Since his death, there’s been such a deluge of tributes to Michael Jackson that you’d have thought by now there isn’t a minute of his career that hasn’t been pored over, documented and otherwise scrutinised.
There is one episode, though, that because it is in so many respects unlikely and at the same time wholly obscure that it has so far escaped the attention of even the most vigilant commentators, and it of all people involves an old friend of mine, Tex-Mex rock’n’roll hellion, Joe “King” Carrasco.
It’s 1982 and Joe is in London, as part of a whistle-stop European tour to promote his new MCA album, Synapse Gap. We meet at his Bayswater hotel, and the garrulous Texan is soon in full conversational swing, talking excitedly about the new record.
“Guess who I’ve got on the album, man, singing backing fucken vocals?”
I didn’t have a clue. Bob Dylan? Ozzy Osbourne?
“Michael-fucken-Jackson, man!” Carrasco fairly shrieks.
I’m sure there were people in Birmingham, let alone Bayswater, who will have heard the dull thud of my jaw hitting the floor of Joe’s hotel room. But it’s all true, because Joe is now telling me all about this baffling alliance and how the world’s biggest pop star ended up singing backing on “Don’t Let A Woman (Make A Fool Out Of You)”.
“Oh, man, it was fucken wild,” Carrasco says, laughing hysterically. “He was in the studio next door to where we were recording. And I was just thinking, ‘Goddammmmm, here’s the best fucken singer in the world, man, I gotta get him on my record.’ And I did, man. I fucken did. I just made friends with him.”
And what was he like?
“He’s a nice guy. He’s surrounded by all these bodyguards who keep him away from the real world. But one day, man, I saw him just sitting out in this office, staring into space. I just said, ‘Hey, Mike, why dontcha come sing on my record, man?’ And I just kinda made off with him. When his managers got back and found him in the studio with us, they flipped. But the track was down, man. It was too late!”