LIONEL Richie still hasn't accepted Michael Jackson's death.
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'. "