LONDON – Michael Jackson gave his first public performance Wednesday since his acquittal on child molestation charges a year-and-a-half ago — a fleeting rendition of "We are the World" surrounded by youthful singers.
Jackson, 48, sang at the World Music Awards in London, which was honoring him with an award commemorating the 25th anniversary of his hugely popular album, "Thriller."
But the reclusive pop icon, who has been traveling in Europe since his June 2005 acquittal in California, did not perform the album title song as some expected. Instead he appeared on stage and sang among a group of swaying, clapping kids — until the musical accompaniment inexplicably stopped.
"There have been so many people who have loved me and stood by me. I love all the fans from the bottom of my heart," Jackson said before flinging his black jacket into the crowd and exiting the stage.
Earlier, Jackson's appearance outside the Earl's Court Arena in west London inspired glee and bedlam among hundreds of fans, who scrambled for photos and reached out to touch his gloved hand.
Jackson, clad in black and wearing his trademark shades, also spoke briefly to journalists. But the roar of the crowd combined with the singer's own low-decibel delivery ensured few could hear anything he said.
Asked where he has been living, Jackson replied: "All over the place."
In recent days, he reportedly rented an entire London hotel for $95,000 a night.
Jackson has spent time in Bahrain and Ireland since he was acquitted, making few public appearances.
Jackson's "Thriller" album won eight Grammy Awards and sold more than 50 million copies.