A devastating portrait (full, hi-res image after the jump) of the late Michael Jackson appears on the cover of Q Magazine (August 2009), possibly the last coverstory he posed for in advance of his This Is It comeback shows at London's O2 Arena. John Wright shot the pulls-no-punches photo, in which the performer's face appears remarkably gaunt, he has salt-and-pepper stubble on his chin, his lips are bright red, his tortured nose looks ready to be brushed away and—above a surprisingly hairy brow—the netting holding his wig in place is clearly visible under a pound of makeup.
Wright reported that Jackson's demeanor at his 90-second (!) photo shoot (he seems to have wrung only two shots out of it) was that of an unfailingly polite person whose parents would "be proud of how you'd brought him up." Ironic.
The feature, "Michael Jackson Unmasked," was written by Cole Moreton. It is a warts-and-all story of how Jackson was lured back to the stage that begins: "Will he turn up? Will he sing more than a few lines? Can Michael Jackson really survive 50 shows or will his body or mind, both seemingly so fragile, disintegrate under the pressure of it all?"
The hard-hitting report is prefaced online with an apology considering it went to press before Jackson answered the latter question.
The mag also includes a truly fascinating read on "The Making of Thriller"...and the Jacko feature is coincidentally followed by a story called "CSI: Rock 'n' Roll," all about the gone-too-soon deaths of rock stars. Somewhere, Vincent Price is laughing.
It's unfortunate timing, but the article rings true, especially in light of the probably understandable and predictable deification process that's been happening in the wake of his shocking death.
Next up on the Michael Jackson unmasked tour, Ian Halperin's book Unmasked: The Final Years of Michael Jackson.