Fans From Sydney to Rio Mourn Michael Jackson

SYDNEY (AP) - In Malaysia, they hoped he would be remembered
like Princess Diana. In Mexico, one of his impersonators said part
of his life had been torn away. Even Venezuelan President Hugo
Chavez called it "lamentable news," though he criticized the
media for giving it so much attention.

Michael Jackson's death Thursday in Los Angeles prompted
broadcasters from Sydney to Seoul - where the news came early
Friday - to interrupt morning programs, while fans worldwide
remembered a "tortured genius" whose squeals and moonwalks
captivated a generation and sparked global trends in music, dance
and fashion.

Within minutes of Jackson's arrival by ambulance at UCLA Medical
Center, people began arriving by the hundreds outside. As word
spread that he was dead, people burst into tears. Others stood in
disbelief.

At Times Square in New York, the crowd groaned as the news of
his death flashed across a giant TV screen.

In Sydney, where Jackson married second wife Debbie Rowe in
1996, a celebrity publicist who was a guest at Jackson's Sydney
wedding and worked on his Australian tour that year described him
as a "tortured genius."

"He was very gentle, very quiet, very shy," Di Rolle told Sky
News television. "He was a very complicated, strange man, women
loved him and men loved him too. It's such a sad day, a very sad
day."

Australia's morning shows devoted full coverage to the Jackson's
death, alternating reporting from Los Angeles with viewers' e-mails
of memories and condolences.

"I had tears in my eyes when I found out," Charles Winter, 19,
from Adelaide, told The Associated Press. His Facebook page had
been devoted to a petition to convince Jackson to add Australia to
his concert tour planned for this year. "He was such an
inspiration. It doesn't matter if you're 40, 60 or 20, his music
appeals to everyone."

In the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur - where Jackson's 1996
HIStory concert was nearly banned for being too raunchy for the
conservative Islamic nation - fans celebrated his influence.
"Hopefully he will always be remembered like Princess Diana,"
said Noh Yusof, 29, a legal adviser.

But IT specialist Ivan Ho, 48, said Jackson's success went to
his head.

"He is a weirdo," he said. "With the kind of money he has, he
could have done much more for charity" rather than have cosmetic
surgery.

In Bogota, Colombia, a 24-year-old tattoo artist named Michael
Tarquino, said his parents named him after Jackson.

"When I was young and there was electricity rationing and we'd
go two or three hours at a time without music, without television,
when the light came back on I would play my Michael Jackson LP, and
I'd stand at the window and sing along," he said.

Japanese fans were always among Jackson's most passionate
supporters, and news of his death came as a huge shock. Michiko
Suzuki, a music critic who met Jackson several times in the 1980s,
said the country was likely to be mourning for some time.

"Everyone was imitating his 'moonwalk' when it was a hit. He
was a true superstar," she said.

Jackson also had a huge fan base in Seoul, South Korea, where
his style and dance moves were widely emulated by Korean pop stars.

"He was a star when I was little. Learning of his death, I felt
like I had lost some of my own childhood memories," said Kim
Nam-kyu, 36.

In central Mexico City, Esteban Rubio, 30, organized an
impromptu homage. Rubio has spent half his life as a Jackson
impersonator.
"Respectfully, lovingly, I was preparing a show based on him,"
he told The Associated Press. "I feel sad, as if a part of my life
were torn away."

In Brazil, movie director and musician Felipe Machado called
Jackson "perhaps the best performer that ever existed."
Singer-composer and former Culture Minister Gilberto Gil also
expressed his sorrow.

"It makes me very sad to see such a great and incredible talent
leave us so soon - a talent that provided all of us with some
wonderful moments," he told Folha Online news service. "I'll miss
the King of Pop."


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