Bad publicity, high album price don't deter die-hard Jackson fans

LOS ANGELES (AP) A four-year hiatus, allegations of child molestation and complaints of anti-Semitic lyrics aren't hurting Michael Jackson: His new album is selling nicely, thank you.

''HIStory Past, Present and Future Book 1,'' a combination of old hits and new songs, sold quickly in many areas when it hit record stores Tuesday.

''I'm 48 and I'm crazy about him,'' said graphic designer William Whitehead, who picked up a copy at San Francisco's Tower Records. ''I've been crazy about him for years, through thick and thin.''

When the Wherehouse in Colma opened an hour early to start selling the much-anticipated CD, salespeople found 15 customers lined up outside.

''They love Michael,'' manager Ron McPhee said. ''They're hard-core fans. They've been fans for years. They're curious to see what's on the new album. He always has lots of surprises.''

Not everyone reported such brisk business.

''No one has been beating down the door for it,'' said Greg Sharp, a salesman at Camelot Music in Columbus, Ohio. ''We've sold a couple CDs, and one guy purchased it on laserdisc and vinyl.''

Some blamed recent negative publicity surrounding Jackson and the album's high price. It retails for $32.99, but many retailers offered $10 discounts.

Sixteen-year-old Rafik Hodeib was listening to ''HIStory'' at Blockbuster Music in suburban Studio City. ''It's pretty good. If I get some money I'll sure buy it. I like his new beats he's got some good new beats.''

The single ''Scream Childhood,'' recorded with sister Janet Jackson was No. 6 last week. The national record sales charts come out Friday.

Jackson was criticized for an anti-Semitic slur in the song ''They Don't Care About Us.'' He apologized for it last week and said he would explain in his liner notes that he was trying to say no to racism and stereotyping.

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