Orianthi entered the music industry very young. By the time she was 15, she could already boast about opening for none other than Steve Vai, and five years later, she would go on to release her solo debut album “Violet Journey” and even share the stage with one of her guitar heroes Carlos Santana during PRS’ 20th-anniversary party at NAMM 2005 – which eventually led to Orianthi getting endorsed by the company.
However, Orianthi’s big break came in early 2009, when she was recruited as Michael Jackson’s guitarist for his “This Is It” concert series, intended to take place during the same year.
And while The King of Pop sadly passed away before the tour ever began, Orianthi nevertheless got to spend several months playing with Michael Jackson as they prepared for the ill-fated tour, and was eventually featured on the titular documentary which chronicled the rehearsals.
Orianthi talks about her experience with Michael Jackson
Orianthi spoke about her experiences of working with Michael Jackson during the “This Is It” tour rehearsals as a recent guest of The Mitch Lafon and Jeremy White Show. Since the documentary portrayed Michael Jackson actively engaging with every aspect of the show, Orianthi was asked whether the iconic singer was as involved in her own playing and tone. The guitarist replied:
“Yeah, totally. I mean, I changed my amps a few times. I called up Paul [Reed Smith], I’m like, ‘Paul, we’ve got to get a guitar that sounds like a Strat… So there were a lot of things that – attention to detail. And [Michael Jackson] heard everything. And when it came down to the dancing, the outfits – just everything. I mean, it was a full-on insane show, epic proportions.
“And he does, you know, Swarovski crystals and everything as well, with giant spiders. And there’s a lot of stuff going on, and it was incredible, just to be able to work with him for – I think it was two or three months, something like that. So pretty wild, and being able to just… [watch] him work with the musicians, and giving me guidance. And just he was very supportive…of everybody, he wanted everyone to step up and do their thing.”
People often overlooked how detail-oriented a musician Jackson actually was. When asked about it, Orianthi replied:
“He totally was, though, that’s the thing. He heard everything from me – just ‘Oh, could you change the settings on your amp,’ he said at one time, and I was like, ‘Absolutely;’ he said, ‘I want it to be a little thinner, I want it to cut through a little more when you play this part.’ And so yeah, it was great. And working with [music director Michael] Bearden and everybody, Jonathan Moffett [drums], what an incredible drummer – I just did a session with him the other day on his album. So that’s pretty wild. But he’s, yeah, he’s awesome”
Orianthi will be releasing her live album titled “Live From Hollywood” this July 15 via Frontiers. The album was recorded during Orianthi’s January 22 performance at the Bourbon Room in Hollywood, and also features Michael Jackson’s former music director Michael Bearden on keyboards.