Thousands braved sun and rain for Apollo MJ tribute
(Photo by RJ Mickelson/amNY)
Hundreds at a time, they belted out ABC as though it were 1970 again.
They grooved to Dancing Machine, Jackson 5-style. They shed a few tears, too, but mostly thousands of Michael Jackson fans joyously celebrated the life of the superstar at an Apollo Theater memorial yesterday.
Renee Harrison, 45, spent the night in line outside the Apollo to pay her respects at the same stage where, 40 years earlier, she saw the Jackson 5 launch the career of the boy who would become the King of Pop.
I was ecstatic to see him on stage, said Harrison, of Harlem. Now its full circle for me. I needed to be out here. He's truly a legend.Thousands endured 84-degree heat and at least 10 came down with heat exhaustion as well as torrential rains later in the afternoon, to have a chance to place mementos on the stage and dance along to a video montage of Jacksons life in music.
Fans also placed letters around a black fedora and a silver glove perched atop a stool bathed in a spotlight onstage.
Indeed, the Apollo has been a magnet for grieving fans since the singers unexpected death last Thursday.
One of those fans leaving letters was Michelle Sims Lopez, 62, of Harlem, who saw the Jackson 5 at Radio City Music Hall. She was moved to write a note to Jackson that partly read, God wanted a superstar in heaven, and I know that you moonwalked through the pearly gates.
The Rev. Al Sharpton flew in from the Jackson familys California compound to pay tribute to his friend, eliciting exuberant cheers as he extolled Jacksons legacy in black history as well as that of the music world.
Michael made young men and young women all over the world imitate us, from Japan to Iowa from France to South America Before Michael, we were limited and ghettoized," Sharpton said. But Michael put on a cutaway military jacket, pulled his pants legs up, put on one glove, and he smashed the barriers of segregated music."
Spike Lee joined Sharpton later to eulogize Jackson after a moment of silence at 5:26 p.m., the East Coast time last Thursday that doctors declared the performer dead.
Lets not wallow in the negativity theyre trying to drag us down into its all about love, Lee said.
And that was on display among fans as they shuffled in, about 600 at a time, from 2 p.m. on.
The whole world is mourning Michael Jackson, but at the Apollo and in Harlem we do it in a special way, said Brenda Harper, 55, of Harlem, who took off work to come to the tribute. He took a few peoples genre, like James Brown and Jackie Wilson, and made it his own. Hes the best of the best and always will be.