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Post here if you worked on Michael Jackson's DANGEROUS album Keyboard Synthesizers
Old 28th June 2009
  #91
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robmix's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny Favorite View Post
Downward spiral? I love it, but I`d never guess. Thanks, guys, I bet he was proud to work with you.
It was amazing how he'd come in with some song he liked and want to capture something about it - the energy, the tone, the mood.

He was really into "Owner of a Lonely Heart" too. So when Yes came to town, I made sure everyone knew it, and we got Trevor Rabin to come down and play some stuff on "They Don't Care About Us".

That was one of the really fun parts about working with MJ. You could call anyone and get them down there. We needed a funk guitar player, and some names were being tossed about. I finally said, hey what about Nile Rogers. Michael was excited for that because they had toured together in the 70's. Of course Nile played some of the funkiest sh*t ever . . . . however, Michael had a very specific part in mind for the song "Money". BTW, strat into a DI, into the SSL, straight to tape. Nothing else.

Slash came over for a couple tracks. Interestingly, there was no alcohol, drugs or cigarettes on the session at all. Only one crew member smoked and he had to go outside to do it. But when Slash came MJ knew it was part of his thing. He said "let him have is alcohol, cigarettes, whatever it takes"

So we setup in another room at the Hit Factory, and Slash had his people send over the list. Jack, vodka, mixers, and marlboro's. The drink of the day was Jack and coffee if I recall correctly . . . . Can't remember which Marshall head, but it was a 4x12 marshall cab with B&K 4006's into the HF's 8078 to 2", later comp'ed and bounced to the 3348.
Old 28th June 2009
  #92
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robmix's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by plexisys View Post
About the same time MJ was working with John at Image they were also doing stuff at Westlake. I remember sitting around the office talking with Matt Forger plenty of times and Matt saying "I've never seen anyone with this kind of work ethic and skills".
Michael and Bruce were both nostalgic, and maybe a bit superstitious. We needed to add choir to a couple songs while we were in L.A., so they immediately said it had to be recorded at Westlake D, where "Man in the Mirror" was recorded. Bruce sent me over there with his prized M49's. Everyone on the session was like" he know he's never let them out of his sight, and no one has ever put them up or taken them down but him". Yes, I was scared . . . . . Unfortunately, they crapped out on us halfway through the session, and we had to switch to C12's. But both sets of mics were put through Bruce's 1084's. No compression of course to 2" tape. We always set up Andre Crouche's choir in a circle, the mics in the center in omni. I think Bruce has detailed his choir setup on GS before.
Old 28th June 2009
  #93
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robmix's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by drBill View Post
Now hold on there.....not so fast big guy. Nulling tests....that's exciting stuff!!!!
In the spirit of gearslutz, a short gear story . . . . .

For the song "HIStory", MJ, Jimmy, and Bruce wanted to have all the elements available at mixdown, no submixes. Unfortunately the song was spread out over four 48 track digital tapes. There was programmed tracks, live stuff, orchestra, choir, Boyz to Men, etc.

So over at Larrabee, they setup one SSL as the master console, and the second as a submixer, feeding the first through busses and tielines. Choir and orchestra in the backroom, main elements in the front room. The problem is no one had ever DASH locked four 3348's. So they call Sony, and Sony says "we don't know, we'll have to call you back".

In the meantime, Andrew Scheps figures it out on his own. The dude is a serious rocket scientist !!!!!

A couple hours into the session Sony calls and says "Sorry guys it's impossible. You can't DASH lock four 3348's. We didn't think anyone would ever need to do it".

Old 28th June 2009
  #94
Quote:
Originally Posted by robmix View Post
In the spirit of gearslutz, a short gear story . . . . .

For the song "HIStory", MJ, Jimmy, and Bruce wanted to have all the elements available at mixdown, no submixes. Unfortunately the song was spread out over four 48 track digital tapes. There was programmed tracks, live stuff, orchestra, choir, Boyz to Men, etc.

