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Apollo Theater

Apollo Theater

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By Michelle NicholsNEW YORK (Reuters) - Michael Jackson fans danced in the aisles of Harlem's famed Apollo Theater to celebrate his life, cheering and placing tributes on the stage where the "King of Pop" performed as a child.A line stretched across several city blocks from the theater with fans chanting Jackson's name to passing tourist buses and singing his songs as they waited to see a 45-minute music and video tribute being repeated throughout the day."He was my first love," said Wilma McClelland, 48, from Queens, as she waited in line.

"We have grown up with him."Jackson first performed at the Apollo Amateur Night at age 9 with his brothers.

Their group, the Jackson 5, won the competition in 1969, when the pop singer was 11 years old, performing Smokey Robinson's "Who's Lovin' You."Wearing a badge of Jackson and carrying posters and music of the singer, Kenya Dowe, 43, from Harlem, arrived at 10 p.m.

on Monday to be one of the first in line."I wanted to be a part of the celebration for a legend, an icon, a global humanitarian," said Dowe, holding an umbrella to shade herself from the sun.

"Michael Jackson is a beautiful person, he deserves this.

I wish he could see this in life."Student Ashley Allder, 20, traveled from Piscataway, New Jersey, and wore one sparkly glove that she made herself and a badge with a picture of Jackson and the words "peace at last.""Even though I didn't grow up with him as long as other people did, he still touched me, he still made me want to be who I am," she said.

"I love Michael Jackson so much.""FEEL THE LOVE"On the stage a spotlight shone on the singer's signature fedora, sparkly glove and sunglasses placed on a stool next to a microphone.

Jackson's hits such as "Bad," "ABC" and "Billie Jean" played."He's bad, he's our brother, he's our friend," Al Sharpton, civil rights campaigner and friend of Jackson, told the first audience inside the theater.

"Let's love Michael today."Jackson died on Thursday from cardiac arrest at his rented Los Angeles home, days before kicking off a string of concerts in London that were designed to revive a career grounded by his 2005 trial and acquittal on child molestation charges."No matter all of the trials and tribulations he went through, I still love him regardless," said Barbara Brown, 46, a security guard from the Bronx.

"Michael is a part of my household, that's my baby.

He will always be in my heart."Two autopsies have been carried out on Jackson's body, one by the coroner's office and another by a private pathologist.

Speculation about what caused his death has centered on prescription drug use, but toxicology tests are expected to take several more weeks.On the streets near the Apollo, vendors sold T-shirts, hats and posters of Jackson.� Continued...View article on single page

http://www.reuters.com/article/newsOne/idUSTRE55T70U20090630
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