David Gest is hoping to donate an album of songs he and Michael Jackson wrote to the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum in Ayrshire. Which might sound like a slightly strange thing to do. And it still does, even when you know that the songs form a musical based on Burns’ life. Jackson and Gest were both fans of the celebrated eighteenth century Scottish poet it seems (Gest still is), so much so they collaborated on the previously unheard Burns musical in the 1980s.
Explaining how the record came about, Gest told BBC Alba in a recent documentary: “I said to Michael, let’s do a play [based on] Burns’ life and he said he would help me with the music. Michael believed in the project so much. We took about eight or ten of Burns’ poems and put them to contemporary music, such as ‘A Red Red Rose’, ‘Ae Fond Kiss’ and the story of ‘Tam O’Shanter’”.
The songs were both written and recorded, but never released, and it doesn’t look like the Jackson estate has any plans to give them an airing now the king of pop is dead, motivating Gest to try and regain control of the songs, so he can hand them over to the Rabbie Burns museum, who might even release them.
Nat Edwards, the Director of the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum told The List: “We had a chat and thought it would be great if we could play them at the museum and he offered to look them out and provide copies so we could do that. We would very much be looking forward to getting hold of these recordings and if possible for us to produce some sort of CD that could help raise money for the museum. That would be fantastic”.