So over at Larrabee, they setup one SSL as the master console, and the second as a submixer, feeding the first through busses and tielines. Choir and orchestra in the backroom, main elements in the front room. The problem is no one had ever DASH locked four 3348's. So they call Sony, and Sony says "we don't know, we'll have to call you back".

In the meantime, Andrew Scheps figures it out on his own. The dude is a serious rocket scientist !!!!!

A couple hours into the session Sony calls and says "Sorry guys it's impossible. You can't DASH lock four 3348's. We didn't think anyone would ever need to do it".

.

hilarious..........sounds like sony tech support......i kID, i KID!!!

.
Old 28th June 2009
  #95
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deuc647's Avatar
 

Im reading these posts and have to say thanks to john and rob for sharing these stories, that biggie one really tripped me out! Keep em coming
Old 28th June 2009
  #96
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Barish's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by robmix View Post
In the spirit of gearslutz, a short gear story . . . . .

For the song "HIStory", MJ, Jimmy, and Bruce wanted to have all the elements available at mixdown, no submixes. Unfortunately the song was spread out over four 48 track digital tapes. There was programmed tracks, live stuff, orchestra, choir, Boyz to Men, etc.

So over at Larrabee, they setup one SSL as the master console, and the second as a submixer, feeding the first through busses and tielines. Choir and orchestra in the backroom, main elements in the front room. The problem is no one had ever DASH locked four 3348's. So they call Sony, and Sony says "we don't know, we'll have to call you back".

In the meantime, Andrew Scheps figures it out on his own. The dude is a serious rocket scientist !!!!!

A couple hours into the session Sony calls and says "Sorry guys it's impossible. You can't DASH lock four 3348's. We didn't think anyone would ever need to do it".

Beautiful... heh

Many thanks for sharing these. This thread is priceless...

B.
Old 28th June 2009
  #97
Gear Guru
 
drBill's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by robmix View Post
We always set up Andre Crouche's choir in a circle, the mics in the center in omni. I think Bruce has detailed his choir setup on GS before.
Recording those guys/gals is a trip isn't it Rob. Great black gospel choir's are something everyone should get to record at least once. I recorded Andrae's "Mercy" record for him. He got a Grammy for that one. There were often MJ stories told as well as a host of other world class artists. Those guys are blessed to have worked with so many greats. We often recorded in a circle like you described. But sometimes the group was too big for that. I remember recording the title track and we had 20-25 gospel vocalists. HUGE sound. Maybe the biggest sound (short of an orchestra) that I've ever recorded. Overloaded the studio to where the room couldn't contain it. Wild stuff. Thanks again for the rememberences!
Old 28th June 2009
  #98
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robmix's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by drBill View Post
Recording those guys/gals is a trip isn't it Rob. Great black gospel choir's are something everyone should get to record at least once. I recorded Andrae's "Mercy" record for him. He got a Grammy for that one. There were often MJ stories told as well as a host of other world class artists. Those guys are blessed to have worked with so many greats. We often recorded in a circle like you described. But sometimes the group was too big for that. I remember recording the title track and we had 20-25 gospel vocalists. HUGE sound. Maybe the biggest sound (short of an orchestra) that I've ever recorded. Overloaded the studio to where the room couldn't contain it. Wild stuff. Thanks again for the rememberences!
I agree. They're incredible. I remember the first time I worked with them and to warm up they all gathered around the piano, and sang some of their own stuff, and improv'ed. It was so inspirational, I was holding back tears in the control room. When they sing for god you can really feel it.
Old 28th June 2009
  #99
.

ditto, rob - i've recorded gospel choirs over the years - and it's usually a very moving experience...
whole different level...i saw a tent revival choir in bat cave, north carolina once that BLEW my mind!
some of the best singing ever. our laguardia hs gospel choir here in nyc was killer, too!
....sorry for the OT.

.
Old 28th June 2009
  #100
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robmix's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sounds Great View Post
What great stuff, thanks so much for keeping it coming!

