This week’s video feature is going to be a Michael Jackson full-length concert, sort of… in fact this is the The Michael Jackson This Is It documentary. The video is made up from rehearsal footage where the band was preparing for Michael Jackson’s farewell tour. It is featuring an extra funky band with Alex Al on bass. The video speaks for itself, so take a listen below.
During the preparation for the Michael Jackson This Is It Tour tragedy struck, Michael was found dead and the whole tour got canceled. Good thing is that they captured every rehearsal on tape. At least we have a glimpse of how this extra funky band would have sounded live on tour.
The band members on this tour were Michael’s long time drummer Jonathan “Sugarfoot” Moffett, guitarists Tommy Organ, Orianthi Panagaris. Other members included Mo Pleasure, Michael Bearden, Darryl Phinnessee, Judith Hill, Dorian Holley, Ken Stacey, Bashiri Johnson, and of course the funky bass player himself Alex Al.
Michael’s music was always heavily bass oriented, so it is no surprise that Michael was specifically asking for Alex Al to play on this tour. They have worked together in the past on Michael’s 30th Anniversary Special TV show so he was already on his radar. Furthermore, he also played with Michael Bearden, who was hired as the musical director, so everything kind of worked out for Alex to be on this tour.
Alex also mentioned about Michael that, “Bass was the most important instrument to him. He’d make references to Paul McCartney’s melodic playing with the Beatles, James Jamerson being upfront and center with Motown or Stevie Wonder’s left hand.”
Al was born in Detroit and had a similar start with music like that of Michael’s and the Jackson 5. At only 12 years old he played bass, a cheap Fender Precision bass copy in his brother’s funk band. Alex soon became one of the top players in his hometown and was already on tour by the age of 17 with artist Carl Carlton. He also got to open for bands such as The Gap Band and Cameo to name a few. Al soon moved to Los Angeles where he attended the Musicians Institute and his career took off from there.
He befriended LA bass playing legends such as Rickey Minor and Nathan East, who would recommend him for work. This relationship helped him get started in the LA scene. He began to work with artists live and in the studio such as El Debarge, Bobby Brown, Diana Ross, and the Spice Girls to name a few. Later, Al started to work with Quincy Jones which resulted in more exposure on the Los Angeles scene. This led to recordings and live shows with legendary artists such as Herbie Hancock, George Benson, Paul Simon, Sting, Smokey Robinson. He also collaborated with artists such as Janet Jackson, Tupac Shakur, the Pussycat Dolls, Uncle Kracker, and Jordin Sparks to name a few.
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