After last Thursday’s shocking news of pop legend Michael Jackson’s sudden death from cardiac arrest, fans the world over scrambled to find a way to commemorate his legacy.
In the Philippines, prisoners who experienced their own fame after filming a rendition of the Thriller choreography two years ago have seen their YouTube video receive more than 26.5 million hits since it was originally posted.
In Paris, mourning Michael Jackson fans moonwalked in his honour last Sunday, reported the Associated Press. They claimed it was the world’s biggest moonwalk and the event was organised via Facebook, held beneath the Eiffel Tower.
In China, thousands of fans held vigils for Michael Jackson in several cities, the Associated Press reported.
In Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, hundreds of Michael Jackson fans gathered at a shopping mall last Sunday to sing some of his songs and sign a condolences banner. Michael Jackson impersonators also performed.
In Tokyo, Japan, 200 fans held a candlelight vigil for Michael Jackson in a park. Yoshiaki Sato, who studies American culture, wrote an opinion piece in Monday’s Yomiuri newspaper asking if the bigger step for mankind was ‘Apollo 11 or Michael’s moonwalk?’. He added that the US won the Cold War not through military might but through the charm of artists like Michael Jackson, whose songs introduced people in the former Soviet states, the Middle East and China to American culture.
In Beijing, China, Beijing Television aired a special Jackson broadcast yesterday. On 29 August, Jackson’s birthday, one member of the Michael Jackson fan club in China’s central Sichuan province urged fans to organise an event. Another fan posted details of a tentative Jackson vigil to be held today in Inner Mongolia.
Michael Jackson was equally popular in the Islamic world, it seems, as he was in the Christian world. Mehmet Ali Aslan, head of the Association for Dialogue between Religions, Languages and Civilisations in Turkey held Islamic prayers and handed out traditional sweets last Sunday in memory of the singer, reported The Associated Press.
In Pakistan, a 42-year-old human resources manager remembered how he would even go so far as to steal money from his mother’s purse to have enough cash to buy Jackson’s records.
‘That is the only theft I have committed in my life and I have never regretted it,’ said Emadullah Khan. ‘His unique way of dancing used to mesmerise me.’
In Johannesburg, South Africa, people agreed that Jackson held an iconic status in the country.
‘Jackson managed to appeal to a racially-mixed audience. His music brought black and white people together,’ said Mogameli Ncube, 23. ‘He made a lot of impact in South Africa. Everyone wanted to be M.J.’
Perhaps some of the most distraught fans were those in London, England, where Jackson had planned to perform a series of comeback concerts this July. Since the news of his death came out last Thursday, fans have been scrawling commemorative graffiti on the wall of the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square, reported the Associated Press.
In the United States, artists gathered for the Black Entertainment Television awards last Sunday night. Surprise guests on the night included Joe Jackson, Michael’s father, and Janet Jackson, his sister, who both attended after hearing that the event would include tributes to Michael Jackson.
‘My entire family wanted to be here tonight but it was too painful,’ Janet said from the stage during the show. ‘To you, Michael is an icon. To us, Michael is family and he will forever live in our hearts. On behalf of my family and myself I thank you for your love and support. We miss him so much.’
Michael Jackson is also remembered as black America’s biggest star, who broke down racial barriers long in existence. He was the first black musician to have his music videos aired on MTV.
Meanwhile, it quickly became evident that Cayman was not immune to Michael Jackson’s impact, as people’s reactions to the news revealed their feelings on his passing.
In a show of tribute to the late singer, Richard Barton of The Crescendo Group organised a Michael-Jackson-themed dance-off at Bamboo restaurant last Friday evening.
He sent a text message to all of his contacts on Friday evening inviting them out for an evening to commemorate the legend.
‘Since we all love Mike … meet me at Bamboo tonight at 10.30pm after dinner and let’s dance the night away in honour of his legacy,’ the text read. ‘Wear your best MJ outfit, whether it be white socks, white gloves, leather jacket and tight/short pants or all of the above and let’s start something.
‘If you feel like me this morning, then you know Mike’s passing can only be described as the collapse of a pillar of your youth, so join me for one final night as we re-live our youth in true MJ style.’
Susan Barnes Pereira, dancer and owner of Barnes Dance Academy, Ltd., who recently organised the Got Dance? contest, recognised Michael as ‘an icon of the dance and entertainment world’.
‘He is one individual who has single-handedly inspired millions of people, including myself, to pursue the passion for the performing arts,’ she said. ‘I do believe I felt like a real dancer when copying his movement from his Thriller video. It was an event that changed many lives.
‘He will be sadly missed but is very fortunate that even in death he will still have the privilege to positively impact the lives of millions.’
‘One of my first concerts was Michael Jackson’s Bad tour,’ said JB, operations manager at Hurley’s Entertainment. ‘The guy has always been larger than life. His global appeal and respect shows how much of a superstar he really was.’
Colleague Jason Howard, who co-hosts the morning show on Z99, echoed JB’s sentiments.
‘Anybody with a pulse can feel the magic his music emits,’ said Mr. Howard. ‘His songs have the power to transport us back in time.’
‘The impact of Michael Jackson’s death has spread across several generations of listeners,’ said dms Broadcasting Network Promotions and Marketing Manager Phil Vinciullo.
As well as X107.1FM playing a number of Michael’s hits, X107.1 and 106.1 KISS FM changed their online video streams to create ‘MJ-TV’, a reflection of Michael Jackson’s career, Mr. Vinciullo added.
Pam Burgess, manager and lead singer for 80s tribute band Suite Elite, acknowledged Michael Jackson’s influence on the band.
‘Suite Elite perform a Michael Jackson song and our keyboardist Kevin Blake always dressed up as Michael for our 80s stage shows,’ said Ms Burgess. ‘He has even perfected the moonwalk, which was one of Michael’s great 80s traits.
‘Our band members were all very saddened when we heard the news of Michael’s untimely death – it was so sudden and very unexpected,’ she added. ‘His life was a very challenging and stressful one and I only hope the world will now honour him with the respect he is rightfully due and let him rest in peace.’