Michael Jackson, who died yesterday at 50, was being managed by Nashvillian Frank Dileo. A November 2007 Scene cover story chronicles Dileo's colorful life and times, which included a legendary hot streak as the mastermind of Epic Records, roles as Tuddy Cicero in mob-cinema classic Goodfellas and as Mr. Big in the Wayne's World movies, and a stint as a co-owner (with Robert De Niro) of Tribeca Grill in New York City, to scratch the surface.
Dileo was pulling the strings at Epic when Thriller came out. Here's what Jackson had to say in his 1988 autobiography Moon Walk:
Frank was responsible for turning my dream for Thriller into a reality. His brilliant understanding of the recording industry proved invaluable. For instance, we released 'Beat It' as a single while 'Billie Jean' was still at No. 1. CBS screamed, 'You're crazy, this will kill "Billie Jean." ' But Frank told them not to worry, that both songs would be No. 1 and both would be in the Top 10 at the same time. They were.There are stories galore about Dileo's time as Jackson's manager from 1984 to 1989, a period that included the Victory tour (which featured the Jackson brothers reunited) and the Bad record and tour. He was forced out in '89 following a power play involving lawyers and record execs.
But Dileo never had hard feelings. In fact, during Jackson's 2005 trial, Dileo went to L.A. on his own dime to be with Michael and offer support. Here's Dileo proclaiming Jackson's innocence on Fox News.
And that loyalty paid off, when Jackson asked Dileo to take over as his manager earlier this year. Dileo had been spending time in Los Angeles working with Jackson to prepare for the London shows when Jackson died.
Here's Dileo's press statement to the Nashville media:
My heart is broken. I've lost a dear friend. I'm going to do everything in my power to protect his children and make sure everything is handled properly for them. I'm very sad for his mother, father, brothers and sisters, as they were a close-knit family. I have been honored to be a part of not only his career but his life. He will truly always be the "King of Pop." --Frank
Dileo gave the Scene access to his office earlier today, where we snapped some photos of memorabilia from his days with Michael Jackson. They're featured after the jump, and more photos are available in this slide show.