Tribute artiste Michael Firestone opens up about imitating Michael Jackson


'I Am King-The Michael Jackson Experience', a live concert paying tribute to the King of Pop has taken the world by storm. '' As close as you will get to see the King of Pop live in concert''—that's how BookMyShow, which is bringing the concert tour to India for the first time, describes it.

Ahead of his performance in St John's Auditorium in Bengaluru on March 16, Michael Firestone, the most famous MJ tribute artiste, talks to THE WEEK.

You are known to be ''the most sought after MJ tribute artist''. Tell us about your journey. What was the hardest part of it?

Well, I appreciate that! I just loved MJ’s music and his performances since I was a child. I would sing and dance all the time. I put in a lot of practice into singing and dancing like him. I have starred in several different MJ tribute shows. To this day, I get producers calls asking me to star in their MJ shows. What makes 'I AM KING' special is that it is my show. I wrote it, which makes it different from all the other shows I have starred in.

The hardest part is when there is negative press about MJ. I don’t like when people think he is a bad guy. I don’t poke fun at him, not for any money or any exposure. Life can bring with it many surprises, some good, some bad, but I have never thought of giving up. This has been a very positive and amazing journey.

Tell us about your meeting with MJ

I met him in Las Vegas in 2002. He was super nice and had a very calm and positive vibe about him. He called me several weeks later and we talked for several hours about everything—life, love, the universe...

How do you prepare for MJ's excruciating dance moves?

Well, a lot of rest! Stretching and warming up is important as well.

How does it feel to perform in Indianapolis, MJ's home state?

It’s pretty inspirational...This is where it all started when he was just a child.

What are the highlights of 'I AM KING—The Michael Jackson Experience'?

The band and the dancers! We try to cover as much as we can. In 90 minutes, we cover 30 years of music. The biggest highlight though is always the audience.

Will you sing 'Billie Jean' in Bengaluru?

Yes. I will be performing 'Billie Jean' in Bengaluru. It is in the top two of my favourite songs to perform.

What is it like to be in a touring band? Do you like to travel? What do you want to experience in the mystical land of India?

Touring in a band has its ups and downs. It is important to have fellow band mates/performers who equally love what they do. We have an amazing set of performers and human beings. I love each and every one of them. I don’t like the travelling part of it, but love visiting new places and being on new stages. I would like to experience the culture, and look forward to meeting new people in India.

What makes MJ so unique?

Everything – the singing, dancing, songwriting and most important, MJ was a humanitarian...his music is still iconic and will stay iconic far into the future.