Late Monday night at Tower Records on the Sunset Strip a crowd of about 300 gathered for the midnight sale of the new Michael Jackson album, “HIStory.” A chant went up: “Michael, Michael. . . .”
The pop star wasn’t expected to attend, but his fans would be treated to the unveiling of a 30-foot-high plaster and wood statue, modeled after the computer-generated image of Jackson that appears on the cover of his new album and in a short promotional film shown in theaters.
One problem: The installation was not completed in time for the midnight release. Due to West Hollywood ordinances that prohibit construction after 7 p.m., the Jackson statue stood atop the store armless--the King of Pop as Venus de Milo.
“I think they got the skin color just about right,” joked Jodi Kriens, 53, of Beverly Hills, referring to the statue’s dismal gray plaster coating.
Like anything that has to do with Jackson these days, the release of his long-awaited and even longer-hyped “HIStory” album attracted both the faithful and the curious. Among the die-hard Jackson fans standing in line were Paulette Murray, 36, who said she traveled from England to be with her friend and fellow Jackson fan, Sharon Burns, 24, of West Hollywood, for the album’s release. They were the first two in line, having waited since 2 p.m.
“We stuck together through all the trouble Michael went through. Now we’re together for the good stuff,” Murray said.
Highland residents Richard and Donna Green were waiting in line for four hours with their two children, Heather, 10, and Brian, 6. They all were Jackson fans, Richard said, even after Jackson was accused of child molestation.
“They just like to pick on him,” Richard said. “Who else does what he does for kids? No one.”
Brian, meanwhile, was impressed with the statue of Jackson, but not with the Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley look-alikes that were nearby.
“That Michael is a woman,” he said of the impersonator. He was right.
While the 15 new songs on “HIStory” blared over the Tower speaker system, they could not drown out the sounds of cash registers ringing up Jackson merchandise--videos, singles and laser discs, in addition to the album. Store manager Todd Meehan said Tuesday the Jackson midnight release was among the most successful they have hosted when the artist was not present to autograph albums.
Both the Tower Records in West Hollywood and the store on Broadway in Manhattan, which had no Jackson promotions, reported early Tuesday that they each sold more than 250 CD, LP and cassette copies of “HIStory.” “It looks like it should set some records,” said Tim Devin, manager of the Manhattan store.
Among the first to buy the album in West Hollywood after its midnight release was actor Damon Wayans.
“Controversy sells, so sue me, Jew me or whatever,” Wayans said, referring to the controversial lyrics for the song “They Don’t Care About Us,” which appears on “HIStory.”
After Jewish leaders said the lyrics could be misinterpreted as racist, Epic Records announced that future shipments of the disc will include an explanatory note from Jackson. The early shipments of the album do contain a different sort of message from Jackson, though: “Dedicated to all my children of the world . . . I love you all dearly, and this album could not have been made without your love and support.”
“That’s so nice, he’s such a sweetheart,” said Teresa Westlin, 24, of Pasadena. “I don’t care what they say about him, he’s a wonderful man.”