Fans in Tokyo remembered Michael Jackson on the first anniversary of his death with a candlelight vigil, a gospel concert and prayer while countless others worldwide were expected to commemorate the day with tributes, tears and, of course, music.
Some started remembering the late King of Pop even before the anniversary began. On Thursday night, Julia Thomas clutched her “Thriller” liner notes and stood outside the Forest Lawn cemetery in Glendale, Calif., Jackson’s final resting place, with about two dozen fans.
“Michael has just always been a part of my life,” said the 40-year-old Thomas, who has a tattoo of Jackson’s dancing feet on her left wrist. “I’m just hoping to embrace the fans from everywhere.”
Barricades were already set up at the Los Angeles-area cemetery for the huge throng of fans and Jackson family members expected to arrive on Friday. Five large wreaths of flowers and dozens of bouquets, drawings and photos of Jackson had been placed outside his private mausoleum.
Evdokia Sofianou, 46, and her 9-year-old daughter, Rebecca, traveled from Athens, Greece, to pay their respects.
“I came because I love Michael very much,” Sofianou said. “I came to grieve.”
Forest Lawn was to be just one of the many places around the globe where Jackson’s fans would gather to remember their fallen legend, who died at age 50 as he was preparing for a series of comeback concerts in London. Dr. Conrad Murray is charged with involuntary manslaughter in his death for administering the powerful anesthetic propofol to Jackson to help the pop star sleep.
In Japan, hundreds of fans met at Tokyo Tower on Friday to remember Jackson. 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 guest paid $1,100 each to sleep overnight at the Tokyo landmark, where they would have catered food, watch a gospel choir, look at Jackson memorabilia and dance to Michael Jackson’s music before observing a period of silence as the sun rose.
But not every event was to be somber. On Friday evening, DJ Jon Quick was to spin Jackson tunes at the club Taj in Manhattan for a festive affair.
“They wanna celebrate his life and music,” Quick said of the expected partygoers. “His albums are like timelines in your life. You can remember what you were doing … when ‘Thriller’ came out.”
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.
His brother Randy Jackson was hoping to make the official family commemoration at Forest Lawn on Friday morning.
“My family and I will be in attendance as we mourn the loss of my brother,” he said in a statement Thursday. Katherine Jackson also has thrown her support behind a “Forever Michael” fan event to be held Saturday at the Beverly Hilton hotel in Los Angeles. Tickets range from $150 to $500.
The Apollo Theater in Harlem, where a young Michael Jackson and his brothers won amateur night, on Friday was to host a commemoration of Jackson’s life in front of the recently installed plaque honoring him in the theater’s new hall of fame.
And later in the afternoon in Harlem, around the hour of Jackson’s death, the Rev. Al Sharpton and his National Action Network were to hold a moment of silence.
AP Entertainment writer Anthony McCartney and AP writer Eric Talmadge contributed to this report.