Interesting that the work and devotion that was put into this music are what seem to be the elements so lacking in current music, at least what is being played to the young masses.

But at the moment, MJ is getting played a lot. Just heard Billie Jean played on the station my daughters listen to. (KDWB-Mpls. ) They said they never heard them play Michael Jackson on there before.
I don't know that many people would ever have the patience or work ethic to create the records that MJ did. We'll never have the budgets again that's for sure. Michael would casually say he wanted to hear some new snare sounds tomorrow, and we would stay up all night sampling every drum machine we could find into the MPC and EIIxp's. Literally hundreds of custom snare samples at his finger tips. Same with kick drums. Matt Forger and Andrew made many DAT's full of percussion samples - wood, metal, kitchen utensils, tools, which were all sampled into the EIII's. Bruce would sit for hours trying different snare sounds from his own MPC library. One day in between MJ projects Bruce and Rene rented a pile of snare drums for a custom library.

There was this constant pursuit for "sounds the ear has never heard" as Bruce would say.


You can't beat that kind of sweat equity . . . .
Old 28th June 2009
  #101
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unit7's Avatar
Another big, big Thank You for sharing. Very inspirational. And very sad.
Old 28th June 2009
  #102
Quote:
Originally Posted by robmix View Post
I don't know that many people would ever have the patience or work ethic to create the records that MJ did. We'll never have the budgets again that's for sure. Michael would casually say he wanted to hear some new snare sounds tomorrow, and we would stay up all night sampling every drum machine we could find into the MPC and EIIxp's. Literally hundreds of custom snare samples at his finger tips. Same with kick drums. Matt Forger and Andrew made many DAT's full of percussion samples - wood, metal, kitchen utensils, tools, which were all sampled into the EIII's. Bruce would sit for hours trying different snare sounds from his own MPC library. One day in between MJ projects Bruce and Rene rented a pile of snare drums for a custom library.

There was this constant pursuit for "sounds the ear has never heard" as Bruce would say.


You can't beat that kind of sweat equity . . . .
.

you know, there were a few days during the mid 90s when i tried to rent various gear - samplers, neve pres, mics, etc - and i remember (i believe) toy specialist or dream hire telling me michael jackson's crew had rented almost everything in their gear inventory for weeks (or was it months, even!?)...that bastard was gobbling up all the gear in nyc, for cryin' out loud heh
...(i kiDD, michael heh).

.
Old 28th June 2009
  #103
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Scinx's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by robmix View Post
Bruce told me there were something like 81 mixes of Billy Jean, and after all that they used one of the first versions
91 mixes of Billie Jean on 1/2" and they ended up using #2. (Per Swedien interview in Mixing Engineer's Handbook)
Old 28th June 2009
  #104
Quote:
Originally Posted by Scinx View Post
91 mixes of Billie Jean on 1/2" and they ended up using #2. (Per Swedien interview in Mixing Engineer's Handbook)
.

yeah, bruce said the same thing in his gearslutz Q&A interview!...freeking 91 mixes..
...i think the highest # of mixes i ever did was 60+ [6-minute] mixes...crazy lads...

.
Old 28th June 2009
  #105
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Scinx's Avatar
 

Thanks Sqye for starting the thread and thanks to all for the various stories...very interesting & inspiring stuff.
Old 28th June 2009
  #106
Moderator
 
matt thomas's Avatar
thanks, great stories guys

narco
Old 28th June 2009
  #107
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Jamzone's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Resonater View Post
I worked with Michael on many occasions...first in 1979 shortly following the release of "Off The Wall", which was recorded at my old studio, Image Recording, when it was owned by its former owner, Allen Zentz.

