Less than a week after Michael Jackson's sudden death in Los Angeles, his fans are bringing new notoriety to sites associated with the singer — from Neverland Ranch, the Central California estate where Friday's anticipated public viewing has apparently fizzled, to the Berlin hotel where he infamously dangled his then-infant son from a balcony.
"It never fails to amaze me how people will go to great lengths to walk in the footsteps of their favorite stars," says Harry Medved, author of Hollywood Escapes and spokesman for Fandango.com, which offers a new slideshow of locations associated with Jackson music videos.
"Now," adds Medved, "even mundane places like the hospital where he died (U.C.L.A. Medical Center) are becoming shrines."
Among the potential stops on a trip down the King of Pop memory lane:
•Neverland Ranch:Located on a two-lane road in Santa Barbara County wine country near the small town of Los Olivos (best known for its starring role in the movie Sideways), the 2,600-acre spread had been expected to draw throngs of mourners for a commemoration this weekend. But the amusement park rides and menagerie of exotic animals were removed from the fairy tale retreat after Jackson decamped in 2005, following his aquittal on child molestation charges. And thanks to strict zoning laws, the chances of Neverland becoming a tourist magnet on the scale of Elvis Presley's Graceland are "zero," predicts local realtor William Etling, author of Sideways in Neverland: Life in the Santa Ynez Valley, California.
•Gary, Ind.: Jackson's family moved away from this ailing Lake Michigan steel town when he was 11, and the singer rarely returned for visits. His modest childhood home isn't mentioned on the local tourism website, which touts the nearby Indiana Dunes and proximity to Chicago, a 35-minute drive to the west. But Mayor Rudy Clay said he hopes Jackson's death will inspire Michael mania in the place he left behind: "If they can do it for Elvis Presley in Graceland, we can do it for Michael Jackson in Gary," he told the Associated Press.
•Apollo Theater, New York City:The Jackson 5 won an Amateur Night contest at the fabled Harlem venue in 1967, and lines of admirers stretched for blocks at a memorial service there Tuesday. Built in 1914, the not-for-profit theater offers group tours and still hosts the Amateur Nights that showcased such stars as Bessie Smith and Billie Holliday.
•Motown Historical Museum, Detroit:The onetime record studio where the Jackson 5 launched their career drew some 3,500 mourners to a candlight vigil Sunday. But fans looking for a display of a hat and glove Jackson wore during Motown's 25th anniversary celebration will be disappointed: The artifacts have been temporarily moved to a safe deposit box "for security purposes," and the museum has no plans for a special Jackson exhibit, says curator Lina Stephens.
•Los Angeles area:Along with the U.C.L.A. Medical Center (where actress Farrah Fawcett died the same day as Jackson), potential pilgrimage stops include Jackson's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame near Grauman's Chinese Theatre and the Grammy Museum, where a special Jackson wardrobe exhibit has been extended indefinitely.