GLENDALE: Michael Jackson fans from around the world laid flowers at the mausoleum where the pop icon is interred, grieving but also celebrating on the fifth anniversary of his shock death.
Around 100 fans, some dressed as the self-proclaimed King of Pop, gathered at the Forest Lawn cemetery outside Los Angeles, where the 50-year-old died while rehearsing for a comeback tour.
“We love you Michael,” read a banner on a giant red heart placed outside the small mausoleum in Glendale, north of downtown LA.
“Five years without you — we love you more,” read one message, while others said simply: “We miss you” or “Thank you for continuously giving us reason to smile.”
Mikie, who came with a group of girlfriends from Japan all dressed in Jackson T-shirts, said it was her second time at the neatly-tended cemetery.
“There are lots of feelings,” she told Agence France-Presse.
Jackson died on June 25, 2009 of an overdose of the clinical anesthetic propofol, administered by his doctor to help treat insomnia as the singer prepared for “This is It” shows in London.
His personal medic Conrad Murray was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in 2011 over the star’s death and jailed for four years. He was released in October after serving two years.
Fans came from Britain, Germany, Italy, Mexico, the United States and many other countries to the cemetery, the final resting place of generations of Hollywood celebrities.
Carine Temmerman, from a Belgian Jackson fan club, picked through the carpet of messages laid out before the star’s mausoleum. “I’ve cried a lot, seeing what people have written,” she said.
“It’s a sad day for most of us, but we decided to celebrate who the man was, and celebrate his legacy,” said Melanie Freeman from New York.
“Five years later, it just grows, it’s not diminished at all,” she told AFP, adding: “All the things that MJ used to do, we do it for him now.”
Marta, from Mexico, said Jackson gave his fans “lots of guidance.”
“He was a good person who worked for underprivileged people,” she added, looking at a placard reading: “The fix for a broken world is in the lyrics of Michael’s music. Are you listening?”
Jackson was planning a global comeback tour to help him stave off bankruptcy, five years after being acquitted of child molestation charges that left his career in tatters.
He had debts of up to $500 million before his death, but in the five years since, his executors have earned more than $700 million, according to the recent book “Michael Jackson Inc.”
Money-making ventures have included the “This is It” movie of rehearsals for the doomed tour, a touring Cirque du Soleil stage show and two posthumous albums so far, with more to come.