Michael Jackson (12131)

Michael Jackson “had a real monkey on his back” with a longtime drug addiction his family kept secret from the world, and it led to his overdose death, a lawyer for AEG Live said.

The concert promoter’s defense against the Jackson family’s wrongful death lawsuit began Tuesday and will include testimony from “all of the many, many doctors” who treated Jackson over the past decades, AEG Live attorney Marvin Putnam said.

AEG Live executive John Meglin—who is the CEO of the Concerts West division—returned to the stand Wednesday after testifying Tuesday that Dr. Conrad Murray’s request for $5 million to work as Jackson’s personal physician for the tour was a topic at a meeting of the company’s executive committee. Jackson lawyer Brian Panish said that was an important revelation that would help his case.

Panish pressed Meglin on the question of if he agreed with his boss, AEG Live President Randy Phillips, who testified that he thought Jackson was the greatest artist of all time.

“I think that Michael’s very big in the pop world, but the Rolling Stones are bigger, or Led Zeppelin,” Meglin said. “I’m a rocker.”

Defense witnesses will also include a parade of Jackson family members, including a return appearance by matriarch Katherine Jackson, who just concluded two days of testimony as her lawyers presented their case.

“They kept his private world private as best they could, and now they would like to blame somebody else for things that only they knew privately,” Putnam said.

Michael Jackson’s mother and three children contend that AEG Live, which was producing and promoting his comeback concerts, is liable in his death because it negligently hired, retained or supervised Murray.

Murray was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in Jackson’s death, which the coroner ruled was caused by an overdose of the surgical anesthetic propofol. The doctor told investigators he was using the drug to treat Jackson’s insomnia as he prepared for his “This Is It” debut in London.

Jackson, not AEG Live, chose and controlled Murray, Putnam argued. He said in his opening statements at the start of the trial 12 weeks ago he would show jurors “ugly stuff” about Jackson to prove that AEG Live executives had no way of knowing about the dangerous treatments the doctor was giving in the privacy of Jackson’s bedroom.

Alan Duke | CNN