Impromptu street celebration marks the end of an era in pop

A tribute to the king of pop

There can't be anyone over the age of 20 who hasn't danced, celebrated or let loose to a Michael Jackson tune. On Thursday as news of the superstar's shocking death trickled out it was in the spirit of song that they chose to honour his memory.

At the legendary Apollo Theatre in New York's Harlem district, a venue long associated with the Jackson Five, fans gathered to moonwalk and boogie to his most famous tunes.

Amid a joyful, almost party-like atmosphere that seemed a reflection of a desire to remember their idol in his prime, the crowd broke into a spontaneous rendition of I'll Be There a haunting 1970 ballad that Michael performed with his brothers

Their arms aloft, they swayed in time to the music, behind them the singer's name appearing in lights on the venue.

Explaining to the Telegraph why the mood was upbeat, one fan Kelli King said: "Part of the African American tradition is to celebrate life through music, through song, through spirit, through dance.

"So one way to honour someone is to do the tradition that he lived, whether that is song or dance. And so we honour him in that tradition."

Across the city in Times Square they were also keeping vigil, staring in disbelief at the huge screen, many of them with tears running down their faces as a huge screen.

Floral tributes, messages and keepsakes appeared on the Thriller artist's Walk Of Fame star in Hollywood too. One poignant note reading: "Rest in peace Michael. You were a thriller."