When Adrian Grant, 40, launched a Michael Jackson fanzine, little did he know he would go on to befriend his hero. A producer of Thriller Live, he is also the author of Michael Jackson – A Visual Documentary, Tribute Edition (Omnibus, £19.95), out now
Was the coverage around Michael’s death over the top?
At the weekend they ran pictures of the bed where he apparently passed away. The intrusion into his life after death is as great as it was when he was alive. He was always concerned about his privacy and media intrusion and he despised the tabloids for it. Obviously, they are doing that even more so now and I can only hope his children are shielded from it.
Where were you when you found out about his death and what was your reaction?
I was at home and could not believe it. I knew he had been taken to hospital but I thought it was just exhaustion and not as serious as it turned out. It took a while to sink in; even when it was announced he had died, I still didn’t believe it. Being surrounded by his music constantly, it still feels like he is with us in spirit and I think he is a bigger star now in passing than he was before.
You went to the US for the tribute. Your thoughts?
It was good to be there. It was very emotional. I’m glad I went, I got to meet the family and have some time with Paris, who gave a very moving speech. It reminded people Michael was first and foremost a father figure. She is adorable, I gave her a copy of my book and she was very grateful. They have been brought up very well.
Are the children biologically Michael’s?
All I know is that Michael raised them 24/7, he was very much their father and the children adore him. They miss him very much obviously. The public and media perception of Michael is very different to the real person, who I spent a lot of time with. The person I met was caring and always liked to laugh. He was a genius in the studio and I don’t think he got enough credit for that when he was alive. People focused mainly on the headlines.
Lisa Marie has said he was much different in real life; that his voice was deeper and he was more regular. Was that true?
He was very aware of his image in public. I met him when he was with Lisa Marie and, again, the perception was that it was a fake relationship but it wasn’t. On the occasions I met them, they were very protective of each other. She asked Michael who I was and why I was there and he comforted her that I was a trusted person and then she opened up. They were like a normal couple. He would ask her opinion of his songs and play with her children. The Michael I knew was regular person away from the cameras but very shy.
What was it like the first time you met him?
I didn’t know what to expect. You have a press perception of what Michael is like and he is a massive superstar. The first time I met him, he came into a recording studio, he had no make-up on and he invited me to Neverland for the weekend.
How old were you?
I started the Off The Wall fanzine when I was 19 and he invited me over when I was 21. I have a lot to thank him for, I did not think I would start a fanzine and go on to produce a West End show. He was the inspiration and I took perfectionism from his lead. He told me to always do the best I could. He could be a tough person when he needed to be. He took a lot of knocks but always got back up again.
What are your thoughts on the paedophilia allegations?
The Michael Jackson I spent time with was an innocent man.
Would you have been comfortable to leave your children with him for the night?
I have a daughter and I have been to Neverland many times. My daughter has sleepovers and Michael was a great father. If you know someone and trust them and feel comfortable then I do not see anything wrong with it.