This Is It was a planned tour by Michael Jackson that was supposed to have 50 concerts to be held at the O2 Arena in London, England.
The tour was scheduled to begin in July of 2009 and continue throughout March of 2010, but Michael passed away less than three weeks before the first concert date began.
At the time, Michael officially announced at a press conference that this was going to be his last series of concert.
It was supposed to be his first major series of concerts since his HIStory World Tour ended in 1997.
Tour Announcement & PromotionEdit
The tour was announced on March 5, 2009 during a press conference at the 02 Arena in London, England & there were as many as 7,000 fans and 350 reporters waiting for Michael to arrive.
At the press conference, Michael announced:
"I just wanted to say that these will be my final show performances in London. When I say this is it, it really means this is it" & added that it was his "final curtain call" although he may have just been referring to performing in London.
The organizers touted the residency as "dramatic shows [that] promise an explosive return with a band of the highest calibre, a state-of-the-art stage show and incredible surprise support acts."
Hours before the press conference, promotional posters for the tour were displayed around London.
Further promotion took up an entire commercial break period on ITV London during the show "Dancing on Ice" which was the first time this has ever happened for a musical artist.
The advert (which cost £1 million to air) was viewed by 11 million people.
The shows had been cited as one of the year's most important musical events and as the greatest comeback in the history of pop.
Randy Phillips (the president and chief executive of AEG Live) stated that the first 10 concert dates would earn Michael approximately £50 million (which is about US$80.1 million).
The Guardian characterized the announced 10 concerts as an "astonishing comeback for a man who in recent years has been dogged by controversy" adding that the entertainer still had "enormous commercial clout."
The "Evening Standard" stated that the deal was the "showbiz coup of the decade" for AEG Live while The Independent remarked that the finalized 50 concerts would provide London with a "much-needed" economic boost.
Joe Cohen (the chief executive of Seatwave) told BBC 6 Music that the shows would generate £1 billion for the economy.
Some websites offered early tickets which the Association of Secondary Ticket Agents (ASTA) warned were fake.
The organization's chief Graham Burns announced:
"We are warning people not to buy tickets that are not yet on sale because it is unlikely that they will receive those tickets" and concluded that "it's impossible when the dates haven't been announced to be selling tickets for something when there are no announced dates."
Michael's official website allowed fans to register early for a "pre-sale" draw.
Some fans had difficulty applying as the website could not deal with the large number of registrations—reportedly up to 16,000 applications a second.
In the space of 24 hours, nearly a million people from around the world registered for pre-sale tickets, enough to fill the venue 50 times over.
Tickets that had not even been printed were selling on auction website eBay for £300.
The sales of Michael's albums increased following the press conference.
The two-day pre-sale began on March 11, and 40 extra dates were added to meet high demand—five of these dates were reserved in their entirety for the public sale.
More than 1.5 million fans caused two sites offering pre-sale tickets to crash within minutes of going online.
In the space of two hours, 190,000 tickets were sold & two million people tried to buy pre-sale tickets in the space of 18 hours.
Veronica Schmidt of The Times stated of the reception that "Michael Jackson has floored his critics" while organizers proclaimed it a "cultural phenomenon."
It was announced that Michaels would break the record for number of shows performed by an artist at a single venue (which had been set by Prince who hosted a residency at the same arena for his "21 Nights in London" concerts)."
According to Michael's website, the following records were or would have been broken:
"The biggest audience ever to see an artist in one city", "The most amount of people to attend a series of arena shows" and "The fastest ticket sales in history."
Randy Phillips acknowledged that Michael could have sold out even more dates, but this would have conflicted with other career plans that Michael had.
On March 13, 2009, the other 50% of seats for dates 1–45 and all the seats for dates 46–50 went on sale to the general public.
Within a few hours, all 50 dates had sold out. At this stage, the sales of "King of Pop" were up 400% and the sales of "Thriller" were up 200%.
The tickets appeared on eBay for as much as £10,000.
Concert Preparation & DetailsEdit
The 50-concert run was originally scheduled to start on July 8, 2009 and end on March 6, 2010.
Each of the shows would have been performed at The O2 Arena in London, which has a capacity of 23,000.
New York-based fashion designer Zaldy served as head costumer, creating ten of Michael's stage looks while the other six were created by his longtime costumers, Michael Bush and Dennis Tompkins.
Jay Ruckel from La Crasia Gloves recreated Michael's iconic single glove for the concerts.
The costumes he was to wear during the shows were encrusted with 300,000 Swarovski crystals.
In May 2009, thousands of dancers flew in from all around the world to audition for Jackson, who helped select the 11 finalists in person.
