It’s still hard to believe he’s gone, but Michael Jackson’s music and legacy will forever live in our hearts. With his 51st birthday upon us, we look at how celebrities and fans all over the world are remembering the King of Pop.
In honor of MJ’s b-day, rapper/producer Q-Tip is hosting “Long Live the King! A Birthday Celebration for Michael Jackson” at NYC’s Nokia Theater in Times Square.
“I was in Norway when I got the news and I immediately called Janet and she confirmed that it was true. I still can’t believe it. But fortunately, we can keep his music alive.”
Upon hearing news of MJ’s death, fans flocked to the Apollo Theater in Harlem, New York, where they left notes of remembrance on a makeshift wall that stretched a block long.
Following Jackson’s death, tribute events in Krindjabo, an Ivory Coast village, were held from July 31 to August 2, with fans mourning the death of the superstar in a series of special events that organizers say attracted up to a million people.
Spike Lee, seen here with wife Tonya at Michael Jackson’s memorial service back in July, directed the King of Pop’s video for “The Don’t Care About Us.” Lee is hosting a huge MJ b-day celebration on August 29 at Brooklyn’s Prospect Park.
This year’s BET Awards show was a celebration of the life and legacy of pop icon Michael Jackson. New Edition opened the show with a Jackson 5 medley.
BET Awards host Jamie Foxx kicked off the show with a hilarious bit dedicated to the King of Pop.
It’s no question MJ’s influence spread throughout the world. In Japan, Yuka Nomura, one of Tokyo’s top rubber mask maker employees, works on a new piece that resembles the late King of Pop during the “Thriller” days at a studio in suburban Tokyo on July 9, 2009.
“Michael Jackson was such a major influence in my life. I remember telling my mother when I was 9 years old that I wanted to be a singer, so she purchased a video biography for me on the life of Michael Jackson. I watched that VHS tape so many times the film actually disappeared! I wish I knew where to buy another one. He may be gone but not forgotten,” says budding starlet Keke Palmer, who is the star of the Nickelodeon show “True Jackson VP.”
At his memorial service in Los Angeles, fans poured out into the streets to show their love.
“I have always loved, ‘Will You Be There,’ and when he passed away that’s the only song that I played. He was a great writer, dancer,” says Michelle Williams. “Any word to describe what he meant or his talent always sounds like an understatement. Happy Birthday, Michael.”
Fans built a sculpture made of 200 tons of sand in a shopping mall to honor Michael Jackson on July 27, 2009, in Berlin, Germany. It took ten days to complete the tribute.
Fans in New York braved summer heat and drenching rains outside Harlem’s Apollo Theater to take part in a public memorial service on June 30.
“After working in the studio and hanging out a few times, I approached him about clearing a sample of “Lady In My Life” for my song “Hey Lover.” He cleared a sample on my song. I won a Grammy for that song, and Michael made that possible for me," remembers LL Cool J.
“He told me once that “Around the Way Girl” was one of his favorite songs because he liked that ‘you got me shook up, shook down, shook out on your lovin’…"
“Michael Jackson is every musician’s muse. He contributed to all of us in his life, I will greatly miss his presence,” says Wyclef Jean.
Fans of the gloved one leave letters onstage during a public memorial for Michael Jackson at The Apollo Theater on June 30, 2009, in New York City.
“Michael Jackson was a gift to all us and I will celebrate his birthday by appreciating every aspect of his greatness, his music, his humanitarianism−truly a legend,” says “Young & the Restless” star Eva Marcille.
“Michael Jackson is the biggest reason why we ever wanted to be entertainers, and even though he’s gone, he will never be forgotten. Happy Birthday, Michael,” share Que and Mike from Day 26.
Hundreds of magazines have paid tribute to the King of Pop. LIFE was there to capture many of Michael’s iconic moments—from his days in the Jackson 5 to the moonwalk, the pictures in this book offer an intimate look at the reclusive singer.
“Happy Birthday! I miss you, my little brother, and the world misses you but you will live on in our hearts and through your music in the hereafter forever," says Smokey Robinson.
“Michael, it was a dream come true to perform for you in our hometown, Gary, Indiana. You gave me a standing ovation and I was both shocked and humbled! Thank you so much being the pillar of inspiration for me and millions more around the world! Happy Birthday!” says award-winning Broadway actor and musician Chester Gregory.
“The first memory I have of music was Michael Jackson’s ‘Rock with You.’ I fell in love with his voice and his moves even as a small child. I do what I do because he inspired me. As far as I’m concered Michael is still alive as long as there is music,” says producer/song writer Rico Love, who co-wrote and co-produced Beyoncé’s “Sweet Dreams” hit.