The untimely passing of Michael Jackson on the eve of his 50-date return to the live stage this month at London’s O2 Arena with his “This Is It” tour has left a void in the music business, as millions of fans turn to his work to deal with their grief. Jackson had three of the Top 5 selling albums of the week, six in the Top 30, every Top 10 album on the catalog chart (including one by the Jackson 5), 800k in total album sales and almost 3 million downloads since his death. There is clearly a thirst to hear The King of Pop’s music that North Carolina-based Who’s Bad, widely acknowledged as the world’s ultimate tribute to Michael Jackson, is prepared to satisfy.

“We are here to keep the King of Pop alive,” says the band’s founder Vamsi Tadepalli. “This is all about honoring and celebrating the man’s music with his fans. With Michael Jackson gone, Who’s Bad is, right now, the closest thing to hearing and seeing him perform. We only seek to keep those memories alive.”

Founded six years ago by Tadepalli in Chapel Hill, NC, to recreate the music, choreography and legendary showmanship of Michael Jackson, from his days in the Jackson 5 through Off the Wall and Thriller to Invincible, Who’s Bad have maintained a hectic touring schedule of between 120-150 concerts a year to sold-out audiences, including clubs, summer festivals and corporate shows. The six-piece outfit, which also includes Tadepalli and remarkable front man/lead singer Joseph Bell, along with world-class musicians Darion Alexander, Ray McCall, Nyk Baglio and Patrick Cross, has obviously found itself in even more increased demand since Jackson’s death.

“Michael Jackson’s music meant so much to all of us,” says Tadepalli, “This is just our way of trying to show our appreciation and to pass these great songs on to those fans who weren’t lucky enough to see him perform live.”

The group celebrates the individual songs of Jackson as well as some of his memorable live performances, incorporating the original choreography wherever possible along the way.

“We want you to have the feeling you had hearing ‘Billie Jean,’ ‘Thriller,’ ‘Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough’ and ‘Off the Wall’ for the first time,” adds Tadepalli. “We are sharing that love of Michael Jackson with fellow fans, trying to celebrate his life at the same time we mourn his death. We didn’t just start this group yesterday. We’ve been going strong for six years now. We’re all about honoring the music and keeping its spirit alive.”

The group hasn’t abandoned Michael through the tough times, either, mounting a Neverland Victory Tour last year to celebrate the superstar avoiding foreclosure on his longtime Santa Ynez, CA, estate, which has become a destination for thousands of mourning fans, making the pilgrimage to pay their respects to the King of Pop.

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The group will continue to tour the U.S. this summer, with a list of dates below:

Aug 14 2009 Illinois State Fair Springfield, Illinois

Aug 15 2009 Illinois State Fair Springfield, Illinois

Aug 20 2009 Tebala Shrine Temple Rockford, Illinois

Aug 21 2009 John Barleycorn Schaumburg, Illinois

Aug 22 2009 115 Bourbon St. Merrionette Park, Illinois

Aug 26 2009 The Fox Theatre Boulder, Colorado

Aug 27 2009 Ghostranch Steamboat Springs, Colorado

Aug 28 2009 The Riverwalk Ampitheatre Breckenridge, Colorado

Aug 29 2009 The Bluebird Theatre Denver, Colorado

Aug 30 2009 Aggie Theatre Fort Collins, Colorado

Sep 4 2009 Zydeco Birmingham, Alabama

Sep 5 2009 Private Nashville, Tennessee

Sep 9 2009 Woody’s Outdoor Stage Evansville, Indiana

Sep 10 2009 Canopy Club Urbana, Illinois

Sep 11 2009 The Vogue Indianapolis, Indiana

Sep 12 2009 The Bluebird Bloomington, Indiana

Sep 17 2009 Electric Cowboy Johnson City, Tennessee

Sep 18 2009 Cats Cradle Carrboro, North Carolina

Sep 19 2009 Greene Street Club Greensboro, North Carolina

Oct 2 2009 Mable House Ampitheatre Mableton, Georgia

Oct 2 2009 UGA-Private Athens, Georgia

Oct 8 2009 State Theatre Starkville, Mississippi

Oct 9 2009 House of Blues New Orleans, Louisiana

Oct 10 2009 Private Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Oct 15 2009 Stubb’s Austin, Texas

Oct 16 2009 House of Blues Dallas, Texas

Oct 17 2009 House of Blues Houston, Texas

Nov 6 2009 The Hard Rock Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Nov 13 2009 Private Athens, Georgia

Nov 14 2009 Cannery Ballroom Nashville, Tennessee

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