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By Graham Earnshaw

TOKYO, Sept 16, Reuter – Reclusive superstar Michael Jackson is loosening up and becoming a bit less introverted now his first solo tour is under way, top record producer Quincy Jones said on Wednesday.

Jackson, who performed his first concert for three years last Saturday in Tokyo, has already played to an estimated 100,000 people in his three concerts here, the first of at least 12 scheduled in Japan over the next month.

“He’s freer, looser, becoming a little more extroverted, or should I say less introverted,” Jones, the co-producer of Jackson’s latest album, told a news conference.

Jackson’s previous album, “Thriller”, was the biggest selling album ever, and Jones said he expected the “Michael Jackson fever” seen in 1984 to be repeated as a result of his new album, “Bad”, and the current world tour.

“I do think it will happen again,” he said. “I think when he hits the United States and they see him in person, it’s going to be bigger than it was before.”

Jackson, 29, spent most of his childhood as a member of the family pop group the Jackson Five and his last live appearances in 1984 were with his brothers and sisters.

But Jones said the star’s new independence had helped to relax him.

“You always have to remember that he’s been stuck behind those walls since he was five years old. He never really had a decent childhood,” said Jones.

“Now I think he’s into his skin much more, and he’s opening up and starting to enjoy everything.

Jones referred to Jackson a couple of times during the news conference as “Smelly”, and he explained that this was the nickname he had earned during the recording sessions for the” Bad” album.

“We nicknamed him Smelly because he would never say any bad words. He wouldn’t even say funky, he would say smelly (instead), and so we began to call him Smelly,” Jones said.

A record company executive said Jackson used the word smelly to indicate something was bad.

Michael Jackson does not speak to the press. The executive said Jackson gave his last interview around 1982.

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