LOS ANGELES – Michael Jackson seemed “loopy” and out of it at rehearsals for his doomed last tour, and was particularly groggy after visits to his dermatologist, a witness testified.
Travis Payne, choreographer for the “This is It” series of shows in London, made the comments Tuesday at the trial pitting Jackson’s mother against promoter AEG Live, whom she accuses of negligently hiring a doctor convicted over his death.
Jackson usually appeared more out of it after visiting dermatologist Arnold Klein, who has been widely reported to have given the singer the painkiller Demerol while administering Botox to him.
“I thought … he was under the influence of something,” Payne told the court in Los Angeles.
“Sometimes in rehearsals Michael would appear a little loopy,” he said, adding that he had seen Jackson two to four times possibly under the influence of medication after visits to the Beverly Hills skin specialist.
The star was seeing Klein for cosmetic reasons so he could “feel great and do a great job” on the tour, he added.
Jackson’s 83-year-old mother Katherine accuses AEG Live of negligently hiring Conrad Murray, the doctor convicted of involuntary manslaughter in 2011.
Jackson died on June 25, 2009 of an overdose of the anesthetic propofol, given to him by Murray to help with his insomnia. Lawyers for AEG say he had used the drug, usually only meant for a hospital setting, for years.
Payne recalled the day that Jackson died. He was on the way to the star’s plush Holmby Hills rented mansion when he heard radio news reports about an emergency there.
He was told by officials to return to the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles, to await Jackson’s arrival there. He was present when “This is It” tour director Kenny Ortega was told by phone that Jackson was dead.
“I remember Kenny collapsing into his seat and crying,” the choreographer said.