Saturday, June 27, 2009

NEWS: Michael Jackson’s Polish Connections

Photos: the original ticket for Jackson's only Polish concert
Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski and Michael Jackson in 1996 in Warsaw.

Pop singer Michael Jackson died suddenly on Thursday at the age of 50. In an obiturary in the daily Dziennik, musician and composer Marcin Staniszewski said that although the man may have passed away, the artist is immortal: "It's true, Michael Jackson didn't record a single album in the past decade that could come close to his legendary 'Thriller' [of 1982]. But there's no doubt in my mind that with him the world has lost the man who - aside from the Beatles and Elvis Presley - exerted the most profound influence on popular music.”

Michael Jackson has had an interesting history with Poland. In 1997, news spread that the pop star intended to build an amusement park. In May 1997, he returned to Warsaw and signed a "preliminary letter of intent" stating his desire to develop the "Family Theme Park", and rough estimates placed Jackson's intended contribution at $300-500 million.

Michael Jackson had said that Poland was the country that had moved him the most. The project, called World of Childhood, was to have been built at an airfield near the capital, Warsaw, but a Polish government commission ruled that the site is unsuitable. Marek Kwiatkowski, an art historian, represented Jackson's interests in Poland.

The decision was challenged by the Mayor of Warsaw - Pawel Piskorski who had hoped to sign the contract, create thousands of jobs and boost tourism. An agreement was never reached with city authorities, and the investment eventually fell through in 2000 as a suitable site ould not be found and Jackson's financial situation worsened.

So impressed by Poland was the singer, dancer and songwriter that he announced he wanted "to buy a castle in the beautiful country" said Piskorski.

Jackson performed in Poland only once, on September 20, 1996, as part of the HIStory World Tour. The tour included a total of 82 shows, and was attended by a record-breaking 4.5 million fans. 120,000 people attended his concert in Warsaw's Bernowo Airport, which was the second largest audience of the tour (his concert in Prague drew 127,000 fans).

At that time he also met with President Aleksander Kwasniewski. "He was a king, an extraordinary talent but at the same time a very sensitive person," recalled the former president.
In recent years Jackson attached himself to billionaires in Poland and elsewhere around the world.
His comeback tour, titled This Is It, was scheduled to begin in July of this year.