In the days just before his death, Michael Jackson was working harder than he ever had in hopes of staging "the greatest show on Earth" according to our latest cover story.
Claire Hoffman retraced the pop icon's final moments for "The Last Days of Michael Jackson" in the latest issue of Rolling Stone, and found that Jackson was well aware of how the public came to perceive him in recent years and that he had fully dedicated himself to a comeback tour that he hoped would erase that perception.
"He wanted people to see his work and not just talk about his lifestyle," AEG CEO Randy Phillips tells Hoffman in her cover story.
He was also eager to finally clean up his finances and settle down in Las Vegas. "He was ready to stop living like a vagabond and settle down and earn money again," Phillips tells Rolling Stone.
And those who were inside his final rehearsals say that the show he was prepared to mount may have actually succeeded on all fronts.
"He was so brilliant on stage," tour director Kenny Ortega tells Hoffman. "I had goose bumps."
"I turned to somebody and said, 'This is amazing,'" adds Ken Ehrlich, the longtime Grammy Awards producer who sat in on rehearsals. "For so many years I have watched Chris Brown and Justin Timberlake and Usher and the Backstreet Boys and En Vogue all imitate Michael Jackson — and now here we were this many years later, and he was going to do it again. I got chills, literally. The hairs on the back of my neck were raised. Those are the moments you hope for."
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