A mesmerising performance by Michael Jackson lives on with MJ tribute performer Ben Bowman who offers Jackson – Live in Concert at Bognor’s Regis Centre on May 12.
“I was always a huge fan of Michael Jackson as far back as I can remember. I just loved Michael Jackson from very young. I was one of those types that did all the dance routines. I think it was just the mystery and the magic of the whole thing. When I think back, I only had two or three video tapes of his music and his films. But I just found him so mesmerising. I was really obsessed by him.
“I persuaded my mother that if he ever came to the UK, we would go and see him. He did. He came in 93 and he came to Wembley on his Dangerous tour. I was only eight or nine years old then. I think at the time I saw him as almost a superhero. I didn’t realise he was a real person until that day.
“And it just blew my mind. I will never ever in my life forget the opening. They played this huge intro video to classical music and then the stage blew up with pyrotechnics and he flew out of the stage door on like an electric platform that almost catapulted him into the air. And then he just stood there for ten minutes not doing anything while the crowds went insane. He stood there with his sunglasses on, and I remember people starting to whisper whether he was a statue and what the hell was going on, but then he just moved his head in one direction, did a spin and then a kick and went into the first song. It was amazing.
“I have seen lots of concerts. I have never been to a concert I have not enjoyed. I have never been disappointed by a concert, but I have never seen anything quite like that.
“I continued to be a massive Michael Jackson fan and then I went to college to study performing arts. And then I realised that I could do voices a little bit and could impersonate certain voices. Michael Jackson was one of those. One of my friends said ‘You should really do something with that.’ Someone said ‘You could leave here and go to RADA and still end up on EastEnders or you could become a dancer in a show and earn £70.’ It seemed to me there was more money in doing a tribute act, so I went into the office and quit the course. I hired a working men’s club and sold tickets at £2 a time and I managed to sell out. And that was where I managed to meet my first manager.
“He was an Ocado delivery driver and didn’t want to be. He said ‘Let’s go into this 50/50 and I will put up the capital to get you going.’ Together we spent in the region of £10,000 to buy all the equipment and costumes and lighting and make-up, and we put on our first show, the first show of my professional career.
“He dropped out about three years later, and I continued on my own and then I met my producer now. He came on board and said ‘Let’s take this to the next level.’”
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