One year after Michael Jackson's death, fans hold tributes, father files suit against doctor
LOS ANGELES – LOS ANGELES (AP) — Michael Jackson fans the world over paused Friday to remember the man they called the King of Pop with songs, dances and prayers on the first anniversary of his death, a day Jackson's father marked by filing a wrongful-death lawsuit against the doctor charged with giving his son a lethal dose of sedatives.
In Japan, hundreds of people lighted candles in Jackson's memory. In the Los Angeles suburb of Glendale, thousands filed silently through the gates of Forest Lawn Cemetery, where Jackson's body is entombed in the mausoleum. Some of them released white doves while others wept softly.
"He's been my idol all my life since I can remember. I feel like I haven't had closure," said Erick Dominguez, who traveled more than 80 miles from his home in Victorville to pay respects. As he spoke, the 37-year-old sales representative, his eyes hidden by sunglasses, began to weep.
Several of Jackson's relatives visited the mausoleum, which was off limits to the public. Brother Tito shook hands with fans as he arrived, and brother Jermaine rolled down a window and waved as the family left in a fleet of luxury vehicles.
In Jackson's hometown of Gary, Ind., Jackson's mother, Katherine, unveiled a monument in the front yard of the modest home where her children grew up.
"This past year has been very hard on the family," she said. "If it wasn't for the help of all of you, we wouldn't have made it through."
Jackson died June 25, 2009, at age 50, just before he was to begin a comeback tour. Dr. Conrad Murray has pleaded not guilty to felony involuntary manslaughter in his death. Authorities say Murray provided the entertainer with a mix of sedatives — including the powerful anesthetic propofol — that killed him.
As Jackson fans everywhere grieved, the entertainer's father, Joe Jackson, filed suit against Murray in federal court in Los Angeles.
The complaint, which seeks more than $75,000, accuses Murray of professional negligence and contends the physician tried to conceal his administration of propofol after Jackson's death. Propofol is normally administered only in hospital settings. Murray had been providing it in the bedroom of Jackson's rented mansion in Los Angeles to help him sleep after the physically grueling rehearsals the performer had been putting himself through to get in shape for his comeback.
Murray attorney Charles Peckham said in a statement he expected his client's innocence to be "proven in a court of law."
Jackson's father is also fighting with his son's estate, seeking more than $15,000 a month. Father and son had a strained relationship and the elder Jackson was left out of his son's will.
As Jackson's father went to court in Los Angeles, tributes to his son unfolded around the world.
One of the more raucous ones took place at Jackson's star in front of Grauman's Chinese Theatre on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Fans blasted his music and danced energetically to the delight of tourists and passers-by on the crowded sidewalk. Many of the dancers were dressed as the King of Pop himself, wearing sequined gloves, black shirts and pants, white sox, black loafers and snappy looking Fedoras,
"I watched all the videos 50 times," said 5-year-old Kamal Ali, who wowed the crowd as he performed with nearly two dozen others as the Jackson hit "Thriller" was played.
The Gary, Ind., memorial also had a strong party vibe, with people dancing to Jackson music as they waited for live performances of his songs to begin. Among the performers was the Triple Dose Band, whose members include Jackson cousin Keith Jackson.
"It's a great feeling that we can share our talent with the world and for me to be here for Michael," he said. "It's really emotional. I'm really happy to be here."
Things were quieter at the Jackson family mansion in Los Angeles' Encino neighborhood, where a small stream of mourners dropped off flowers. They included a dozen or so people from Maryland, New Jersey, Latin America and elsewhere calling themselves the Sisterhood of Michael Jackson. They planned to spend the day visiting key sites associated with Jackson, including Forest Lawn and the entertainer's Neverland home in Santa Barbara County's wine country.
"We're laying flowers along the way as a memorial and to give ourselves a sense of closure," said TaRaysha Smith, 31, of Maryland. "It's cathartic, but still we've met every place with a high level of apprehension because it just hurts."
Across the country in New York City's Harlem, pictures of Jackson hung outside the fabled Apollo Theater, where the entertainer and his brothers rocketed to fame as the Jackson 5, winning amateur night in the late 1960s. A sidewalk plaque honored the singer alongside such other Apollo legends as James Brown and Smokey Robinson.
Earlier, in Japan, hundreds had met at Tokyo Tower to honor Jackson with a candlelight vigil, a gospel concert and more. Some got a chance to see some of his possessions, including costumes from his tours and even a 1967 Rolls-Royce Phantom that he used to drive around Los Angeles.
"I don't know what to say. Seeing all his things makes it all come back to me," said Yumiko Sasaki, a 48-year-old Tokyo office worker who said she has been a Jackson fan since she was 12. "It makes me so sad to think that he is gone. He was wonderful."
In cyberspace, people also paused to remember Jackson. Among them was Mariah Carey who said via Twitter that she was marking the day by watching the video "You Are Not Alone."
"Love and prayers to MJ 'King of Pop,'" she tweeted. "You will be remembered forever. We miss you."
Contributing to this story were AP Music Writer Nekesa Mumbi Moody in New York; AP entertainment writers Anthony McCartney and Sandy Cohen in Los Angeles and Jake Coyle in New York; AP writers Eric Talmadge in Tokyo, Ken Ritter in Las Vegas, Raquel Maria Dillon and Nardine Saad in Los Angeles and Tom Coyne in Gary, Ind.; and Solvej Schou in Glendale, Calif.