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Live Sound Reacts To Jackson Death

By Clive Young. New York (June 26, 2009)--While his albums made him famous, Michael Jackson, who passed away Thursday at age 50, was equally renowned for his concert work.

Paul “Pab” BoothroydBy Clive Young.

New York (June 26, 2009)–While his albums made him famous, Michael Jackson, who passed away Thursday at age 50, was equally renowned for his concert work.

“Michael Jackson had many mysteries and rumors that surrounded him, but my experience of working with him can only be described as an unbelievable opportunity to work with one of the greatest performers that I have ever witnessed,” Paul “Pab” Boothroyd told Pro Sound News.

Jackson’s final public performances were mixed by Boothroyd (Paul McCartney, AC/DC), who handled FOH duties for the two Michael Jackson: 30th Anniversary TV Special concerts–held at New York City’s Madison Square Garden just hours before the tragic events of September 11, 2001–and United We Stand: What More Can I Give, a benefit concert held on October 21 that year at RFK Stadium in Washington, DC.

“His performance on stage at that last concert in RFK Stadium was a memory I will never forget,” said Boothroyd. “Myself and the late John Roden, who mixed monitors for him on many occasions, were invited to meet Michael before the show in his dressing room by his request.

“Nothing weird about him; totally pleasant and chatty, very considerate. [We were] seeing him being just a simple Dad, dealing with his kids, making sure they got something proper to eat and not to scoff all the chocolate before doing so; making last minute wardrobe decisions; and thanking the both of us for making the long-haul trip from the UK to be part of the event and the good causes that would follow from the proceeds. When John and I finally left his dressing room, we both said to each other, ‘Wow.’ Totally cool guy, amazing performer and it was one of my career highlights being able to work with him.”

Throughout the height of his career, the performer toured with audio services provided by Clair (Lititz, PA), starting with the Jacksons Victory reunion tour in 1985, and continuing through tours supporting the albums Bad (1989), Dangerous (1993) and HIStory (1997). Throughout that period, live engineer James “Trip” Khalaf (Madonna, Roger Waters) often tackled FOH duties for the singer.

“Michael Jackson was the consummate professional and a dynamic performer,” said Troy Clair, president of Clair, in a statement. “His death is a huge loss to both the music and live production industries, and we are proud to have had him as a long-standing member of our client roster.”

At the time of his death, the performer was in rehearsals for another comeback–this time, a series of 50 sold-out concerts at London’s O2 arena, which were scheduled to start next month and run through March, 2010. Producers of the shows, AEG Live, had stated that the first 10 dates alone would have earned the singer roughly £50 million; now the company is faced with the challenge of refunding more than $85 million on 750,000 ticket sales. According to Billboard, production and advances on the engagement may have already cost AEG as much as $40 million.