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Friday, June 26, 2009

Michael Jackson dead at age 50


 

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Michael Jackson, the child star turned King of Pop who set the world dancing to exuberant rhythms for decades, died on Thursday. He was 50.

"Pop star Michael Jackson was pronounced dead by doctors this afternoon after arriving at a hospital in a deep coma, city and law enforcement sources told The Los Angeles Times," the newspaper reported on its website.

Jackson had been taken ill at his home and found not breathing by paramedics who rushed him to a hospital, the paper said.

The paper's report followed news of Jackson's death first reported by the TMZ entertainment website, which said that the singer suffered a cardiac arrest. There was no immediate comment from spokespersons for Jackson.

Known as the "King of Pop," for hits that included "Thriller" and "Billie Jean," Jackson's dramatic stage presence and innovative dance moves were imitated by legions of fans around the world.

His one-gloved eccentric style also earned him plenty of critics and another nickname, "Wacko Jacko."

Jackson, who had lived as a virtual recluse since his acquittal in 2005 on charges of child molestation, had been scheduled to launch a comeback tour from London next month.

TMZ said on its website that Jackson suffered a cardiac arrest on Thursday afternoon at his Holmby Hills home and paramedics were unable to revive him. "We're told when paramedics arrived Jackson had no pulse and they never got a pulse back," the site said.

Earlier, the Los Angeles Times said the singer had been rushed to a Los Angeles-area hospital by fire department paramedics. The newspaper said paramedics performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation at the singer's home before taking him to the UCLA Medical Center hospital.

COMEBACK CONCERTS


Jackson had been due to start a series of concerts in London on July 13 running until March 2010. The singer had been rehearsing in the Los Angeles area for the past two months.

The shows for the 50 London concerts sold out within minutes of going on sale in March.

His lifetime record sales tally is believed to be around 750 million, which, added to the 13 Grammy Awards he received, makes him one of the most successful entertainers of all time.

There were concerns about Jackson's health in recent years but the promoters of the London shows, AEG Live, said in March that Jackson had passed a 4-1/2 hour physical examination with independent doctors.

New Yorkers and tourists in the city's Times Square were shocked at the news of Jackson's death.

"I don't know what to say. It's sad, it's really, really sad," said Nicole Smith, an 18-year-old student from Brooklyn, New York, in Times Square. "My mother was a fan. I listened to his music."

"I'm shocked. I thought someone was lying to me when I first heard it. I was a fan from when he was a little boy and then he got weird," said Sue Sheider, 51, a teacher from Long Island.

CHILD STAR TO MEGASTAR


Jackson was born on August 29, 1958, in Gary, Indiana, the seventh of nine children. Five Jackson boys -- Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, Marlon and Michael -- first performed together at a talent show when Michael was 6. They walked off with first prize and went on to become a best-selling band, The Jackson Five, and then The Jackson 5.

Jackson made his first solo album in 1972, and released "Thriller" in 1982, which became a smash hit that yielded seven top-10 singles. The album sold 21 million copies in the United States and at least 27 million worldwide.

The next year, he unveiled his signature "moonwalk" dance move while performing "Billie Jean" during an NBC special.

In 1994, Jackson married Elvis Presley's only child, Lisa Marie, but the marriage ended in divorce in 1996. Jackson married Debbie Rowe the same year and had two children, before splitting in 1999. The couple never lived together.

Jackson has three children named Prince Michael I, Paris Michael and Prince Michael II, known for his brief public appearance when his father held him over the railing of a hotel balcony, causing widespread criticism.

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