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Michael Jackson, the charismatic musician who came to be known as The "King of Pop,' has died at the age of 50. More
Michael's brother Jermaine, during a brief statement at the hospital, said the following: "My brother, the legendary King of Pop Michael Jackson, passed away on Thursday, June 25 at 2:26 pm. It is believed he suffered cardiac arrest in his home. However, the cause of his death is unknown until results of an autopsy are known. His personal p hysician who was with him at the time attempted to resuscitate my brother, as did the the paramedics transported him to Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. Upon arriving at the hospital at approximately 1:14pm, a team of doctors including emergency physicians and cardiologists attempted to resuscitate him for a period of more than one hour, and were unsuccessful. My family requests that the media please respect our privacy during this tough time, and may all love be with you, Michael, always."
TMZ was the first to report the news. According to reports, the pop legend suffered a cardiac arrest this afternoon and medics were unable to revive him. A TMZ source said Jackson was dead when paramedics arrived, while the Times says he was in a deep coma upon arrival.
The 50-year-old singer was picked up this afternoon at his rented home in Bel Air around 12:26 p.m. where medics had to administer CPR before transporting him to UCLA hospital.
Capt. Steve Ruda of the Los Angeles Fire Dept. told the LA Times that Jackson was not breathing when help arrived at the house, which is about a two minute drive from the hospital.
Earlier, a Jackson family member told TMZ Michael is in "really bad shape." Joseph Jackson, the patriarch of the musical clan, also told media outlets his son was "not doing well."
A report in Britain's The Sun newspaper, citing a UCLA Medical Center source, claims that Jackson received an injection of Demerol -- a drug similar to morphine -- shortly before the incident and began breathing very shallow shortly after. A photo of a police 911 computer purportedly from a call related to Jackson says the subject was "not breathing at all."
The 'Thriller' superstar has long been addled by health problems and has had addictions to painkillers in the past.
Jackson had three children, Michael Jr., Paris and Prince.
This year, Jackson mounted an effort to revive his career after several setbacks in the past decade. He announced he would perform 50 concerts at London's O2 Arena. Those sold out concerts were set to begin on July 13.
Jackson had been rehearsing in the Los Angeles area for the London shows.
His 1982 album "Thriller" - which included the blockbuster hits "Beat It," "Billie Jean" and "Thriller" - is the best-selling album of all time, with an estimated 50 million copies sold worldwide.
The public first knew him in the late 1960s, when as a boy he was the precocious, spinning lead singer of the Jackson 5, the music group he formed with his four older brothers. Among their No. 1 hits were "I Want You Back," "ABC," and "I'll Be There."
He was perhaps the most exciting performer of his generation, known for his feverish, crotch-grabbing dance moves and his high-pitched voice punctuated with squeals and titters. His single sequined glove, tight, military-style jacket and aviator sunglasses were trademarks second only to his ever-changing, surgically altered appearance.
"For Michael to be taken away from us so suddenly at such a young age, I just don't have the words," said Quincy Jones, who produced "Thriller." "He was the consummate entertainer and his contributions and legacy will be felt upon the world forever. I've lost my little brother today, and part of my soul has gone with him."
Talking exclusively with, Smokey Robinson reflected on the loss, saying "it's always hard to lose a friend."
Jackson ranked alongside Elvis Presley and the Beatles as the biggest pop sensations of all time. He united two of music's biggest names when he was briefly married to Presley's daughter, Lisa Marie, and Jackson's death immediately evoked that of Presley himself, who died at age 42 in 1977.
As years went by, Jackson became an increasingly freakish figure - a middle-aged man-child weirdly out of touch with grown-up life. His skin became lighter, his nose narrower, and he spoke in a breathy, girlish voice. 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.
"It seemed to me that his internal essence was at war with the norms of the world. It's as if he was trying to defy gravity," said Michael Levine, a Hollywood publicist who represented Jackson in the early 1990s. He called Jackson a "disciple of P.T. Barnum" and said the star appeared fragile at the time but was "much more cunning and shrewd about the industry than anyone knew."
Jackson caused a furor in 2002 when he playfully dangled his infant son, Prince Michael II, over a hotel balcony in Berlin while a throng of fans watched from below.
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, and of engaging in strange and inappropriate behavior with other children.
The case followed years of rumors about Jackson and young boys. In a TV documentary, he had acknowledged sharing his bed with children, a practice he described as sweet and not at all sexual.
Despite the acquittal, the lurid allegations that came out in court took a fearsome toll on his career and image, and he fell into serious financial trouble.
Jackson was preparing for what was to be his greatest comeback: He was scheduled for an unprecedented 50 shows at a London arena, with the first set for July 13. He was in rehearsals in Los Angeles for the concert, an extravaganza that was to capture the classic Jackson magic: showstopping dance moves, elaborate staging and throbbing dance beats.
Singer Dionne Warwick said: "Michael was a friend and undoubtedly one of the world's greatest entertainers that I fortunately had the pleasure of working with. ... We have lost an icon in our industry."
2009 AOL LLC. All Rights Reserved. // Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. // Copyright 2009, Reuters
2009-06-25 16:44:39


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