Epic Records chief L.A. Reid’s memoir, “Sing to Me,” is out today and has a lot of great stories. At last we get the truth about a lot of artists including Whitney Houston and Michael Jackson.
Reid’s chapter on trying to produce a record for Jermaine Jackson in the mid 1980s is hilarious and sad. He and Babyface (Kenny Edmonds) had signed Jermaine to LaFace Records and were about to record the tracks. Jermaine moved his family to Atlanta and though that, in the shadow of “Thriller” and “Bad,” he might get his own moment.
Not so fast. Out of the blue, Reid and Edmonds received a call from Michael, asking them to drop everything and come to Los Angeles to work with him. The pair flew out, telling Jermaine he’d have to wait until they returned from a business trip. Michael, Reid writes, tied them up for two weeks and not much came from it. When Jermaine discovered where they were, he was furious and demanded to be let out of his LaFace contract. Reid told Michael how upset Jermaine was. Michael’s answer: “He’ll get over it.”
Back in Atlanta, Reid and Edmonds calmed Jermaine down. They made their record including a single, “Word to the Badd,” in which Jermaine raked Michael over the coals for his shoddy treatment of his brother. The single was picked up instantly by all the top radio stations. Reid received a call from Michael.
“You have to stop this,” he said. “You’re the head of the label. You have to kill this. This isn’t good.”
Reid writes: It wasn’t my fight and I wasn’t going to referee a fight between the Jackson brothers. I told him that it didn’t matter if I agreed with him, the matter was between him and his brother and I couldn’t help. Jermaine was insistent that his record be released. Apparently Michael and Jermaine held a meeting at their mother’s home at Havenhurst. I wasn’t there and I don’t know what happened, but when they came out of the meeting Jermaine called me. “We resolved it,” he said. “The record stays out.” Then Michael called back. “Jermaine and I had our conversation,” he said, “but I’m telling you, you really need to stop this. This is not good.” Two days later, the record disappeared off the air, as if it had never been there in the first place. I don’t know what Michael did, I don’t know if Michael did anything, but it went away in a flash.”
Reid’s recollection, by the way, jibes with Michael’s late press agent, Bob Jones. He wrote in his book that Michael did everything he could to kill his siblings’ chances of success.
And that’s just the beginning. The book is full of good stuff. Well worth the $15 books I plunked down!