REVIEW: Michael Jackson’s bodyguards remember the time they protected the King of Pop in revealing new book

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Bill Whitfield and Javon Beard are two men who were entrusted with duty of protecting the privacy and wellbeing of a single father and his three children. That single father just so happened to be the most famous human being on planet Earth and the greatest entertainer to ever live – none other than the King of Pop, Michael Jackson.

Now, five years after Jackson’s passing Whitfield and Beard, in conjunction with author Tanner Colby, have released a book – Remember the Time – Protecting Michael Jackson in his final days – that delivers a previously-untold behind-the-scenes blow-by-blow of what the final years of Jackson’s life were really like.

Firstly, let me start off by stating the obvious; Michael Jackson would probably have never wanted this book written and released. That fact is acknowledged straight off the bat by Whitfield and Beard themselves in the very first sentence of the Introduction chapter on page one. And while Michael Jackson may not have wanted this book to be written, he would also not have wanted the plethora of malicious lies, sensationalism and propaganda the tabloid media publish about him to be written. But it is written. And it will continue to be written for all of eternity. So this book, which sheds light on the truth behind the puzzle that was the King of Pop’s life, comes as a rare breath of fresh air in the world of unauthorized Jackson literature.

As a fan, the first things I look for when reading about Michael Jackson are fascinating insights and new information. On most occasions I end up feeling like my time has been wasted. Tell me something I didn’t already know! is a comment I commonly utter to myself after reading something Jackson-related. This book, however, delivers incredible insights and new information in abundance from beginning to end.

Remember the Time – Protecting Michael Jackson in his final days is presented as a word-for-word chronological narration by Whitfield and Beard as they recall stories, experiences and noteworthy events that occurred during their time serving as Jackson’s personal security team. These guys were by Jackson’s side around the clock for more than two years, so there were no shortage of tales to be told.

I really liked that sensationalism was seemingly set aside and truth was allowed to shine through. Nothing was sugarcoated; and nothing needed to be. Jackson is presented as a devoted and protective father who loved his children more than anything in the world and did everything in his power to give them all they needed. His children are presented as polite, humble, intelligent kids who dealt with the reality of their extraordinary lives by taking each twist and turn in their stride.

Talking about the children is an extra-sensitive topic for many fans, including myself. Jackson’s main concern regarding security was not his own, but his children’s privacy and safety. Whitfield and Beard spent more than two years protecting those kids at all costs. At one point in the book Whitfield recalls being instructed to chase down a photographer who had snapped a picture of the kids without their disguises. Once he caught the photographer Whitfield wrestled the camera from him and confiscated it before running back to Jackson’s vehicle with it.

Fans have raised questions about whether or not it’s morally okay to discuss private details of the children’s life. These questions are legitimate questions, especially considering how highly Jackson valued their privacy. However, the extent of detail regarding the children is very limited. There are mentions and recollections of moments involving the kids, such as Blanket’s fascination with the hippos are the zoo, Paris bringing Whitfield a cup of hot chocolate or Prince playfully trying to trick the bodyguards into buying him treats from the store.

However, since Jackson’s death the kids have been everywhere, willingly opening their private lives up to the public. They don’t wear disguises anymore, they’ve appeared on national television and have various social media accounts. The mainstream media has no qualms in discussing Paris’ personal issues, speculating about the paternity of the children, and even as recently as yesterday publicising their supposed annual allowance. A few tales about how sweet, funny and generous the kids were may be stepping over the line of what Jackson would have wanted and expected, but is by no means comparable to the bullshit they endure at the hands of a sensationalised tabloid media on a day-to-day basis. The stories about Jackson’s children made me smile, personally, and I’d be interested to hear their thoughts on what’s been written about them and their father.

Another thing I found interesting was who had Jackson’s back and who did not. The relationship, or lack thereof, that Jackson had with his manager, Raymone Bain, was bizarre. Bain was running Jackson’s entire empire from her home office – something Jackson had no idea about for quite some time. (He believed she had an office.) Jackson seemed to want to keep Bain as far out of the loop as possible at times, even restricting the bodyguards from reporting their movements to her. She was in charge of payroll, which was never in order and got worse and worse as time progressed.

The bodyguards would sometimes go months on end without being paid, and not even Jackson himself yelling at Bain over the phone could get her to pay them. She’d tell Jackson she’d do something, then just not do it. It made you wonder why Jackson didn’t sack her earlier than he did. It also made you wonder why Whitfield and Beard did not quit – a question they ask themselves numerous times throughout the book, then go on answer. Their frustrations over lack of payment (and other things) are expressed strongly but sincerely in the book. As you’re reading you can’t help but feel deeply for them. Ultimately their loyalties lied with their boss, Mr. Jackson – something that not many people can say for themselves.

One person whose loyalties seemingly always lied with Michael Jackson was the late-entertainment attorney Peter Lopez, who receives one of the most glowing wraps of all the characters detailed in the book. He was one person in Jackson’s life who always had his best interests at heart. During my time researching Michael Jackson’s career, specifically the years in which Peter Lopez was around quite often, I’ve never heard anyone who knew Jackson intimately utter a bad word about him – only good things. The same goes for those who have not been characterized positively in the book. Whitfield and Beard’s accounts, from what I’ve been told by those who were close to Jackson, ring true.

An interesting series of recollections involve Sony Music and the Thriller 25 project. For those of you who needed more proof than Jackson himself standing atop a double-decker bus in London yelling “Sony sucks” outside Sony HQ to conclude that Jackson indeed had ill feelings towards Sony, you’ll find what you’re looking for in this book. If you had somehow dreamt up the notion that because Thriller 25 was released via Sony Music that meant Jackson had patched things up with the label and was on good terms with them, you are mistaken.

Some of the most heartwarming stories in the book relate to Jackson’s generosity. For me personally, his humanitarian efforts across the globe throughout his life are far more important than his artistry. I often say you could take away his music, his dance and his films, and he’d still be my favourite superhero. Whitfield and Beard recall times when Jackson requested he be driven to the poorest parts of Las Vegas where the homeless community resides. Once there Jackson would crack the window of his vehicle ever so slightly and call the homeless people over. From there Jackson would reach into a bumbag filled with hundred-dollar bills, and pass them to the homeless through the gap in the window. And when he’d run out he’d get upset with himself for not having brought more cash to give away. This was not for show. This was not a stunt. He did not want thanks. He’d do all this without ever revealing even his identity. It came from the pure goodness of his heart.

There are stories in the book about the Jackson family; Michael’s brothers, sisters and parents are all mentioned at times. There are tales of Jackson’s lavish spending at department stores, his midnight recording habits, going to the movies, home-schooling his children, spending time with female companions, his vagabond lifestyle, his personal friendships and bouts of depression and paranoia. Some of the recollections are funny, and some are quite sad. Some will leave you hanging for more and some may be difficult to digest. However in each and every case the stories are told sincerely, and that’s what I value the most. Nothing has been not fabricated out of thin air. There were no crazy embellishments to present things as more exciting than they were. They simply were as they were, and that’s what you’re given. The truth as Whitfield and Beard heard it, saw it, experienced it and recalled it.

For more information or to order a copy of ‘Remember the Time – Protecting Michael Jackson in his final days’ visit:

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