The past year has been full of tributes to the late King of Pop, Michael Jackson. From stars proudly wearing their MJ gear on the red carpet and onstage to celebrity DJs tossing in that extra taste of “Billie Jean” to get a late-night crowd hyped, the iconic singer’s face and music seemed to be everywhere.
But, as Friday’s one-year anniversary of Jackson’s death approaches, we decided to take a look at the many public tributes to the musical icon, who died June 25, 2009, at age 50 on the cusp of what was expected to be a triumphant series of comeback shows at London’s O2 arena.
In the days following Jackson’s death, spontaneous expressions of grief and celebration sprung up across the globe, from fans gathering on the streets of Tokyo and New York to pilgrimages to Jackson’s childhood home in Gary, Indiana, and his abandoned adult playground, California’s Neverland Valley Ranch.
The first and one of the most poignant was the July 7 public memorial for Jackson held at Los Angeles’ Staples Center. With stirring performances and tributes from Stevie Wonder, Brooke Shields, Smokey Robinson, Queen Latifah, Lionel Richie, Usher, Mariah Carey and Jennifer Hudson, the event reached an emotional apex when the singer’s then-11-year-old daughter, Paris , said a final, tearful farewell to her “daddy.”
And from President Obama and former wife Lisa Marie Presley to Slash, sister Janet and Kanye West, it seemed no one was immune from feeling the loss of Jackson’s immeasurable pop-culture influence. The day after the singer’s death, Obama said he was glad to see that MJ was being “remembered primarily for the great joy that he brought to a lot of people through his extraordinary gifts as an entertainer.” Also weighing in with fond remembrances were Usher and Beyoncé , Lil Wayne and Chris Brown , Mariah Carey and Juelz Santana , Britney Spears , Snoop Dogg , collaborators Diana Ross and Paul McCartney , 50 Cent and tons of fans .
Some banded together to record songs commemorating Jackson, such as the Game and Chris Brown , LL Cool J , DJ Jazzy Jeff and Cookin’ Soul’s Tribute to the King mixtape with 50 Cent and Biggie Smalls . We also remembered all the folks — from Jay-Z, Rihanna and Tupac to Moby and Jennifer Lopez — who had sampled and covered MJ’s classic songs in the past.
Time magazine did its part with a special commemorative issue just four days after Jackson’s death , marking the first time the weekly had published off-cycle since the terror attacks of September 11, 2001. The night before, Janet Jackson spoke publicly for the first time about her brother’s death at the BET Awards , telling the crowd, “To you, Michael is an icon. To us, Michael is family. He will forever live in all of our hearts.” Her appearance at the event, which was full of nods to Jackson’s legacy by the likes of New Edition, was followed by a cover of the Jackson 5’s “I’ll Be There” by show host Jamie Foxx and Ne-Yo.
In early July, Beyoncé and Ne-Yo nodded to Jackson again, dedicating their sets to the King of Pop at the Essence Music Festival in New Orleans, while B’s husband, Jay-Z, opened his July 9 show in Chicago with a montage of Jackson’s photos and a plea to remember the love as part of a series of big-ups to his idol , which also took place during shows by noted acolyte R. Kelly .
Fans continued to play tribute to Jackson’s legacy by streaming into stores to buy his albums by the millions , smashing sales records in the process and minting hundreds of millions for his beleaguered estate in the process. They also lined up in record numbers for his “This Is It” documentary .
The singer’s family and friends gathered on September 3 for a private funeral, which featured his children laying a golden crown on the singer’s casket , while a planned all-star concert organized by brother Jermaine Jackson fell apart at the final hour.
Madonna said goodbye to her old friend at September’s MTV Video Music Awards, which also featured a musical tribute from Janet . “Dancing With the Stars” paid tribute the next month, when the show’s dancers boogied to MJ songs .
In December, MTV News named Jackson its Man of the Year in honor of his indelible imprint on popular music and culture and the global impact of his death. The National Film Registry added Jackson’s iconic “Thriller” video to its list of important films.
At January’s Grammy Awards, an all-star cast of singers, including Smokey Robinson, Usher, Jennifer Hudson and Carrie Underwood, performed a cover of Jackson’s “Earth Song” in a 3-D tribute that brought tears to the eyes of such superstar attendees as Rihanna and Beyoncé. That weekend, stars also gathered for a remake of “We Are the World” for Haiti earthquake relief that paid homage to the song’s co-writer and lead influence.
Earlier this month, the mayor of Gary, Indiana, announced that the city plans to erect a $300 million museum and performance complex in Jackson’s name.
Celebrate Michael Jackson’s legacy all week long as MTV News looks back at his life, his music and the death that shook the world one year ago.