Inner Michael » Close Michael Encounter at 30,000 Feet

Close Michael Encounter at 30,000 Feet

Don Barrett is a name that is recognized as celebrity in the world of radio. The founder and publisher of LA Radio, Mr. Barrett is the eyes and ears of radio with about 30,000 visitors a day to his online publishing company. He is the voice of radio in Southern California. A mention on Don’s website is punctuation of your relevance in the industry.

Don’s resume reads like an impressive up and coming story about a young man who wanted to DJ and do radio. He cut his teeth on the teenage forbidden music of Rhythm and Blues and later Rock ‘n Roll and he aspired to be a Radio DJ. His mentor told him to go to school, get the piece of paper. He did. Then his mentor told him to pack his clothes, get in his car and head in any direction and to knock on the doors of radio stations along the route. And the rest is a remarkable history through the entertainment field.

Radio, film, Television Broadcasting, movie marketing, and publishing are all entertainment avenues that have seen a touch of  Don’s genius. So has Steven Spielberg and others along the way as Don worked for Columbia, Universal, MGM and United Artists.  He is the one who sold us the movie Close Encounters with the clip of the mysterious light at the end of the road.

Don knew music well because it was his life in the radio business. The first record he ever loaded onto a turntable was Diana Ross’ Stop In the Name of Love. It was behind one of the doors he knocked on along the route to entertainment information mogul that had just lost a DJ, and that put him on air by sundown. Those were the days that included the birth of the “Top 40.” 

Not “slick shtick,” Don, who is obviously a good writer with a huge audience said “The story pretty much speaks for itself,” and so declined when I offered him space to write his own introduction to the story I am about to share with you. He is a modest accomplished man. 

How did he create his success? With this philosophy:

“When you are passionate about what you do, you are optimistic about what you do. When you are optimistic and passionate, you are naturally good at what you do. You must be an optimist. Find your dream, and chase it optimistically. It’s irresponsible not to reach, to grow or think about life; your life, the life of those around you, the life strangers. I always tell young people to follow their dreams and be persistent. You can do anything that you want to do if, indeed, you are willing to pay the price. The price may be schooling or tenacity or working long hours; getting to the job half-hour early and staying half-hour late and thanking the boss for the job every day.” -D.B.

You know, they say: ‘It takes one to know one’ and no matter how cliche` there is some truth to that. Don Barrett is someone Michael Jackson would have liked. Their philosophies are similar. Don knew Michael Jackson’s music. It turns out he knew Michael Jackson. He had a chance encounter with him on his way to Cannes Film Festival. Don caught a glimpse into the real “Inner Michael” Jackson and has given me permission to share that “close encounter” with you. Don met, and tells us about, the soul of the man: 

My Michael Jackson Story

“When I was laid off (fired) from MGM/UA in 1994, I opened my own movie marketing consultancy. I decided to concentrate on animated films. Over the years I was fortunate enough to work on wonderful animated projects like Steven Spielberg’s An American Tail, among many others. Before long my business was booming. I was making more money than I ever did with Columbia, Universal or most recently MGM/UA. And more importantly, I didn’t have that awful commute I did for years, plus no committee diluting some wonderful ideas that individuals conjured up.

I was exposed to the international marketplace (my movie career with the studios was confined to domestic) and found myself at the Cannes Film Festival numerous times exposing and selling some of the animated projects I was representing. Yes, Cannes is beautiful, sexy, sensual, alluring, intoxicating, exciting and downright the bomb, to use an old expression.

One year on my way to Cannes, I had to travel from LAX to Berlin and then make a connecting flight to Cannes. In first class there were five rows with two seats on each side of the plane. I was sitting in the aisle seat in row three on the left. In front of me was a single gentleman. The front two seats were occupied but they were already seated when I got comfortable for the 12 hour flight.

The man in front of me asked for a cocktail prior to take-off. Once airborne, he was the recipient of a steady stream of drinks. About a half-hour into our flight, the man on the aisle in the front seat stood and moved to the center of the cabin. His seatmate got up and stood behind him.

