VOA – Michael Jackson Dies at 50
News of Michael Jackson’s sudden death spread quickly. In his hometown of Gary, Indiana fans held a candlelight vigil and created a makeshift shrine outside his childhood home.
In other communities around the U.S., people gathered in groups to sing Jackson songs, dance and recount the pop icon’s high-profile life. Images of Michael Jackson singing and dancing were broadcast around the world. Newspapers also covered their front pages with headlines of the singer’s death.
In Japan, where the pop star was hugely popular, fans were looking forward to being able to see him perform in public again. He had scheduled a series of 50 concerts starting July 13 in London.
“I was going to go to his concert in July and I was ready with a present to give him.” said one Japanese fan. “I had been full of excitement to see him again, but now I am never going to see him again.”
In France, Jackson supporters, like this man, said his music touched people of all age groups and all cultural origins.
But, in Italy another fan was disappointed Jackson’s personal life was often overshadowed a great music career.
“He has to accept himself as he was,” he said. “Unfortunately he was a great artist, but he didn’t leave a positive message to the new generation.”
While Jackson ruled the charts and dazzled audiences with electric dance moves like the backwards “moonwalk” in the 1980s, his once-stellar career was overshadowed by his sometimes bizarre behavior, his startling physical transformation and multiple allegations of child abuse.
Despite the controversies, Jackson’s music had mass crossover appeal in many cultures. In African nations like Kenya, where his music and videos were popular, there were feelings of loss.
“It’s really sad considering that he was black and for a black man to rise like that it’s not that easy, so we have lost an icon, you know,” said Jackson fan, Caroline Wanjiku.
Radio and television stations around the world devoted a lot of air time to the news of the pop star’s death and some allotted entire programs to his music. In the Philippines, one radio station broadcast an entire program to Jackson’s songs and his life story. Philippine radio disc jockey, Big Daddy Jake, said his listeners shared many stories about the King of Pop.
“A dad was saying he introduced his son, who was ten years old, to the Michael Jackson music and they listen to him and a whole lot, you know. It’s just Michael Jackson songs are timeless,” he said.
Other Jackson fans say the massive outpouring of tributes proves the pop singer will go down in history alongside Elvis Presley and the Beatles as one of the biggest pop sensations of all time.