Downbeat mood marks Jackson birthday bash
25 July 2005, BERLIN - Even by the high standards of a party town like Berlin it was supposed to be a great event.
25 July 2005
BERLIN - Even by the high standards of a party town like Berlin it was supposed to be a great event.
But the 76th birthday party on Friday night in the German capital for Joseph (Joe) Jackson, father of the self-styled king of pop, Michael Jackson, seems to have fallen short of expectations.
Not even video clips of Michael Jackson flickering across screens or the ecstatic performance of a Michael-double did much to lift the mood at the event which was held in a rather nondescript conference hotel on Berlin's outer rim.
Nobody ventured onto the dance floor, the fan area seemed unusually quiet and the room where the festivities were taking place was half empty.
But then, it was probably a bad omen for what was also billed as a thank-you party for Michael Jackson's fans who had stuck by him during his four-month child-abuse case, that the king of pop cancelled his appearance at his dad's birthday bash just 48 hours before.
One of the German fans invited to the party, Bianca Schmidt, held up a banner for eight days outside the court in Santa Maria that read: "Germany fights with you. Keep the faith."
Michael himself is reported to be recovering from the trial at a resort in Dubai.
"Berlin is a little like L.A.", declared Joe at one point during Friday's festivities.
However, you do have to wonder how a 76-year-old man feels when a double of his son calls "Happy Birthday, Dad" from the stage in a strange city.
To make matters worse, just as Michael's fans were preparing for the party, Joe Jackson knocked on the head German newspaper reports that his son was considering abandoning California's year-round sunshine for the often grey cold winters of Berlin or neighbouring Potsdam.
Speaking after meeting with Berlin's mayor, Klaus Wowereit, Joe said that he did not know of any serious plans by Michael to move to Germany.
This did not seem like a party for the cool crowd, with some of the guests looking a little like they were going to their grandfather's party rather than that of the patriarch of one of pop music's legendary families.
It was only after midnight that the festivities seemed to turn a tad raunchy when the pinstripe-suited birthday boy signed his autograph on the naked breast of one of the party revellers.
Through the dramas of recent years, the Jackson fans in Germany appear to have been some of the most faithful around the world.
"The Germans were always nice to us", said Joe.
Indeed, as a sign of the Jackson clan patriarch's soft spot for Germany, his memoirs were released there prior to publication elsewhere last year.
At a news conference this week, he also mentioned vague plans for a high-profile dance club in Berlin along the lines of New York's 1970s Studio 54.
Perhaps Joe had also hoped that Michael might chose his birthday party to make his first public appearance after the gruelling child-abuse trial, maybe helping to give a nudge to the PR campaign for the new CD, which is expected to emerge soon.
But while the legions of German fans might help the Jackson clan to hang on sentimentally to Michael's past musical glories, the pop world has changed.
Some in the media have even dubbed him the deposed 'king of pop'.
For many, the 46-year-old singer is a broken man, somewhat disfigured by surgery and living in a child's playground world.
This all wasn't helped when he hung his small son from a fourth-floor Berlin hotel balcony during a visit to the German capital three years ago.
Only Joe's son Jermaine and a grandchild were on hand to personally congratulate him on his 76th birthday. Jermaine's wife and other children preferred to ring in by telephone.
As the evening dragged on, nothing it seemed could help inject a sense of lightheartedness into the mood of the fans. When a girl emerged from an enormous birthday cake on the stage, one fan growled: "I do not want a cake, I want Michael".
But it was the Jackson family patriarch's party and it was up to him to have the last say. Staring down at the empty table for honoured guests he declared: "The show must go on".
Subject: German news