Choreographer Kenny Ortega (who had collaborated with Michael previously) was to work on the overall design and direction of concerts.
Kenny said that the final product would have been a "theatrical musical experience."
According to Randy Philips, £13 million was to be spent on producing the concerts which would have included 18–22 songs and 22 different sets.
There also would have been aerial dancing similar to routines by Cirque du Soleil.
Carla Ferrigno told Reuters that her husband Lou had been helping Jackson train in advance of the shows. Michael and Lou had previously worked together.
On May 20, 2009 it was announced that the first concert would be pushed back five days to July 13, 2009 and three other July dates would be rescheduled for March 2010.
AEG Live said that the delay was necessary because more time was needed for dress rehearsals.
The revised schedule called for 27 shows between July 13 and September 29, 2009, followed by a three-month break, before resuming in the new year with 23 more shows between January 7 and March 6, 2010.
Some fans petitioned for the reversal of AEG Live's decision.
In late June, several hundred seats for each of the dates were put on sale. These seats were held back until production logistics were worked out.
It was suggested that after the London concerts, Michael might head to Australia, Europe, India, China, Hong Kong and Japan before moving on to North America.
Randy Phillips (who is the CEO of AEG Live) told The LA Times that Australia was part of Michael's international tour plans.
According to Jermaine Jackson's 2011 book "You Are Not Alone: Michael Through a Brother's Eyes," after the London O2 concerts finished, Michael was planning to arrange two more tours with AEG Live as well as a new halftime show performance during one of the future Super Bowl games to overshadow his own legendary halftime show performance at the Super Bowl XXVII in 1993 and a final reunion with his brothers as The Jackson 5 to give their mother a chance to see her sons perform live together before she passed away.
Afterwards, Michael planned to perform one last tour and officially retire from musical entertainment, planning to move ahead to possibly directing his own film ideas.
- "Light Man" Introduction
- "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'" (contains a cappella snippet of "Speechless")
- "Jam (contains a sample of "Another Part of Me")
- "The Drill" Dance Sequence (contains samples of "Bad", "Dangerous" and "Mind Is the Magic")
- "They Don't Care About Us" (contains samples of "HIStory", "She Drives me Wild" and "Why You Wanna Trip on Me")
- "Human Nature" (sometimes replaced with "Stranger In Moscow")
- "Smooth Criminal"
- "The Way You Make Me Feel (sometimes replaced with "You Rock My World")
- The Jackson 5 Medley
- "I Want You Back"
- "The Love You Save"
- "I'll Be There"
- "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough"/"Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground)"\ Instrumental Interlude
- "Rock With You"
- "I Just Can't Stop Loving You" (contains a cappella snippet of its Spanish version "Todo Mi Amor Eres Tu" featuring Judith Hill)
- "Dangerous" (contains samples of "Morphine", "2000 Watts", "Heartbreak Hotel", "Stranger In Moscow", "Psycho Theme", "Owner of a Lonely Heart" by Yes, Ennio Morricone's "The Good, The Bad & The Ugly" theme, "Smooth Criminal", Janet Jackson's "You Want This" and "Let's Dance," Judy Garland's "Get Happy", Monty Norman's "James Bond Theme" and a guitar intro from Duran Duran's "A View to a Kill")
- "Who Is It" Instrumental Interlude
- "Black Or White"
- "Dirty Diana" (transitions into "Beat It")
- "Beat It"
- "Thriller" (contains samples of "Ghosts-Underscore" and "Threatened")
- "Earth Song"
- "We Are The World"/"Heal the World"
- "You Are Not Alone"
- "Billie Jean"
- "Will You Be There"
- "Man In The Mirror"
- "MJ Air" Outro
- Michael would occasionally replace "Human Nature" with "Stranger in Moscow." This same strategy would apply for "The Way You Make Me Feel" with "You Rock My World."
- Due to time restraints and a large set list, Michael would perform some songs with one verse less than he did in previous tours, such as "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'", "The Way You Make Me Feel" and "Black or White."
- At the final dates, Michael wanted to perform the ballad "River Ripple" (written by him) with an African choir and his children.
- The song "Best of Joy" was written and recorded in 2009 and it was slated to premiere during the final concert before "Man in the Mirror." The song was released as part of the posthumous album "Michael"
- In an interview with Larry King, Lady Gaga revealed that she was supposed to perform a song called "Pictures" as the opening act for the concerts.
In June of 2009, concert promoter Allgood Entertainment (represented by Ira Meyerowitz and Jon Kekielek of MJlawfirm) sued Michael for $40 million, claiming that he (through his manager Frank DiLeo) had agreed to a single and a $30 million reunion concert with The Jackson 5 as well as sister Janet Jackson.
