"This Is It" Guitarist Shines On

Orianthi, who was lead guitarist for Michael Jackson's "This Is It" Tour. CBS

Millions around the world have now seen Michael Jackson's final days on film as he rehearsed for his "This is It" tour. In the movie, a 24-year-old Australian guitarist named Orianthi captivates as she performs alongside Jackson.

CBS News correspondent Ben Tracy talked with Orianthi about Jackson's dreams of a comeback.

Orianthi told Tracy her first contact with Jackson's camp came when she received a message on the social networking site MySpace.

The message, Orianthi said, was "'We'd like to come and audition to be Michael Jackson's lead guitar player.' And I didn't think it was for real at first. You know, I thought, 'OK, this is crazy.' I've got some crazy e-mails through MySpace, this is definitely, by far, the craziest."

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But, the message was real. Jackson had seen her perform on the Grammy Awards and asked a friend to send her the e-mail.

But what was it like to get up on stage and audition for the "King of Pop"?

Orianthi said, "I've never been that nervous in my life. I didn't think I was going to get it."

Her audition song was "Beat It."

One week before the production was set to move to London's O2 arena, Orianthi told Tracy Jackson was ready to rock.

"He was like a big kid," she said. "He just wanted to have fun. Every time he came up on the stage, he was just full of energy. Just ready to do it. This was going to be his comeback."

However, after a late-night rehearsal, Jackson returned home and couldn't sleep. He was soon dead from an overdose of a powerful anesthetic. Rumors swirled that Jackson had been unhealthy, unhappy and unable to perform.

Orianthi told Tracy, "[Michael] was just a really giving person, and I wish people would just celebrate his legacy instead focusing on the crazy stuff. Cause 99.9 percent of it is all false."

Jackson's team gathered for rehearsal as word of his death spread.

"You just go into shock," Orianthi said. "Like, did this really happen?"

Now Orianthi is launching her first album, "Believe." She is still hoping to make the most of an opportunity that ended too soon.

"To work with Michael was just a life-changing experience," she said, "And I really wish he was still around."
  • CBSNews

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