If you think of some of the biggest names in pop music in the 90s, Michael Jackson and Britney Spears are right up there. Both had phenomenally successful careers but later became even more famous for troubled personal lives.
What you may not remember is that they performed a fabulous duet together at Madison Square Garden, New York, in 2001. Britney recently uploaded a video of this performance and other highlights from her career before her well-publicised breakdown when her father became her conservator and took control of her life.
It's clear from Britney's comments over the years that she was a huge Michael Jackson fan. So she was stunned when the King of Pop himself called her in 2000 to ask her to perform a song with him. As so many of us did, Britney had listened to Michael's music all through her childhood and was a huge fan. The song they sang was one of Michael's biggest hits, The Way You Make Me Feel.
It must have been almost surreal for Britney to be onstage with her idol, but there's no sign of it in her performance. She sparkles throughout the performance and amazingly manages to hold her own with Michael even though he has such a legendary stage presence. Below is another duet from Michael Jackson, this time with Freddie Mercury. Read more about this duet here.
When she was asked about the experience later, she said, "It was just really an amazing experience. It was awesome. I was very honored that he wanted to do this song with me." The question is, why did Michael ask Britney to sing with him? Believe it or not, it's because he was as big a fan of her as she was of him.
This information was revealed by the choreographer Wade Robson who knew Michael and also choreographed many of Britney's performances. In the Michael Jackson documentary Leaving Neverland, he said that after he worked with Britney, Michael rang him and bombarded him with questions about her. He seemed so interested he wondered to himself if there was a way he could introduce them.
In the end, Michael reached out himself, and Britney got to give the performance of her life. A year later, they met when Britney introduced Michael at the 2002 MTV VMAs. Before she introduced him, she said, "So, he's my idol, the best guy in the whole world. I'm really kind of excited. I'm really nervous."
Britney was as shocked and devastated as the rest of the world when Michael died of a heart attack in 2009. She told MTV, "I was so excited to see his show in London. We were going to be on tour in Europe at the same time, and I was going to fly in to see him. He has been an inspiration throughout my entire life, and I'm devastated he's gone!"
If Michael really was as big a fan as Robson claims, he would have been a big supporter of the Free Britney movement. They both had difficult childhoods followed by troubles in their adult lives. It's a shame these kindred spirits were separated so quickly.