Speaking on Oprah Winfrey’s chat show, Timberlake explained that he originally wrote the song ‘Gone’, which appears on ‘N Sync’s final album, 2001’s ‘Celebrity’, for Jackson, but the King Of Pop turned down the chance to record it.
However, upon hearing the finished song on the album, Jackson called Timberlake to propose a duet between the two singers. Timberlake said: “He called me on the phone and said that he wanted to cut the record, but he wanted it to be a duet between himself and I. I’m on the phone, I’m literally punching myself in the face, because I said, ‘I can’t do that. Could we do an ‘N Sync featuring Michael Jackson, or Michael Jackson featuring ‘N Sync?’ but he was very clear that he wanted it to be a duet between he and I.”
Timberlake went on to explain that the failed duet with Jackson inspired him to make his own music, saying: “I think it’s the first idea I ever got about doing something on my own, because it was the first time I have ever really felt the confidence to do it.”
Timberlake did get the chance to duet with Jackson, although not until the latter had passed away. The two can be heard singing together on ‘Love Never Felt So Good’, the first track taken from Jackson’s posthumous album ‘Xscape’.