A year after Michael Jackson’s death caused a worldwide outpouring of shock, tears and tributes, the anniversary of his passing was marked Friday on a quieter scale, as fans remembered their fallen King of Pop with vigils, prayer and, of course, music.
The electric, enigmatic and troubled icon died on June 25, 2009, at age 50, as he was preparing for a series of comeback concerts in London. Dr. Conrad Murray is charged with involuntary manslaughter in Jackson’s death for administering the powerful anesthetic propofol to Jackson to help the pop star sleep.
At Jackson’s final resting place at Forest Lawn in Glendale. Calif., about 500 fans filed past barricades Friday to get close to the mausoleum where Jackson is interred. Some wept, while some carried bouquets; others were armed with cameras to document the moment.
Erick Dominguez, 37, a sales representative from Victorville, Calif., wore a black shirt with Jackson’s photo that read: “In Loving Memory.”
“He’s been my idol all my life since I can remember. I feel like I haven’t had closure,” he said, starting to weep from behind dark sunglasses.
Yugi Aoki, 33, of Tokyo, came with 13 other Japanese fans. They were all wearing sparkling gloves and fedora hats, one of Jackson’s signature looks. Aoki smiled as he described how Jackson influenced him: “Michael Jackson changed myself. We love his dancing and songs.”
Members of the Jackson family arrived at the cemetery Friday afternoon, and brother Tito Jackson shook the hands of a few waiting fans.
In Gary, Ind., Jackson’s hometown, hundreds of fans began gathering in the afternoon for a tribute at the family home; Jackson’s mother, Katherine, was in the city for the event.
Leonia Lowery, 69, a retiree from Chicago, stood against the fence hoping to catch a glimpse of the family matriarch.
“I’m very proud to be here and will be coming here every year because we love him,” she said as the King of Pop’s music played over loudspeakers set up outside his boyhood home.
In Harlem, pictures of Jackson hung on a wall outside New York’s Apollo Theater, where Jackson and his brothers won amateur night in the late 1960s. A sidewalk plaque honored the singer alongside such other legends as James Brown and Smokey Robinson.
Since the Apollo helped launch the Jackson 5, it has had a strong connection to the late singer. After Jackson’s death, it became the de facto gathering place for New York fans. It was an emotional though more low-key scene on Friday morning, as Jackson’s music blared from boom boxes and passing cars.
“We are really honored to have played a part in launching Michael’s musical career and to serve as a gathering place for people to come and celebrate his lifetime of achievement,” said Jonelle Procope, Apollo president and CEO.
Procope placed Jackson’s black hat and sequin glove, both from the theater’s collection, beside his plaque.
D.E. Cayard said he spent 68 days at the Apollo after Jackson’s death. He returned Friday, flying in from Miami, to present an artwork as tribute to Jackson.
“I want to be among the people that are telling the world that Michael is forever,” he said. “Michael is celebration.”
Elsewhere in Harlem, the AMC Magic Johnson Harlem 9 movie theater screened This Is It, the documentary about Jackson’s preparation for his London concerts, throughout the day. And the Rev. Al Sharpton was to lead a moment of silence in the afternoon.
In Gary, Ind., Jackson’s hometown, there was to be a tribute at the family home; city officials said they expected Jackson’s mother, Katherine Jackson, and his niece, Genevieve Jackson, to show up. Hundreds of fans were there by mid-day. Katherine Jackson was also to lend her support to a “Forever Michael” fan event in Beverly Hills, Calif., on Saturday.
In Japan, hundreds of fans met at Tokyo Tower to honor Jackson with a candlelight vigil, a gospel concert and more. Some got a chance to see a collection of his possessions, including costumes from his tours and even a 1967 Rolls-Royce Phantom that he used to drive around Los Angeles.
“I don’t know what to say. Seeing all his things makes it all come back to me,” said Yumiko Sasaki, a 48-year-old Tokyo office worker who has been a Jackson fan since she was 12. “It makes me so sad to think that he is gone. He was wonderful.”
About 50 guests paid $1,100 each to sleep overnight at the Tokyo landmark, where they had catered food, watched a gospel choir, looked at Jackson memorabilia, and danced to Michael Jackson’s music before observing a period of silence as the sun rose.
But not all memorials were to be somber. In France, Jackson weekend commemoration plans included a concert and tribute show. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland planned parties for the man who embodied dance music.
“They want to celebrate his life and music,” DJ Jon Quick said of the expected partygoers Friday night at New York’s club Taj, where he would play Jackson tunes.
On Twitter, “RIPMJ” was one of the most popular topics. Mariah Carey said she was marking the day by watching the video to “You Are Not Alone.”
“Love and prayers to MJ `King of Pop,”’ Carey tweeted. “You will be remembered forever. We miss you.”
AP Entertainment Writers Jake Coyle in New York and Anthony McCartney in Los Angeles; Associated Press writers Eric Talmadge in Tokyo, Raquel Maria Dillon in Los Angeles and Tom Coyne in Gary, Ind., and Solvej Schou in Los Angeles contributed to this report.
Pictured above is Michael Jackson.