Taped conversations between Michael Jackson and his one-time friend Rabbi Shmuley Boteach are the subject of a new book: 'The Michael Jackson Tapes: A Tragic Icon Reveals His Soul in Intimate Conversation.' The rabbi appeared on NBC's 'Today' show to discuss the 30 hours of recordings (taped with Jackson's permission) he used when writing the book. "I don't think Michael will be looked at the same after people read this book," Boteach says. "It's impossible... So many of us who look at Michael as strange or weird - that's not what I experienced. [I saw] indescribable pain."
The conversations, which occurred nine years ago, paint a picture of a troubled man. He described the abuse he suffered at the hands of his father, Joe Jackson, telling Boteach that his youngest performances with the Jackson Five were marred by his father's attention. "You'd look in the audience and he'd make a face like this," Jackson said. "You'd go, 'Oh, I can't mess up, he's gonna kill us.' It would just scare the bejesus out of you."
The punishment for messing up, as Jackson recalled, was being stripped naked and doused with oil before being whipped with a cord. "He was rough," Jackson said. "The way he would beat us was rough. There was nothing I could do. I hated him for it."
Jackson also told Boteach that he felt that his childhood was lost to a music career that was more time-consuming than he wanted. "I wanted so badly to play in the park across the street because the kids were playing baseball and football but I had to record," Jackson said. "I could see the park, right across the street. But I had to go in the other building and work until late at night making the albums.
"I sat there looking at the kids with tears running down my face and I would say, "I am trapped and I have to do this for the rest of my life. I am under contract."
One of Jackson's more questionable revelations was his opinion of Nazi party leader Adolf Hiltler. The King of Pop told Rabbi Boteach that he considered Hitler a "genius orator" and said no one is purely evil, insisting he could have helped Hitler "by touching something inside of him."
Jackson described himself as a lonely man, isolated by his fame, and explained some of his bizarre habits to Boteach. "There was Michael Jackson, the King of Pop, an aloof superstar who had everything and needed no one," he said. "And Michael Jackson, the shy kid under the mask, who lacked even a single real friend. I knew that something was wrong with me at that time. But I needed someone... That's probably why I had the mannequins."
"I would say because I felt I needed people... I was too shy to be around real people. I didn't talk to them."