I then spent some time in 1980 (or 81?) with Michael recording demo's for Thriller. This was great, because it was just the two of us and whoever Michael had coming in. "John, we have Jonathan Moffit coming at 12:00, then Greg Phillinganes at 1:00...oh, and we're recording strings at 4:00!". Wow, what a great experience working so closely with him. I had him on the mic for some days recording vocals, and it was an amazing experience...he would be dancing up a storm while singing and doing all of those "grunts, oohs, ahhs" vocal sounds that would pepper his tracks. He asked me to take up the carpet so he could dance, and in between takes, he would sing other popular songs of the day just freestyle and acapella and we would talk about the music we liked.

Over the next year or two, I hosted the Jacksons many times, recording various tracks, claps (we had a jacuzzi room which they loved to use for the massive white-noise claps that people liked back then). I got to know all the brothers.

Bruce Swedien came back to Image Recording to record a song (or two?) for the Jackson's "Victory" record in about 1983. Another great experience, as Bruce did (as I recall) a string quartet and (perhaps) Michael's vocal at the same time. Bruce IS the best of all time, by the way. BEST.

I believe there were a couple of sundry Jacksons sessions over the next couple of years, but by that time, Michael was hugely popular and I didn't see him as much. The next time was really in 1995, when Robmix and I worked on the HIStory album. Rob worked on this for quite a long time (2 years?), while I worked on it for a few months. We were all holed up in Larrabee North, where Bruce had a room (or were you guys at Record One, Rob?)...Eddie Delena was recording quite a lot Michael's vocals at Larrabee in one room, and I was put in another room to engineer for whomever needed it...my most memorable session being some days with Dallas Austin and on one day, recording The Notorious B.I.G. for his rap on "This Time Around". There I was, standing in a room with Dallas, Biggie and Michael. I'll never forget it.

The final days of that album were made interesting, by Bruce giving me the task to sequence the album and edit it down to a size that we could fit onto a CD. This was no small undertaking, as about 7 minutes needed to be trimmed somewhere. I laid this all out in Sound Tools and came to know every bar of every song very intimately. I found places where songs could be tightened up and came up with many suggestions. On the night of mastering, I was put in a room at Bernie Grundman's with my Sound Tools rig, and in this room, I would have to "negotiate" with Michael about what to take out. I'll never forget this night...Michael came in, and Bruce told MJ that we would have to remove either 1) one whole song or 2) edit the others to fit onto a CD. We chose the latter...I started with song one and played Michael my edits, "Oh no, we can't take THAT out...it's my favorite part of the album!". OK. Let's try another, "Oh no, we MUST keep those four bars". OK...let's go to the vamp, which carries on for two minutes...how about removing these eight bars, "Oh no, that's my favorite part of the vamp!". Well, you get the picture. Meanwhile, Jimmy Jam was in with us, telling Michael that all these edits were killer and actually make things better. And over the course of about 5 hours, we got it down. By this time, it was probably 3:00am, and I was wiped out. Bruce walked in..."Okay, John, I want you to make all these edits on the 1/2" masters right now!". My first thought was, "You've GOT to be kidding!" I had used some crossfades in Tools and such, plus I was worn out from "bartering" with Michael. But, into Bernie's room we went, and with Bruce over my shoulder, I cut the 1/2" tapes. As I recall, this took a couple of hours, and we were done. By the way, video footage of my "bartering session" with Michael exists, although I was never able to get a copy. Perhaps someday!

After that album's completion, we were all invited to The Neverland Ranch with spouses and kids for a day of fun, with Michael as our host. What a memorable day that I will recount in another post...my arms hurt now!

Take it away, Rob...
What a nice story! Thanx!!
Old 28th June 2009
  #108
Moderator
 
matt thomas's Avatar
heres a quote from Bruce Swedien from this thread https://www.gearslutz.com/board/bruce...llie-jean.html

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bruce Swedien
"Billie Jean" is just such a superb song! Of course, Michael wrote "Billie Jean"..

Quincy says that the lyric that Michael wrote is highly personal. I’m sure that’s true. Michael told us... it was about a girl, that climbed over the wall at Michael’s house, and was lounging out there, by the swimming pool.... she was laying out there, near the pool , lounging... hangin’ out... with shades on, her bathing suit on. One morning she just showed up! Kind of like a stalker, almost. She had accused Michael of being the father of ONE of her twins... Is that possible? I don’t think so....

