My Mentor by Wade Robson
I used to talk to Michael for three hours a day. I never really worked out how he came to find so much time because he seemed so busy, but he would ring me and we would talk and talk and talk. When he got a cell phone he would call and text all the time. It was part of an amazing friendship that lasted for 20 years.
I had first met Michael when he was kicking off his bad tour in 1987. I was five, but Michael’s company were holding a dance competition in every country and I entered the one in Brisbane. I remember being a kid and dancing to his video- the first ever I saw was “Thriller” when I was two. It was my mum’s tape and I just went nuts over it. I used to run into the kitchen scared every time the werewolf came on. By the time I was three I had pretty much learned its entire choreography.
I ended up winning the dance competition. We went to see Michael in Brisbane and at a meet and greet I was introduced to him. I remember wearing a custom made outfit from “Bad”- my mum’s belt was wrapped around me, like five times. Michael was impressed and asked me if I had danced. I told him that I did and he said “Do you want to perform with me in the show tomorrow night?”
I couldn’t believe it. He was due to play Brisbane the next night. His idea was for me to come out for the last song of the show which was “Bad”. He was bringing on some orphaned children so he figured it would be cool to bring me out in the full “Bad” outfit. At the end of the song we were all onstage- Stevie Wonder was there too and Michael came on and said “Come on”. I took it as him meaning “Get into it!”. I moved downstage and threw my hat into the crowd and started going crazy. When I turned around Michael was saying goodbye to the crowd, the other kids were gone and Stevie Wonder was being escorted off. What he meant was “Come on lets go, It’s over”.
When I realized, I ran off. After my mum and I spent two hours with Michael into his hotel and we became friends. He showed us clips from the new Moonwalker he was working on and we talked and talked. We didn’t really stay in contact but I joined a dance company- literally the next day and two years later I was in America to play at Disneyland. I got in touch with Michael through his people, he remembered me. Me and my family went to Record One Studio where he was mixing the Dangerous Album. I showed him some of my dance videos and he said to me. “Do you and your family want to come to Neverland tonight”? We all agreed and ended up staying for two weeks.
Our friendship blossomed. For two weeks he’d take me into his dance studio, put some music on and we’d dance and jam for hours. We’d sit there and watch films like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Other time we’d just leave Neverland and drive out in a car, blasting music really loud.
He even taught me how to do the moonwalk. We were in his dance studio. He taught me foot by foot. I couldn’t sleep that whole night. The thrill of pushing off the bar and sliding backwards in a moonwalk with the guy that made it famous was so exciting.
Later, me and my mum wanted to move to America to pursue my dreams of becoming a dancer and he helped us out. He gave me a big start by putting me in some of his videos like “Black or White”. The role he took on was one of a mentor.
He told me when I was seven that I’d be a film director and that’s what I became, he created a thirst for knowledge in me. Once, a mini recording studio turned up on my doorstep, but what was cool was that he stopped me from becoming a spoiled brat. He would say “This is for you, but I want to see you do something with it. Don’t take it for granted or I”ll take it back”.
The last time I saw him was in July 2008. I was in Vegas working on a show and he was living there. Me, my wife and him and his three kids had a barbecue. It was the most normal thing in the world. Me and my wife had been to Whole foods and bought stuff to cook. But when we got there he’d provided loads of catering. I said, “Dude, Why did you bring loads of catering? We’ve got regular food here”. I remember cooking outside while Michael sat there under an umbrella.
We had great times because he was such a caring person. Most of all I’ll miss those phone conversations. I still have my mobile phone with his number on it. I just can’t bear the thoughts of deleting his messages.
Michael Jackson changed the world and, more personally, my life forever. He is the reason I dance, the reason I make music, and one of the main reasons I believe in the pure goodness of human kind. He was a close friend of mine for 20 years. His music, his movement, his personal words of inspiration and encouragement and his unconditional love will live inside of me forever. I will miss him immeasurably, but I know that he is now at peace and enchanting the heavens with a melody and a moonwalk.
I love you Michael.
– Wade Robson