brothers auditioned to be in Motown in Detroit that July day in 1968 and blew us all away. The Jackson 5 were amazing and little Michael’s performance was way beyond his years. This little kid had an incredible knowingness about him. He sang with such feeling. Michael had a quality that I couldn’t understand—he was special. He sung a Smokey Robinson song called “Who’s Loving You.” He sang it with the passion of a man who had been living the blues and heartbreak his whole life. As great as Smokey sings it I thought, Michael was better. I went to Smokey and I said, “Hey man I think he got you on that one.” Smokey said, “me too.”
From the first beats of Billie Jean and the toss of that hat I was mesmerized. And when he did his first moonwalk I was shocked. It was magic. Michael Jackson went into orbit and never came down. Though it ended way too soon, Michael’s life was beautiful.
Stevie Wonder This is a moment I wish I didn’t live to see coming. But as much as I can say that and mean it, I do know that God is good. And I do know that as much as we felt we needed Michael here with us, and we do, God must have needed him far more. Michael I love you and I’ve told you that many times so I’m at peace, I’m at peace with that.
Performs “Never Dreamed You’d Leave in Summer.”
Magic Johnson Michael called me one day and said, “I want to talk to you about being in a video, Remember the Time.” But I had to double-check with Jackie to make sure it was really Michael because I was scared to death to go to his house because this was my idol…[At his house] the chef came out and said ‘What would you like?” And I said grilled chicken and as we talked about the video the chef brought me out some grilled chicken but he brought Michael Jackson out a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken. That made my day that was the greatest moment of my life…We had such a good time sitting on the floor eating that bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken.
Al Sharpton Because Michael Jackson kept going he created a comfort level where people that felt they were separate became interconnected with his music.
And it was that comfort level that kids and Japan and Ghana and France got comfortable enough with each other that later it wasn’t strange to watch Oprah on television—it wasn’t strange to watch Tiger Woods golf.
Michael made us love each other. Michael taught us to stand each other. We want to uphold his message. I hope the love people show will make you know he didn’t live in vain. To the children: There was nothing strange about your daddy. It was strange what your daddy had to deal with. He dealt with it anyway, he dealt with it for us. I came to say thank you. Thank you because you never stopped, thank you because you never gave up, thank you because you eradicated barriers, thank you because you gave us hope. Thank you Michael, thank you Michael, thank you Michael!
Brooke Shields Michael was one of a kind. I keep thinking back to when we met and the many times that we spent together. Whenever we were out together, there would be a picture taken, and there would be a caption of some kind which usually said “an odd couple, an unlikely pair.” To us, it was the most natural and easiest of friendships.
I was 13 when we met, and from that day on, our friendship grew. Michael always knew that he could count on me to support him and be his date. We had a bond. And maybe it was because we both understand to be in the spotlight from a very, very young age. I used to tease him, and I’d say, “You know I started when I was 11 months old, you’re a slacker. You were what, 5?”
Both of us needed to be adults very early. But when we were together, we were two little kids having fun. We never collaborated together, we never performed together, or danced on the same stage, although he did try in vain, one night, to unsuccessfully teach me the moonwalk. He basically just shook his head at my attempt.
Michael’s favorite song was not one of his countless masterpieces that he gave us, but it was a song that Charlie Chaplin wrote for the movie “Modern Times.” It’s called Smile. “Smile though your heart is aching.” Today, though our hearts are aching, we need to look up, where he is undoubtedly perched in a crescent moon, and we need to smile.