Jonathan "Sugarfoot" Moffett shares memories
Jonathan ‘Sugarfoot’ Moffett first worked with Michael Jackson when he joined the Jacksons on their Destiny Tour in 1979. He remained with the brothers for the Triumph Tour – where his work was immortalised on the Jacksons’ only live album – and then joined them on their legendary Victory Tour. He later played on the Jacksons’ album 2300 Jackson Street and on Michael’s 1988 Grammy Awards performance.
Throughout the 1980s and 1990s he worked with other music legends including Madonna, Elton John and George Michael. In 1996 he re-teamed with Michael Jackson for the HIStory World Tour, which lasted into 1997, and then joined him again in 2001 for his two 30th Anniversary Celebration concerts at Madison Square Gardens in New York.
In 2009 he was selected for the This Is It band and worked with Michael in his final weeks, days and hours of rehearsals. He performed at Michael’s Staples Centre memorial and has since worked for his Estate on its Cirque Du Soleil Immortal World Tour.
I’m out in Orange County in California. I’m looking forward to coming to Dubai – it’ll be my first time.
I first auditioned for them on February 21, 1979 and we started that particular tour in the spring. I took a chance and drove my car 3,200 miles just to follow a dream. I ran into the musical director, who’s from New Orleans, and by chance, they were on the last day of the auditions. He [the director] said he would ask the organisers to extend the auditions so that I would have a chance – they had been auditioning for two weeks.
When we started rehearsing two days after the audition, he was there. He was really very cordial with me and he said that the [Jackson] brothers spoke very highly of me and my playing and he said, ‘he will see’. He was very shy – deeply shy. And he was always courteous and very humble and also very respectful. Some people think this was overly so but that was his true nature – he was a soft, gentle human being who was concerned about everybody else’s feelings.
Yes of course. I was that way myself when I first came to Hollywood but not the way he was. I had to get my guard up too but for Michael it was more problematic. You have to remember that he was a superstar when he was a child – seven or eight years old.
I was in the rehearsals and the film. From the rehearsals it was absolutely phenomenal and the film only depicts about 75 percent of what the audience were going to see. We had one more week to go and a lot of the surprises were kept secret. It was truly one of his [Michael’s] greatest tours. For the first time when I’d worked with him he did whole new arrangements on songs.
It was a combination of his [Michael’s] ideas and the directors’ ideas – Kenny Ortega and Travis Payne [choreographer]. But Michael came up with most of the ideas himself. He was a creative person.
It is easy for people to criticise [Michael] when they’re not in the person’s shoes. Maybe you’d make better decisions – maybe they’d be worse. People love to criticise other people. Everybody’s critical of everybody else and no one wants to be criticised themselves.
In this special episode, Jonathan joins Jamon and Q to discuss his long career, music and relationship with Michael Jackson:
!!RARE!! Jonathan Moffett - Drummer view - Michael Jackson HIStory World Tour Smooth Criminal:
[RARE] Michael Jackson: HIStory World Tour | Billie Jean Live Footage | Jonathan Moffett [Drums]:
“Witness the SHEER hysteria, anarchy, frenzy and pandemonium Michael caused EVERYWHERE he went! It’s truly astonishing – And I, bore witness to it. Often, at times as I was fortunate enough to have been there, in fact, many times! These people will NEVER forget – I will NEVER forget. This is part of my life – THIS, is my legacy – And THIS has become … My History!"
Jonathan Moffett´s YouTube chanel: www.youtube.com/channel/UCtc46UMh6vpiyXcd6Cj4c5w