Saturday 27 February 2010

Jackson Guitarist: 'No Truth' to Simmons Claims

Michael Jackson's long-serving tour guitarist Jennifer Batten has slammed Gene Simmons' recent allegations against the King of Pop.

Last week I sat down for an hour-long interview with Batten, who accompanied Jackson on all three of his world tours. During her decade of service she was also seen in the Dirty Diana music video, Jackson's feature film Moonwalker and the star's record breaking Superbowl performance, which was watched by more than a billion people.

Batten performs Dirty Diana with Jackson on the Bad Tour, 1988.

During our interview, I took the opportunity to quiz Batten over allegations recently made by aging glam rocker Gene Simmons, who claimed in a Classic Rock interview that a musician friend of his had quit a Michael Jackson tour after 'seeing boys coming out of the hotel rooms'.

Was it true, I asked her, that a musician had quit one of Jackson's tours while on the road?

"Number one," said Batten, "there's no truth to it. Number two, I would guess that it was somebody who got fired. Somebody who was embarrassed that they got fired and made-up a story."

But did any musicians ever get fired mid-way through a tour?

"No. Nuh-uh. No, there were a couple of people who got fired like a week before we took out on the road."

So there you have it, folks. No musician ever left a Michael Jackson tour mid-way through. Some musicians were fired but before the tour even hit the road, meaning that they couldn't have seen anything going on inside any hotels.

Yet again, Simmons' ravings about Jackson have been entirely debunked.

Sunday 21 February 2010

'Take Me Out' Contestants are Actors, Models and Dancers

Ever wondered why the girls on ITV1 Blind Date-a-like 'Take Me Out' are so quick to turn their lights off? Their motivation is sometimes unfathomable. 'We interviewed Simon's mum' says Paddy McGuinness - and four lights go out. Why? Because he has a mother?! What is going on here?

I think I may have cracked it.

A shocking number of the contestants on Take Me Out are actually entertainment industry professionals; actors, singers, dancers and models. So their compulsive light switching is apparently nothing to do with their compatibility with each potential suitor, and everything to do with keeping their mugs on the telly for as long as possible.

Roz is an 'experienced video model and dancer'. Here's her StarNow profile. Caroline, another model/actress, is also a StarNow client. So is Louisa. And Maria.

Elisha is registered to Solomon Artistes casting agency (you'll have to hit F3 and type her name in).

Natasha's facebook directs you to Summer Star Entertainment's website. Tabitha's facebook says she's a singer, dancer, actor and model. Jayne's facebook includes pro-shot pole dancing photos and she writes on her wall about upcoming photoshoots.

Siobhan's facebook states, simply, 'I'm going to be a star'.

According to Wales Online, Charlene is a model, while the Accrington Observer reveals that the show's infamous twins are budding actresses.

Georgee is a gigging singer/songwriter. Tandie is a 'singer, songwriter, actress and dancer'. Laura's myspace page lists her as a singer and actress and reveals that she's appeared in 'Skins'.

Meanwhile, this facebook page reveals that Rihanna appeared under the name Taniesha in a film called 'One Day'.

But it's not just the girls who are at it. A hefty number of the boys also seem to have ulterior motives.

Scottish hunk Tony Pang said he was a humble waiter, but here's his StarNow profile touting him as an actor and model. He's also the cover boy for PhD Nutrition, whatever that may be.

Tom Chilton has modelled for Cosmopolitan.

Adam Fothergill turns out to be a professional singer represented by Talent Lounge (here he is on the Talent Lounge YouTube page).

Rob Kilburn's facebook page reveals that he attended the Italia Conti Theatre School and runs a company called Limelite Events.

Perhaps most bizarrely, one of the batchelors in episode two was Alan Whitehead, former member of 60s pop band Marmalade, who had a British number one with a cover of Obla Di, Obla Da.

So just how real is 'Take Me Out'? At least five of the contestants are represented by the same talent agency and upwards of 15 others are professional actors, models, dancers or musicians.

