Friday, June 26, 2009

**King of Pop Michael Jackson is dead - LA Times

U.S. pop star Michael Jackson speaks during a news conference at the O2 Arena in London March 5, 2009. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth
By Bob Tourtellotte

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Pop giant Michael Jackson, who took to the stage as a child star and set the world dancing to exuberant rhythms for decades, died on Thursday after being taken ill at his home, the Los Angeles Times said.

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 Times," the newspaper reported on its website.

The paper's report followed news of Jackson's death first reported by the TMZ entertainment website.

There was no immediate comment from spokespersons for Jackson, who was known as the "King of Pop," for hit albums that included "Thriller" and "Billie Jean."

He had been scheduled to launch a comeback tour from London next month.

TMZ said on its website that "Michael suffered a cardiac arrest earlier this 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."

Earlier, the Los Angeles Times said the singer had been rushed to a Los Angeles-area hospital by fire department paramedics who found him not breathing when they arrived at the singer's home.

The newspaper said paramedics performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation at the scene before taking him to the UCLA Medical Center hospital.


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.

He lived as a virtual recluse since his acquittal in 2005 on charges of child molestation.

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.


Jackson was born on Aug. 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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