From street corners, buses and subways to phone calls, text messages, online posts and tweets, people around the world commented, pondered, and paid tribute to pop legend Michael Jackson, who died Thursday afternoon in Los Angeles.
Around midnight at London’s Leicester Square, as news of Jackson’s death spread, Luis Carlos Ameida and his friends were surrounding a car listening to the star’s music. Ameida said he’d gotten tickets to see Jackson at his “This Is It” concerts beginning on July 13 in London. “From a young age, you know, I used to have the video game,” said Ameida. “I used to have the white suit, and I’d wear it on my birthday. I used to moonwalk … I remember my mum used to send me to lessons to be like Michael Jackson. And when I heard the news, I had tears in my eyes because of that connection I had because of all the songs he used to play.” Elsewhere in Leicester Square, one Michael Jackson fan from the United States identifying herself as “Jenny” said she called her parents. “No matter what, you can’t deny that he was an idol from when he was a child, when he didn’t have a choice to be a superstar. And then he became one, and I think that’s am amazing thing,” she said. On Jackson’s Facebook page, fans across the world left hundreds of messages in languages ranging from French and Spanish to Japanese and Hebrew. “SHANGHAI WILL MISS YOU! NOT JUST SHANGHAI!..EVERYONE IN THIS WORLD WILL MISS YOU! WE LOVE YOU MICHAEL!!!” wrote Vrishti Bhowmik.
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“It’s heartbreaking! What I can do now is just praying for him,” said one post in the online chat room of the Michael Jackson Hong Kong Fan Club’s Web site. It was only one cry in a torrent of posts on social network sites, including Facebook and Twitter. Elsewhere on the street of Hong Kong’s Quarry Bay, Florence Lai said, she did not consider herself a fan of Jackson but added, “When I looked at his performances, they are really fantastic. Though Michael had quite a lot of negative news in the latter part of his career, his legacy never dies.” Close Jackson friend Uri Geller, speaking to the BBC, said that he was “absolutely devastated,” adding that Jackson had been his best man when he renewed his wedding vows. “I am praying that a doctor will come out of the door of the hospital and say he is alive. “I cannot imagine a world without Michael Jackson. It is shocking to me right now to absorb this news.” Famed UK publicist Max Clifford, speaking to the UK’s Press Association, said he had first met Jackson during the 1960s. He said the pop star had called UK reality TV star Jade Goody, who Clifford represented, shortly before she died of cancer earlier this year. “It is a terrible shock, you wonder if the strain of getting fit for this major tour proved too much,” Clifford told PA. “In recent pictures he looked anything but healthy. That’s the first thought that went through my mind. “Worldwide his fans are going to be devastated,” said Clifford, “he was incredibly close to his fans and he had a loyal following right up to the end as shown by his sell out shows.” UK foreign secretary David Milliband wrote on his Twitter account: “Never has one soared so high and yet dived so low. RIP Michael.”
UK radio DJ Paul Gambaccini told Sky News that he was not shocked by Jackson’s death, given that he faced a series of 50 concerts at London’s 02 venue. “I feared some negative health shock from these dates at the O2,” he said. “I will remember him as the greatest showman I have ever seen,” Gambaccini added. “He was the last of the artists of a magnitude of Elvis and [Frank] Sinatra and The Beatles.”