It's a shocking testament ... Michael Jackson -- who amassed hundreds of millions of dollars during his storied career -- needed the "This Is It" tour so he could afford a house for his children.
During the wrongful death trial Wednesday afternoon ... AEG honcho Randy Phillips told the jury about an emotional meeting he had with MJ around Halloween, 2008. Phillips said a tearful Jackson told him his 3 kids were living "like vagabonds" -- shuttling from a Las Vegas rental to the Bel Air Hotel in L.A.
Phillips said Jackson wanted a home the family could call their own, and needed the "This Is It" tour to make enough money to realize that dream.
Phillips said the meeting was so emotional, both he and Jackson cried.
But get this ... the next day Phillips met MJ again, and the singer revealed the home he wanted to buy --- a 40,000-square-foot estate with a $93 million price tag. Phillips told MJ he thought it was ridiculous to blow his wad on the property.
MJ eventually settled on renting the house where he died.