Michael Jackson‘s final years in the spotlight were anything but simple for the controversial star. Seen as the oddball of pop and deemed a child molester by accusers, the singer began self-medicating — and never stopped.
“To do 50 concerts for a man of his age is a big undertaking,” Naughty Gossip‘s Rob Shuter says in REELZ’s new docuseries, The Michael Jackson Story.
“Week after week they are going to rehearse this tour. He has good days, he has bad days, but even a bad day for Michael Jackson is still extraordinary.”
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During this time, he continued having trouble sleeping — an issue he’d had for years. To solve this, he began using powerful IV sedatives.
“He did introduce me to several doctors over the years — the doctors were anesthesiologists,” Jackson’s friend and filmmaker Bryan Michael Stoller recalls.
Jackson had his concert promoters recruit doctor Conrad Murray to supervise his medical care for a salary of $150,000 a month, and he accepted.
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Michael Jackson biographer Steve Knopper says that before hiring Murray, Jackson tried to get doctors to give him “more and more potent sleep drugs and pain killer drugs,” and “they would say no, but doctor Murray would say yes.”
Murray ended up supplying Jackson with various intense pain killers including Propofol, the drug that killed him. Before his death, it seemed no one in his team was aware of his dependence to the surgical anesthetic.
His choreographer, Travis Payne, was one of the last people to see Jackson before his fatal overdose.
“He left and said, ‘I love you, get some rest,’ and I said ‘Ok, I love you too,'” Payne, 47, recalls.
The Michael Jackson Story airs Sunday, June 23 at 9ET / 8PT on REELZ.