Another man who was in the front seat on the aisle on the right side of the plane got up and joined the two standing in the cabin and got behind the second man. In almost lock step they walked to the toilet. The cabin lights were dim for those who wanted to sleep on the long flight. As they walked by me it was clear that the center man in this abbreviated parade was Michael Jackson.

The flight progressed but the man in front of me never stopped with requesting more booze. Eventually the steward cut him off. I could only guess the perfect storm that was brewing. Frequently raising his voice in the quiet cabin, it was easy to hear his entitlement demands after paying so much for a first class ticket and that they had no right to stop serving him. The steward was firm.

The boozy man kept ringing the call-button and the steward reluctantly would come to his seat, only to be greeted by insults for refusing his right to service. After a third call-button ring, the boozy man apparently was waiting in wait for the steward. The steward repeated what he had told the man about no more service. The boozy man leapt like a gazelle onto the steward and they both crashed to the floor. They wrestled. You could hear another steward frantically summoning the pilot who quickly came down to see what the commotion was all about.

With no fanfare, no lights, no audience, a concerned Michael Jackson got up and separated the two sparring men. As soon as they realized that the King of Pop was acting as peacemaker, they sheepishly stopped like school kids busted by the principal or even their own mom. The captain (or co-captain) arrived on the scene to see that peace had been restored with no bloodshed.

Michael asked his bodyguard friend to sit in the boozy man’s seat and invited the inebriated man to sit with him. I couldn’t hear a word that was spoken by Michael nor his new seatmate but they were talking away for 20 minutes. Michael signaled to his bodyguard to help the boozy man back to his seat. Within minutes he had passed out and slept for the duration of the flight. Michael and his bodyguard were both back together to complete the remaining hours in relative silence.

It was a rare glimpse into Michael Jackson. Who knew he would be a peacemaker at 30,000 feet on what could have erupted into an ugly confrontation?”

~Don Barrett (c) LA Radio
You can find Don’s Online Radio Publishing Company here:

LA Radio


  1. Susan T said . . .

    Perhaps part of our comfort, our solace, in the wake of his overwhelming absence, will be the endless sharing of special moments and stories of friendships that flow freely bringing to each new day, Michael’s special glow as we move forward with hope and inspiration. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God” (Matthew 5:9) Michael surely was a precious Child of God. So nice of Mr. Bartlett to share this treasure. Thanks Rev. Barbara for widening the circle of delight!

    Posted July 6, 2010 at 8:39 pm | Permalink
  2. Suvie said . . .

    Blown away…simply blown away… Michael, “You make me want to be a better person”.

    Posted July 7, 2010 at 4:01 am | Permalink
  3. Kate said . . .

    Wow! Beat it, baby!

    Posted July 7, 2010 at 4:47 am | Permalink
  4. gertrude said . . .


    Posted July 7, 2010 at 4:48 am | Permalink
  5. BeGodsGlow said . . .

    Wonderful 🙂 Thanks for sharing this, Don. It’s precious stories like this that mean so much to us, and the world. Bless you, Michael ♥

    Posted July 7, 2010 at 7:00 am | Permalink
  6. Anne UK said . . .

    Dear Rev Barbara, Isn’t it lovely when we hear the truth of how Michael was? Slowly the world is hearing more and more of these. This last week both Seth Riggs (voice trainer) and a bodyguard that worked for him gave their accounts of a man who in their opinion was an angel. These accounts were so heartfelt and you could see the grief that both of these men still felt strongly. As these accounts of bright shadow flow over Michael and fill our hearts, we will all be healed. We are shining! Much love Anne UK x

    Posted July 7, 2010 at 9:59 am | Permalink
  7. lmt said . . .

