Michael Jackson: The truth about his 'final' photo shoot

Q-magazine-michael-jackson_l The image of Michael Jackson that graces the cover of Q magazine’s August 2009 issue, which coincidentally went to press shortly before Jackson’s tragic death, has been widely circulated as the last authorized photograph of the singer. While that remains likely to be true, photographer John Wright tells the Music Mix that the photo shoot in question actually took place several years ago, in approximately 2007. Guinness World Records hired Wright at the time to photograph Jackson at the company’s central London office, where the star was accepting an award for his history-making album sales. “I got a call, ‘Do you want to shoot Michael Jackson next week?'” Wright recalls. “I said, ‘Yeah, sure.’ I was extremely relaxed about it, because I was absolutely certain he would never show up. But about 2 p.m. in the afternoon, he walked in.”

Jackson was joined by “a fairly large entourage” including bodyguards, management, and a few lucky fans — but no makeup artist or stylist. “It was extremely underplayed,” says Wright. “The thing that excited me was it was an opportunity to do a really, really honest portrait of that face.” Jackson spent about an hour meeting and greeting Guinness officials before Wright got a three-minute window to shoot him. “What struck me was his shyness. He carried himself really quite humbly, I thought. I’ve shot a lot of celebrities, and was pleasantly taken with the fact that Michael Jackson went out of his way to introduce himself and shake hands with everybody on my crew, which was about four people on the day — even crossing the room to shake hands with one of my assistants, which was unnecessary, but he obviously felt compelled to out of a sense of grace and politeness.” Adds Wright, “I want to make it clear: He was attentive, he was focused, he was having fun. That wasn’t an ill man who was in the room with me.”

After photographing Jackson for about 90 seconds in total, Wright had three usable head shots, one of which he eventually sold to Q earlier this year when the magazine put together its August 2009 cover story on the King of Pop’s planned London comeback concerts. Now, as it becomes clear that the Guinness shoot may have been Jackson’s last, Wright says he’s been approached by a number of outlets looking to print the other two photos. While he provided one to a German tribute publication, he’s proceeding with caution. “It really depends on the context of what they’re doing. It will always be the picture that it is, and it’s looking like it could be the last official portrait that was shot of him. I’ve got no need to exploit the situation.” (When contacted by EW, Jackson’s reps were unable to confirm at this time whether this was his final photo shoot.)

More from EW’s Music Mix:
Joe Jackson says he sees performer potential in Michael’s kids; sweet, or kind of gross?
Rumor Patrol: Ashlee Simpson is NOT making Michael Jackson covers album
Michael Jackson memorial: Who was that singing “Heal the World”?
Michael Jackson memorial: Which performance moved you most?

Comments (70 total) Add your comment
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  • Sally in Chicago

    How can I get a copy of this magazine?

    • Aaron Shirley

      I’m not for sure, but I think that you go to file, and click print. Then do all of the adjusting and then click print again. It should go through. SORRY IF IT DOESEN’T WORK!!!! But I tryed my best!!

  • Sally in Chicago

    Oh my god, what did MJ do to himself? Why???? I read somewhere that he was bald (that is a wig he’s wearing) and his face is all sunken. Why did he do that to himself (sob).

    • 111FAS

      Sally in Chicago, shut up and get a freakin’ grip. I’m sure you’re NOT all that! Self righteous idiot! He’s still the same on the inside!

      • Sue Adams

        @111FAS – Thank you re Sally’s post – that ran along my line of thought as well!!

    • Aaron Shirley

      I don’t know, but I heard him say on an interview that “my father always used to tease me about my nose.” I think thats why.

  • Q

    kudos to the photographer for not selling those out to just whoever. Nice change of pace.

    • Julie

      No Kiddin’ Q!

  • fancypants

    MJ was too fine for words in the Thriller video and pre-1985 (well all throughout the 80s), and also in the 3 part unauthorized interview of him on YouTube. When I see him at that time I can’t help but swoon, he was BEAUTIFUL!!!!!!

  • Sally In Chicago….

    This is the real MJ without all the makeup. Though his cheeks do appear to be sunken, that happens with very thin people over time. Thought I’m sure the surgeries didn’t help. As far as the wig goes, after his scalp got burned during the filming of the Pepsi commercial, he was unable to grow much hair. He had to resort to wigs or hair pieces in the later years. I especially love the pics he did for Ebony mag. The one picture of that shoot is on the cover of a tribute magazine on news stands now. Don’t know who distributed it but it’s a good tribute.

  • Marshall

    That moon walk he did was amazing. A great showman and especially a one of a kind dancer.

  • Phil

    Q magazine is British, but is usually sold at large Borders or Barnes & Nobles with the enormous magazine sections. Borders Express would likely NOT carry it. it used to be carried at most Tower Records when they were still in business.

  • ann

    It’s a really poor choice of sunglasses. They look like the typical “alien eyes”. Also, the reflection in the lenses is distracting. I’m hoping these aren’t his final “official” portraits, because sadly they are not very flattering.

  • lol

    well, first of all he was 50 years old and he looked it second… if you’ve seen any photo of Michael within the last few years of his life you wouldve noticed that was a Lace front wig he was wearing. duh

  • Helen

    An amazing talented gentleman.A person whom, tho went thru many physical and emotional changes throughout his 1/2 a century here with us, gave of himself unselfishly and unforgetably to the world. Treat his memory likewise. Many generations will miss him a very long time to come.

  • leroy bates

    what you no a but m.j i love you for the heart and you or miss from indianaplois in

  • Sharad Gaur

    tell me some thing about M.J

  • Paris

    That is not his last photo shoot. His last shoot was for TIME magazine, and i’ve seen it, sent from the US actually too. It’s a way better picture than that one there.

  • chris

    he was the best every singer who ever lived he was amazing……………..!
    people loved him when he lived and will love him also …………….

  • Michael Forever

    Whether or not it was the last photoshoot, what is important here is that the photographer notes that Michael was humble and respectful – something that the papers seem to be ignoring. I am pleased that the photographer is more interested in what potential buyers would use the pics for, rather than just making a quick buck. Bravo John Wright. I’m sick of hearing made up stories about MJ. What I would like to see is more of the folk that actually knew him joining forces to put the rumours to rest, perhaps we’ll hear more of that after the initial mourning. Michael will always be remembered by his fans, whatever lies or truths are reported about him. He was one of a kind and some of us will never forget that.

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