A new article published by Huffington Post contains many quotes from collaborators that state Michael Jackson wanted his name off Sonic the Hedgehog 3. It echoes earlier statements made by collaborator Brad Buxer in 2009.
The article starts off with a very long, unnecessary introduction and contains some interesting inclusions. Did you know that Sonic fans referred to themselves as “blues?” I’ve been online reading and writing to other Sega fans since the later 90s and never came across the term.
Regardless, it eventually gets to the meat of the matter.
We’ve known for years now that Michael Jackson wrote music that he originally intended to be in Sonic the Hedgehog 3. What we didn’t know is if what he wrote was in the final game or why the collaboration was not made public. After all, you’d think announcing Michael Jackson did the music for the game would be a huge boost to it’s marketing campaign!
Did it have to do with the allegations that were brought against him during that time? Did Sega decide to put some space between their game company and someone going through a nasty smear campaign?
Well, now we finally know what happened. Probably.
So What Happened With MJ & Sonic 3?
Howard Drossin, a California-based composer, was hired to officially replace all of Michael’s music. However, he evidently did not get the memo.
Drossin told me he had been under the impression he’d be working with Jackson, not replacing the superstar’s work. “At some point either shortly after I was hired, or it was probably the first or second day I was there, and [Roger Hector] mentioned that I was going to work with Michael Jackson,” Drossin remembers.
But as the Chandler drama unfolded, Sega management told Drossin, “Jackson was not going to be involved with the project,” he says now. “It was just, ‘You’re going to work with him,’ ‘You’re not going to work with him.’ … I heard some stuff with the news that was going on in the news at the time, and that would probably be a good time reference for you. When all of that stuff broke.”
When Drossin finally got his hands on the game, “there was a lot of music already plugged into it,” he says. Drossin didn’t change much — and certainly didn’t rewrite the whole soundtrack before handing it off to Sega for final processing. When I pointed out some of the similarities between Jackson songs and the Sonic soundtrack, Drossin said “Wow.” He seemed genuinely surprised to hear Jackson samples and song structures were in the game — and insisted he hadn’t written them.
Jackson wrote that music. The men who worked with him are certain of it.
“Oh, it did get in the game,” Grigsby insisted. “The stuff we handed in, the stuff we did, made it. To. The game.”
The reason why Jackson was not credited, if his collaborators are to be believed, turns out to be that he wanted his name removed from the game.
On Feb. 2, 1994, Sega released Sonic 3. Jackson’s team was credited, but their boss was not.
Buxer, Grigsby and Jones say Jackson pulled his name from the game — but not his music — because he was disappointed by how different the music sounded on Sega’s console when compressed from that “high profile” sound to bleeps and bloops.
“Michael wanted his name taken off the credits if they couldn’t get it to sound better,” Buxer claimed.
Hector says the deal fell apart because of the molestation allegations, and maintains Jackson’s music was pulled from the game.
So the truth appears to rely on who you would like to believe… or perhaps it’s somewhere in the middle.
MJ & Sega
Years after the Sonic the Hedgehog 3 events, Michael practically forced his way into the Dreamcast game Space Channel 5, despite the game being in it’s final stages of development. Developers raced to add MJ to the game with roughly only a month before the game was due to be finished.
It’s not the first time the King of Pop contributed to something un-credited. He infamously voiced a character on The Simpsons in the episode “Stark Raving Dad” in 1991. Michael was a huge fan of the show as well and came to the show’s creator to attempt to get a guest spot. He portrayed Leon Kompowsky, a patient in a mental hospital who believed he was Michael Jackson. Jackson voiced the character but insisted on a sound-alike doing the singing parts. Jackson wrote the song “Happy Birthday Lisa” that was recorded for the episode.
Jackson then went on to co-write the song “Do the Bartman” and again insisted upon being un-credited for contractual reasons.
Jackson passed away on June 25th, 2009.