Even a severely sprained ankle didn't keep Michael Jackson from continuing his recent media blitz with an appearance--several, in fact--on the seventh annual Soul Train Awards telecast.
Jackson performed, presented an award and accepted three awards of his own, all while on crutches or in a wheelchair after spraining his right ankle Monday in dance rehearsal.
"I'm sorry about this . . . very sorry," said Jackson, whose string of high-profile appearances in recent weeks has ranged from a presidential inaugural celebration to an Oprah Winfrey TV interview. "I was dancing and went into a spin and twisted my ankle very badly. But I wanted to come here to thank everybody."
Besides picking up his own awards (best R&B male album, R&B male single and a special humanitarian citation) in the Tuesday night ceremony at the Shrine Auditorium, Jackson performed "Remember the Time," which he turned into a show-stopping production number despite being confined to a wheelchair.
Jackson also presented Eddie Murphy the Heritage Award for career achievement. Joking with Jackson, the comedian-actor told the audience, "Isn't it nice to see him getting out and giving people awards. . . . I'd like to thank Michael for hobbling out here and giving me this award."
Don Cornelius, executive producer of the TV special, summed up Jackson's whirlwind appearance. "Nobody was disappointed," he said backstage. "Here's a guy who was sitting in a chair with a bad leg and the energy was almost as high as it would have been if he had not been injured."
The Soul Train Awards, the most prestigious R&B awards competition, are based on a survey of 3,000 radio programmers and record retailers.
Other major winners included Whitney Houston, who gave birth last week to a daughter and wasn't on hand to accept the best female single award for her "I Will Always Love You." Boyz II Men, the young vocal quartet, was honored for best group single, for "Please Don't Go," and best music video and best song for their hit "End of the Road."
Awards were also presented to En Vogue, group album and the Sammy Davis Jr. award for entertainer of the year; Mary J. Blige, new artist; Arrested Development, rap album; Najee, jazz album, and Shirley Caesar, gospel album.