Q: How have you been holding up since Michael Jackson's death?
A: Oh, man. It's surrealistic. I went to Shanghai for the movie festival over there—I took Halle Berry—and then went back to Luxembourg, and in three days I lost Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett, and Michael. And Michael's thing is still surrealistic to me. I can't process it, man. I don't know how to process it. It's just unbelievable—him leaving before me. I can't believe it.

Q: How did you learn that he had died?
A: Well, everybody in the world called me. I got 500 e-mails. I've never seen anything like it in my life. At first they said they'd taken him to the hospital, then they said he'd had a stroke or a heart attack—it just kept going back and forth and we didn't know what was really happening. And at first I thought he was just kind of freaked out by the coming concerts, because I was in London when they announced the 50 concerts and they sold out in four hours. . . We'd see each other all the time, and I just can't believe he's not here.

Q: Have you been crying?
A: Oh, man, it's more than that. It's way more than that. It hurts my soul, man. It's just a lump down there.

Q: You were there to witness the strange evolution in Michael's appearance. Did you ever step in and saying anything about it?
A: Oh, we talked about it all the time. But he'd come up with, "Man, I promise you I have this disease," and so forth, and "I have a blister on my lungs," and all that kind of b.s. It's hard, because Michael's a Virgo, man—he's very set in his ways. You can't talk him out of it. Chemical peels and all that stuff.

Q: Did you believe him about the disease?
A: I don't believe in any of that bullshit, no. No. Never. I've been around junkies and stuff all my life. I've heard every excuse. It's like smokers—"I only smoke when I drink" and all that stuff. But it's bullshit. You're justifying something that's destructive to your existence. It's crazy. I mean, I came up with Ray Charles, man. You know, nobody gonna pull no wool over my eyes. He did heroin 20 years! Come on. And black coffee and gin for 40 years. But when he called me to come over to see him when he was in the hospital on his way out, man, he had emphysema, hepatitis C, cirrhosis of the liver, and five malignant tumors. Please, man! I've been around this all my life. So it's hard for somebody to pull the wool over my eyes. But when somebody's hell-bent on it, you can't stop 'em.