Michael Jackson fans around the world lit candles on Friday (June 25) to mark the death one year ago of the controversial pop star whose posthumous popularity has returned him to a pedestal and made him a billion dollar man.
Fans in Hanoi, Vietnam, held a night of performances of Jackson's songs while 50 Japanese admirers -- one for each year of his life -- were picked from 10,000 people to spend a night at Tokyo Tower among the singer's possessions in the Neverland Collection, the only official Michael Jackson exhibition.
"The idea may sound a bit odd to Western cultures, but in Japan the tradition of being with the remains and possessions of passed loved ones on the anniversary of their passing is an important ritual," said Hiroyuki Takamura of the Tokyo Tower.
Jackson's sudden death at age 50 on June 25 last year in Los Angeles sparked an outpouring of grief internationally for the former child star, who was rehearsing for a series of concerts aimed at reviving a career shattered by bizarre events as an adult and acquittal on charges of molesting a 13-year-old boy.
One year on, Jackson is again idolized and his debts a burden of the past. The Billboard analysis shows Jackson's earnings in the past year have hit $1 billion, including album sales generating about $383 million and revenue from the film "This Is It" hitting nearly $400 million.
But in death as in life, controversy continues to plague the star with his personal doctor awaiting trial on a criminal charge of causing his death by giving him a powerful anesthetic as a sleep aid and his sister LaToya claiming he was murdered for his back catalog.
Jackson's estate is also taking issue with a documentary, "King of Pop," set to debut in Japan on Friday as the estate said the film's promotion "misled Michael Jackson's fans by making it appear as if this was an authorized film."
"This movie cannot legally use any of Michael's songs or recordings in its soundtrack," the estate said in an email to Reuters.
"Michael's fans should also know that none of the proceeds earned by this movie will be paid to his Estate which, in keeping with Michael's stated wishes, strives to make sure his artistic legacy benefits his three children, his mother and the charitable causes that he cared about."
There are no major tributes planned on Friday by the official Michael Jackson estate, which now controls rights to the "Beat it" singer's music, likeness and other memorabilia.
But in the family hometown of Gary, Indiana, matriarch Katherine Jackson will unveil a monument outside the humble house where the legendary Jackson 5 began their singing career half a century ago. A memorial and candlelight vigil will follow, ending with the song "We are the World."
Jackson's children -- Prince Michael, Paris and Blanket -- are expected to mark the anniversary privately in Gary.
The cemetery where Jackson is buried near Los Angeles will open its gates to all fans on Friday but they will not be allowed into the vast mausoleum containing his body.
The singer's estranged father Joe has helped organize a "Forever Michael" tribute at a Beverly Hills hotel on June 26 and Katherine Jackson, 80, has given the fund-raising dinner her blessing with her self-published book of personal family photographs -- "Never Can Say Good-bye" -- to be sold there.
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