Michael Jackson’s final days

Maclean’s reviews Remember the Time



By Bill Whitfield and Javon Beard with Tanner Colby

“We both carried semiautomatic Glock pistols with extended magazines. We had Tasers. Each of them delivered a charge of 1.2 million volts, powerful enough to take down a 300-lb. man. We had a cache of backup weapons: MP5 fully automatic submachine guns, military-style AR-15s, 12-gauge automatic shotguns, and concealable MAC-10s.” Such, says Javon Beard, was the arsenal required to protect Michael Jackson. Apparently it took enough weaponry to flatten a village to safeguard a fawn of a man who espoused kindness and goodwill but, according to Beard’s co-sentry, Bill Whitfield, “trusted no one.”

In December 2006, Beard and Whitfield were hired to transport Jackson from McCarran Airport to his rented Las Vegas mansion. That one-night assignment became a full-time gig, continuing uninterrupted until the superstar’s death 2½ years later. Apart from Jackson’s three children, no one maintained closer access during his final years.

The narrative, shaped by Beard and Whitfield in alternating snippets, is heartfelt: their respect for Jackson as a boss and father, and their affection for his kids, sincere. Indeed, while seemingly everyone in Jackson’s life had their hands deep in his pockets, Beard and Whitfield remained steadfast even after months without a penny in salary. (Jackson’s finances were, they observed, a Gordian knot of loans and counter-loans involving tens of millions of dollars, a flurry of Peter-paying-Paul transactions to keep him a half-step ahead of endless lawsuits and creditors.)

Through most of the bodyguards’ tenure, Jackson remained professionally inactive, rarely leaving whatever house they were guarding. Still, the pair were front-row witnesses to the circus that was his life—estranged family members showing up at all hours, rabid fans parked on the sidewalk, Jackson’s crazy impulses and spending sprees, the tsunamic frenzies whenever he appeared in public. The emerging image is of a sweet and precocious but lonely man-child. Then, as he prepares for his never-realized comeback tour, Beard and Whitfield witness an astonishing transformation, realizing there are two Michael Jacksons: the fragile Peter Pan and the mighty King of Pop—dynamic, authoritative, fearless.

The million-dollar question—what really happened the night Jackson died in L.A.?—remains unanswered. Beard and Whitfield were stuck in Vegas. Yet such an anticlimax in no way diminishes what is a candid, intimate and remarkably sage appreciation of a tortured soul with everything and nothing.


Michael Jackson’s final days

  1. Oh, but we know very well what happened on June 25, 2009. We know because there has been a trial, conviction and sentencing of the used to be doc who is responsible for said death…not to mention confirmation by the Appeals Court that one incompetent, arrogant and careless doctor is to blame.

  2. Thank you for your review, sir. With all due respect, however, the “tortured” part of the “tortured soul” you reference came principally from outside, not from within. Never has anyone so talented and giving been subject to so many outright lies, extortion attempts, personal betrayals, and obsessive blatantly non-factual reporting by an arrogant media. Michael Jackson inspired millions while alive and still does today in spite of the torture he had to endure from family and system. If he “trusted no one”, there were many very understandable reasons.

  3. Here is the Amazon Discussion for “Remember the Time.” A must-read.

    Conrad Murray’s Staunchest Supporters & More Betrayal
    Sunspot says:
    These renegade bodyguards, William Whitfield and Javon Beard, went on Good Morning America on the first day of jury deliberations in Murray’s criminal trial for having killed Michael Jackson. On national TV, they declared Murray’s innocence and argued that he should not be convicted and not go to jail. That was Nov. 4, 2011, and their performance can be viewed on Hulu and the GMA website. How is that for betrayal of their deceased employer Michael Jackson? But Whitfield and Beard got their 15 minutes of fame that day.

