Who’s bad? Was Michael Jackson faking his high speaking voice?
Michael Jackson had one of the most distinctive singing voices in pop music. Whether it was his unique phrasing or intense backing vocals, the singer’s high falsetto cut through songs like a knife through butter. But was it all an act? Those closest to Jackson claimed that the singer’s voice was not as high-pitched as he led fans to believe.
Jackson’s good friends Liza Minnelli and David Gest let slip that Jackson actually had a “deep” speaking voice during a 2002 appearance on Live King Live. “I think people don’t know the real him,” Gest told the host. “He doesn’t talk like [that].”
Minnelli chimed in, detailing an incident where she picked up the phone and heard Jackson talking to her husband Gest in an unrecognizable tone. “I said, Michael, you’re busted,” she recalled. “I got you now. All these years you’ve been talking in that voice.”
Minnelli went on to theorize about the reason behind Jackson’s high-pitched affectation. “This is who you think I am. And I can be me within these walls. But you can’t come in,” she stated. “He’s been hurt too much, Larry. I mean, things have said kind of rotten things about him. The person that we know is a rather regular guy, believe it or not.”
Minnelli and Gest are the only figures who have publicly made these claims. Journalist Diane Dimond told Access Hollywood that Jackson’s speaking voice shocked her during a 2005 interview. “Somewhere in there, especially if you bring him bad news or if you make him mad, his voice gets very, very deep,” she claimed.
“I was there one day when someone asked him about Gloria Allred, the attorney that has sort of dogged him and turned around in one foul swoop and said ‘She can go to hell’ in this big, deep masculine voice,” Dimond added.
Good Morning Britain host Piers Morgan was similarly taken aback when Jackson let his normal intonation slip during a phone interview. “The weirdest thing about Michael Jackson, which encouraged my suspicions about him as a human being, was that when he talked about charity and children he had this very soft, high-pitched voice,” he told The Mirror.
“When I changed the subject to business his voice dropped several octaves and he became a completely different person to talk to,” Morgan claimed. “That was weird to me, that showed me that he was a different multi-faceted character depending on the subject matter.”
Conrad Murray served as Jackson’s physician during the final year of his life, and he’s denied reports that the singer’s high-speaking voice was an affectation. In a video post obtained by The Blast, Murray claims that Jackson’s voice was the result of a chemical castration he was forced to undergo as a pre-teen.
“The cruelty expressed by Michael that he experienced at the hand of his father, the fact that he was chemically castrated to maintain his high-pitched voice is beyond words,” Murray stated. “I hope Joe Jackson finds redemption in hell.”
Murray restated his claim in the 2016 memoir This Is It! The Secret Lives of Dr. Conrad Murray and Michael Jackson. “I often saw Jackson at his most exposed and confessional,” he wrote. “He only agreed to share after making me swear, ‘You will never breathe a word.’ I agreed. I was shocked when Jackson told me, it would explain all of Michael’s unusual behaviour as well as his morphological changes.”
Despite Murray’s insistence, the chances of Jackson having been chemically castrated are slim. Mel Magazine stated that the drug needed to induce chemical castration was still in clinical trials in the 1970s, when Jackson would have taken it.
Furthermore, the singer appeared to go through every other stage of puberty, which would have not been permissible if he had been castrated. Based on the evidence provided, we’re inclined to believe the accounts of those who claim Jackson was faking his high-pitched voice.