Fans from all over the world flocked to Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, Ca., on June 25 to lay flowers, say prayers and cry tears of sadness at the loss of music legend Michael Jackson on the fourth anniversary of his untimely death.
In cities across the nation, fans held parties, deejays played his music and television stations played his videos as the nation, again, mourned the loss of the greatest entertainer who ever lived. Jackson, 50, died on June 25, 2009, of cardiac arrest after ingesting a lethal combination of prescription drugs, including Propofol.
Locally, fans celebrated the life and legacy of the singer, musician and entertainer at the popular Howard Theatre. Teens called through social media participated in a flash mob in front of the theater after receiving a short dance tutorial from the choreographer of Michael Jackson’s “This Is It,” Travis Payne. Baby boomers stayed cool inside watching clips of Michael performing with his brothers on American Bandstand, The Carol Burnett Show and The Ed Sullivan Show.
Some fans’ outfits mimicked those worn by Jackson, with sunglasses, graphic Tees, ripped jeans, leather jackets and leather boots, despite temperatures that hovered around 90 degrees. Others dressed for the occasion in sundresses, shorts and flip flops, turning the street in front of the theater into a makeshift outdoor concert venue.
The invitation-only “Remember the Time Happy Hour,” hosted by Radio One station WMMJ’s Majic 102.3, and emceed by air personality April Watts, was a family affair that drew listeners from preschool age to senior citizens. Events included the flash mob, a Michael Jackson trivia contest, M.J. karaoke, tributes and a dance competition.
When Michael Jackson’s mega hit song, “Thriller,” was played, every person in the room—men, women and children, young and old, all races—converged on the dance floor to mimic the dance from the popular horror music video. A memorable moment occurred on the dance floor when characters dressed as Jeromey Rome, Otis and the elderly woman depicted by comedian Martin Lawrence on his “Martin” comedy show danced, jumped high in the air and came down in the splits.
Manny Love, winner of WMMJ’s dance competition, also took the spotlight with his sparkling silver glove, high-water trousers showing the unforgettable white socks, black glittery jacket and Jheri curl wig as he showed off his prowess imitating Jackson’s dance moves to “Smooth Criminal,” “Rock With U,” “Billie Jean,” and “Beat It.”
The revelers included Carter Cleab, 7, who was escorted by his grandmother.
“I really, really liked Michael Jackson so I kept asking my grandmother to take me with her,” the rising second grader said. “I’m glad she did.”
Longtime M.J. fan and WOL-AM 1450 sales exec Andre Perry recalled how disturbed he felt when he heard the news of Jackson’s passing. “I felt funny. I felt like I lost my friend,” he said. “I felt like I knew him.”
As fans mourned, the soap opera that has erupted in his family since his death continued to play out. A judge on June 25 decided that his daughter, Paris, who allegedly attempted suicide earlier this month, will remain in the custody of her grandmother, Katherine Jackson, 83, and another relative, and not with her biological mother, Debbie Rowe. A wrongful death suit filed by his mother against the promoter of a concert Jackson was rehearsing for before is death continues.
Jackson’s brothers—Jackie, Jermaine, Tito and Marlon— told TMZ: "Four years ago today we lost one of the greatest musicians, entertainers, and icons the world has ever known. But to us, Michael was first and foremost our brother. We carry his spirit with us always and we love and miss him every day."
Michael’s younger brother Randy Jackson tweeted June 25. “Thinking about my brother on this day,” he posted. “Thank U everyone 4 your love and support and 4 the beautiful display of flowers at Forest Lawn.”