Before Sheryl Crow was headlining her own venues, she was a backup singer, memorably joining Michael Jackson on his Bad Tour from 1987 to 1989.
While it helped her career, it was during that time period that Jackson befriended young James Safechuck and Wade Robson, who later accused him of sexual abuse in the documentary Leaving Neverland.
“I happened to turn on CNN the morning after [part one of the documentary] aired,” Crow told The Guardian in a new interview, “and they showed clips of the young man [Safechuck] who was on the Jackson tour with us and it made me … I mean, I still feel really…” Crow trailed off at a loss for words.
A 10-year-old Safechuck joined Jackson on the road during that tour, where he claims he shared a hotel room with the King of Pop while his parents had another room down the hall. Safechuck alleged that it was on that tour that the abuse started and happened more than 100 times after.
Crow went on to call the allegations against Jackson “like a death in the family, you know? It’s sad.” She said Safechuck “was a great kid and the whole time he was with us — which was the better half of an 18-month tour — I always wondered: ‘What in the world are his parents doing?,’ you know,” she admitted.
Crow, a mom of two sons, was asked if she was suspicious at the time.
“Honestly, I think… ” she started before trailing off then beginning again. “I think that there were a lot of exceptions made because of the damage that [Jackson] … I mean, he didn’t intentionally project it, but it was part of his aura — this almost being untouchable and almost alien-like [figure]. And, yeah, I mean, I’m sad, and I’m mad at a lot of people. I feel like there was just a huge network of people that allowed all that to go on. It’s just tragic.”
Crow went on to say that while she worked closely with Jackson — she also appeared in a video for ‘Dirty Diana’ — they weren’t that friendly.
“I think he actually did not know my name for quite a long while,” she said.
And once she became famous, she never heard from him to congratulate her on her success. Even though she was winning Grammys of her own, she was never in his orbit.
“Never,” she said. “I saw him at the Grammys and I don’t think he ever put together [who I was].”
A decade ago when Jackson died, she reminisced about the Bad Tour days.
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“I was lucky in that I got to hang out with him on a number of occasions by myself,” she told CNN. “He invited me to his hotel room in Tokyo and we watched Amos & Andy videos and the movie Shane, just completely unexpected. He was funny, he had a big laugh, he loved practical joking and I can remember vividly going to Disneyland and going on a ride with him and he wouldn’t let the ride stop and by the end of it I was just absolutely ill. And he thought that was the funniest things he’d ever seen.”
She added that his death made her “heart sick.”
After Leaving Neverland came out earlier this year, a journalist covering the Bad Tour recalled being so "deeply suspicious" about Jackson’s relationship with Safechuck that he asked the boy if he was being held against his will. Hotel staff said Safechuck stayed holed up in a room the whole time Jackson was out performing. There was a “do not disturb” sign on the door and a sheet covering the windows. A group of journalists sent a note to the room to “Little Jimmy” — Jackson’s nickname for the boy — saying, “We are in the residents’ lounge … and if you are being held against your will or if you need rescuing contact us.” However, they never heard from him.
Safechuck recalled in the disturbing documentary being groomed and abused by Jackson as a little boy. Robson made similar allegations.
Jackson’s family members have been adamant that the star was innocent of all claims. In 2005, Jackson was acquitted on all charges related to the alleged sexual abuse of a 13-year-old boy.
By Suzy Byrne, Yahoo Entertainment