25 years since Michael Jackson enchanted Prague
American singer Michael Jackson chose Prague as the opening concert for his HIStory album tour in 1996. The King of Pop’s visit to the Czech capital drove local fans wild.
Crowds of screaming fans welcomed Michael Jackson in front of the Old Town’s InterContinental hotel on September 3, 1996. A huge statue of the signer was erected on Letná – the spot where several decades earlier the Communists had built a statue of Joseph Stalin. The concert, which also took place on Letná, featured 1,200 tons of sound equipment brought in by Jackson’s team from Los Angeles. The concert featured effects hardly seen before by Czech fans – headlights, projections, illuminated costumes and choreographed dancing. The only one who seemed unimpressed were the critics, who described the event as a ridiculous circus.
During the three days that he spent in Prague ahead of the concert, the King of Pop took a tour of the Czech capital and visited the then President Vaclav Havel at Prague Castle. After the meeting, Michael Jackson visited a children’s home in Zbraslav and the child traumatology centre in Prague’s Motol hospital. In light of later events, it seems almost strange that he would invite a child every day to his apartment. But this was 1996 and Michael Jackson was the unquestioned king of pop music.
The concert on Letná plain on September 7, 1996, was attended by 120,000 people with thousands more cramming behind the erected fence to get a glimpse of the spectacle. A similar number of people could also be seen at the Pink Floyd concert in Prague in 1994, but the Rolling Stones performance that took place in the Czech capital a year later was attended by even more fans - 130,000.