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My 15th Birthday Present: Meeting Michael

When I was growing up, I was one of the biggest Michael Jackson fans ever. I went to all the L.A. concerts and would listen to all the Jacksons' records over and over. For my 15th birthday in 1979, my dad (jazz arranger Pete Rugolo) called his friend Quincy Jones and asked him if he […]

When I was growing up, I was one of the biggest Michael Jackson fans ever. I went to all the L.A. concerts and would listen to all the Jacksons' records over and over.

For my 15th birthday in 1979, my dad (jazz arranger Pete Rugolo) called his friend Quincy Jones and asked him if he could introduce us. Quincy mentioned he was just starting to record an album with Michael called "Off the Wall" and invited me to spend the day with him at the recording studio.

I don't think I have ever been more excited to meet anybody in my life. Michael was so sweet to me. He knew I was a big fan and let me watch him record the song "Get on the Floor."

I had another big moment when he invited his friend Karen Carpenter to join us for a while. At the end of the day, he took the temporary cover of the album and signed it "To Gina, much love in the '80s." I was thrilled because I knew I could brag about it for a whole new decade.

I have stayed such a loyal fan even to this day that practically every good friend I had in high school and college called me today to check in and share a memory about him with me.

Gina Rugolo, founder of Rugolo Entertainment, manages talent and produces TV and film.