And those are just the ones I've managed to track down in an hour-long research window.

Wednesday 10 February 2010

FreelanceUK Spotlight Interview + Your Chance to Ask Me A Question

I've been chosen as the subject of this month's FreelanceUK Spotlight Feature.

The monthly interview focuses on the peaks and pitfalls of life as a freelancer, offering advice and annecdotes from self-employed professionals in various industries.

This month I have been selected to speak about my experiences as a freelance writer. During my interview I discussed my work on James Brown and Michael Jackson, offered tips on how to earn money as a writer and recalled how I had been ripped off early in my career - plus more.

To read the interview, click here. Comments can be left on this page.

Given the volume of emails I have been receiving from supporters in recent months, I have decided to take some questions from my readers. They can be about anything to do with my work - how to get into writing, how to get published - or my specialist subjects such as Michael Jackson, James Brown and so on.

I have set up a dedicated email address for this Q+A and any others I might do in the future. Readers can send one question plus their first name and country to Put your email subject as 'BLOG INTERVIEW'. I will answer the first ten questions I receive in another blog entry in the near future.

Friday 5 February 2010

Gene Simmons In Bonkers Jackson Rant

It seems that the lead in Gene Simmons' make-up has gone to his brain.

In a bizarre rant during a Classic Rock interview, Simmons accused Michael Jackson of child molestation, citing several completely fictitious pieces of evidence.

The aging glam-rock star claimed that he knew a musician who quit a Michael Jackson tour because of 'what he saw' on the road. I am frequently paid as a Jackson expert and I can state with certainty that I am unaware of any musician ever quitting a Michael Jackson tour mid-way through. In fact, Jackson used the same musicians every time he toured, with minor alterations on a tour by tour basis, but never mid-way through.

Elsewhere, Simmons claimed that Michael Jackson was on tape ordering 'Jesus Juice' for children. This is a fiction.

It was alleged during Jackson's trial that he served alcohol to the Gavin Arvizo and his siblings, but they each gave contradictory accounts of the incident. Staff accused by the children of serving them booze all denied having ever done so, but did reveal that the children had been caught stealing alcohol behind Jackson's back.

No audio tape of Jackson ordering alcohol for children was ever brought forward and the star was acquitted on multiple counts of serving alcohol to a minor. Simmons' claim that Jackson was on tape ordering alcohol for children is pure fantasy.

By far, Simmons' most outrageous claim was that during Jackson's trial a travel agent testified that the star had hired them to fly to Brazil and fetch young boys for him. This allegation is a total figment of Gene Simmons' imagination. No such testimony ever occurred during Jackson's trial.

Growing up, I was always taught that if you don't know what you're talking about, you shouldn't say anything. Evidently Gene's parents didn't instill in him the same belief. That, or he's just going senile.

It is completely irresponsible to pass comment on a criminal investigation that you know nothing about and even more irresponsible to make a criminal accusation and then support it with non-existent evidence. Simmons has heard fragments of reported speech from Jackson's trial and then assigned them entirely new meaning as the years have passed, building up an arsenal of evidence against Jackson which never actually existed.

However, the blame doesn't lie solely at Simmons' door. Classic Rock should do their research before regurgitating such drivel. Yes, it is reported speech, but it is still irresponsible for any publication to perpetuate baseless myths which indicate that an innocent man is a paedophile.

Thanks to Google News, this story has now gone global. All over the world people are reading it and many will believe Simmons' comments, partially because he's in the music business and there is an element of presumed insider knowledge, but mostly because the initial reporting on Jackson's trial was so inept.

Simmons' comments have no basis in reality. Jackson is categorically not on tape ordering children alcohol. There was categorically not any testimony at his trial about flying boys in from Brazil. These two allegations are without any evidencial basis whatsoever, and for Simmons to state them as fact is despicable.

In future, Simmons should either do his research or shut his trap. His irresponsible and unfounded allegations have now entered the homes of millions around the globe and you can bet your bottom dollar that nobody is going to print a rebuttal or a retraction.