07/27/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Gladys Knight Discusses Her Memories Of Her Friend Michael Jackson (VIDEO)

Motown legend Gladys Knight spoke to CBS' "Early Show" about her memories of Michael Jackson and his "enormous gift." Watch Knight remember her friend the King of Pop below.

Check out his legions of fans gathering across the country here. View a slideshow of his life in pictures here. Watch all his best music videos here.

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HARRY SMITH, CO-ANCHOR: With us now is another Motown legend, Gladys knight. Saw the Jackson Five perform at the Apollo Theater in the 1960s and stayed in touch with the brothers, especially her friend Michael, ever since. Gladys joins us exclusively from Reno, Nevada. Gladys, how are you doing this morning?

GLADYS KNIGHT, SINGER: I'm hanging in there. I'm hanging in there.

SMITH: When the news came yesterday, everybody was in shock. But you're somebody who saw this person in a way not many of us got to see him. You knew him when he was just a young man and kept a relationship with him for all these years.


SMITH: Can you share with us some of your thoughts and some of your feelings from that time?

KNIGHT: Well, I met the Jacksons at the Regal Theater in Chicago.

They were just children, actually, and I heard them before I saw them.

And I jumped up, and I said, "Who is that?". They were rehearsing to do a talent show. And I ran to the banister to try to see who it was, and their father brought them up after their rehearsal, and I got a chance to meet them.

Amazing family. Michael was shy, and I don't know if we really recognized that in him all of his life. As he would accept awards, it wasn't about him being coy, it was about him being shy. I am so blessed that I was able to know Michael in a different way, seeing him in a room alone sitting in the dark and saying, "What's the matter, Michael?". Or sitting in the middle of the floor.

We shared the same manager, Ron Wisener, at one time, and he was telling me the things that had happened or not happened in his life, like not going to a baseball game as a young boy. And asking me, "how do you do this? How do you do that?". So many people that have called in this industry talk about Michael's inquiries. "How do you do this? How do you go about making" -- it wasn't all about how you execute a note. It was about how do you live this life under the pressure and all of the things that we have to go through to make this happen.

SMITH: Is that maybe what's at the bottom of why we were so transfixed? Because here was all of this talent, here was all of this ability, here was this magnetism on stage. And at the same time, here was a person who, I think, a lot of people felt sorry for.

KNIGHT: And it's rightful that they do that. To whom much is given, much is required, OK? And he had an enormous gift, and he also lived by that gift that you're given, you should use. And he used it to the utmost, to the best of his ability. He was phenomenal is a good word. And he gave us so much joy.

But on the other side of that coin, we forgot sometimes to understand what it takes in order to do that, trying to have a family, live a normal life, which is almost impossible with the iconic area that Michael was a part of.

So I loved him. He needed somebody to talk to. Before he was going to court, my husband William and I called him. He was in Vegas. A lot of people didn't know that. And we called him, and he called me back, and we said, "Hey, why don't you just come on over to our house? They would never expect you to be here." He needed some solace. He needed some other things that we as a group of people couldn't give him.

And I hope in this time, I hope that we will not go so much for the sensationalism. He lived every trial, he lived every wrong decision that he made. It's done. It's over. Now he needs his accolades for what he gave us and how good he made us feel.

SMITH: Gladys, thank you so much for taking the time to be with us today. It's good to see you.

KNIGHT: My pleasure.