Pop music icon Michael Jackson died on June 25 from a potent cocktail of sleep and pain sedatives, although the Los Angeles coroner’s office is holding firm, not releasing the complete autopsy and toxicology reports pending completion of the homicide investigation currently in progress. And, of course, Dr. Conrad Murray, the central figure in the investigation, is mum on commenting further, save his recent YouTube video of self-exoneration.
Despite the lack of closure, Saturday celebrations for Michael Jackson were heard around the world for the King of Pop.
Saturday, Aug. 29 would have been Jackson’s 51st birthday.
Although the true era of Michael Jackson was mostly over decades before the singer died, a curious and strange eerie aura pervaded the celebrations– it was like he never died.
With Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman declaring Aug, 29, “Michael Jackson Day,” almost 20 Las Vegas entertainment acts responded in kind by performing a “Las Vegas Celebrates the Music of Michael Jackson” concert at the Pearl Theatre in the Palms Casino & Hotel, spearheaded by Jersey Boys star Erich Bergen, as a tribute to Jackson and his music before a sell-out crowd of 2,600, while raising more $100,000 for music education programs throughout Clark County, Nevada.
Michael Jackson would most likely have loved it, expressing before his death the desire to perform a thank-you concert to Palms owner George Maloof for enabling him to use the venue earlier for his recording sessions and a secluded family R&R retreat.
Family patriarch and dad Joe Jackson said he was unable to attend Saturday’s memorial concert in Las Vegas for his son because of a prior commitment, but a friend said it was more a case of the event being too emotional. He was on hand, however, on Saturday night for a celebrity star dedication at the Brendan Theatres at the Palms.
Some of the biggest ovations at the Pearl Theatre performance went to: 11-year-old Elijah Johnson of “The Lion King,” performing “Dancing;” the cast members from “Phantom: The Las Vegas Spectacular” and “Jersey Boys” combining on “Theme from Free Willie,” the Australian groups Human Nature (“I Want You Back”) and Signature (“Billy Jean”) and the Las Vegas Mass Choir, decked out in black pants, white shirts, black fedoras and, of course, the glove on the right hand, singing “Man in the Mirror.”
Other Las Vegas tribute performances included the American Superstars at the Stratosphere, Hawaiian Tropic Zone, and the Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood.
But Las Vegas was just the tip of the iceberg for worldwide Jackson tributes on Saturday. A group of Michael Jackson fans in Leicester, England attempted a world record for the most number of people dancing to the singer’s ‘Thriller’ in one place on his 51st birthday. Some 475 people dressed as zombies packed into Orton Square participate in the event.
Not to be topped, a Michael Jackson impersonator named Hector Jackson (not related) really kicked the competition into overdrive and led what is purportedly the largest gathering of people dancing Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” in Mexico City, with reportedly 12,937 people dancing and wearing red and gold sequined jackets.
The current record for a group “Thriller” was performed in May by 242 students of the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. The Guinness Book of World Records will determine if the Mexico City performance breaks that record.
Although the bulk of birthday celebration tributes are largely completed, speculation continues to swirl on what’s next in the after-life career of Jackson.
Talks reportedly continue on moving parts of Neverland Ranch in Santa Barbara, California to Las Vegas. Other plans call for Jackson-themed show, with the Hilton being considered. Some even say a Jackson-themed Las Vegas casino would be appropriate. The great news is that any of these ideas have the potential impact of reviving a sputtering Las Vegas economy.
But, whoa there, partner, let’s not get the cart before the horse- Jackson hasn’t even been buried yet! He will be finally laid to rest after two months of patiently waiting this Thursday, Sept. 3 at Forest Lawn Cemetery near Los Angeles, California at 7 p.m. in a private service.