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A spontaneous dance party erupted in San Francisco's Embarcadero, in front of the Ferry Building. The word spread though Twitter and roughly 100 people showed up to dance to Michael Jackson's songs. As fans celebrated the iconic singer, those that worked with him remember say they'll never forget his work ethic.
"He's my childhood hero so for me it's like a family member dying," said Melody Perry, a former backup singer for Michael Jackson.
Melody Perry and her mother, Edna Wright, sang backup on Michael Jackson's "History" and "Dangerous" albums.
"He would always come out of the booth and say, 'How did I sound? How did I sound?' And I'd go like, 'Amazing!' He was always forever critiquing himself," said Wright.
These singers also did some award shows and toured with him. They're now with San Francisco's Teatro Zinzani, but remember Jackson's work habits as if they sang with him last night.
"He was a constant perfectionist. We'd rehearse for hours. We did the MTV awards and I think we must have rehearsed for four or five hours, two numbers, but he wanted it to be perfect," said Perry.
"Absolute perfectionist. He rehearsed, rehearsed, and rehearsed. His shows were just brilliant," said Gregg Perloff from Another Planet Entertainment.
Perloff was also taken by Jackson's focus as he produced Jackson's shows at San Francisco's Cow Palace and Oakland's Coliseum back in the 1980's. He says it was impossible to take your eyes off of Jackson when he performed, but that he was also impressive backstage.
"He was an absolute professional. Every one of his shows started on time and he had the nicest crew," said Perloff.
"He had the musical world in the palm of his white gloved hand," said Ben Fong-Torres.
Bay Area pop critic Fong-Torres met Jackson when the singer was 13. He says his talent was evident even then and that he is certainly one of America's icons.
"I think he stands on the same level as Sinatra from another era, of Elvis and any of The Beattles," said Fong-Torres.
For proof of that you could look at the Embarcadero and see the response on Thursday night. Also a San Mateo tracking company, Keynote Systems, which follows the traffic of sites, noticed as word spread major news websites slowed down so much they became basically unavailable.
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