    Thank you, Mr. Bartlett, for sharing your personal story about Michael. The many stories of his actions and nature while with us, are very special, are treasured, and revealing. As I read your story, I wondered if the inebriated gentleman ever recalled who it was who helped him that day. Michael, I believe, would have seen the incident as an opportunity to give aid to someone in trouble and share the love that he always spoke about. How lucky that you were a witness to the kindness of the man.

    Posted July 7, 2010 at 2:23 pm | Permalink
  8. Anne Mette Jepsen said . . .

    Thank you so much for sharing this Rev. Kaufmann and Mr. Barrett! LOVE and GRATITUDE 🙂 Anne Mette, Denmark

    Posted July 7, 2010 at 3:13 pm | Permalink
  9. Marijo said . . .

    :)Beat it… What a story… art in real time. I am not surprized that Michael would do that. Thank you for sharing Don. Marijjo from Montreal.

    Posted July 7, 2010 at 3:41 pm | Permalink
  10. Jeanne said . . .

    Don Barrett may God Bless you for this story and much love to you Barbara. Perhaps it took many drinks to numb that man’s pain? Yet Michael was able to numb his pain in only 20 minutes of kindness and compassion. This story was meant to be heard. It is true that before we judge, we should walk two moons in that person’s shoes. Thankyou so much Don Barrett and Barbara.

    Posted July 7, 2010 at 4:24 pm | Permalink
  11. Seven said . . .

    That’s our Prince of Peace! What a beautiful story and thank you Don Barrett and Barbara for sharing it. There are SO MANY stories like this about our Michael – a few at my site too. He was an amazing human being and his spirit lives through us all. Love him always.

    Posted July 7, 2010 at 4:56 pm | Permalink
  12. Red-in-Phoenix said . . .

    Michael was touched by God and here is a wonderful example of the aura of peace, unity and love that surrounded him. God took him too early from us.

    Posted July 7, 2010 at 7:17 pm | Permalink
  13. Heidi said . . .

    Thank you SOOO much for helping “make that change,” for with every accounting of TRUTH, the vicious lies that sold copy and made darkness lots of money off the pain of Michael Jackson is further put to rest. As the world finally begins to just stop for one moment and ponder that perhaps there WAS a completely different person under what they chose to assume for so long. Change The World… love-filled story at a time. Thank you, thank Michael. [The reference to darkness here is the innacurate portrayal of Mr. Jackson by the tabloid media that continued unabated for more than a decade and that sold and made mulitiple millions for an industry without ethics. See Charles Thomson’s “Most Shameful Episode in Journalism” article at Huffington Post. ~Rev. B]

    Posted July 8, 2010 at 12:37 am | Permalink
  14. Dalia said . . .

    Michael was a person who showed great interest in people without even knowing them; that is why so many took advantage of his nobility. There are many anecdotes of Michael looking out for others, always taking his time for people. That speaks volumes about who he really was. That is the real Michael.

    Posted July 8, 2010 at 5:46 am | Permalink
  15. Linh Ngo said . . .

    Another story that makes me smile. Thank you, Barbara and Mr. Barrett.

    Posted July 8, 2010 at 8:50 am | Permalink
  16. Tania from Australia said . . .

    A ministering angel… Michael’s life was ALL about Love in action. He not only talked the talk, he walked the walk. What a wonderful example of a human being God gave us. Those are enormous shoes to fill. And these are the stories about Michael that I love to read! So precious, so heartwarming, so uplifting, so inspiring. Thank you Mr. Barrett and Rev. Barbara for sharing this wonderful story with us.

    Posted July 8, 2010 at 12:30 pm | Permalink
  17. Suvie said . . .

    One more heart warming story here.

    Posted July 9, 2010 at 11:09 am | Permalink
  18. Frances said . . .

    What is so amazing is that he invited the intoxicated man to sit with him and talk with him. Most would be judging the guy and pooh-poohing his behaviour. Not Michael. He saw through the eyes of LOVE and reached out to him. He understood in his heart that any attack is a call for love and he responded. LOVE is the answer! Thank you so much for this article! Thank you for bringing more light and love to the world.