When it came time for me to mix "Billie Jean", it was business as usual... When I am working with Michael, Quincy, Rod, Jennifer, Sergio and so on..... I am allowed total ceative freedom with the sonics of the music... In other words, I am always left to myself when it is time to mix. My mixes can take hours, days or even weeks.... I firmly believe that a mix is not finished, until it is on a Record for sale at Tower....

So I had been mixing "Billie Jean" for a day or two. I’d do a mix. ..... Say I was up to mix number 2.... (At that time I was mixing onto 1/2” analogue.) I thought it was killer!!!

I called MJ, Quincy and Rod into the control room and played mix 2 for them. They loved it!!! They were all dancing and carrying on like crazy!!! Smiles all around! Then Michael slipped out of the control room, turned around and motioned to me to follow him... Then he whispered to me, “Please Bruce, it’s perfect, but turn the Bass up just a tiny bit, and do one more mix, please....” I said to him...”OK Smelly, no problem”...

(When we were recording “Off The Wall”, Quincy gave Michael the nickname of “Smelly” because when Michael liked a groove, he’d call it “Smelly Jelly.” Also Michael doesn’t curse, and when MJ wants to say a bad word he’ll simply call it “Smelly”... The name has stuck...)

Then I went back into the control room to add Michael’s tiny bit of bass to my mix... Quincy pulled me over into the corner and said “Please Svensk... “(Svensk is Quincy’s nickname for me. It means “Swedish Man” in Swedish... When you have a genuine Quincy Jones nickname like ‘Svensk” - You are truly honored....) Q said to me.... “Add a little garlic salt to the snare and the kick. Just a squirt!!!”) so I went back into the control room and added a little garlic salt to the snare and the kick. Just a squirt!!! Now I was up to mix 20 on "Billie Jean".

Well, this went on for about a week. Soon I was up to mix 91!!! I had a stack of 1/2 inch tapes almost to the ceiling!!! I would do a few mixes, we’d listen... Then do a few more. We had it PERFECT!!! We thought we had a really ‘HOT’ mix on “Billie Jean”. I played Mix 91 for the boys... Everybody smiled... but Quincy had one of his funny looks on his face...

I thought.... Hmmmm.... Oh, Oh....

Quincy said “You know Svensk, just for the fun of it, can we listen to one of your earlier mixes???” My heart jumped because I knew that my earlier mixes were dynamite!!! Then Quincy said, “Let’s hear mix number 2!!!” Oh WOW!!!! Hallelujah!!! I love mix 2!!!!

We listened to mix 2... IT WAS SLAMMIN’!!! EVERYONE IN THE STUDIO WAS GROOVIN’ AND DANCIN’ and HAPPY, and actin’ IGNORANT!!!!

Well, here’s the deal. When “Thriller” was released to the Whole World by Epic Records, on Tuesday, November 30, 1982, it went to Tower Records with MIX 2 OF "Billie Jean" on it!!! AND, when the single of "Billie Jean" came out it was MIX 2!!!

The REAL Story of "Billie Jean"...

Bruce Swedien
narco
Old 28th June 2009
  #109
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Jamzone's Avatar
 

Another THANX to Robmix! Great stories and info!!!
Old 28th June 2009
  #110
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robmix's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sqye View Post
.

you know, there were a few days during the mid 90s when i tried to rent various gear - samplers, neve pres, mics, etc - and i remember (i believe) toy specialist or dream hire telling me michael jackson's crew had rented almost everything in their gear inventory for weeks (or was it months, even!?)...that bastard was gobbling up all the gear in nyc, for cryin' out loud heh
...(i kiDD, michael heh).

.

