Fans gather for Michael Jackson death anniversary

LOS ANGELES, Rob Woollard- Michael Jackson fans around the world marked the first anniversary of his death on Friday, with events from candlelight vigils to slumber parties planned in honor of the tragic superstar.
Jackson, 50, died from a drug overdose at a rented Los Angeles mansion on June 25 last year, a seismic celebrity death that triggered a global outpouring of tributes for the eccentric genius known as "The King of Pop."

Tributes to superstar Michael Jackson
Tributes to superstar Michael Jackson
Family matriarch Katherine Jackson, 80, paid a visit to the modest white frame house in Gary, Indiana where she raised her famous son and eight other children, slipping past excited fans through a side gate in a wrought iron fence.
In the only official memorial event planned Friday she was to unveil an eight-foot high monument to her son in the front yard in the afternoon. A candlelight vigil was planned for later in the evening.
The two-bedroom, one-story home has become a magnet for tourists from all over the world since Jackson's death, and a crowd of about 100 fans gathered outside as Gary police cruised the streets and private security popped in and out of the house.
"This is where he was born," said Eileen Garbutt, 44, who flew in from London on Thursday for the anniversary. "Without this place we wouldn't have Michael Jackson."
In Tokyo, flowers began piling up where 50 diehard fans paid more than 1,000 dollars each to attend a sleepover inside an exhibition space showcasing some of the singer's belongings.
The participants were chosen from some 10,000 applicants who wanted to spend the night in the Neverland Collection at Tokyo Tower, surrounded by artifacts, including Jackson's music awards, Rolls Royce and crystal-studded gloves.
In Germany, candlelight vigils with music, balloons, posters and Jackson imitators were planned in numerous cities, including Berlin, Hamburg and Munich.
Fans dressed as their idol gathered in Prague, too, and unveiled plans for a bust of the singer in a city party.
In Los Angeles, fans began gathering early at the picturesque Forest Lawn Memorial Park, a star-studded cemetery where the singer's golden casket was entombed last September.
Park authorities have indicated they plan to keep a tight grip on the proceedings, saying visitors will only be allowed to walk past the elaborate neo-classical mausoleum that houses Jackson's final resting place.
Long Beach college student Dominique Richardson woke up at 2:00 am to get to the cemetery at daybreak.
"It's Michael Jackson," she told KTLA local television. "Michael Jackson has inspired a lot of people and it's like the closest we're ever going to get to Michael so why not come and pay your respects?"
Jackson fans are also expected to pay tribute at the singer's family compound in Encino, scene of mass floral tributes for days after the star's death last year.
In Hollywood, a wax likeness of Jackson has been put on display in front of Madame Tussauds on Hollywood Boulevard, a short distance from Jackson's star on the Walk of Fame.
Jackson family members are expected to attend a tribute event -- "Forever Michael" --at a Beverly Hills hotel on Saturday, with tickets priced at between 150 and 500 dollars.
The music icon's death sent shockwaves around the world, and family and fans were outraged to learn that the singer had been given a cocktail of powerful prescription drugs including the anesthetic propofol.
Legal wrangling over the tragic death flared anew after patriarch Joe Jackson filed a wrongful death lawsuit against his son's doctor Conrad Murray, the last person to see the singer alive.
Murray has been charged with involuntary manslaughter in connection with the case and is expected to stand trial next year. Murray denies the charges.
While the immediate aftermath of Jackson's death saw intense speculation about court-room disputes for control of the singer's affairs, expected legal battles over his children and vast musical empire failed to materialize.
Katherine Jackson was granted custody of the children Prince, 13, Paris, 12, and Blanket, 8, who she has revealed will enroll in school for the first time later this year after having been educated at home for years.
Though Jackson racked up a massive debt during his lifetime, his estate is said to have generated over a billion dollars in revenues since his death, through the re-issue of his music, films and other commercial spin-offs.

Saturday, June 26th 2010
Rob Woollard

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