June 25, 2010 – Michael Jackson fans around the world were preparing for the one-year anniversary of the music icon’s death Friday, planning candlelight vigils and slumber parties to honor the tragic superstar.
Jackson, 50, died from a drug overdose at a rented Los Angeles mansion on June 25 last year, a seismic celebrity death that triggered a global outpouring of tributes for the eccentric genius known as “The King of Pop.”
Thousands of Jackson fans are expected to descend on the picturesque Forest Lawn Memorial Park in the Los Angeles suburb of Glendale, a star-studded cemetery where the singer’s golden casket was entombed last September.
Park authorities have indicated they plan to keep a tight grip on the proceedings, saying visitors will only be allowed to walk past the elaborate neo-classical mausoleum that houses Jackson’s final resting place.
Fans had already begun arriving at the cemetery late Thursday according to local media reports, ignoring warnings from police that overnight camping at the location would be banned, along with parking and street vending.
Jackson fans are also expected to pay tribute at the home of the “Thriller” singer’s family compound in Encino, scene of mass floral tributes for days after the star’s death last year.
In the only official memorial event planned Friday, family matriarch Katherine Jackson, 80, is slated to unveil a monument at the home where she raised her famous son and eight other children in Gary, Indiana.
The two-bedroom, one-story home has become a magnet for tourists from all over the world since Jackson’s death.
In Tokyo, meanwhile, 50 of Jackson’s most devoted fans will mark the anniversary in a 1,100-dollar-a-ticket slumber party with some of their late idol’s most treasured possessions.
They will curl up in sleeping bags on Friday night in the exhibition space that displays Jackson’s crystal-studded gloves, concert costumes, awards and some 300 other possessions of the late King of Pop.
The 50 admirers — one for each year of Jackson’s life — were chosen from some 10,000 applicants who wanted to spend the night in the Neverland Collection at Tokyo Tower, said exhibit producer Matt Taylor.
“It’s going to be a wonderful night for the 50 people who get to stay with Michael’s most cherished possessions, the things that were closest to him,” Taylor said, adding that several non-Japanese are among the chosen ones.
Meanwhile a Jackson tribute event — “Forever Michael” — will be held at a Beverly Hills hotel on Saturday, with tickets priced at between 150 and 500 dollars. Members of Jackson’s family are expected to attend the event.
“The vision is to bring together Michael Jackson family members, celebrities, fans, supporters and the community to celebrate and honor his legacy,” a statement from the organizers said.
Jackson’s death sent shockwaves rippling around the world last year, while family and fans were outraged after it emerged he had been given a cocktail of powerful prescription drugs including the anesthetic propofol.
Propofol is used to induce unconsciousness in patients undergoing major surgery in hospital. Medical professionals say it should never be used by private individuals at home.
Jackson’s doctor Conrad Murray, the last person to see the singer alive, has been charged with involuntary manslaughter in connection with the case and is expected to stand trial next year. Murray denies the charges.
While the immediate aftermath of Jackson’s death saw intense speculation about court-room wrangling for control of the singer’s affairs, expected legal battles over his children and vast musical empire failed to materialize.
Katherine Jackson was granted custody of the children Prince, 13, Paris, 12, and Blanket, 8, who are slowly adjusting to life without their father.
Katherine Jackson revealed on Sunday the children, who previously were educated at home, will enroll in a school for the first time later this year.
“They don’t have any friends,” Jackson told Britain’s Mail on Sunday newspaper. “They don’t go to school; they have private lessons at home, but that will change in September when they are due to enroll at private college.”
Meanwhile, Billboard magazine reported Jackson estate has generated more than one billion dollars in revenues since the singer’s death, through the re-issue of his music, films and other commercial spin-offs.