Music fans the world over can mark June 25, 2009 as one of those eerie days that force them to recall exactly what they were doing in the moments before they heard tragic news. Michael Jackson died that day, at the age of 50, and the world was not ready to see him go.
No entertainer could ever fill the void that MJ left behind, but his memory has not faded in the three years that he’s been gone. In the past 12 months alone, we’ve seen Jackson-inspired productions, heard narratives from celebrities who continually cite him as a key influence, and this summer his face will be plastered on Pepsi cans to commemorate the 25th anniversary of his classic album Bad. Keep reading to see a few examples from the past year that prove that Jackson has remained forever in the heart of pop culture.
Conrad Murray manslaughter trial
The public and very messy manslaughter trial for Jackson’s doctor Conrad Murray began in late September, and it was an excruciating and drawn-out ordeal for fans who were hoping to find closure after the star’s death. After a painstaking six-week trial, which included testimony from 49 witnesses, a jury delivered a guilty verdict on involuntary manslaughter charges for Murray on November 7, and the world let out a collective sigh of relief.
Watch the Throne shout-out
The guilty verdict in Murray’s involuntary manslaughter trial was handed down just hours before Jay-Z and Kanye West’s Watch the Throne tour hit Madison Square Garden in New York, and it was clear that the hip-hop Titans were paying attention, just like everyone else. While spitting his lines on the WTT’s “Welcome to the Jungle,” Jay threw extra emphasis on the line, “Rest in peace to the leader of the Jackson 5,” which drew applause from the crowd.
Cirque Du Soleil launches Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour
After a few preliminary shows in Canada, in October Cirque Du Soleil launched Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour in the U.S., dedicating a two-hour production entirely to the fallen legend. The mind-blowing mashup of dance and acrobatics, set to MJ’s music, was an immediate hit, and the 65 artists who trained intensely for their performances did not take their responsibilities lightly. When MTV News caught up with one of the dancers backstage, following a performance set to “Danger,” he admitted that the entire production was deeply emotional, and that if MJ could see the show, “he would feel such a sense of pride of what he has given us to work with.”
Jackson tops fans’ hologram wish list
Tupac’s hologram appearance at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in April set off a firestorm of speculation about which deceased entertainer we could expect to see onstage next. Not surprisingly, MJ was on the tip of many a fan’s tongue. LMFAO’s Redfoo put MJ’s name at the top of his hologram wish list, while a quick poll of fans in the Times Square area found that the masses wholeheartedly agreed.”It’s a really cliché answer, but in my time I’ve never seen [Michael Jackson] and it would just be something awesome to watch,” one fan told MTV News.
Justin Bieber’s “Die in Your Arms” single inspired by MJ
Justin Bieber stopped by MTV’s Times Square studio on June 19 for his “Bieber Live” special, during which the 18-year-old superstar performed one of his new singles “Die in Your Arms,” and explained that the track was inspired by old MJ footage he viewed during a session with producer Rodney Jerkins. “Before I got in the booth, [Rodney Jerkins] showed me this hour-long video of Michael [Jackson] footage, never been seen before. It’s Michael’s personality, him in the booth dancing. It’s some really special stuff,” Bieber recalled. “So me seeing that, going in there and being inspired and working with Rodney, who worked with Michael — it was incredible.”
Pepsi ’Live For Now’ Campaign
In 1984 Michael Jackson first linked up with Pepsi for a $5 million marketing campaign, and 28 years later the soda giant is teaming up with the Jackson estate to commemorate the 25th anniversary edition of his classic album Bad. The “Live for Now” campaign will find the icon’s face plastered on special, limited-edition Pepsi cans this summer. The cans will include special download codes treating fans to Bad remixes.
Rick Ross shouts out MJ on Self Made Vol. 2
From Bieber to Rick Ross, no artist has escaped the influence of Michael Jackson. The Maybach Music Group CEO is unveiling his latest compilation album Self Made Vol. 2 on Tuesday, just one day after the anniversary of Jackson’s death, and that fact didn’t escape him. Ross begins the LP’s intro by telling fans, “If Michael Jackson came alive right now, he’d ask you to smoke one for him. So in his honor [lights up].”
Jackson Brothers launch Unity Tour
Five days before the June 25 anniversary of MJ’s death, his four brothers — Jermaine, Jackie, Tito and Marlon — launched their Unity Tour. The Jackson brothers revealed that a joint tour has been in the making for years, but admitted that they needed time to heal after losing the most famous member of the Jackson 5. Following Michael’s death, all four brothers were featured on the A&E reality series “The Jacksons: A Family Dynasty,” which found them coping with their loss. In April it was rumored that an MJ hologram would make an appearance on the jaunt, but there’s been no confirmation that the early reports were true.