Michael Jackson on Top of World: Summer of 1984

Amid shimmering performances, there were problems behind the scenes. Tickets only could be purchased through the mail using a money order and application forms cut from newspapers. Many fans could not get tickets. Michael Jackson addressed the problem at a July 1984 news conference.

"We've asked our promoter to work out a new way of distributing tickets, a way that no longer requires a money order," Jackson said. "I want you to know that I've decided to donate all my money I make from the performance to charity."

Griffin attended several "Victory" performances.

"I interviewed his brothers," said Griffin. "I saw Michael. Michael was miserable on that tour. He was completely isolated from his brothers, barely spoke to them."

The troubled tour led many fans and observes to ask a question that would haunt much of Jackson's career: How could such a sure thing also become a debacle?

"I think that Michael's issue really was the money," said John Landis. "There was so much money. ... He was generating such vast amounts of money, and there were so many people and corporate interests that wanted their share."

George said "Thriller" was a mixed blessing.

"'Thriller' was probably the best and worst thing that ever happened to [Jackson],'" George said. "Because then he spent the next 25 years of his life, you know, in pursuit of something to match that."

Jackson's response over time to his quandary would be to withdraw even further, to live in isolated splendor.

Ray still looks back on what might have been.

"We were supposed to have a secret rendezvous," she said. "A friend of the family's had contacted me, and we were supposed to meet in Vegas, but it never happened. Now it won't ever happen."

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