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Manatee residents mourn loss of Michael Jackson

MANATEE — His music played over local radio stations.

People called music stores checking for collector’s editions by the performer dubbed the King of Pop.

People gathered around televisions, whether at home, at work or around town, to learn the latest details.

The news of Michael Jackson’s death came as a shock to most people Thursday afternoon as people went about their day.

“Everybody’s listened to Michael Jackson. My brother taught me how to moonwalk. I didn’t believe it at first,” said Robby Bunch, 21, a senior assistant manager at Fye, a music store in DeSoto Square mall. “I actually had to call my mom.”

A DVD of Jackson’s videos played throughout the store on all of the flatscreen televisions.

Bunch said within an hour of Jackson’s death people were calling to ask about the availability of Jackson’s records.

“He was a huge icon in revolutionizing pop. He’s probably up there with Elvis. He had some of the greatest music of all time,” he said.

While Jackson had not had the success he had in previous decades, Bunch said his “Number Ones” album was still a best seller.

“It sells really well even before today. It’s great music. A lot of well known bands have done covers of his music. He’s one of those people whose music will always be popular,” Bunch said.

The store will most likely set up a display of his albums, he said.

Mick Carpenter, 31, customer solutions manager at Best Buy, 4210 14th St. W., said the store expects to see an increase in sales of Jackson’s music. He said that’s typical of artists and actors when they die.

The news of Jackson’s death was broadcast on TVs at the store.

Jackson’s music often sold well during the holidays, Carpenter said.

“It’s good because everyone pretty much listens to Michael Jackson from the ‘80s. It’s pretty universal,” Carpenter said.

Carpenter said he could remember being about 10 years old and listening to Jackson.

He had a doll of Jackson. He wore a sequin glove. His mother wouldn’t buy him a replica of the jacket from the “Beat It” video.

“She said I would grow out of it too fast,” he said smiling.

People Thursday afternoon gathered around televisions to learn details of Jackson’s death.

Toni Coleman, 43, was styling hair as CNN aired in the background at T-N-T’s Beauty and Barber Salon, 557 17th St. W., Palmetto.

She had just driven back from Baton Rouge, La., while listening to Jackson’s music Monday and discussed with her husband which albums were Jackson’s greatest.

“‘Thriller’ and ‘Off the Wall’ — those are the ones,” she said, recalling the conversation. “I’ll always listen to it. It will never get old. At my mom’s house, there are still album covers of the Jackson 5.”

Coleman said she doubts any performer will be able to surpass what Jackson accomplished.

“Never. They may come close, but never. This man was 50 years old. He had such an impact on the music industry. None last as long as he did. They come and go. They come and go,” she said.

Despite allegations and lawsuits Jackson faced, he will still be remembered for his music, Coleman said.

“He will still be remembered as an icon regardless of the controversy. That will not overshadow him at all,” she said.

Coleman said she enjoyed Jackson’s dancing and the way he engaged the audience.

“He connected with the audience all the time even though he was shy. When he was on stage, he was a performer,” she said.

Across town at Norma Lloyd Park, a young boy tried moonwalking as adults spoke of Jackson’s death.

Jesse Price, 17, stood in the parking lot and said he was still in shock.

“It just hurts me deep in my soul. I’m dead serious. Michael Jackson is the man. I was shocked. I was deeply hurt,” Price said. “I think he did something no other pop artist could do. He reached people everywhere, of every race.”

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