Friday, June 26, 2009

Micheal Jackson dead, MJs music lives on

Michael Jackson: 1958 - 2009

Michael Jackson's death Thursday in California prompted broadcasters from Sydney to Seoul — where the news came early Friday — to interrupt morning programs, while fans remembered a "tortured genius" whose squeals and sliding moves captivated a generation and who sparked global trends in music, dance and fashion.

Even world leaders weighed in. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez called it "lamentable news," though he criticized the media for giving it so much attention. Former South Korean President Kim Dae-jung, who had met Jackson, said: "We lost a hero of the world."

Within minutes of Jackson's arrival by ambulance at UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles, people began arriving by the hundreds. A crowd remained at sunset, hours later, some dancing while passing cars blasted out Jackson tunes. A group of entrepreneurs sold T-shirts reading, "In Loving Memory of Michael Jackson."

As word of his death spread, MTV switched its U.S. programming to play videos from Jackson's heyday. Radio stations began playing marathons of his hits. Hundreds of people gathered outside the hospital. In New York's Times Square, a low groan went up in the crowd when a screen flashed that Jackson had died, and people began relaying the news to friends by cell phone.

"No joke. King of Pop is no more. Wow," Michael Harris, 36, of New York City, read from a text message a friend had sent him. "It's like when Kennedy was assassinated. I will always remember being in Times Square when Michael Jackson died."

"My heart is heavy because my idol died," said Byron Garcia, security consultant at a Philippine prison who organized the famous video of 1,500 inmates synchronized dancing to "Thriller." The video has had 23.4 million hits on YouTube.

Garcia said the inmates in Cebu will hold a tribute for Jackson on Saturday with their "Thriller" dance and a minute of prayer.

In Bogota, Colombia, a 24-year-old tattoo artist named Michael Tarquino said his parents named him after Jackson. He recalled growing up with electricity rationing for hours at a time and waiting for the power to return.

"When the light came back on I would play my Michael Jackson LP, and I'd stand at the window and sing along," he said.

‘True superstar’
Japanese fans were always among Jackson's most passionate supporters, and news of his death came as a huge shock. Michiko Suzuki, a music critic who met Jackson several times in the 1980s, said the country was likely to be mourning for some time.

Jackson also had a huge fan base in Seoul, South Korea, where his style and dance moves were widely emulated by Korean pop stars.

"He is my master and the prime mover to make me dance," pop star Rain told the South Korean sports and entertainment daily Ilgan Sports. "Even though he is dead, he is an eternal performer."

In central Mexico City, Jackson impersonator Esteban Rubio, 30, organized an impromptu tribute to the musical star.

"I feel sad, as if a part of my life were torn away," said Rubio, who wore a black fedora and aviator-style sunglasses and held a bouquet of sunflowers. "He changed the world. ... His legend begins today."

In Sydney, where Jackson married second wife Debbie Rowe in 1996, a celebrity publicist who was a wedding guest and worked on Jackson's Australian tour that year described him as a "tortured genius."

"He was very gentle, very quiet, very shy," Di Rolle told Sky News television. "He was a very complicated, strange man, women loved him and men loved him too. It's such a sad day, a very sad day."

A visitor writes in a condolence book next to a wax figure of Michael Jackson at Madame Tussauds Wax Museum in Berlin on Friday.

"I had tears in my eyes when I found out," Charles Winter, 19, from Adelaide, Australia, told The Associated Press. He led a Facebook group of more than 60,000 members that was petitioning Jackson to add Australia to his concert tour planned for this year. "He was such an inspiration. It doesn't matter if you're 40, 60 or 20, his music appeals to everyone."

In Malaysia, a drink mixing soy milk with strips of dark jelly is named after Jackson's "Black or White" song, and locals just ask for "Michael Jackson" or "MJ" when they order.

Yet the government nearly banned Jackson's 1996 HIStory concert tour for being too raunchy for the conservative, predominantly Islamic nation.

IT specialist Ivan Ho, 48, said Jackson's success went to his head.

"He is a weirdo," he said. "With the kind of money he has, he could have done much more for charity" rather than have cosmetic surgery.

The international arts community mourned the loss of a unique performer.

Peter Kam, a prominent pop composer in Hong Kong, said he learned from Jackson the importance of a catchy melody.

"Every one of his songs is easy to remember. He was great at leaving a deep impression in a simple way," Kam said.

In Brazil, movie director and musician Felipe Machado called Jackson "perhaps the best performer that ever existed." Singer-composer and former Culture Minister Gilberto Gil also expressed his sorrow.

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