I believe it !!!! Certainly for keyboards we were flying stuff to NYC from all L.A., and guys on the session were buying stuff all the time. Towards the end MJ and Bruce had me call all the synth companies and, using their names, ask if they had any prototypes or new stuff that wasn't out yet. Yamaha sent the VP1 which was never released, and we had an early Wavedrum from Korg. I think at one point we had every outboard Neve 1073 in NYC.
Old 28th June 2009
  #111
Gear Guru
 
drBill's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by robmix View Post
I agree. They're incredible. I remember the first time I worked with them and to warm up they all gathered around the piano, and sang some of their own stuff, and improv'ed. It was so inspirational, I was holding back tears in the control room. When they sing for god you can really feel it.
Agreed. Some of the most musically moving sessions I've ever done in my life. And BTW, I have a pretty good idea why Bruce's M49's took a dump during that session. heh heh
Old 29th June 2009
  #112
Lives for gear
 

Hey y'all, I'll jump back on the thread in the next few hours or certainly tomorrow!
Old 29th June 2009
  #113
Quote:
Originally Posted by robmix View Post
I believe it !!!! Certainly for keyboards we were flying stuff to NYC from all L.A., and guys on the session were buying stuff all the time. Towards the end MJ and Bruce had me call all the synth companies and, using their names, ask if they had any prototypes or new stuff that wasn't out yet. Yamaha sent the VP1 which was never released, and we had an early Wavedrum from Korg. I think at one point we had every outboard Neve 1073 in NYC.
.

so YOU were the ones who boosted those damn 1073s.......heh..

.
Old 29th June 2009
  #114
Quote:
Originally Posted by Resonater View Post
Hey y'all, I'll jump back on the thread in the next few hours or certainly tomorrow!
.

....

.
Old 29th June 2009
  #115
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larry b's Avatar
 

Rob you are the man!

Awesome stories!
Old 29th June 2009
  #116
Well, here's a post that by all rights should get deleted:

Rob, when Michael Jackson reached the stage of his career that was past all the energetic highlights of the 80's/90's, the "lull" or whatever you might call it, how did you process that?

That 'here was a guy who burned so brightly that he'd consumed all his fuel'? That the arc of his creativity and adventurousness had played out, he'd left a stunning legacy and that is enough for any one life? That somewhere he'd lost connections, ran out of songs to play?
Old 29th June 2009
  #117
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robmix's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by joelpatterson View Post
Well, here's a post that by all rights should get deleted:

Rob, when Michael Jackson reached the stage of his career that was past all the energetic highlights of the 80's, the "lull" or whatever you might call it, how did you process that?

That 'here was a guy who burned so brightly that he'd consumed all his fuel'? That the arc of his creativity and adventurousness had played out, he'd left a stunning legacy and that is enough for any one life? That somewhere he'd lost connections, ran out of songs to play?
I felt like the spark was still there on HIStory. I think some of the songs on that CD are as great as anything he ever did. Certainly they're more personal. And, as I wasn't with him prior to that I had no personal connection to the earlier records. I've said it before, I wasn't really a fan until I worked with him. I was much more interested in working and learning from Bruce. Once I met MJ and worked with him I started to enjoy what he did.
Old 29th June 2009
  #118
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zimv20's Avatar
 

great reading. thanks, guys.
Old 29th June 2009
  #119
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by joelpatterson View Post
Well, here's a post that by all rights should get deleted:

Rob, when Michael Jackson reached the stage of his career that was past all the energetic highlights of the 80's/90's, the "lull" or whatever you might call it, how did you process that?

That 'here was a guy who burned so brightly that he'd consumed all his fuel'? That the arc of his creativity and adventurousness had played out, he'd left a stunning legacy and that is enough for any one life? That somewhere he'd lost connections, ran out of songs to play?
Why Joel? Because you and your tight ass geek friends think so...you guys kill me. you all should really get over yourselves...you're not that great...and the question is valid.
Old 29th June 2009
  #120
Gear Maniac
 

Great stories and memories of MJ. It sounds like Michael was quite the craftsman for his songs. It is really sad that he is gone. The world definitely lost an incredible talent.
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