Chicago media remember the King of Pop

June 26, 2009 (CHICAGO) The world knew Michael Jackson because people in our area saw his talent and nurtured his career.

Local leaders in radio and publishing were there for Jackson when others were not.

Michael Jackson arrived for an exclusive photo shoot with Ebony magazine in 2007. Jackson and his family appeared in dozens of Ebony and Jet covers over the years.

But more than that, Jackson relied on Johnson Publishing's late founder, John Johnson.

"He would call my father just to run business ideas by him we've grown up with him and grown up with the family and at the same time Michael's grown up through the pages of Ebony and Jet," said Linda Johnson Rice, Johnson Publishing.

Johnson's daughter, now the chairman and CEO of Johnson Publishing, believes Jackson was preparing for a comeback.

"Just as we get to that moment of anticipation it's denied us," said Johnson Rice.

Some Chicagoans were responsible for Jackson's rise.

Pervis Spann was known as the blues man when he was on the air at WVON.

Spann produced talent shows at the old regal theater where the Jackson five regularly stole the show.

"He was just a boy, a kid and he could twist his body any kind of way he wanted," said Spann.

"A lot of the guys wouldn't even come to the talent shows when they knew Michael Jackson and the Jackson 5 were there," said Darrell Spann, son of Pervis Spann.

In Gary, Gordon Keith produced one of the Jackson 5's first records. Despite some legal discord with Jackson' management over the years, Keith has fond memories of Jackson.

Despite some legal discord with Jackson's management team over the years, Keith has fond memories of Jackson.

"Michael was a super kid, a super boy, a super celebrity, even at the age of 7," said Keith.

In 1982, Jackson was interviewed on the Ebony Jet showcase by Tom Joyner. In it Jackson reveals vulnerability that was came from being hoisted into stardom at such a young age.

Linda Johnson Rice says they are preparing a special tribute to Michael Jackson in the fall.

Michael Jackson in Ebony & Jet Magazines:

Michael Jackson interview in 1982 with Tom Joyner: .

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