Dancing, exhibits, grave visit mark Jackson anniverary

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – In Tokyo, fans are planning a sleepover surrounded by his possessions; in Los Angeles, devotees will visit his grave; and on TV and radio stations around the world, lovers of the King of Pop’s music won’t stop ’til they get enough.

Fans, museums and some members of Michael Jackson’s family will mark Friday’s one-year anniversary of the singer’s death with special exhibits, tributes and flash mob dances from Manila to Manhattan.

In the family hometown of Gary, Indiana, matriarch Katherine Jackson will unveil a monument to the singer outside the humble house where the legendary Jackson 5 began their singing career half a century ago. A memorial and candlelight vigil will follow, ending with the song “We are the World.”

Jackson’s children — Prince Michael, Paris and Blanket — are expected to mark Friday’s anniversary privately in Gary.

By contrast, in the Philippines prisoners who danced their way to fame with their “Thriller” YouTube video in 2007, will pay homage to the singer with some more fancy footwork.

Jackson’s sudden death at age 50 on June 25, last year in Los Angeles sparked an outpouring of grief around the world for the former child star, who was rehearsing for a series of London concerts aimed at reviving a career shattered by bizarre events as an adult and allegations of molesting children.

A year on, with Jackson’s personal doctor awaiting trial on a criminal charge of causing the singer’s death by giving him a powerful anesthetic as a sleep aid, memories are focused on the artist who won 13 Grammys and whose dancing rocked the world.


There are no major tributes planned by the official Michael Jackson estate, which now controls rights to the “Beat it” singer’s music, likeness and other memorabilia.

But Jackson’s estranged father Joe has helped organize a “Forever Michael” tribute at a Beverly Hills hotel on June 26, where 1970s band The Chi-Lites and a niece of the Jackson clan are expected to perform.

Katherine Jackson, 80, has given the fund-raising dinner her blessing, and her self-published book of personal family photographs — “Never Can Say Good-bye” — will be sold there. But Michael Jackson’s estate is not part of the event.

Elsewhere, “The Ultimate Thriller” tribute stage show makes its way from Europe and the Middle East across the Atlantic for the first time, kicking off a U.S. tour on Friday near Boston.

Fans are expected to gather at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, where the Jackson 5 launched their careers, and Madame Tussaud in New York will install an exhibit as part of a global wax celebration of Jackson’s career.

Some of the more unusual events will take place in Asia, where Jackson had a devoted following even after his 2005 trial and acquittal on charges of abusing a young boy.

At the world’s only official Michael Jackson exhibition, fans selected at random will pay $1,000 for an opportunity to sleep the night inside the Neverland Collection at Japan’s Tokyo Tower. Some of the singer’s clothes, furniture and awards from his famed Neverland Valley Ranch in central California have been on display there since May.

The cemetery where Jackson is buried near Los Angeles will open its gates to all fans on Friday but they will not be allowed into the vast mausoleum containing his body. Balloons, doves, radios and candles have also been banned in what officials hope will be a quiet and respectful occasion.

Yet, airwaves will be filled with Michael Jackson hits. MTV is among numerous TV and radio outlets planning wall-to-wall videos, retrospectives and documentaries throughout the weekend looking at the singer’s influence, key developments of the past year and how his family has fared.

And fans looking for ways to mark the anniversary by text or Twitter were offered a list of song-based, 140 character lines from mobile entertainment company Predicto.

They include “ABC EZ as 123 o simple as doe ray me abc baby u and me grl” and “Cuz this is thrilla thrilla nite there ain’t no 2nd chance against the thing w/40 eyz, girl.”

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