"King of Pop" Michael Jackson is dead at age 50

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Click and listen to the 911 call placed by someone inside the Jackson home when he collapsed on yesterday.

LOS ANGELES – Michael Jackson, the sensationally gifted “King of Pop” who emerged from childhood superstardom to become the entertainment world’s most influential singer and dancer before his life and career deteriorated in a freakish series of scandals, died Thursday, a person with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press. He was 50.

The person said Jackson died in a Los Angeles hospital. The person was not authorized to speak publicly and requested anonymity.

The circumstances of his death were not immediately clear. Jackson was not breathing when Los Angeles Fire Department paramedics responded to a call at his Los Angeles home about 12:30 p.m., Capt. Steve Ruda told the Los Angeles Times. The paramedics performed CPR and took him to UCLA Medical Center, Ruda told the newspaper.url

Jackson’s death brought a tragic end to a long, bizarre, sometimes farcical decline from his peak in the 1980s, when he was popular music’s premier all-around performer, a uniter of black and white music who shattered the race barrier on MTV, dominated the charts and dazzled even more on stage.

His 1982 album “Thriller” — which included the blockbuster hits “Beat It,” “Billie Jean” and “Thriller” — remains the biggest-selling album of all time, with more than 26 million copies.

He was perhaps the most exciting performer of his generation, known for his feverish, crotch-grabbing dance moves, his high-pitched voice punctuated with squeals and titters. His single sequined glove and tight, military-style jacket were trademarks second only to his ever-changing, surgically altered appearance.

As years went by, he became an increasingly freakish figure. His skin became lighter and his nose narrower. He surrounded himself with children at his Neverland ranch, often wore a germ mask while traveling and kept a pet chimpanzee named Bubbles as one of his closest companions.

In 2005, he was cleared of charges he molested a 13-year-old cancer survivor at Neverland in 2003. He had been accused of plying the boy with alcohol and groping him. The case took a fearsome toll on his career and image, and he fell into serious financial trouble.

Hundreds of people gathered outside the hospital as word of his death spread. The emergency entrance at the UCLA Medical Center, which is near Jackson’s rented home, was roped off with police tape.

In New York’s Times Square, a low groan went up in the crowd when a screen flashed that Jackson had died, and people began relaying the news to friends by cell phone.

“No joke. King of Pop is no more. Wow,” Michael Harris, 36, of New York City, read from a text message a friend sent to his telephone. “It’s like when Kennedy was assassinated. I will always remember being in Times Square when Michael Jackson died.”


10 COMMENTS

  1. Indeed this was a day that we will never forget. Michael demenstrated a commitment to his talent which was given by God. God really blessed him and he indeed cared about Mankind. Love was his banner. There will be no other like Michael and I will remember all the positive aspects of him. He cared for those who had nothing. He wanted to change the world to make a better place for you and for me. Heal the world we live in and to save it for our Children. RIP MJ 1958-2009

  2. Michael Jackson was the biggest and brightest star of our time ,this cam as a shock to me yesterday when I got home MJ was one of the persons that we all grew up with I shed a few tears ladt evening as I watched the news cast looking back at his life……..Rest in Peace MJ

  3. Micheal Jackson is the only figure the world over who is known by the youngest to the oldest. After the announcement of his death even the very young, did not have to ask, who is Micheal Jackson!

    Sleep on, until Jesus returns!

  4. Michael was my first Black Hero. He broke barriers. He cared for the World. His love was genuine. He was a Legend. Despite what negativity people ran on with, I always defended him. His music and entertainment will never be forgotten. May Sweet Jesus have mercy on Him

  5. OS ANGELES, CA, Fri. June 26, 2009: Before there was Barack Obama, there was Michael Joseph Jackson, sailing across color lines and building an unprecedented fan base in every country around the globe, whether the people there were `black or white.` And the Caribbean fan base was no exception. Yesterday, many cried openly or expressed stunned disbelief that the great M.J. had suddenly passed on.

    `I cried today because Michael Jackson was a Father that we all lost!,` exclaimed Haitian singer Wyclef Jean in a tweet. `He lives forever in my heart. I will never forget the day he came to see me in the studio and I played him music. RIP to Michael Jackson my music God.`

    `It really hurts. I am saddened,` Jamaican-born reggae music journalist and commentator, Sharon Gordon told CaribWorldNews last night.

    `It is really shocking,` added mas costume creator, Trinidadian Rheba Escalera.

    `I feel terrible about it. He was my icon too,` exclaimed Barbadian-born Aubrey Campbell of CaribVoiceRadio.

    `I am still trying to take it in,` added music writer Stan Smith.

    On Facebook, Youtube and on Twitter among other social networking sites, fans rushed to also weigh in and voice the sadness that erupted from within. `At least he`ll finally be at peace,` one fan wrote below his YouTube video, `Scream,` which as of last night had topped six million views.

    On Twitter, there were jams in postings, with some 5,000 tpm (tweets per minute) as news circulated that the King of Pop had died at the UCLA hospital in Los Angeles yesterday afternoon after being rushed there by paramedics responding to a call from his home at about 12:30 p.m. LA time.

    Outside the hospital and in New York, outside the Apollo Theater, fans flocked to play his music, sing his songs and celebrate his life.

