The World Mourns Michael Jackson
By SHARON OTTERMAN
Published: June 26, 2009
Michael Jackson’s brand of pop knew no borders and needed no translation, linking listeners around the world through the accessible corridors of rhythm, beat, and dance. And as reaction to his sudden death began to pour in Friday, its extent underscored how far his influence had spread.
From Sydney to Hong Kong, China to Los Angeles, fans spoke of their shock and sadness. His music echoed from cafes and car speakers, and everyone from national leaders on down seemed to weigh in.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez called the star’s death “lamentable news,” though he criticized the media for giving it so much attention. Former South Korean President Kim Dae-jung, who had met Mr. Jackson, said: “We lost a hero of the world.”
Fans gathered with candles at a spontaneous memorial in Hong Kong, while in the Philippines, a dance tribute was planned for a prison in Cebu, where Byron Garcia, a security consultant, had 1,500 inmates join in a synchronized dance to the “Thriller” video.
“My heart is heavy because my idol died,” he said.
Online, the traffic was so thick with people sharing news of his death that the microblogging service Twitter crashed , and even Google, the search giant, believed it may have been under service attack, the BBC reported.
The former Philippine first lady, Imelda Marcos, said she cried on hearing the news.
“Michael Jackson enriched our lives, made us happy,” she said in a statement. “The accusations, the persecution caused him so much financial and mental anguish. He was vindicated in court, but the battle took his life. There is probably a lesson here for all of us.”
Quincy Jones, who worked closely with Jackson on some of his most successful recordings, led tributes from the music world.
“I am absolutely devastated at this tragic and unexpected news,” he said of one of the first black entertainers of the MTV generation to gain a big crossover following.
The film directors Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg also paid tribute. Mr. Scorsese told MTV.com: “Michael Jackson was extraordinary. When we worked together on Bad, I was in awe of his absolute mastery of movement on the one hand, and of the music on the other. Every step he took was absolutely precise and fluid at the same time. It was like watching quicksilver in motion.
“He was wonderful to work with, an absolute professional at all times, and — it really goes without saying — a true artist. It will be a while before I can get used to the idea that he’s no longer with us.”
Mr. Spielberg told Entertainment Weekly: “Just as there will never be another Fred Astaire or Chuck Berry or Elvis Presley, there will never be anyone comparable to Michael Jackson. His talent, his wonderment and his mystery make him legend.”
Fellow singer Celine Dion said: “I am shocked. I am overwhelmed by this tragedy. Michael Jackson has been an idol for me all my life.”
Mr. Jackson had been scheduled to begin a comeback tour in London next month, and fans there gathered to mourn Ben Bradshaw, the culture secretary, issued a statement to announce his grief in which he said he was “a long-time fan of Michael Jackson and had Billie Jean played as the first dance at his civil partnership,” the Guardian reported.