By Simone Sebastian
CENTRAL HARLEM — Harlem's main drag, 125th Street, was transformed into a stage for moonwalkers Monday night as the King of Pop and the Queen of Soul were inducted into the Apollo Theater's Legends Hall of Fame.
The fervent crowd of fans evoked scenes from the days after Michael Jackson's death as die-hards moonwalked down 125th Street, sporting black, sequined jackets and images of the superstar's face in glitter across their shirts.
The pop king wasn't the only one being celebrated this time. Fans called out to Aretha Franklin — "You look beautiful Aretha!" — as the music legend walked the red carpet outside the Apollo Theater.
Plaques for Franklin and Jackson were installed outside the theater Tuesday on the Apollo Legends Walk of Fame.
"Today, they are being honored and inducted as legends into the Hall of Fame," said Harlem native Moses Harper, 32, a dancer known for her Jackson moves. "But we all out here know how important they were — are — to music."
"To us, they are already legends."
Just two weeks before the first anniversary of Michael Jackson's death, the Apollo made him and Franklin the eighth and ninth members of the theater's nascent Hall of Fame.
"I have had many, many wonderful nights on this stage," Lady Soul told the audience at the Apollo's Annual Spring Benefit Concert and Awards Ceremony, where the Hall of Fame inductions were presented.
Plaques engraved with the artists' names will be placed outside the historic theater, alongside existing ones for Smokey Robinson, Patti LaBelle, Quincy Jones, James Brown, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Ella Fitzgerald and Little Richard.
Fresh from Sunday's Puerto Rican Day Parade, singers Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony received the Ruby Dee & Ossie Davis Arts and Humanitarian Award, for their charity work with healthcare.
As they accepted their award, Lopez noted her Bronx roots and her husband's Harlem birth.
"So for us to stand here ... is a reminder that no matter how far you go, there's nothing like coming home," Lopez said, "especially when home is the Apollo in New York City."
The event was hosted by actor Jamie Foxx. Comedian Chris Tucker accepted Michael Jackson's posthumous award.
Tucker noted that Jackson would call him "Christmas", just because it sounded similar to his real name. And he said he often felt like the pop king's bodyguard when they were together, because of the crowds Jackson attracted.
"Hanging out with Michael Jackson was like hanging out with a king, a true life king," Tucker said, before accepting the award.
"I love Michael Jackson. Love his music. Love him as a person," he said.
It was a bittersweet moment for Jackson fan Charisma Dozier, 13, who danced tirelessly outside the theater.
She missed the 125th Street celebrations in the days after Jackson's death.
"I wanted to be out there with the other people, remembering him," she said breathlessly, recovering from her sidewalk dance to Jackson's 1991 song "Jam". "He's like the center of happiness."