Dressed in a white jacket with gold braid and red pants, Jackson's hologram - along with backup dancers - sang and performed all his best-known dance moves on stage, including his signature moonwalk. Spectators in the audience clapped and cheered, and one woman could be seen wiping away tears.
Forever the #KingOfPop #BBMAs
- BillboardMusicAwards (@OfficialBBMAs)
Social media was set ablaze. Some people appreciated seeing their idol again, even in this form, but others found it unsettling.
Here was some of the reaction on Twitter:
IM CRIYNG #BBMAs #MJXSCAPE
- Regina Rivera (@_ilovenayar)
I'm crying. Michael lives on. #kingofpop #BBMAs
- Samantha Berdoff (@berddistheword)
Am I the only one that's creeped out by this @michaeljackson video performance? #BBMAs #kingofpop
- Katie McMinn (@KatieCheyanne12)
This doesn't feel right. #BBMAs #MichaelJackson
- ShwetaSays (@shwetajacob)
On Facebook, many strong opinions were expressed soon after the performance.
"It's kind of creepy. I didn't like it. I thought it was bad way to honor him, " one poster wrote.
Wrote another: "That was way too realistic. I mean to the point where it was almost like he was always alive and was in hiding."
Added another: "amazing…but really really creepy. i wonder how his kids felt about that"
The hologram's appearance had been in some doubt. The owners of the technology - which was also used to bring slain rapper Tupac Shakur back to digital life for a 2012 performance at the Coachella music festival - had sought to block tonight's performance based on alleged potential patent violations, but on Friday a judge denied the request and ruled that the awards could use Jackson's hologram.