    Posted July 9, 2010 at 9:19 pm | Permalink
  19. admin said . . .

    Don Barrett is one of those people you want to sit at the feet of and hear all the stories from a life lived soulfully in the entertainment arts. I sent him a thank you for sharing this story and he replied:

    “I am touched by your kind words and those of your readers and followers. God bless you. don”

    God Bless you too, Don. Namaste`

    Posted July 10, 2010 at 4:24 pm | Permalink
  20. Paraschiva said . . .

    Incredible story! Michael is an Angel for everyone. He changed our lives and he made the world a better place. I Thank God for giving us Michael, this wonderful gift. Rest in peace, Angel!

    Posted July 10, 2010 at 5:54 pm | Permalink
  21. Kim said . . .

    Thank you Rev. Barbara and Mr. Barrett for sharing this beautiful heartwarming story of Michael with us. It really is all for love, L.O.V.E.

    Posted July 11, 2010 at 2:00 am | Permalink
  22. Karen said . . .

    Thank you Barbara for all your stories about MJ. He was so much more than the cruel world we live in ever gave him credit for. You could look in MJ’S eyes and see the pain and hurt the media and people who didn’t understand his soul heaped on him. It was especially evident the last couple of years of his life. He seemed to be almost like a dog that had been beaten too many times and was afraid of every move he made. So many in this world don’t know what they took from us. We who could see the amazing MJ know what have lost. Words just can’t decribe what my heart feels every day now. An innocent man was lynched for absolutely nothing and it makes me so sad. When will the world really learn what unconditional love is?

    Posted July 12, 2010 at 7:15 pm | Permalink
  23. Jeanann Leone said . . .

    Wouldn’t you loved to have known what Michael talked about with him? Did he ask if the man was upset about something and tried to help? Did he just have normal conversation with him about everyday things to just try to calm him down? Somehow, I feel that Michael would have tried to get at the root of the problem to offer solace. There will never be another man like Michael Jackson.

    Stories like this are so important for Michael’s vindication. This is why I wish some of the people that know these kinds of stories – friends, business associates, etc., would work together to compile them and publish them. There are so many vile and negative books out there about Michael, it is time for those who knew him to stand up and share the heart of Michael Jackson. Silence offers no help whatsoever.

    I am so glad his bodyguards are taking a stand and doing this, by writing their book, “In Defense of the King”. They are giving the money to various charities, and to build some kind of monument to him in Las Vegas. [I hope the book is popular and makes tons of money as the message in that would be: It’s not only popular to say good things about Michael Jackson, but it’s profitable! ~Rev B]

    There needs to be an overwhelming flood of these kinds of stories to overtake all the negative that the vicious media puts out to manipulate the perception of Michael in the public eye. The time for this is now.

    Posted July 22, 2010 at 3:30 pm | Permalink
  24. Elmira said . . .

    These are the kind of stories I love to read. They confirm what an unique, kind, caring and incredible human being Michael was. How many would have gotten as far away from someone drunk as possible ? Not MIchael, not only did he bring back the peace, he listened and showed that he truly cared. He is the KIng of Heart, Soul and Love!

    Posted August 3, 2010 at 6:12 pm | Permalink
  25. Grace said . . .

    Truly an inspiring person, that’s what Michael is. Thank you for sharing this with us. 🙂

    Posted August 4, 2010 at 1:59 pm | Permalink
  26. Samantha said . . .

    That was so nice of him! Love ya Mike!

    Posted September 9, 2010 at 7:37 pm | Permalink
  27. liu star said . . .

    I love this warm story about michael.

    Posted October 2, 2010 at 10:05 am | Permalink
  28. Karen t. Guirgis said . . .

    Thank you so much for sharing your special story. I love when I hear of people who knew MJ or witnessed the kind of special human being he is. I say is instead of was, because he living in all of our hearts. Michael Jackson is truly a gift from god and we love you more, Michael Jackson. Peace and love, Karen

    Posted July 20, 2012 at 9:01 am | Permalink

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