The Collection of Michael Jackson Confidant, Jackson Family “Inner Circle” Member and Jackson 5 Publicist Steve Manning
In the summer of 2009, while the world reeled with the shocking news that Michael Jackson had died, media outlets frantically scheduled interviews with members of the Jackson family’s inner circle. Steve Manning, whose close friendship with Michael dated back 40 years, became a familiar presence across the spectrum of TV, magazines, newspapers and blogs. He provided key insight on the private side of the King of Pop’s extremely public life, telling the Associated Press, “Any deal Michael did, he always called his mother up. She was the backbone of his spirit.” On Larry King Live, Manning recounted, “He was a very kind soul, a humble guy, very generous in spirit ... He was [also] a perfectionist. Everything had to be perfect. I used to tell him all the time, ‘You know, Michael, you want the biggest, the best, the greatest all the time.’ And he’d say ‘Yes, I do, Steve.’”
The two first met around 1970, when 15-year-old Manning—who’d grown up just 10 blocks away from Harlem’s Apollo Theater—founded the Jackson 5 Fan Club. Working in the Columbia Pictures/Screen Gems mailroom, he not only had after-hours access to the mass-mailing equipment, but also managed to obtain the endorsement of Motown Records CEO Berry Gordy and his creative assistant Suzanne de Passe. Before long, Manning was running the bustling fan club out of his mother’s apartment, where he produced membership cards, buttons and newsletters. Then came an invitation direct from the Jackson family: Manning flew cross-country for his first visit to the family compound at 4641 Hayvenhurst Avenue in Encino, CA. He spent quality time with all of the Jackson siblings, forging especially close bonds with Jermaine, Tito and Michael.
Little did Manning realize then that by 1974, he’d actually be living at Hayvenhurst, working as the band’s publicist, and traveling around the globe on tour. He later saw the Jacksons through their transition to Epic Records, tagged along on Michael’s Hollywood stint in The Wiz, and played an important consulting role on Michael’s blockbuster solo debut Off the Wall. Branching out, the one-time mail clerk now established his own PR marketing firm, Steve Manning Associates, whose clientele included Janet Jackson, La Toya Jackson, New Edition, LL Cool J and Patti LaBelle. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Michael’s trusting devotion to “Brother Steven” continued to deepen—as shown by the numerous gifts and loving messages seen in these amazing auction offerings.
Following Michael’s death, the Jackson family immediately summoned Manning to Hayvenhurst for moral support. Three years on, he still dearly misses his lifelong friend, partner and brother, and Manning hopes the winning bidders will cherish these pieces of Jackson’s legacy as much as he has. In terms of their provenance, every single prized item was received directly from Michael Jackson and comes with Steve Manning’s signed letter of authenticity.