R&B star R. Kelly has opened up about his memories of working with Michael Jackson in his upcoming autobiography, revealing he burst into tears when the superstar praised his songwriting skills.
The I Believe I Can Fly hitmaker's tome Soulacoaster: The Diary of Me hits shelves on Thursday (28Jun12) and an extract about Jackson was released on Monday (25Jun12) - the third anniversary of the King of Pop's death.
Kelly recalls meeting Jackson when he wrote the 1995 chart-topping track You Are Not Alone for the star, insisting he was overawed to be in the presence of pop royalty.
In the extract, obtained by People.com, Kelly writes, "The day finally came. I got to the studio two hours early. Thirty minutes and several phone calls from Jackson's people later, the legendary singer arrives. He looked at least eight feet tall. He looked like an avatar. He was wearing a black mask over his face. Only his eyes were showing.
"Finally, Mike walked over to me. He looked in my eyes, opened his arms, and gave me the hug of my life, whispering to me in his lighter-than-air, soft, high voice. 'The world's gonna be singing this song.' I blurted out something silly like, 'Congratulations on everything you've done, Mike. Congratulations on being Michael Jackson.'"
Jackson later told Kelly he loved the song - and the R&B singer, real name Robert Kelly, was overwhelmed by the praise.
Kelly adds, "(Jackson said) 'I don't like it, Rob. I love it. I don't want to change one thing. I want to sing it just the way you wrote it. You captured me beautifully. That's the reason I came here. We can get started just as soon as I do my vocal warm-ups.'
"'If you excuse me for a minute,' I said, 'I'll be right back.' I walked to the bathroom and just fell out on the floor. I broke down and cried. It wasn't that Michael Jackson was singing my song; it was that Michael had felt how I'd caught his spirit."
Jackson's shock passing in 2009 left Kelly heartbroken: "News of his death was like a hatchet to my chest. He meant to me what breathing means to most people. He was not only my brother and friend, he was also my mentor. I am honoured and blessed to have been in Michael's presence. I got to know him like most of the world never will - on a person-to-person, soul-to-soul level."