The 'Hello' singer was close friends with the 'Thriller' hitmaker and admits his pal's passing from acute Propofol intoxication almost six years ago still doesn't feel ''real''.
He said: ''To this day, I can't get it into my head that he's dead. It still doesn't seem real.
''It's so huge to me that he's not here.''
And Lionel feels a special sadness around his birthday every year because in 2009, he delayed festivities in order to celebrate with Michael, who was preparing for his 50-date 'This Is It' London residency when he died, but never got the chance.
He added: ''It's my birthday on June 20 and I'll never forget that year - I decided to delay my party because Michael was rehearsing for his big tour. He only lived a block and a half away and I wanted our kids to get together so I told him I would put it off until the weekend. But that was the week Michael died.
''Every year since, when my birthday is coming up, I still think of that day.''
The 65-year-old star admits his friend never ever had a ''normal'' life because he found fame at such a young age.
He told HELLO! magazine: ''He never got to hang out as a normal kid, playing soccer, going to school, having a first kiss.
''He didn't have a 'real'. His 'real' was, 'Hey Lionel, I bought a monkey'. ''
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