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Arts and Entertainment

Michael Jackson Was Afraid He'd Be Shot In US, So He Chose To Tour In UK

Michael Jackson gestures on March 5, 2009 as he announced plans for a summer residency at the O2 Arena in London, England. (Photo by Tim Whitby/Getty Images)
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Michael Jackson did worry about dying in the weeks before his fatal overdose, but he was worried more about being shot than his drug habit.

Jason Pfeiffer, who worked for Jackson's dermatologist and considered himself a friend, told The Sun that Jackson was preoccupied with thoughts of his own death. Pfeiffer said he was worried that he would be shot onstage—particularly in the United States where gun control laws are relatively lax.

Pfeiffer told the UK tabloid: "That's why he ditched a US comeback as people had access to guns here and would shoot him. He thought America was too dangerous. But he still had some fears that he would be shot on stage."

Pfeiffer said Jackson was so worried that he began saying his goodbyes to people as his tour date approached. Pfeiffer remembered: "The last time I saw him he was saying his goodbyes to everyone in the office."

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But at the time, it seemed obvious to Pfeiffer that the real danger was his addiction to painkillers—not a bullet. Pfeiffer said, "Michael had a death wish with his drug addiction. He faked medical issues so that he could receive heavy-duty painkiller Demerol — and demanded enough to knock out an elephant. Michael felt he was immune to normal volumes and begged for extra quantities."

Pfeiffer said that Jackson's dermatologist and long-time friend Dr. Arnold Klein would administer pain shots to him, and Jackson would hardly to be able to walk out of the clinic. Sometimes Pfeiffer would help him lie down to sleep on a couch, and other times he'd walk him out the clinic door under a jacket so no one could see him staggering. He said no one at the clinic realized Jackson was telling the same stories to other doctors to get pain medicine: "It was inevitable that something was going to go wrong."

Jackson's family filed a civil suit that's about to start against tour promoter AEG, claiming that the company was neglectful in hiring Dr. Conrad Murray in the lead-up to his tour. Murray is currently serving a sentence for involuntary manslaughter after giving Jackson an overdose of sedatives that ultimately killed him.