Tears, disbelief in city as news of Michael Jackson's death spreads
The Rev. Al Sharpton, holding a black and white photo with him and Michael Jackson, speaks to members of the media in front of the Apollo Theater.
Michael Jackson performs at the MTV Movie Awards at Radio City Music Hall in New York City in September, 1995.
'King of Pop' Michael Jackson has died
Farber: Jackson will always be the 'King of Pop'
A wave of shock and tears washed over the city Thursday night as New Yorkers mourned the sudden death of Michael Jackson with memories of how his music touched their lives.
At the Apollo Theater in Harlem, fans stared in disbelief as the marquee was changed to read "In memory of Michael Jackson, a true Apollo legend."
Spontaneous dancing broke out in the middle of 125th St. when someone began blaring Jackson's 1983 hit "Billie Jean."
Hundreds of young and middle-aged fans started chanting, "Michael! Michael! Michael!"
"I was walking down the street when someone told me," said Denise Blair, 47, of Harlem. "I just started crying."
Standing in front of the theater where Jackson last performed in 2002, Cobar Craton, 54, reminisced on first seeing The Jackson 5 in the late 1960s.
"When we were kids we went to see Michael Jackson right here before he was big," Craton said. "It was amazing. You could see the talent then. I really feel down, really sad."
In Times Square, a teary-eyed Francis Ayalla held up Jackson's most popular CD, "Thriller." Ayalla, 50, of the Bronx noted that she is the same age as the 13-time Grammy winner and that his songs provided the sound track to her life.
"All you can do is just keep crying. There's nothing else you can do," said Ayalla, who heard he was dead when a subway conductor announced it over the loud speakers of an uptown No. 2 train.
Pedro Broges, 17, of Queens said Jackson's timeless music has a universal appeal that spanned generations.
"I'm broken, just broken on the inside because I love his music, I loved his dancing and I'm so sad to hear that he's gone," Broges said. "He's the King of Pop and even though he's gone, he'll always be the King of Pop."
Dena Barnes, 21, of Brooklyn couldn't believe his eyes as he and hundreds of others stared up at the JumboTron in Times Square showing the stunning news.
"He's amazing," Barnes said of Jackson, adding that he had been planning to catch the moon-walking icon's comeback tour this summer. "You see Chris Brown and Usher and you see where they got it from; they got it from Michael Jackson."
At the Atlantic Ave. subway stop in Brooklyn, Yudelka Albuquerque, 36, paused to take in the breathtaking news. Growing up in the Dominican Republic, Albuquerque, of Crown Heights recalled Jackson's music playing in homes and on street corners.
"In my country, everybody loves his music," said Albuquerque.
Brooklyn cop Tyreon Cook, 48, smiled as he remembered how he and his brothers would dance around their home pretending to be The Jackson 5.
Greta Costa, 23, of Fort Greene, remained a fan even through Jackson's down years, when he was tried for child molestation: "We were around to see his rise and fall," Costa said. "I feel disappointed."