One year ago Friday (June 25), Michael Jackson died at age 50, after suffering cardiac arrest in his Los Angeles home. At the time of his death, Jackson was hard at work on his much-discussed This Is It concert series — a planned run of 50 shows at London's O2 arena — sometimes putting in 20-hour days at rehearsals, which were taking place at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Jackson's old-school work ethic amazed everyone associated with This Is It, from choreographers and lighting directors all the way down to the stagehands. And on the day he died, they were all making their way to Staples for yet another marathon rehearsal session — one that, sadly, would never happen.
One of the people on her way to Staples was Australian guitarist Orianthi, who had been tapped by Jackson to appear with him onstage during the show (you can watch footage of the pair rehearsing here). And, on the one-year anniversary of Jackson's death, she recalled the day she heard the news that shook the world.
"I was actually getting ready for rehearsal. I was getting ready to go there, and I found out. And everyone was completely devastated," she told MTV News earlier this week. "And I wish he was still with us. It's just really hard. Actually, this week I was talking to my band about it and how crazy it is that he's still not with us. And we just had an incredible time working with him, everybody. So I'm going to call everyone that was part of This Is It on the day and just reminisce over the amazing memories that we have."
One year later, the magnitude of Jackson's death is still rather difficult to fathom. And though he will forever be remembered as a titan in the worlds of music, fashion, dance and popular culture, those who got to know him closely — got to marvel at his professionalism, his dedication and his kindness — also will remember him for something else.
"His spirit ... he had such spirit," Orianthi said. "When he walked in the room, he just had this great presence about him and encouraging, really sweet. [He is] definitely very missed."
MTV will be remembering the life and music of Michael Jackson all weekend. Don't miss the one-hour special "Michael Jackson's Influence on Music," airing tonight at 6:30 p.m. on MTV.