(GARY, Ind.) — Michael Jackson’s three children spent what would have been the King of Pop’s 54th birthday in Gary, Ind., the town where their father was raised.
For the first time since Michael Jackson’s death three years ago, Prince, 15; Paris, 14; and Blanket, 10; joined a vigil for their father on Wednesday at the house at 2300 Jackson Street, where Joe and Katherine Jackson raised their father and his famous siblings until 1969. The late singer’s sister La Toya also was also at the vigil.
Jackson’s children were photographed at a casino overlooking Lake Michigan, where Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson presented them with “Team Gary” T-shirts.
“It’s a new experience for us. People are real nice here. It’s amazing how much he was respected and loved,” Prince told a local reporter Wednesday. ”It’s something that amazes me every time I come to a place like this where all these fans gather for him. It’s amazing how much he was respected and loved.”
Paris Jackson took to her Twitter account Wednesday to also express her love for her dad: “Thru my joy & my sorrow, in the promise of another 2morro, i’ll never let u apart for ur always in my heart … happy birthday i love u daddy,” she tweeted.
The memorial events came two days before the 25th anniversary of the release of “Bad,” one of Jackson’s landmark albums, which included such mega hits as “The Way You Make Me Feel,” “Smooth Criminal” and the title track.
Bad was the first album for which Jackson wrote nearly all the songs. He co-wrote nine of the 11 tracks — and he was listed as a co-producer for the entire project. It was also the first album that Jackson toured behind as a solo artist — a tour that cemented his status as a global superstar.
Bad sold between 35 and 40 million copies worldwide, including 8 million in the U.S. alone. It was nominated for six Grammys, and won two.
It took more than 20 years for another artist to match that record: Katy Perry did it with her album Teenage Dream.
Spike Lee’s documentary about the making and influence of Bad, which premieres at the Venice International Film Festival Friday, includes one-on-one interviews with Jackson’s confidants, collaborators, choreographers and famous fans, including director Martin Scorsese, Mariah Carey, Cee Lo Green and Sheryl Crow, to name a few.
“This film was done with the cooperation of the Michael Jackson estate so they opened up the archives,” Lee told ABC News. “We have stuff in this documentary that no one has ever seen. So it was amazing to me to look at this, to see this stuff.”
The documentary screens at the Toronto International Film Festival in September, and airs on ABC close to Thanksgiving.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Sandra Gonzalez, CNN
Brett Crandall, BYU-Idaho Communications