Two of Michael Jackson’s bodyguards, Bill Whitfield and Javon Beard, have written Remember the Time: Protecting Michael Jackson in His Final Days. with Tanner Colby. The book provides some amazing insights into the last two and half years of Jackson’s life, and the lives of his children.
The book is written in a conversational form with the two taking turns writing their own thoughts about different situations. There was a difference, they write, between who Michael Jackson really was and the King of Pop. They believe they worked for Michael Jackson and his three young children, and really didn’t see the King of Pop much until towards the end of their assignment.
Whitfield writes, “When he got up in front of the cameras, it was like a bright light turned on inside him. His whole demeanor changed. This was my first time meeting the King of Pop. Up to that point, I’d only ever worked for Michael Jackson. Those were two different people, I realized.”
Why They Wrote Remember the Time
Whitfield started as Jackson’s bodyguard in December of 2006 and worked for him until his death in June 2009. Beard started shortly after Whitfield did. The two wanted to write the book to let the world see a different side of Jackson’s life.
“We wanted the world to see a glimpse of the good man and wonderful father that we had the privilege of serving,” Whitfield writes. “We decided that a book written by us—a direct account unfiltered by reporters and commentators—would be the most effective means to set the record straight.”
During most of the two bodyguards’ time working for Jackson, the singer was in serious financial trouble and was traveling from city to city and hotel to hotel or rented home to rented home. Once, Whitfield had to buy iPhones for Jackson and Jackson’s mother because Jackson didn’t have credit to do so himself. Whitfield and Beard were with Jackson 24/7 almost from the beginning of their time with him, giving up their own family lives to serve Jackson and his family. There were times toward the end of their story that they both went without pay for months, putting their own financial status in jeopardy.
The reader gets the sense this was more of a mission for them and less of a job. They both felt they needed to be there for Jackson and his kids. With all of the people coming and going in the Jackson family’s lives, the two believed they were there to provide some form of normalcy and routine.
Stories of Jackson’s Life
The authors relate a number of stories about Jackson, including his need to ride in his own SUVs for security reasons. They also write about Jackson’s abandonment of his ranch, Neverland. They include stories about some of Jackson’s obsessions, such as checking the locks on the doors throughout the night.
They also write about the star’s relationship with his family. They write about the first time they met Dr. Conrad Murray, later convicted of involuntary manslaughter for causing Jackson’s death, when he came to the house to help one of the kids who was sick. There are also stories about Jackson’s fans and the relationship he had with them.
The stories are firsthand and show the reader how the most recognized person in the world tried to live a decent life and provide his kids a life of privilege while at the same time infusing some form of normalcy. The authors write about how much the kids loved their father and enjoyed being with him.
The book is well written and does give an aerial view of the life of Jackson and how he protected his kids. I say aerial because the two were only with Jackson for a short time. While they do write about the child molestation trials that Jackson endured, they don’t discuss the rumored drug use until the end of the book. They also don’t write about the plastic surgeries.
They did not experience most of the other controversies surrounding his early life and career that led Jackson to be in the condition he was in when they joined his security team. The authors have tried to find the positive sides of Jackson’s life during the time they served him and that’s what they try to write about the most in this book.
The book is a good read. For someone who grew up listening to the Jackson Five and then Michael Jackson as a solo artist, it was a relief to read that Jackson did try to take care of his kids in the best manner he could.
Jackson’s story is proof that fame and fortune are not always what they appear to be on the surface. Regardless of what you believe is true regarding the child molestation charges, Jackson paid a huge price for his talent and tenacity. He gave the ultimate price by giving up his privacy, his trust of others including his siblings, and his right to live freely and openly.