Los Angeles (CNN) — Michael Jackson traveled with what amounted to a mini-clinic and an anesthesiologist who used a surgical anesthetic to put the singer to sleep after shows during his “HIStory” tour, sources close to Jackson told CNN just days after his death.
But Paul Gongaware testified Friday that he never saw indications Jackson used drugs or traveled with a doctor when he managed that tour in 1996 and 1997.
What Gongaware knew — or didn’t know — about Jackson’s drug use is a key issue as the Jackson wrongful death trial enters its sixth week Monday in Los Angeles.
The co-CEO of AEG Live — the concert promotion company being sued by Jackson’s mother and children — returns for a fifth day of testimony Monday.
The Jackson family contends AEG Live is liable in Jackson’s 2009 death because it negligently hired, retained or supervised Dr. Conrad Murray, who was convicted of involuntary manslaughter.
Gongaware was the top producer of Jackson’s comeback concerts when the singer died of an overdose of the surgical anesthetic propofol. It was Gongaware who negotiated the deal to pay Dr. Murray $150,000 a month to be Jackson’s physician for the “This Is It” tour.
Jackson lawyers argue that Gongaware should have known the hazards of hiring the doctor because of his personal experience with Jackson — and his work with other artists, including on Elvis Presley’s last tour.
AEG Live lawyers contend their executives had no way of knowing that Murray was using propofol to treat Jackson’s insomnia because the singer was very good at keeping his “deepest, darkest secret.”
“AEG knew nothing about this decade-long propofol use,” AEG Live lawyer Marvin Putnam said in his opening statements. “They were a concert promoter. How could they know?”
Gongaware, under questioning by his own lawyer Friday, testified that he only became aware that Jackson was addicted to painkillers when the singer made a public announcement after his “Dangerous” tour abruptly ended so he could enter rehab in 1993.
He was a manager for the “Dangerous” tour, but only handled logistics and didn’t travel with Jackson then, he said.
His job on the second half of the “HIStory” tour, however, carried more responsibilities and he worked closely with Jackson, he said.
Gongaware testified that he saw “no indication at all” that Jackson was using drugs during that tour. “I would be certain to notice it if that was the case.”
Did Jackson have a doctor treating him during the “HIStory” tour, his lawyer asked.
“Not that I know of,” he answered.
In fact, Jackson was “sensational” on stage, performing 10 to 12 shows a month, he said. Unlike in the “Dangerous” tour, he never canceled a show because of his health.
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