    GMA: http://www.hulu.com/watch/296794

    Three days later Murray was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in the death of Michael Jackson and sentenced to 4 years in jail [later reduced to less than 2 years]. Whitfield and Beard have remained Murray’s advocates.
    With this book they are exposing MJ and his three minor children to public scrutiny – these same men who pledged and were paid to keep MJ, Prince, Paris, and Blanket PRIVATE and away from public knowledge. The children were 10, 9, and 5 years old when Whitfield and Beard were employed to protect them. Their father even veiled them to keep them unrecognizable and relied on bodyguards to keep them private. More betrayal now, with this book, for children who pay an exorbitant price just for being the offspring of the greatest entertainer of our time. If the bodyguards of the children of President Obama or Matt Damon or Ben Affleck were exposed in this way in a tell-all book, people would be outraged. Because it is Michael Jackson, it seems, people take for granted anything that otherwise would be bizarre, off limits, and inappropriate, and this attitude extends to his innocent children.
    You can buy this book or ignore it or boycott it.
    If you care about Michael Jackson or his children, you will know your best option.

    CM Supporters & Lies: it should be “… Protecting Michael Jackson Many Months Before His Death”
    Brad says:
    In the title of their book and elsewhere, Whitfield & Beard claim to have been with MJ “in his final days,” whereas they had NO CONTACT with MJ during all of 2009 [he died on June 25, 2009] – in fact, no contact with him for 8 months before his death. [Documents & testimony from the Murray trial verify this time frame.]
    These bodyguards have also misrepresented and lied about the amount of time that they were in service to Michael Jackson; they claim 2-1/2 years of service. They were with him only from the end of December 2006, to October 2008 (21 months – not 30 months).
    The bodyguards describe their book (on Amazon) as covering their time with MJ “from Neverland to his death.” Neither of these bodyguards even visited Neverland and they had no contact with MJ for fully 8 MONTHS before his death.
    In the description of their book (on Amazon), they claim to be “the only two men who know what 60 million fans around the world still want to know: what really happened to the King of Pop?” In reality, they have no more information than anyone else who has followed MJ’s last months. They also insist that Conrad Murray is innocent and should never go to jail [GMA program – 11/04/11], which assertions reveal their ignorance regarding the proven cause of MJ’s death.

    BETRAYAL of MJ & his young children!
    Tammy thao says:
    Both of these bodyguards are violating their confidentiality contracts with Michael Jackson by releasing this book.
    Both are violating required confidentiality regarding Prince, Paris, and Blanket – all MINORS.
    MJ’s young children are very vulnerable to betrayal, exploitation, and embarrassment. Paris attempted suicide in June 2013, partly because of painful media intrusion into her private life. The children’s guardians have not approved these bodyguards’ public disclosures about MJ’s children.
    William Whitfield bragged on Good Morning America on March 10/11, 2010, that he had “kept Michael Jackson’s financial records.” He would be divulging this private and confidential information in his book about MJ.
    These bodyguards are revealing private information in spite of the undisputed fact that their paid jobs for him required that they keep this information private and confidential.
    These bodyguards are revealing private information and events about Michael Jackson, his family members, and his minor children for the SOLE PURPOSE of making money on their betrayals, many of which will be detrimental, damaging, and embarrassing to the Jacksons.
    Theirs is the ultimate betrayal of their employer MJ, whose primary goal for them was to keep his personal life safe & private.

    Prince, Paris & Blanket are betrayed & exploited in this book!
    Tina H. says:
    Prince, Paris, and Blanket Jackson – these bodyguards’ clients – are all still minors, entitled to their privacy, and at especially sensitive ages to have to deal with yet more betrayal, inappropriate exposure, exploitation, and public scrutiny. They are VICTIMS of this book.
    William Whitfield promised several times, via social media, that he would obtain the approval of Katherine Jackson before releasing his book for publication. Unsurprisingly, that never happened because Katherine does not need any more heartache or public disclosures by paid employees to embarrass, exploit, and shame her family members – her children and her grandchildren.
    William Whitfield promised, via social media, to give a significant portion of the proceeds from his book to a large number of charities. There has been no mention of any contributions to charities since the announcement was made that the book would be available in June 2014.
    None of MJ’s security personnel were ever allowed inside his home without special permission for a special reason, ensuring that these two bodyguards’ exposure to MJ and his children was very limited. This reality begs the question of how much “information” that is “revealed” in the book is lies, misrepresentations, and/or exaggerations for the sole purpose of selling books. The bodyguards claim to expose MJ’s “home life,” whereas they were not allowed in his home!

  4. I believe the story we were told regarding his death is questionable……….

Sign in to comment.