Michael Jackson Hologram Performance Brings Fans to Tears at 2014 Billboard Music Awards

Long reign the King. History was made at the 2014 Billboard Music Awards on Sunday, May 18, when audience members at the MGM Grand Garden Arena were treated to a performance by the late Michael Jackson, via a hologram projection of the iconic pop star, who died in June 2009.

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The performance began with Jackson’s hologram seated in a throne, and went on to show the King of Pop dancing, moonwalking, and just generally rocking out to “Slave to the Rhythm,” from his new posthumous album Xscape. He was decked out in a gold jacket and red leather pants, and joined onstage by a team of synchronized dancers. Click here to see more moments from the BBMAs.

Michael Jackson - Billboard Music Awards
A holographic image of Michael Jackson performs onstage during the 2014 Billboard Music Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on May 18, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Some fans of the late superstar wiped away tears during the performance, while others mimicked some of his most famous moves in their seats. Afterward, the crowd gave Jackson’s projection a standing ovation.

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The “Slave to the Rhythm” performance was nearly six months in the making, and was almost derailed at the last minute by a lawsuit. (Tech companies alleged that the show’s producers were using their techniques to create the hologram.)

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In the end, though, the show was allowed to go on. Speaking about the choreography with Billboard, Rich Talauega said, “We knew we didn’t need to go so far left field with his dance moves—we just kept it within his world.” Added Rich’s brother Tone: “[The performance is] classic Michael, but we put our spice on it.”

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“It’s so important to experience Michael Jackson in a live setting,” Jackson’s lawyer John Branca explained of how the idea came about. “This is something where we wanted a live performance in front of a live audience, and nothing speaks to that more than an awards show.”?

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