’My Friend Michael’ :: A personal look at ’The King of Pop’
As Frank Cascio wrote in the introduction of his book, "To the fans of Michael Jackson-I wrote this book to show you a personal side of Michael that you may or may not know. I hope you can appreciate the human being that he was behind his enormous gifts and talents..."
Cascio and his family knew Michael Jackson for over twenty-five years and he chronicles this experience vividly and with great honesty in "My Friend Michael." As a friend, personal assistant and eventual personal manager, Cascio brings to light the true persona of Jackson.
He spoke with EDGE Media Network to share the reasons why he wrote the book, the few life lessons he learned, along with a few memories of his very special times with the one-of-a-kind musical superstar and humanitarian who was his dear friend.
Why write this book?
EDGE: Thank you for such a heartfelt and honest account of your friendship with Michael Jackson.
Frank Cascio: Oh... thank you so much. I really appreciate that. It means a lot. It wasn’t easy, writing this book.
EDGE: What was the impetus for you to share all these personal experiences in your book, "My Friend Michael?"
Frank Cascio: First and foremost, I never ever had any intention of ever writing a book. When Michael was still with us, I never thought I would ever write a book. I know Michael, throughout the years, always said to me in a very joking way, "You have a great story. If you ever write a book when I’m alive... I’m gonna kill you." This was in a funny and joking way. I said, "Fuck no. I’m not going to write a book."
Knowing Michael, he always had a reason and purpose for everything that he said. And, [after his death] when I saw all these people coming out of the woodwork and they’re on TV saying that they are his best friend... trying to tell their story about Michael... I was like, "Who are you? I’ve never even met you and all of a sudden...you’re writing random books." How could anyone write a book when they’ve never even met him? What gives these people the authority to write a book? And, if they did meet him, it was like once or twice and all of a sudden, they become experts.
Frank Cascio: So, I got fed-up and frustrated with everything. Throughout the years, fans would say, "I would love for you to write a book. Can you tell us about your stories and your memories with Michael?" So, I just thought about it and felt it was my duty and my obligation to set the record straight and tell the world what this man was really like. What a wonderful human being he was. I was very fortunate because... to me, that was Michael, my friend, Michael the human being... not Michael Jackson, the pop star.
EDGE: You definitely do in the book. I think anyway that he’d be proud.
Frank Cascio: You know what? I KNOW he would be proud.
EDGE: As a devoted fan of Michael’s, it’s still tough for me... it’s kind of unbelievable that’s he’s gone too soon. As a ten-year-old, I jumped rope outside to "The Jackson Five’s Greatest Hits." Since then, I’ve had almost every record he did as a solo artist. So, I hated the media circus and the misconceptions and lies. I always believed in his innocence. Your book sheds great light on the truths.
Frank Cascio: That’s the thing. Going in to this, I did not want to sugarcoat it. I wanted it to be honest. I wrote, from my heart, an honest book from my experiences. There are certain things I know that some people may not like to hear but that was the truth. To me, his imperfections are what also made him beautiful. I tried to put things into context, for people to understand why certain things happened. That was my only purpose and my goal.
EDGE: What was one of the major life lessons you learned from him?
Frank Cascio: To never give up... I have so many. I always say he’s the greatest teacher in the world. You know, I think it really comes down to love. He was full of "love." "Everything you do," he said, "make sure you do it with love." You do it with everything and you give everything to it. If you’re going to be great at something, be the master at it. Be better than anyone else. Even through the rough times, I learned, "Hey I grew up really, really fast and got turned in to this world. I saw how, unfortunately... when there is money involved, you see all these people trying to take a piece of you and who is jockeying for position and who lies.
About that ghost...
EDGE: Yeah, there are some tough moments in the book. But, I have to tell you. I burst out laughing, for the first time in the book about the time you and Michael went to the hotel in Loch Lomond (laughter).
Frank Cascio: That was really fun.
EDGE: Will you please share a bit of that experience as you do in the book?
Frank Cascio: Yeah, it’s so funny... that is one story; I think that I’ll never ever forget. You know, unfortunately after the funeral and sitting with Paris [Michael’s second child] she said, "I know all the different adventures and crazy stories that you and my daddy had." That was one of the first stories that she brought up. Paris said, "When you guys went to Scotland and you had Katherine, the ghost in your room." It’s funny to hear because we had such a great time. The fact that he would share that story in particular, with his kid, separate from me being there... that was definitely, I think, a very special time for both of us.
EDGE: Yeah, and the guy who worked in the hotel who kept popping up... I can’t remember his name.
Frank Cascio: "Herron." I’m not kidding. It was straight out of a "Scooby Doo" episode. We get to Scotland on a big bus. We get there late and get in to the hotel. The guy, Herron, who greets us and takes us to our room says, "Oh by the way, there’s a ghost in your room. Her name is Katherine."
EDGE: (laughter) And that’s his mother’s name!
Frank Cascio: And that’s his mother’s name... truly, we looked at each other and we’re like, "Okay." We go to the room. We wanted to explore the hotel. It would be kind of interesting to see the lake and get out of the room. Sure enough, we’re walking outside and we see the lake. All of a sudden, we turn around and there’s Herron. He said, "Are you enjoying your time at the hotel?" We said, "Yes, yes, yes.
We’re just gonna get back to the room now." He said, "Thank you. I just wanted to make sure you got back okay." It was a really funny trip.
A frustrated artist
EDGE: You guys were the only guests in the hotel. That’s kind of scary too.
Frank Cascio: We were the only ones. Then, we get back to the room and we’re gonna explore the hotel now. We were very adventurous... opening doors etc. and we get to the pool. There’s Herron cleaning the pool. (laughter)
EDGE: It’s like how many Herron’s are there?
Frank Cascio: (laughter) It’s the same Herron and on our way back to the room, we actually see "Katherine" the ghost.
EDGE: That story is a trip. Now, this is a serious question. The price of fame and the misunderstanding about Michael’s childlike and unique personality must have been so tough for Michael to understand. On his "History" CD, on the second disc, he is using his gift to personally deal with situations through his songs. Take the song, "Scream" for example.
Frank Cascio: Yeah. "History" was an album that with "Scream" and even the song called "D.S." on the album. If you listen to "D.S.," in the song, he’s really saying "Tom Sneddon." He’s not saying, "Don Sheldon." He was so mad and angry.
EDGE: You can sense it. Even on his song, "Money." Even though there is also so much beauty on that second disc... I just imagine he had to feel a lot of frustration at that point.
Frank Cascio: There is a huge amount of frustration at that point. Through his music, as you said, that’s how he expressed himself during that time.
EDGE: Knowing him, as closely as you did from childhood, your teenage years and as a young adult... if you close your eyes right now and think of Michael, what would you say?
Frank Cascio: Wow. What would I say? Thank you. He is one of the reasons I am the person I am today. He’s given me the greatest experience, education, adventure, journey anyone could ever give anyone. Looking back on it... I’m been extremely blessed and privileged because there will never ever be another Michael Jackson ever again. I want to take what he’s taught me and the experiences that he’s given me and try to implement it in my everyday life.
EDGE: Well, Frank, it’s been a pleasure.
Frank Cascio: Thank you so much.
To find out more about My Friend Michael, visit the "My Friend Michael" Facebook page.