Hip-hop star Akon hung up on Michael Jackson when the King of Pop first phoned him about recording a duet - because he refused to believe his childhood idol was a fan.
Akon, real name Aliaune Damala Badara Thiam, grew up around the studio watching his dad, celebrated jazz percussionist Mor Thiam, perform dozens of shows in their native Senegal.
And once Thiam moved the family to America, Akon had unprecedented access to some of the industry's best musicians, including the superstar son of his father's pal Joe Jackson.
As part of a Behind the Music special on Akon, which aired in America on Wednesday (11Apr12), the singer recalled meeting the Thriller star when he was just five years old: "I met Michael for the first time, not realising how big he was - just an amazing person. It made a huge impression on me, because as I got older I would always remember that moment. I used to always say to myself, 'If I ever did anything on the music level, I would meet back (up) with Michael and maybe do something with him.'"
Akon later rose to fame on his own, with hits such as Locked Up, Lonely and Belly Dancer and exactly three decades after their initial introduction in 1978, the star's life came full circle when he received a phone call from Jackson in late 2008.
Akon said, "He calls me, you know (in) his little voice, 'Hey Akon how are you?' I was like, 'I don't believe you,' and I hung up the phone. And he calls back, and he says, 'Akon, it's really me, it's Michael, it's really me.' And at that moment my hands started shaking."
The pair later teamed up in the studio, with the hope of working together on a joint album, but Jackson tragically passed away before the record could be made - and Akon was devastated.
He continued, "Dealing with Michael's passing was really hard. Everything that we discussed, everything that we had ambitions to do, we will never get a chance to do."
Eventually Akon completed work on his Jackson collaboration, Hold My Hand, and he released the track in 2010.
He added, "To be in the position where I'm the last person he actually makes a record with, and that's the last song that the world will remember of him, it was just the craziest thing."
Jackson also worked with will.i.am on a series of final songs, but the Black Eyed Peas leader has pledged never to release the music they made together unless Michael's mother Katherine asks him to.