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'King of Pop' ruled musical hearts of many isle fans


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POSTED: Friday, June 26, 2009

At 5 years old, Dori Lovell fell in love with Michael Jackson when her mother bought home his 45s.

She followed him throughout her life and scored the “;King of Pop's”; autograph with her 4-year-old son at Honolulu Airport.

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“;I just couldn't believe it ... how fortunate and blessed am I to be in his presence for a second,”; Lovell recalled.

Lovell, 45, showed up along with more than 100 people last night at a Magic Island vigil for Jackson, who died of cardiac arrest yesterday afternoon.

Radio stations played songs of the late Jackson yesterday and fielded calls by people remembering Jackson's 1997 concerts in Honolulu.

“;The telephone lines have been ringing off the hook,”; said John Aeto, general manager of Visionary Radio Group in Honolulu, which owns KUMU and KQMQ and other radio stations.

“;Hawaii was a huge fan base for Jackson. A lot of people sharing their stories. A lot of people very emotional.”;

He said there will be more Jackson tributes and songs to come in the next two weeks.

Aeto, 41, said he came of age with “;Thriller”; and “;Off the Wall.”; “;It's a time where we all realize, this generation of 40-year-olds, how fragile life really is. One of our generation's greats has passed.

“;The guy was a musical genius.”;

Some compared Jackson's death to the passing of Elvis Presley.

“;It was a similar kind of shock throughout the industry,”; said Chuck Cotton, general manager of Clear Channel Hawaii, who was a radio sales manager in San Diego when Elvis died. “;Michael Jackson certainly is the biggest star of this generation.”;

Cotton said Hot 93.9 was playing continuous Jackson songs yesterday.

Those at the vigil spoke of how he affected their lives and dismissed the sexual allegations later in his career.

“;I think people will be sorry for some of the things they've said,”; Lovell said.

She recalled waiting for Jackson at the airport the day she got his autograph. She pressed a sheet of paper on the window as he was leaving, asking him to sign it for her son.

He told the driver to stop, rolled down the window, took her Sharpie pen, and signed the paper—a copy of the 10 commandments in Hawaiian.

Then he thanked her for asking and kept the Sharpie.

Lovell recalled him as completely genuine and the “;most down-to-earth person ever.”;

Jackson remained a part of Lovell's life. She cheered to Jackson's “;Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough”; as a cheerleader at Hilo High School and remembers being in a nightclub when “;Billie Jean”; came out. She saw him in concert with her 13-year-old daughter at Aloha Stadium in 1997.

It was her daughter who told her about his death yesterday. Still at work as a preschool director at Aiea Hongwanji Elementary School, Lovell played Jackson songs for the students the rest of the day. People of all ages grew up on him, she said, adding that “;people need to know.”;

Uilani Arasato, 42, also a lifetime fan of Jackson, left work early yesterday after hearing of his death.

“;I was devastated,”; Arasato said. “;I couldn't concentrate. It was a big emptiness.”;

She said she hopes this will be cause for a rebirth of Jackson's accomplishments and “;more young people will try to imitate him.”;

Wearing a T-shirt from the 1997 HIStory concerts in Honolulu, she carried in a backpack the newspaper on the day Jackson arrived in Honolulu and a photo album containing 50 Jackson cards and a Jackson magazine.

She raised her six children on Jackson's music; they now have a band together that plays Jackson's songs.

She and her husband, a Jackson fan who also saw him with the Jackson 5 at the Blaisdell Center in the 1970s, wanted to be at the vigil “;to let everybody know just how positive his music was and that he inspired a lot of people.”;

Shawn “;Doc Rock”; Boyd, owner of the social media marketing company BuzzGeni, organized the vigil.

“;I never would have dreamed of being a DJ if it wasn't for Michael Jackson and the Jackson 5,”; he said. “;It launched my career.”;


For archival photos of Michael Jackson's 1997 concert in Honolulu and to share your thoughts on the death of the “;King of Pop,”; visit www.hsblinks.com/e3