WESTMINSTER — If collecting star memorabilia is a measure of a fan's devotion, David Manley could be among the most loyal Michael Jackson devotees in the world.
Collecting everything from records to bed sheets, the 22-year-old is undoubtedly the pop singer's greatest fan in Carroll County. He has been faithfully following Jackson's rise to super-stardomfor nearly a decade.
Last month, Manley attended an awards ceremony honoring Jackson'smusical achievements and generosity.
Manley was among the 900 people from the media and recording industry who looked on while Jacksonreceived a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Association of Black-Owned Broadcasters.
"It was really exciting and it was nice to see that the industry people and broadcasters were just normal people," Manley said. "I saw Muhammad Ali, Stevie Wonder, Spike Lee and the Rev. Jesse Jackson. They were all there to watch Michael receive his award."
Manley, who writes for "Buckles and Belts," a quarterly newsletter published by the Michael Jackson Observer Fan Club out of Denver, received a press pass to attend the event.
He has attended numerous Jackson concerts over the past nine years, but he saidthis particular event was extra special.
Manley's devotion to Jackson began when the singer's "Thriller" album hit the airwaves and gained immediate fan approval.
"I listened to it on the radio and I found I really liked his style," Manley recalled. "I went out and bought the album. After that I started buying his early albums and I have been a fan ever since."
At age 13, Manley began building a collection of Michael Jackson items -- not only records but newspaper clippings, T-shirts, tour jackets, press kits, posters and Jackson's lineof stuffed animals and perfume.
His extensive Jackson memorabiliacollection includes two lifelike stand-ups of the multi-talented performer.
"These are one of my favorite things to collect," Manley said of the stand-ups. "They are usually sent out as promotional itemsto record stores and I try to get them when I can."
Thus far, Manley estimates he has spent between $3,000 and $5,000 for his extensive collection.
Having moved to Westminster from New York in 1989, Manley now displays some of his collection in an office area of the three-bedroom town house he shares with two other roommates.
"My office area is wall-to-wall Michael Jackson," he said. "I have many things packed in boxes, because I didn't think my two roommates would appreciate Michael Jackson collectibles all over the place."
Manley, a teller at a Westminster branch of Westminster Bank & Trust, said hefinds most of his Jackson items through other fans and collector magazines.
Since joining the Observer Fan Club less than two years ago, Manley has had the opportunity to connect with Jackson collectors from all over the world.
"Right now, I am in the process of getting some Michael Jackson bed sheets from a woman in Germany," he said. "I am not sure when I will get them, but she is going to see what shecan do."
Manley also has had contact with Jackson fans in London,Japan, Holland and Italy.
"I try to keep in contact with most people by writing letters, but there are times when I do have to use thephone," he said.
Manly said there are those "must have" items that perpetuate the art of collecting and keep it interesting.
"I am always in pursuit of the ultimate Michael Jackson collectible," he said. "Right now I am interested in finding the 'Moonwalker' video arcade game which was put out by Sega in 1989. It costs about $3,000. I can get it used for $1,800, if available, but I would prefer to buy itnew."
While collecting Jackson memorabilia and being an active member of the Observer Fan Club, Manley finds time to enjoy other artists and interests.
"I have a varied taste in music. I like some newwave artists and Top 40," Manley said. "As far as other favorite artists, Michael is No. 1. No one interests me as much as Michael."
Lately, he is finding that photography is yet another art form he enjoys. Eventually, he hopes to be able to use it to bring him one step closer to the stars.
"Right now, I am getting into photography and would like to go out and take pictures of Michael and other stars," Manley said.