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John Legend reveals that he and will.i.am were writing for Michael Jackson prior to his death

John Legend Masterclass
(Image credit: MasterClass)

John Legend has revealed that he and will.i.am were writing for Michael Jackson prior to the King Of Pop’s death in 2009. 

Speaking to Smooth Radio (opens in new tab), Legend said: "When we started working on it, it reminded me of a late-‘70s, early-to-mid-‘80s kind of track - kind of R&B pop," adding that "I was thinking about Prince, I was thinking about Michael Jackson and Whitney. What we made was kind of a mix of all that. I threw a little David Bowie energy in there, too, with the guitar part. And, yeah, that’s what we were going for."

Legend went on to explain that Jackson had asked he and will.i.am to work on some ideas for a forthcoming album, but that it never saw the light of day. The pair had previously collaborated several times, notably on 2005’s Ordinary People, one of Legend’s breakthrough hits.

John Legend recently released Legend, his almost eponymous eighth album, and also launched his own MasterClass (opens in new tab), which focuses on the art of songwriting. 

On writing lyrics, Legend says: “Set the scene, give details of the moment you’re in so people can understand the perspective you’re writing from; keep in mind how it’s going to sound, not just what you’re trying to say and convey.”  

He also advises that you should keep editing your work until it’s the best it can be: “Your song is not done until it feels great. Be open to criticism, be open to doing revisions. And then it is ready for the world.”     

I’m the Group Content Manager for MusicRadar, specialising in all things tech. I previously spent eight years working on our sister magazine, Computer Music. I’ve been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 20 of which I’ve also spent writing about music technology.