Jermaine Jackson Recalls Kids Last Moments With Father

Celebrity News Jul. 2, 2009 AT 9:39AM
MIchael Jackson and Jermaine Jackson Credit: Kevin Kane/WireImage.com

Jermaine Jackson wishes he could trade places with his younger brother, Michael Jackson.

"He went too soon," said Jermaine -- who donned a vintage Jackson 5 T-shirt for his interview on the Today Show this morning. "I wish that it was me. I've always felt that I was his backbone, someone to be there for him. I was there and he was sort of like Moses. The things he couldn't say, I would say them."

Look back at Michael Jackson through the years

Jermaine recalled the moment he found out his brother was dead -- in a devastating phone call from Katherine.

"She was crying, saying he was dead. To hear my mother say, 'Michael is dead,' to feel and hear the tone in her voice to say her child is dead, is nothing that anyone can ever imagine," added Jermaine, who spoke to Matt Lauer from the Neverland Ranch.

"I tried to console her," he went on, "but I wanted to see Michael and I wanted to see my brother. To see him there lifeless and breathless was very emotional for me. But I held myself together because I knew he's very much alive in his spirit, and that was just a shell. But I kissed him on his forehead, and I hugged him, and I touched him and I said Michael, 'I'll never leave you. You'll never leave me.'"

He also talked about watching Michael's three children say goodbye to their father as a therapist stood over them. "I know it's tough, but I think it was the best thing to do. At first I was against it, but what do you say if you don't show them?" Jermaine said of the decision to have them see their dead father.

See touching photos of Michael and his kids

Jermaine said his brother was in good physical condition while rehearsing for his London concerts. "I do believe and I do know that Mike is very strong, not just mentally but physically," he said. "He's a dancer, he never stopped dancing, He was already ready physically. He passed the physical, he was strong; he was ready."

But he didn't deny reports of drug use, saying he'd "be hurt" if they turned out to be true "because Michael has always been a person who was against anything like that.

See how Michael's face has changed over the years

"I'm not saying it's right, because it's not right," Jermaine continued . "But in this business, the pressure, and things that you go through -- you never know what people might turn to."

Jermaine says Katherine is "capable" of taking care of the children following a judge's decision to award her temporary custody. "She's up to it," he said. "She's always with all the children, she loves laughter and the crying and all the excitement. Yes, she is."

Jermaine said he wanted Michael to be buried at Neverland Ranch, even though his view of his former home had changed after the child molestation trial.

See other stars who have gone too soon

"He was hurt, he was torn apart, and to be treated like you're not from here, to be made a mockery for the world to see, he felt that they sort of invaded his privacy," Jackson said. "A place that was so beautiful -- [to] turn it into something so ugly."

On Wednesday, a Jackson family spokesperson told Usmagazine.com no official memorial would take place at the famed estate.

"Contrary to previous news reports, the Jackson family is officially stating that there will be no public or private viewing at Neverland," the rep said. "Plans are underway regarding a public memorial for Michael Jackson, and we will announce those plans shortly."

For more details on Michael Jackson's shocking home life with his three children, how the kids are coping with his surprise death and never-before-seen private family photos, pick up the new issue of Us Weekly, on stands now.

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