They both ruled the '80s, redefined themselves in the '90s and, as this decade draws to a close, they remained the two biggest pop stars of this generation. But now there is only one.
Halfway through Madonna's set — which kicked off the second leg of her Sticky & Sweet tour — the Material Girl halted the regularly scheduled show. One of her dancers, whom she later identified as Kento, made his way across the stage, wearing MJ's trademark fedora, fitted slacks, white socks, white glove and penny loafers and mimicking Jackson's spinning, gyrating and moonwalking.
A medley of Jackson's hits then played, from "Billie Jean" to "Wanna Be Startin' Something." From the stage, Madonna lead the cheers for one of the only other '80s icons who could eclipse her. She clapped her hands, swayed from side to side and jumped up and down while images of Jackson over the years flashed on a big screen.
"Let's give it up for one of the greatest artists the world has ever known," Madonna urged the crowd.
Toward the end of her show, according to a report on Hollywood.com, Madge honored Jackson by wearing a black armband and a white glove while the lyrics to one of MJ's most touching hits, "Man in the Mirror," flashed on the screen behind her.
In addition to their professional connection, the two superstars had been longtime friends. They took turns alternately ruling the Billboard charts and MTV airwaves in the mid-'80s. And in 1991, the superstars memorably attended the Academy Awards as each other's dates. According to a Hollywood.com report, Madonna was also set to join Jackson at one of his O2 Arena shows.
In an interview before the concert, Madonna expressed her dismay over Jackson's death.
"I am so terribly sad about Michael Jackson's death," Madonna said. "I don't know what artist wasn't inspired by him."
MTV's live coverage of the Michael Jackson public memorial service at the Staples Center in Los Angeles will begin on Tuesday at 12 p.m. ET / 9 a.m. PT.
For complete coverage of the life, career and passing of the legendary entertainer, visit "Michael Jackson Remembered."
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