Chinese fans re­mem­ber late megas­tar Michael Jack­son in buildup to 10th anniversar­y of his death

Global Times US Edition - - LIFE - By Liu Zhongyin Page Edi­tor: xuli­[email protected]­al­

A1.8 me­ter-tall bronze statue of late pop star Michael Jack­son, dressed like a solider with ban­doliers strapped across his chest, was re­vealed in Zhengzhou, the cap­i­tal city of Cen­tral China’s He­nan Prov­ince, on Sat­ur­day.

The statue, mod­eled af­ter the one that ap­peared on the idol’s 1995 al­bum His­tory, was in­stalled in front of a shop­ping mall by the su­per­star’s Chinese fans to com­mem­o­rate the 10th anniversar­y of his death, which falls on June 25.

Al­though Jack­son never per­formed in the Chinese main­land, his fame as the “King of Pop” re­mains strong to this day. In the build up to the 10th anniversar­y of his death, Chinese fans have been do­ing their all to show their love for the idol, erect­ing stat­ues, hold­ing memo- rial ac­tiv­i­ties and tak­ing part in events with fans around the globe.

Break­out pop­u­lar­ity

Ac­cord­ing to Chinese mu­sic critic Guo Zhikai, Chinese mu­sic lovers took no­tice of Jack­son dur­ing the late 1980s, with his pop­u­lar­ity es­ca­lat­ing dur­ing the early 1990s when Chinese rock’n’roll and pop mu­sic be­gan march­ing to­ward their hey­day un­der the coun­try’s re­form and open­ing-up pol­icy.

“Jack­son’s mu­sic was so shock­ing to Chinese au­di­ences at that time be­cause their cul­tural life was bar­ren. It’s like when you or­der a bowl of rice but are un­ex­pect­edly given a for­mal ban­quet,” Yu Xinyao, a 30-some­thing Jack­son fan and a mu­sic in­dus­try pro­fes­sional, told the Global Times.

As one of the first Western mu­si­cians to be in­tro­duced to the Chinese main­land af­ter the re­form and open­ing-up, Jack­son holds an in­com­pa­ra­ble po­si­tion and rep­u­ta­tion. An icon and pace-set­ter in mu­sic, dance and fash­ion, his mu­sic and moves were incredibly pop­u­lar in Chinese dis­cos and night clubs at the time.

Qi Qiang, 32, is the leader of the Michael Jack­son He­nan Fan Club, the group behind the statue in­stal­la­tion. Speak­ing to the Global Times, Qi noted he was born in 1987, the year Jack­son re­leased his al­bum Bad, and af­ter that he be­came a fan at the age of 8.

“I re­mem­ber when I was a boy you could earn a lot of cred if you could mimic of few of his dance moves,” Qi said. He noted that he of­ten went to his class­mates’ homes to watch VCDS of Jack­son’s mu­sic videos and share cas­sette tapes. He also re­called the ex­cite­ment and fear that ac­com­pa­nied him as he walked home af­ter watch­ing the dread­ful scenes in the mu­sic video for “Thriller.”

Pay­ing trib­ute

“I started as an ad­mirer, then turned into a de­voted fan be­fore fi­nally be­com­ing a close friend who un­der­stands his life,” said Yu, adding he does not be­lieve some of the ac­cu­sa­tions about sex­ual abuse that have been made against the star.

“His res­onat­ing and beau­ti­ful works have to re­flect a gen­tle soul – so colorful, bright, kind and sin­cere,” Qi told the Global Times.

Af­ter the re­veal of the statue, a con­cert ti­tled Soul of Love was held in Zhengzhou later that day to pay trib­ute to Jack­son. Ac­cord­ing to the event or­ga­niz­ers, roughly 530 fans from all across China at­tended.

This was not the only event that has been held re­cently. Fan clubs through­out China have been hold­ing their own memo­rial con­certs and ac­tiv­i­ties. For ex­am­ple, 21 year-old Hai Yan, an am­a­teur singer, prac­ticed with Jack­son’s Shang­hai fan club for over two months to get ready for the huge All for Love 10th anniversar­y con­cert held at the city’s Pearl Theatre Sat­ur­day.

Dur­ing the con­cert Hai sang Jack­son’s “Earth Song” while Chinese Jack­son im­per­son­ator Zang­haizi danced on stage. In a re­cre­ation of a mo­ment from Jack­son’s His­tory world tour, a sol­dier took to the stage and pointed a gun at the per­form­ers and au­di­ence, but took down his weapon af­ter a young girl comes on stage and gives him a sun­flower.

For many fans Jack­son is a sym­bol of hu­man­i­tar­i­an­ism, peace and love who has in­spired them to per­form their own good deeds. Qi noted that his club of­ten helps chil­dren in sev­eral im­pov­er­ished and re­mote schools in He­nan and the Southwest China provinces of Guizhou and Sichuan by send­ing them books and daily ne­ces­si­ties like cloth­ing.

Around 60 Chinese fans are plan­ning to head to Los An­ge­les in the US to join fans from around the globe for a ma­jor com­mem­o­ra­tive event on June 25. The trip is be­ing or­ga­nized by the Michael Jack­son Chinese Fan Club. Ac­cord­ing to club pres­i­dent Zhang Rui, the club has also raised $12,000 to pur­chase flow­ers for his grave.

Ac­cord­ing to Yu, al­though the star has been gone for a decade now, his love for star is rekin­dled when­ever Yu lis­tens to his mu­sic or takes part in an event.

“It feels like an old friend who you haven’t met with for a long time. But once you en­counter each other again, you smile at each other,” noted Yu. Fri­day June 21, 2019

Pho­tos: Cour­tesy of Qi Qiang

A statue of Michael Jack­son erected in Zhengzhou, He­nan Prov­ince, on Sat­ur­day. Top: Fans at­tend the Soul of Love con­cert in Zhengzhou on Sat­ur­day. Above: A child in Sichuan Prov­ince kisses a Michael Jack­son poster.

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