Michael Jackson was laid to rest at Forest Lawn cemetery September 3. Nine months later, on the one-year anniversary of his death, fans gathered outside the Los Angeles cemetery Friday (June 25) to pay tribute to the fallen pop star and to share recollections of their favorite MJ moments from a career that spanned five decades.
“My first memory, I was about 7 years old. This was the time when Bad came out, and I watched the video performance of it, and from that point, I was almost obsessed with him,” Eboni Butler told MTV News. “I even have him tattooed on my leg.”
Tallora DiGirolami flew in from Adelaide, Australia, for the occasion and proudly displayed her national flag as she stood outside Forest Lawn. “I started this flag because I had so many friends and fans that couldn’t make it,” she said. “And we started getting to talking and I said, ‘Right, I’ve got a flag. Do you want to sign it? Do you want to be part of the memorial?’ ”
The crowd was smaller than the ones that gathered in the days and weeks following Jackson’s death, but the sentiments of his fans were no less impassioned. “He means a lot to me,” Brian Lopez said. “He was like my brother, a family member. When I heard he died, I didn’t eat for weeks, I didn’t sleep for weeks, I didn’t go out for weeks. … It’s been a very sad loss for me.”
Confronted with such a loss, his fans continued to recall memories of the King of Pop. “I saw Michael once in Memphis when he was married to Lisa Marie and they had the Elvis tribute,” Sheila Guerrero recalled. “I was crying so bad. He just stopped and came back and told me not to cry. That moment is priceless for me. I thank God for that moment.”
Said Jonah Sevilla: “He loved the world, and he wanted it to be a better place because of all the bad things that were happening.”
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.