    `It is the tragedy to the ET industry in general. He has laid the foundation for many of the industry now,` added Campbell.

    Gordon agreed but said the tragic death of the superstar entertainer should be viewed `as a wakeup call.`

    `We all should look at our lives and how we`re living,` she warned.

    Jackson was just 50 and would have turned 51 on August 29th. He began in the music business at age five with his four brothers as the Jackson Five. Managed by their father Joe Jackson, a crane operator, the young group quickly rose to fame. Michael at age 11 made his debut on national television and the world fell in love with him.

    The group`s first four singles — `I Want You Back,` `ABC,` `The Love You Save` and `I`ll Be There` — went to No. 1 on the Billboard pop chart, the first time any group had pulled off that feat. There was even a Jackson 5 cartoon series on ABC. He launched his solo career in 1972 while still a member of the group and hit No. 1 as a solo artist with the song `Ben.`

    In the early 1980s, he became a dominant figure in popular music and the first African-American entertainer to amass a strong crossover following on MTV.

    The popularity of his music videos airing on MTV, such as `Beat It,` `Billie Jean` and Thriller, credited with transforming the music video into an art form and a promotional tool, helped bring the relatively new channel to fame. Interestingly, reports indicate that the bosses of the channel had to be persuaded to play the video, a move on their part that created history and helped Jackson to crash through the racial barriers.

    `Michael Jackson made culture accept a person of color,` the Rev. Al Sharpton said in a statement Thursday. `To say an `icon` would only give these young people in Harlem a fraction of what he was. He was a historic figure that people will measure music and the industry by.`

    Videos such as `Black or White` and `Scream` made Jackson an enduring staple on MTV in the 1990s. `Black and White` sent a clear message of unity of races while his `Heal The World` hit also focused on just that.

    With stage performances and music videos, Jackson popularized a number of physically complicated dance techniques, such as the robot and the moonwalk. His distinctive musical sound and vocal style influenced many hip hop, pop and contemporary R&B artists.

    He is one of the few artists to have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice, his other achievements include multiple Guinness World Records, including one for `Most Successful Entertainer of All Time` and 13 Grammy Awards, 13 number one singles in his solo career, more than any other male artist in the Hot 100 era, and the sales of over 750 million albums worldwide.

    Jackson has been cited as one of the world`s most famous men. Jackson`s highly publicized personal life, coupled with his successful career, made him a part of popular culture for almost four decades.

    His career was sadly marked by some bizarre and personal woes. In 1994 Jackson married Lisa Marie Presley, daughter of Elvis but they split less than two years later.

    He later married Australian Debbie Rowe and they had two children, Prince, 12 and Paris, 11. A third child, Prince Michael II, was reportedly born with the help of an anonymous surrogate mother.
    In 1993, he was first accused of child molestation but later settled the case and no criminal charges were filed. However, in 2005 he was charged with child molestation and had to endure a trial. He was acquitted in 2005.

    Jackson subsequently moved out of the U.S. to Bahrain but reports surfaced that Jackson had faced serious financial problems in recent years as sales wilted. He faced certain foreclosure on Neverland until he managed to refinance the mortgage on the 270-acre spread.

    In recent months, he moved back to a LA home where he was preparing for his 50 sold-out concerts that were planned for London later this summer. Seventy-five thousand tickets sold in four hours when they went on sale in March.

    The cause of his death yesterday was unknown at press time but an autopsy report is expected today. But Jackson family lawyer, Brian Oxman, confirmed to CNN that Jackson may have had trouble with prescription drugs as he prepared for his London show.

    `This was something which I feared and something which I warned about,` Oxman said on CNN. `I can tell you for sure that this is something I warned about. Where there is smoke there is fire.`

  6. Well with the swiftness of this year passing so quickly it is with regret that I have learnt of the death of Michael jackson.Having grown up on his music and being able to use it along with the accomplishmemnts of Mohammed Ali and others the lopsided mountain of the 60s was easily trekked.It was always so nice to know that even though we were poor at least a young black boy and his brothers in America made it possible to hope.Thank you Jackson Five for being there for me and so many other Bahamians who had to use radio and television that was seldom clear to dream of what could be and what became.

  7. Today was a good day for me, until I learned about Michael Jackson’s faith; I have not been able to digest the news yet. He was the ultimate entertainer and through his music he touched so many hearts. I am sure he will never be forgotten, because he was loved by so many people. Michael, through your talent you definitely made the world a better place. May you rest in peace.

  8. The Beatles is the only entertainment group that came near to MJ status. MJ was a freaking global phenom. His 50 concerts that was to start next month all sold out in a matter of hours.

    His controversies hurt him in the US, but around the world he was still loved. The only person who i could think off who was on MJ level globally is Muhammod Ali and if Obama keeps his nose clean, he will be there too one day.

  9. The world’s greatest entertainer ever.HE WROTE AND SANG THE SONGS THAT MADE THE WHOLE WORLD SMILE AND DANCED TO.His gifts were loaned to help the poor and oppressed in Africa during the famine of 1984.MAY HIS SOUL REST IN THE PEACEFUL HANDS OF GOD.IN THE WORDS OF THE CAT ISLAND NEGRO SPIRITUAL,”I LOVE YOU BUT JESUS LOVE YOU BEST,I BID YOU GOOD NIGHT.”

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