*No doubt, working as security for the most famous person in the world – especially if that person happens to be Michael Jackson – will eventually give way to a book. Can you imagine the experiences Bill Whitfield and Javon Beard, two men who spent 2 -1/2 years working together as the security team for Jackson, were privy to?
Now, as we approach the fifth year of Jackson’s passing (June 25, 2014), the two men have come out with a book that sheds light on the ways of their reclusive boss called “Remember the Time: Protecting Michael Jackson in His Final Days.”
Bill Whitfield was approached by a friend in 2006, who wanted him to work security for a mystery client who turned out to be Michael Jackson.
Whitfield, who had previously done security for Uptown Records founder Andre Harrell, was shocked to learn that Jackson’s entire security team would be him. So they brought in Javon Beard, who had never worked for a celebrity of this magnitude.
The two men were often Jackson’s sole conduit to the outside world, planning every aspect of his life to ensure the safest possible conditions. They kept him shielded even from his own family — who had to make appointments to see The King of Pop, per his request.
The men share many stories the public has probably never heard; including the stars’ naivete about real life conditions in the world such as homelessness, panic attacks, and paranoia.
Whitfield recalls the first time Jackson ever saw homeless people, from the window of his limo while driving around Las Vegas in early 2007. According to Whitfield, “Mr. Jackson saw these people and said, ‘Why are these people out there?’ ”
“Those are homeless people, sir,” Whitfield replied. “He was like, ‘Really? Wow.’ ”
Jackson had Beard, who was driving, pull over, and he watched them in amazement from his limo. He had the driver call a homeless woman over to the car and gave the ever-grateful stranger $300, leaving her close to tears. But as Beard started to pull away, they noticed a man she was with try to take the money, so Jackson gave the man $300 as well. “The lady started crying,” writes Beard, “like she’d been saved.”
The elusive star spent the rest of the night giving hundred-dollar bills to homeless people. “It’s just amazing,” he later said. “This country is so rich, and these people are poor and living on the street.”
The two speak of Jackson’s paranoia…
“He was always going around the house at 3 [or] 4 in the morning, checking locks on all the doors,” recalls Whitfield, who notes that Jackson “trusted no one” and “didn’t sleep much.”
His panic attacks…
Jackson even had “panic buttons” installed in several rooms for him and his children to press if there was trouble. “The alarm didn’t sound inside the house,” writes Whitfield. “Just in the [security] trailer, to alert us. And it was a loud-ass alarm.”
The first time the panic button was pressed, early one morning in April 2007, Whitfield heard it in the security trailer, ran around the house toward the kitchen door and stormed the kitchen with his semi-automatic Glock drawn — only to find Jackson and his children quietly eating their cereal. “They saw me and they froze,” he writes. “[Jackson’s son Blanket] was across the room by the TV, where the panic button was mounted on the wall. He was just walking around, hitting buttons.” While everyone was safe, Jackson was not happy about having a weapon pulled on his family. “Oh,” writes Whitfield, “he got on me about that.”
Michael lost his desire to go to an event he’d planned for weeks when brother Randy Jackson burst through the gates of his home demanding money he says Michael “owed him.”
Michael lost his desire to go to an event he’d planned for weeks when brother Randy Jackson burst through the partially opened gates of his home once, demanding money he says Michael “owed him.”
The security team also speak of Jackson’s romance with a woman he only referred to as “Friend.”
While in Virginia in September 2007, Jackson told Whitfield that he needed to pick someone up from the airport. When Whitfield asked if the person needed to be vetted, Jackson said no, and referred to his mystery visitor simply as “Friend.” This visitor, it turned out, was Jackson’s secret girlfriend.