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King of Pop Michael Jackson dies, aged 50

Los Angeles, June 26, 2009

Michael Jackson, the child star turned King of Pop who set the world dancing but whose musical genius was overshadowed by a bizarre lifestyle and sex scandals, died on Thursday. He was 50.

 Jackson was pronounced dead at 2:26 pm PDT (2126 GMT) after arriving at a Los Angeles hospital in full cardiac arrest, said Fred Corral of the Los Angeles County Coroner's office. The cause of death was not known and an autopsy would likely take place on Friday, he said.

Jackson was taken ill at home and his personal physician tried to resuscitate him but could not, his brother Jermaine told reporters. He was taken by paramedics to the hospital, where doctors worked for more than an hour to try to revive him before pronouncing him dead, the brother said.

Late Thursday, his body was flown by helicopter from the hospital to the coroner's office.

The self-styled ``King of Pop,'' whose hits included ''Thriller'' and ``Billie Jean,'' leaves behind a mountain of debt and an unfulfilled series of comeback concerts set for London in July. Many hoped the shows would rake in millions and erase his financial troubles.

Jackson's dramatic, one-gloved stage presence and innovative dance moves were imitated by legions of fans around the world who mourned his death.

His lifetime record sales tally was believed to be around 750 million. With his 13 Grammy Awards and boundary-breaking music videos he was one of the most successful entertainers of all time.

But Jackson's belief that ``I am Peter Pan in my heart,'' his preference for the company of children, his friendship with a chimp, his high-pitched voice and numerous plastic surgeries also earned him critics and the nickname ``Wacko Jacko.''    

Jackson led a reclusive life after his acquittal in 2005 on charges of child molestation, the second time he had faced ultimately unproved allegations of abuse of young boys.

``I am absolutely devastated at this tragic and unexpected news,'' said Quincy Jones, who helped arrange the music on the album ``Thriller'' and produced the ``Off the Wall'' album, said in a statement.

Celebrity tributes poured in for the singer who was one of the first black entertainers of the MTV generation to gain a big crossover following.

Pop star Madonna said: ``I can't stop crying over the sad news ... I have always admired Michael Jackson. The world has lost one of the greats but his music will live on forever.''        

Detectives from the Los Angeles Police Department's Robbery Homicide division searched Jackson's home in the Holmby Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles, saying they had been directed to do so by Chief William Bratton because of the media frenzy.

Police called the investigation an ``every day'' event and said they were assigned due to the high profile nature of it.

But Jackson was plagued by ill health throughout his adult years leading to speculation about his condition when he died.

As Jackson grew older he appeared to lighten his skin to a pale white -- which he said was caused by the skin pigmentation condition vitiligo. Last year he was photographed in Las Vegas in a wheelchair for reasons that were never explained.

Yet, even as he seemed to be sick, Jackson planned the series of comeback concerts in London starting July 13 to help erase debts that the Wall Street Journal reported ran to $500 million, citing people familiar with Jackson's finances.

He had been rehearsing for the past two months, including Wednesday night at Los Angeles' huge Staples Center arena.

Brian Oxman, a spokesman for the Jackson family, told CNN that the family had been concerned about the pop star's health and had tried in vain to take care of him for months.

``Michael appeared at rehearsals a couple of times, he was very seriously trying to be able to do those rehearsal


Tags: Michael Jackson | Pop |

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