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Gary Younge
Jackson to Jackson: Why I wore pyjamas

During the wide-ranging discussion the singer said that the child molestation charges brought against him were part of a vast conspiracy to discredit him, and had bought him to the lowest point in his life.

He said he could not elaborate on his conspiracy theories because of a court-imposed gag order, but that he was "completely innocent".

He went on to suggest that he was just the latest in a litany of "black luminaries" to be unjustly accused, citing the former South African president Nelson Mandela and the former world heavyweight champions Muhammad Ali and Jack Johnson.

"I just want to say to fans in every corner of the earth, every nationality, every race, every language: I love you from the bottom of my heart," Mr Jackson said towards the end of the hour-long interview broadcast live on the internet.

"I would love your prayers and your goodwill, and please be patient and be with me and believe in me because I am completely, completely innocent. But please know a lot of conspiracy is going on as we speak," he said.

After Jesse Jackson pointed out that he looked extremely thin and wan, Michael Jackson said he had never been a big eater - a fact that had worried both family and friends.

"Elizabeth Taylor used to feed me, to hand-feed me, at times," he said.

"Please, I don't want anybody to think I'm starving, I'm not," he added. "My health is perfect, actually."

But earlier he described the "intense pain" he had been suffering after an accident earlier this month.

On March 11 the singer failed to appear in court for his trial. The judge was unmoved after being told that Mr Jackson was at a nearby hospital "with a serious back problem", and gave the singer 60 minutes to appear or face jail and the loss of his $3m (£1.6m) bail bond.

When the star finally arrived an hour and 10 minutes late he hobbled into court wearing slippers, a suit jacket over a T-shirt and a pair of pyjama bottoms. Mr Jackson said yesterday: "I was coming out of the shower and I fell and all my body weight - I'm pretty fragile - all my body weight fell against my rib cage," he said. "And I bruised my lung very badly."

Mr Jackson said the injury had caused him to cough up blood and was so painful that it brought tears to his eyes in court one day when he was seen wiping his eyes with a tissue. He said he remains under a doctor's care.

Mr Jackson also firmly rebuffed allegations that he is in financial trouble.

"That's not true at all. It's just one of their many schemes to embarrass me. It's to drag me through the mud," he said.

But he indicated that a battle was under way over the music catalogue he owns which contains the rights to songs by the Beatles, Little Richard and others.

"There's a big fight going on, right now as we speak, about that," he said. "I can't comment on it, but there's a lot of conspiracy out there."

Jesse Jackson told the Associated Press earlier this month that he and Michael Jackson, who is a Jehovah's Witness, often prayed together.

He told his audience yesterday that he spoke to the entertainer on the phone nearly every day.

Asked about the lowest point in his life, Michael Jackson said: "Probably the low point, the lowest point emotionally, is probably what I'm going through."

He said the high point had been when he recorded his Thriller album in 1982, adding that he had set out to create a disco version of Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite.

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