According to the concert promoter, the alleged contractual agreement prevented the singer from performing elsewhere before the reunion concert and for a three-month period after it.
Thus, agreeing to a 50 date residency at The O2 arena was an alleged breach of the Allgood Entertainment contract.
The filing company stated that AEG Live knew of the alleged agreement with Michael and used their dominance in the industry to coerce him into agreeing to the residency.
In August of 2010, the judge dismissed the case, stating that there was no evidence of a binding agreement & no contracts were signed. The case is currently in limbo.
Michael's Death & Concert RefundsEdit
On June 25, 2009 (three weeks & eighteen days before the planned first show), Michael died from cardiac arrest which was caused from a drug overdose of Diprivan & benzoadepines.
AEG Live (who persuaded Michael to sign up for the shows) faced a liability of up to £300 million and an empty venue for the next nine months.
The O2 arena stated that full refunds (including all ticket service charges) would be available to those who purchased tickets through authorized agents, but that "fans will have the option to be sent the actual tickets they would have received to attend the shows in lieu of the full refunds which are being offered."
The fans who bought their tickets from private sellers potentially faced difficulties.
eBay recommended that purchasers contact their sellers for refunds and stated that those who used PayPal can get their money back if the purchase was made during the last 45 days & then later stated that "all buyers on the site will receive a full refund for their ticket purchase."
Posthumous Film & AlbumEdit
Following Michael's death, AEG stated that they had over "100 hours of footage of preparations and rehearsals for the shows."
On August 10, 2009, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mitchell Beckloff approved a deal between film distributor Columbia Pictures and AEG Live for the former company to purchase and distribute rehearsal footage of Michael for a film called "Michael Jackson's This Is It."
According to court documents, Columbia paid $60 million (£35 million) for the rights to the rehearsal footage.
The papers filed in court had reportedly stated that Michael's estate will get 90% of the profits and that AEG Live will get the remaining 10% from the film's revenue.
The film was directed by Kenny Ortega who was also the director of the live concert.
It was compiled mostly from footage that was shot as reference for production discussions and was never meant to be shown publicly.
Some of the music and vocals in the film were added from previous recordings, though most were from the live performance.
The film was released on October 28, 2009.
The compliation album "This Is It" was released internationally on October 26, 2009 and released in North America on October 27, 2009.
The two-disc album features music "inspired from the documentary of the same name."
About the album, Sony said:
"Disc one will feature the original album masters of some of Michael's biggest hits arranged in the same sequence as they appear in the film" and stated that "the disc ends with two versions of the 'never-released' 'This Is It' [...] This song is featured in the film's closing sequence and includes backing vocals by Michael's brothers, The Jacksons and Alvin Chea of Take 6."
Sony added that the second disc will feature previously unreleased versions from Michael's "catalogue of hits" along with a spoken word poem called "Planet Earth" and a 36-page commemorative booklet with "exclusive photos of Michael from his last rehearsal."
- Michael Jackson – vocals, show direction & choreographer
- Orianthi Panagaris – guitar
- Tommy Organ – guitar
- Alex Al – bass
- Jonathan "Sugarfoot" Moffett – drums
- Michael Bearden – keyboards & musical director
- Morris Pleasure – keyboards
- Bashiri Johnson – percussion
- Dorian Holley – vocals & vocal direction
- Judith Hill – vocals
- Darryl Phinnessee – vocals
- Ken Stacey – vocals
- Michael Jackson
- Daniel Yao
- Nicholas Bass
- Daniel Celebre (a.k.a. Da FunkyMystic)
- Mekia Cox
- Chris Grant (a.k.a. Kriyss Grant)
- Misha Gabriel
- Shannon Holtzapffel
- Devin Jamieson
- Charles Klapow
- Ricardo Reid (aka Dres Reid)
- Danielle Rueda Watts
- Tyne Stecklein
- Timor Steffens (a.k.a. Timor Dance)
- Kenny Ortega – show direction
- Alif Sankey – associate production
- Michael Cotten – production design
- Michael Curry – production design
- Michael Jackson & Travis Payne – choreography
- Stacy Walker – choreography assistance
- Tony Testa – choreography assistance
- Patrick Woodroffe – lighting design
- David Elsewhere – dance coaching
- Gregg Smith – casting direction
- Karen Faye Heinze – hair and make-up
- Zaldy Goco – chief of costume design
- Michael Bush – costume design
- Dennis Thompkins - costume design
- AEG Live – promotion