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Michael Jackson to visit Gary, Indiana
( 2003-06-08 11:26) (7)

Michael Jackson, whose family left behind Gary's gritty steel mills in the late 1960s for fame and fortune, will visit his Indiana hometown next week for the first time in two decades.

Jackson has scheduled three public appearances Wednesday in Gary, said Jackson spokesman Stuart Backerman.

His trip to his hometown will come before a Friday deadline Jackson faces to complete a court-ordered deposition in Indianapolis in a copyright infringement lawsuit.

"He's been wanting to go to Gary for a long time," Backerman said of Jackson, who lives in California. "The travel logistics make it possible."

While in Gary, Jackson is scheduled to receive a key to the city, attend an assembly at his brothers' alma mater, Roosevelt High School, and visit his boyhood home.

Backerman said there's no agenda to the homecoming aside from extending goodwill to Gary residents.

"He's totally excited about this," Backerman said. "I haven't seen him this excited about anything in a long time."

Deborah Dannelly, the president of the international Michael Jackson Fan Club, said the Gary visit will be a landmark event.

"You're going to see him as a lot of people need to see him - as a person rather than a persona," she said.

Jackson had intended to travel to Gary in May, one day after his scheduled visit to Indianapolis to give a deposition.

That deposition was postponed May 21 after the pop star suffered an anxiety attack and was briefly hospitalized in Indianapolis.

Without the lawsuit that accuses Jackson of infringing on trade names and copyrights in a 1996 album, Gary would probably not be getting a visit from Jackson.

U.S. District Judge Philip Simon has ordered Jackson to return to Indianapolis by June 13 to complete his deposition, and said he might fine Jackson $1,000 per day for the delay.

The lawsuit alleges that the Jackson Five used the name of another Gary band and two of their songs without license in the 1996 album "Pre-History: The Lost Steeltown Recordings."

Gordon Keith, the man who signed the Jackson Five to his Gary-based Steeltown Records in 1967, and musician Elvy Woodard accuse Michael, Jackie, Tito, Jermaine and Marlon Jackson of infringing on the trade name Ripples & Waves, which was the name of another Gary band during the 1960s.

Robert Meyer, a Chicago lawyer representing Jackson, said the lawsuit is misguided because a record label issued the archival recordings without Jackson's authorization.

"Michael had nothing to do with the CD," Meyer said.

The two non-Jackson 5 songs in question, "Let Me Carry Your Schoolbooks" and "I Never Had a Girl," are generally acknowledged as the work of Ripples and Waves, an R&B group led by Elvy and Ivan Woodard.

The lawsuit also accuses the Jacksons of perpetuating a myth that they once performed under the name "Ripples and Waves."

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