POP legend Michael Jackson wowed fans by speaking to them via a live telephone link from Las Vegas at a party held at the Durrant House Hotel in Northam on Sunday.
Three hundred excited fans had packed out the ballroom at the sell-out party to meet Jackson Five legend Tito Jackson and his sons TJ and Taj when the pop king personally phoned the hotel to speak with his older brother and nephews – and say hi to his adoring aficionados.
Hotel manager Julie Finn said the receptionist put the call through to her office at around 8pm on Sunday.
She said: "It was a little surreal waiting in my small office with the Jacksons for Michael to call – and being filmed by Channel 4!
"We set up a link to the ballroom, and when the call came though and fans realised who was on the phone, it was incredible."
Michael said "hi" to his fans before saying he had been busy working in the studio that day. "I love you all," he said.
Earlier, fans were given the chance to rub shoulders with the Jackson stars and were entertained by a succession of top Jackson tribute acts including Danny Oliver, MJacksonUK, Mikki J, and Britain’s Got Talent finalist Damon Scott and "Bubbles".
The event was organised by 18-year-old North Devon College student George Warren.
George, from Barnstaple, who has been hard at work organising the show for the last six weeks told the Gazette the event was more than he had ever hoped it would be.
"It was a fantastic night. We originally thought just Tito was going to come but to have him and two of his sons come – and stay for the whole evening – was amazing.
"The auction of Michael’s fedora and the phone call was the icing on the cake.
"Organising the event has been pretty much non-stop – stressful but exciting.
"I’ll now be concentrating on my A-Level exams this week and next – and learning to drive!"
The event raised an astonishing £8,000 for the North Devon Hospice through ticket sales, a raffle, and £500 donation by supermarket ASDA, who also presented a hamper of North Devon produce to Tito. A further £6,000 was raised through an auction of Jackson memorabilia including Michael’s white fedora that he wore in the Smooth Criminal video, signed by the star himself. Other lots included signed Janet Jackson tour merchandise, and generous Tito even offered to cook one lucky fan a meal at his Appledore rented home.
Tito, who is understood to be flying back to America this week said: "I love North Devon. The people have been beautiful to me and I’ve been out for a lot of walks in the evening to enjoy the beautiful sunsets – I’ve had a ball!
Source: North Devon Gazette