Thursday afternoon and evening, Michael Jackson’s fans gathered together to mourn his death and celebrate his life in Hollywood, Westwood and various other spots around town.
But worldwide, the Internet and Twitter became the collective grieving ground for millions who wanted to find news about Jackson or express their feelings. Spikes in traffic were huge, slowing down servers, according to numerous press reports.
Motorists in L.A. could hear various Jackson songs on other drivers’ car radios, since plenty of stations devoted all their Thursday air time to the performer.
In Westwood, dozens of people — including many UCLA students — gathered outside of the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center upon hearing the news that Jackson had been taken there.
Some in the crowd were members of the news media, who had to shout over the noise of the half-dozen helicopters flying above the hospital.
Some supporters brought flowers, looking for a place to lay them, while many others brought out cameras and phones to record the event. While members of the press waited to be let inside, a group wired a laptop with speakers and sang along with Jackson’s “Billie Jean.”
Family members and friends of Jackson’s also arrived at the hospital, including Elizabeth Taylor and the star’s brother, Jermaine Jackson.
Shortly after 6 p.m., Jermaine Jackson held a brief press conference. He said the cause of death had yet to be determined. Then he asked everyone to give the family room to grieve.
In Hollywood, fans’ sentiments may have been sincere, even if their sense of location was a bit askew.
Jackson’s star is across the Chinese Theater but was off-limits Thursday afternoon and evening because of Universal’s “Bruno” premiere. As guests exited the premiere, fans of Jackson had already begun to gather around his star.
The film premiere was also affected by the day’s events. In the pic, Sacha Baron Cohen (in character as Bruno) appears with Jackson’s sister La Toya, but the scene was cut from tonight’s screening. Also, at the film’s after-party, the DJ played a heavy rotation of Jackson classics.
The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce directed mourners to the Jacksons’ family star on Vine Street. But a few folks came up with an alternative and left flowers on the star of radio host Michael Jackson, the Brit who is considered the father of talkradio in Los Angeles.
The Chamber of Commerce said the Hollywood Historic Trust will place flowers on Jackson’s star Friday morning.
(Dave McNary contributed to this report.)