Grammy Nominations 2017

Michael Jackson Superfans Share Their Stories

Michael Jackson, like perhaps only Elvis Presley before him, was a pop icon who inspired a deep, emotional connection with his fans around the world. As a musician, singer, songwriter, dancer, humanitarian and celebrity, he occupied a rare place in the hearts and minds of millions.



For some, Michael Jackson fandom was more than a passing interest - it was a lifestyle. Jackson's grip on these admirers remained strong even after his behavior became more erratic and controversial, and while his musical output slowed.

Billboard talked to some of these "superfans" in the days following Jackson's untimely death. For them, the loss is as great as losing a member of their own family. Yet each, in his or her own way, sees this is a moment to celebrate Jackson's achievements and insure that his legacy is well-preserved for the future.

Joby Rogers, a U.S. based impersonator, insists that he and other superfans will keep Jackson's spirit and music alive. "He could be standing still for seven minutes -- just standing there, breathing -- and people would go crazy," Rogers said. When he passed, it really felt like I lost a sibling."

Jainette Manbrink, a Michael Jackson fansite administrator in Sweden, sees Jackson as as an inspiration for other people who suffered abuse as children. "I love his music and talent, and the fact that he began very poor and had a very strict childhood but rose above the pain," she said. "I needed someone and I couldn’t use my own parents as my role model, so I turned to Michael."

U.K.-based impersonator Michael Lewis thinks Michael Jackson "was the ultimate misunderstood person. But he has more talent in one little finger than most people can get in a lifetime. For me, he was the purest soul we had on this earth -- an angel sent from heaven.

Check out what these "superfans" have to say, and then add your own thoughts about what Michael Jackson meant to you and how you would like to see him remembered and memorialized for future generations. Upload your videos for all of Billboard.com's readers to share.

Joby Rogers
Michael Jackson impersonator and makeup artist, Connecticut



Why have you been a Michael Jackson superfan all these years?

He had a great impact on my life. People call Michael Jackson eccentric, but every artist I've met has been eccentric. He had reason to be, after 45 years of living in Hollywood and being in the business. Being a child and surviving in this business is extremely rare. He was tremendous.

What is it about him that enthralled so many people?

He is one of those performers where you see a silhouette and know exactly who he is. He could be standing still for seven minutes -- just standing there, breathing -- and people would go crazy. There's not a place on the entire Earth where people haven't heard of him. I don't think we'll see anyone like him on a stage again.

What will happen to his legacy?


I've been impersonating Michael Jackson since '84, and there are plenty of us that plan to keep his music alive. When he passed, it really felt like I lost a sibling. As for his kids, I just hope they're safe.

--Emily AhrensMichael Lewis
Full-time impersonator, U.K.


How long have you been a fan of Michael Jackson?

All my life. I used to be a casual fan. I didn’t know much about the man behind the music, but when I found out who he was seven years ago -- his love of children, Peter Pan, his humanitarian projects -- I became an obsessive fan. I've been singing for five years but have been impersonating MJ for two. When I sing, I sing mostly his songs. I could relate to Michael -- he understood the boy in me who never grew up.

What is your favorite Michael Jackson song?

"Human Nature" has to be my favorite song performed by him. It’s a beautiful song and he looks like he’s walking on air when he's performing it. Like an angel, very elegant, very graceful. It’s my favorite one to sing as well. I perform it at small functions.

What is it about him that enthralled so many people?

I think he was the ultimate misunderstood person. But he has more talent in one little finger than most people can get in a lifetime. For me, he was the purest soul we had on this earth -- an angel sent from heaven. He taught me that it was okay to be yourself. His fans turned to him for inspiration and advice.

How are you mourning his death?

Right now, I’m at a vigil for him in London. I plan on going to Neverland on July 13. My bedroom is a shrine. I have a life-size statue of him in my room; I have Michael Jackson carpets and bed sheets. I was also planning to go to five concerts in London, which together cost 1,000 pounds.

I met him this year, too. I was at a press conference at the 02 Arena when he first announced his concert and I was in the front row cheering him on. The next day I was on an interview on a U.K. TV show talking about him. After that, I went to the hotel he was staying in and waited seven hours for him outside. He came out and greeted his fans and he and I had a quick exchange -- a "Hello" and a "How are you."

-- Alisa KolenovicJainette Manbrink
Michael Jackson fansite administrator, Sweden


How long have you been a Michael Jackson superfan?

I've been a fan for 22 years and working with jacksonaction.com since 1996, when the Internet started in Sweden. For me he's been a role model. I love his music and talent, and the fact that he began very poor and had a very strict childhood but rose above the pain.

I attended his trial [in 2005, for sexual molestation]. It was really important for me. I went three times, once for jury selection, once during the trial and then for the verdict.

What is it about him that enthralled so many people?

They can connect with him: the childhood he had, having a mother who didn't protect him and being abused by his father. Many of his fans, including myself, suffered abuse. I needed someone and I couldn't use my own parents as my role model, so I turned to Michael. For me it didn't matter if he released any records or went on tour. He was the inspiration for wanting to continue to live, no matter what happens to you.

What would you like to see happen to his legacy?

As a fan, I wish Neverland would become like Graceland. In 2003 I was invited there and met him briefly. He left me with autographed CD's. But as a mother, I would like the children to have peace and for everybody to leave them alone. If they want to just be alone and create their own life, let them.

--Susan Varghese
Michael Nathan
Impersonator, U.K.


Why are you a Michael Jackson superfan?

He’s a creative pioneer, and inspirational. The things he did in the '80s surpassed any other artist out there. He is essentially the greatest artist of all time. He was so great, he couldn’t even surpass himself.

I was at his trial during those allegations against Michael, and I met him. He is such a lovely person. So incredibly down to earth. If you tried to talk to him he'd talk right back to you. He didn't ignore me.

What is it about him that enthralled so many people?

I think Michael was more than just a pop star. He transcended race. He showed people how to love one another. He was a doer, an example. And that's how he inspired so many people. He gave not just 100%, but over 200%. I haven't seen any performer put as much into what they were doing as he did.

What would you like to see happen with his legacy now?

Michael Jackson would want people to be strong and develop their talents and basically do what he did, and to always be remembered with good thoughts. I was very shocked when he died. He seemed energetic the day before. No signs of him being ill. I’m kind of worried about what happened to him.

--Marie FournierShare Your Own Video Fan Tribute on Billboard.com
Check out the fans who have shared their thoughts and tributes with Billboard in the player below and add yours by sending us a video response on our YouTube page here, or leave a link to your video tribute in the comments area on this page and it will be added to our playlist.