Michael Jackson's estate paid tribute to his artistry and charity Tuesday as fans make final preparations for gatherings to celebrate his memory on the 10th anniversary of the King of Pop's death.
"Ten years ago today, the world lost a gifted artist and extraordinary humanitarian," the Jackson estate said in a statement to The Associated Press. "A decade later, Michael Jackson is still with us, his influence embedded in dance, fashion, art and music of the moment. He is more important than ever."
(Scroll down to read the estate's full statement.)
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The estate has doggedly worked to protect and enhance Jackson's legacy, a task made more challenging this year when two men accused Jackson of molesting them as boys in the HBO documentary "Leaving Neverland," sparking new scrutiny of years-old claims that Jackson preyed on children. Jackson was acquitted of abuse allegations in 2005 and always vehemently denied such allegations, and the estate and his family angrily refuted the men's claims when the documentary was released in March, noting the men had at one time been among Jackson's biggest defenders and one testified on his behalf at his criminal trial.
The estate is using the anniversary of Jackson's death to celebrate and accentuate Jackson's vast humanitarian work. It called on fans to honor Jackson's memory by engaging in charitable acts "whether it's planting a tree, volunteering at a shelter, cleaning up a public space or helping someone who is lost find their way. ... This is how we honor Michael," the statement read.
Fans plan to gather at Jackson's last home in the Holmby Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles, where the singer received a fatal dose of the anesthetic propofol on the afternoon of June 25, 2009. He was declared dead at a hospital at age 50.
They also plan a vigil at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California, where Jackson was laid to rest two months later.
Some planned to gather around Jackson's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. One group of fans planned a Hollywood rally Tuesday to declare his innocence of molestation allegations.
Co-executors John Branca and John McClain, both major figures in Jackson's career when he was alive, have taken his badly debt-ridden estate and grossed over $1.3 billion through various Jackson-related projects in the past decade, including the film "This Is It," a pair of Cirque du Soleil shows and the sale of Jackson assets that included The Beatles catalog.
Jackson left everything to his mother, his children and charity in his will.
The singer's father, Joe, died last year and is buried in the same cemetery as his son, but Michael's 89-year-old mother, five brothers, three sisters and three kids remain alive and well 10 years later.
The death of Jackson was a massive cultural phenomenon, bringing an outpouring of public affection and revival of his songs and largely erasing the taint that remained after his criminal trial, despite his acquittal.
It was one of the earliest instances of the mass mourning on social media that would soon become common, and a massive worldwide audience both on TV and online watched his July 27, 2009 public memorial that included touching tributes from family members including daughter Paris and performances from Stevie Wonder, Mariah Carey and Lionel Richie.
Here is the full statement from the Jackson estate on the 10th death anniversary of Michael Jackson:
Ten years ago today, the world lost a gifted artist and extraordinary humanitarian. The entire global community joined in grieving during a powerful and emotional memorial service witnessed by more people than had ever viewed a live event before. Messages of condolences from Nelson Mandela and others were read as was a poem written for the occasion by the esteemed Maya Angelou. Berry Gordy Jr., founder of Motown, eulogized his protégé by saying, ”. the King of Pop is not big enough for him. I think he is simply the greatest entertainer that ever lived.” United in grief, the world wept not only at the loss of an artistic genius but at the void left by the loss of a father, son and brother.
A decade later, Michael Jackson is still with us, his influence embedded in dance, fashion, art and music of the moment. He is more important than ever. But the true measure of Michael was his giving to others, which came in many forms. He comforted the unfortunate at hospitals, in long term care facilities and at halfway houses. He equipped Neverland Ranch with medical facilities to accommodate patients seeking refuge from their lonely hospital rooms, and thousands came. He visited troops on bases around the world serving their country. Guinness World Records acknowledged his efforts with an award for Most Charities Supported by a Pop Star.
In a world where numbers are the measure of a man, Michael Jackson is a resounding success, whether by his 16 No. 1 singles and eight No. 1 albums in the U.S or the fact that his album “Thriller” is owned by more people on the planet than any album ever made and “Thriller” the short film is the only music video to have been inducted into the National Film Registry. And when mastery of a craft is the measure, Michael Jackson’s divine abilities remain the yardstick by which others are measured and against which today’s masters still measure themselves.
But we best remember Michael by paying tribute to his legacy of philanthropic work and ask music fans everywhere to make a difference in their community — whether it’s planting a tree, volunteering at a shelter, cleaning up a public space or helping someone who is lost find their way.
“I believe each person can make a difference in the life of someone in need,” he said. This is how we honor Michael.