Michael Jackson's longtime songwriter and producer says his 'legacy is safe'
In the months that have followed the release of the Leaving Neverland documentary, Michael Jackson's legacy has suffered some serious knocks.
Fans have been turning their back on the once-revered 'King of Pop' following allegations of child molestation and abuse, various radio stations have stopped playing his music, and even his own family have been divided over the matter.
But not everybody is convinced that this is the end for Jackson.
Thomas Bähler, a songwriter and producer who worked with the singer for more than three decades, has spoken to Fox News about his experience with Jackson, and how he believes his work will continue to thrive even after these allegations have come to light.
"Michael’s legacy is safe, I believe it will endure because his music and philosophy is so strong," said Bähler, who had experience working with Jackson when he was still a child. Their first projects together happened when the singer was just 13 years old, and still performing with the Jackson Five.
"He wrote about gangs, people that were isolated from society, that’s what Beat It and Bad were all about," Bähler said. "In a way, it was an expression of having to earn your place and reflective of growing up in a large patriarchal family."
The 75-year-old producer, who also has experience working with Elvis Presley, Cher, and Barbra Streisand, also spoke highly of Jackson's philanthropic actions.
"The first thing I felt from him was altruism, then his genius," he said. "He went to hospitals, sang for patients, and paid for operations for people he didn’t even know."
Bähler then went on to praise Jackson's maturity, and commented on the complexity of his character.
"When I first talked to him, he was a shy kid but had the awareness of an 80-year-old. There was loneliness that seemed unquenchable in him, that I believe eventually came out in his artistry. He started out as a bubblegum singer who went on to create songs that revealed deep emotion, his love for humanity and how the injustices in the world disturbed him.
“He had so many facets. If you asked Michael what he was, he would tell you he was a dancer."
This, of course, differs somewhat to the accounts given by Wade Robson and James Safechuck in Leaving Neverland. While they did mention that he was shy and lonely, the pair also described Jackson as a manipulator and abuser - a man who would tell them lies and threaten them with dire consequences if they ever spoke out about what happened to them.
Even so, Robson has since come forward to say that it's "not really [his] concern" whether or not people continue to listen to Jackson's music and allow his legacy to live on.
"If I have any hope, it's that we just question in general who it is that we're worshipping and why. It's beyond Michael," he told TMZ.
"I don't have any moral authority to make a judgement for everyone else. I don't listen to his music because I have a personal experience with it. But that's everyone's individual choice."
Given the incredible reach of Jackson's music at the height of his career (and, indeed, even after that), it doesn't seem likely that the world will write his work off so quickly. Given time, however, nobody really knows how well his legacy will hold up.