When Michael Jackson couldn’t sleep while touring Europe in the mid-1990s, his Munich hotel room was converted to a surgical suite, outfitted to administer the powerful anesthetic propofol, his ex-wife testified Wednesday.
Debbie Rowe told jurors Jackson always had difficulty sleeping, but while on his European tour, his sleep disorder “kicked in high gear.”
Rowe and Jackson, who were married at the time, contacted Dr. Allan Metzger, the singer’s internist. Metzger arranged for a German medical team to administer propofol to the singer for eight hours, Rowe said.
Rowe said she was “very impressed” by the German medical team, who carefully explained the dangers of the procedure, performed a physical examination and constantly monitored the singer while he was unconscious.
More than a decade before Jackson died from a fatal dose of propofol, Rowe asked him about the consequences.
“I said, ‘What happens if you die?’ ” Rowe said. “He was more worried about not sleeping.”
Three days later, Rowe said Jackson was again sedated with propofol, the last time she witnessed his receiving the anesthetic for purposes other than a medical procedure.
Rowe was called as a witness by AEG Live in the wrongful death suit filed by Jackson’s mother and three children against the concert tour promoter.
Jackson’s family contends AEG negligently hired Conrad Murray, the cardiologist who administered the fatal dose of propofol in June 2009. AEG said the King of Pop hired Murray, and any money paid to him was an advance to Jackson.
At the time of his death, Jackson was rehearsing for a sold-out, 50-date comeback tour at London’s O2 Arena.
Rowe, who varyingly sobbed on the witness stand and talked back to attorneys, offered a candid look into the singer’s medical history and struggles with addiction.
She said Metzger developed a plan to ease Jackson off of the painkiller demerol in 1993, after the singer was recovering from scalp surgery but before he headed off to tour.
Later that year, Rowe visited the singer while he was touring in Mexico City and described Jackson as “a hot mess,” living in a messy hotel room and speaking incoherently.
After the pair fought, Rowe persuaded him to enter rehab, pledging to stand by his side.
“You need to straighten up, face whatever it is that’s going on, and we’ll get through it,” Rowe said she told the singer, who later entered a London rehab facility.
Earlier, Rowe testified that Jackson’s doctors competed to one-up each other in prescribing drugs to the singer.
But Rowe portrayed herself as Jackson’s best friend, guarding against the many who sought to take advantage of him.
“He trusted people — foolishly, foolishly trusted a lot of people,” Rowe said, as Jackson’s mother, Katherine, sitting in the front row, nodded in agreement.
Rowe divorced Jackson in 1997 and ceded parental rights in 2001.
Cross-examination of Rowe by attorneys representing the Jackson family resumes Thursday morning.