Hundreds of Michael Jackson fans have reportedly gathered outside of London’s O2 Arena today, July 13th, to celebrate the King of Pop’s legacy on the day his 50-concert This Is It! run was supposed to begin. The BBC is reporting that more than 500 people from all over the world have formed a makeshift vigil outside the venue which, had it not been for Jackson’s sudden death on June 25th, would be featuring Jackson onstage performing this very moment. Some of the fans outside the venue, including Jasper Haughton of Copenhagen, Denmark, had tickets to tonight’s tour-opening concert, the first of 50 sold-out shows.
The O2 Arena has been the focus of fan tributes and floral arrangements since Jackson’s death last month, but message boards and Facebook led the charge in having fans gather outside the venue today, the BBC reports. A wall of written tributes has been erected, and fans have been participating in sing-a-longs and lighting candles since they’ve begun congregating. BBC reporter Michael Osborn says there is a “light-hearted celebratory mood.”
Originally, the This Is It! concerts were scheduled to begin on July 8th, but the first handful of shows were ultimately postponed as AEG Live–the concert promoting company organizing the concerts–and Jackson both said the King of Pop needed more time to perfect the show, which AEG Live CEO Randy Phillips said would have been the “one of the most amazing arena shows ever” (Following Jackson’s death, AEG Live released photos of one of the final rehearsals in the hope of proving that Jackson wasn’t as frail as erroneous reports said he was.) Thus, an opening date of July 13th was scheduled. Sadly, Jackson succumbed to a sudden cardiac arrest just days before the production was to relocate from Los Angeles’ Staples Center to London.
• AEG Starts Planning a Michael Jackson This Is It! Tribute Concert
• Michael Jackson Photos From “This Is It!” Rehearsals Emerge
• Michael Jackson Remembered: Inside Rolling Stone’s Special Issue