, LOS ANGELES, Jun 25 – Michael Jackson fans around the world began Friday marking the first anniversary of the music icon\’s death, with events from candlelight vigils to slumber parties planned in honor of 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."
Flowers began piling up in Tokyo where 50 diehard fans paid more than 1,000 dollars each to attend a sleepover inside an exhibition space showcasing some of the singer\’s belongings.
The participants were chosen from some 10,000 applicants who wanted to spend the night in the Neverland Collection at Tokyo Tower, surrounded by artifacts including Jackson\’s music awards, Rolls Royce and crystal-studded gloves.
In Los Angeles, fans began gathering early at the picturesque Forest Lawn Memorial Park, 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.
Long Beach college student Dominique Richardson woke up at 2:00 am in order to get to the cemetery at daybreak.
"It\’s Michael Jackson," she told KTLA local television. "Michael Jackson has inspired a lot of people and it\’s like the closest we\’re ever going to get to Michael so why not come and pay your respects?"
Jackson fans are also expected to pay tribute at the singer\’s family compound in Encino, scene of mass floral tributes for days after the star\’s death last year.
In Hollywood, a wax likeness of Jackson has been placed on display in front of Madame Tussauds on Hollywood Boulevard, a short distance from Jackson\’s star on the Walk of Fame.
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.
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.
Jackson\’s death sent shockwaves 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.
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\’s 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.