Entertainment & Arts

Michael Jackson 'despondent' before comeback concerts

Michael Jackson appears at the 02 in London to announce his This Is It concerts
Image caption Jackson arrived for the London press conference in March 2009 90 minutes later than expected

Internal emails sent by the promoters of Michael Jackson's planned 2009 comeback concerts saw them voice concerns over his stability and health.

In one email, sent the day the singer appeared in London to announce his This Is It shows, he was described as "an emotionally paralysed mess".

"[Jackson] is locked in his room drunk and despondent," AEG's Randy Phillips told company president Tim Leiweke.

The message was in 250 pages of emails obtained by the Los Angeles Times.

Phillips told his boss he would try to "sober him [Jackson] up" ahead of a press conference at the 02 arena on 5 March, 2009.

Jackson eventually made a five-minute appearance that day in front of hundreds of screaming fans, 90 minutes later than scheduled.

Lawyers for AEG said most of the correspondence was produced as discovery in ongoing litigation and did not give a complete picture of events.

'No response'

According to the Los Angeles Times, the emails are likely to feature in two legal actions set to come to trial next year.

Lloyd's of London, the shows' insurers, are seeking to nullify a $17.5 million (£11m) policy, claiming AEG made false claims about Jackson's health and readiness to perform.

In a separate action, Jackson's heirs have accused the Anschutz Entertainment Group of pressuring the singer to carry on with the comeback despite indications he was too weak.

Numerous emails show Lloyd's of London unsuccessfully seeking access to five years of Jackson's medical records.

A Lloyd's underwriter wrote that repeated requests for written records were "always" met "with no response".

Michael Jackson died on 25 June 2009 from an overdose of the powerful anaesthetic propofol.

Last November his personal physician, Conrad Murray, was convicted of his involuntary manslaughter and sentenced to four years in jail.

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