A year after Michael Jackson’s death caused a worldwide outpouring of shock, tears and tributes, the anniversary of his passing was being 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., hundreds of fans, some weeping, filed past barricades to get close to the mausoleum where Jackson is interred Friday morning. Some carried bouquets, others were armed with cameras to document the moment.
Erick Dominguez, 37, a sales rep 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 of the pop star. 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.”
Jackson’s family members were expected to arrive at the cemetery later in the day, said his brother, Randy Jackson.
Across the country 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 pop star. 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 boomboxes 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 today, 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, along with thousands of others. Katherine Jackson also lent 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 officer 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 every memorial for Jackson was to be somber. In France, weekend celebration plans included a concert and tribute show, and other places across the globe, including 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 at club Taj today, 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 Writer Eric Talmadge in Tokyo and Solvej Schou in Los Angeles contributed to this report.