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StarBulletin.com

Final shows on U.S. soil filled Aloha Stadium twice


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POSTED: Friday, June 26, 2009

The death yesterday of Michael Jackson leaves Honolulu as the last U.S. city where the “;King of Pop”; performed.

In January 1997, Jackson ended his “;HIStory World Tour”; with a two-night stint at Aloha Stadium. Hawaii was his only U.S. stop.

The 1997 appearances were his first in the United States since 1989 and came at a time when Jackson was using extravagant stagecraft to remind fans and detractors that he was still an entertainment force.

Promoter Tom Moffatt remembers that when advance tickets went on sale for the two Jackson concerts, “;they sold out in one day.”;

“;And this was in the time before the Internet,”; Moffatt said, “;so people were lining up at the box office to buy the tickets. To this day, Michael Jackson is the only concert act to sell out Aloha Stadium.”;

It was also the largest show ever presented there.

An early news release said the stage was built eight days before the shows because of its size—225 feet by 100 feet, which covered a good chunk of a football field. Besides the private plane that carried Jackson's entourage of more than 170, three Russian cargo planes carried more than 300 tons of technical gear, including a Russian tank that was used at the end of “;Earth Song.”;

Around 60,000 people took in the two concerts.

“;His appeal was wider than any other performer I helped put on here,”; Moffatt said. “;It ranged from kids to their grandparents.”;

The Jackson entourage, which included Jackson's then-wife, Debbie Rowe, stayed at the Alii Tower of the Hilton Hawaiian Village.

Every notable local entertainer, including Don Ho, saw the shows, Moffatt said. Out-of-town guests included Jackson's record producer, Quincy Jones, and even rocker Alice Cooper.

Jackson had performed in the islands before, specifically three sold-out shows at Blaisdell Arena in 1980 with his brothers, billed as “;The Jacksons Victory Tour.”; It was during that run that caterer and cake decorator Wes Oda met Jackson.

He made a cake reflecting the concert's stage design, which drew a special request the next night.

He was taken to the group's dressing room, Oda said. “;Then we went to his private room and knocked on his door, and heard him say, 'Yes?' in that little voice of his. He told me he wanted a special cake made for his tutor, Rose Fine, who was retiring. The design would be of an open book and a rose, with the words 'Dear Rose Fine, We Love You.' He drew it all on a brown paper bag. I said sure, and the next day I brought it to the show.”;

While Oda wasn't able to see the cake presentation, he did give the bag to a friend, a big Jackson fan.

When told Jackson had died, Oda said, “;I know most people thought he was weird, but back then, he was a regular, nice guy. It's unbelievable to find out he's dead. It's totally sad.”;