As the initial shock of Michael Jackson’s sudden death recedes, a picture of the singer’s tortured lifestyle is emerging, one populated by prescription drugs, sycophants, plastic surgery, lavish spending, and an ever-failing quest to recapture the fame of his “Thriller” days of the early 1980s.

A source who spent time traveling with the singer on and off for decades, seeing Jackson regularly until shortly before his death, tells FOXNews.com that as long ago as the early 1990s, Jackson was traveling with a personal physician.

“There was a doctor with Michael at all times,” the source said in an exclusive interview. “He traveled with a doctor. Michael got injections of drugs daily.”

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The insider traveled with Jackson for an entire year at one point, during which the singer “was doing massive amounts of skin grafting. It was very unhealthy and sad to witness it all.”

Jackson was going to extremes to stay on top of the pop music heap, and to fill a void in his life, said the insider. “Michael was worried about losing his popularity and his relevance. Even when he was at a personal high, he was terrified of losing his edge. He felt very alone. Michael had no close friends around him and he always harbored miserable feelings with his father. He was always sad that his family was not with him.”

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Jackson tried to replace his missing family with hangers-on, said the source. “If there wasn’t a doctor with him, or a security team, then it was managers or a lawyer or a publicist. He was never alone. He surrounded himself with people who used him, and he was terribly paranoid about people using him, so he fired staff constantly. It was just nonstop people in and out of his life.”

The only time Jackson felt comfortable, and was allowed to be alone, was in the recording studio, said the eyewitness. “He loved making music or just singing old songs. Music allowed him temporary peace when he went into his studio. He would relax and open up more.”

The insider linked Jackson’s massive debt, estimated at $400 million at the time of his death, to his discomfort with himself and others. “Michael was always trying to find himself. He never really knew who he was. He burned through money like I have never witnessed before. He could spend a fortune in an hour, and a mega fortune in a day.”

The one person Jackson trusted and felt comfortable with, said the source, was Motown founder Berry Gordy, who called Jackson “my son” and “a showman from his toes to the top of his head” after learning of the singer's death.

“He truly loved Berry Gordy. He never trusted anyone with his personal and professional life like Berry. They met when Michael was just a baby, and Berry was his mentor and friend for life,” said the insider. “You could always tell when Michael felt good around someone, because he so rarely did, and Berry just made him feel safe.”