Michael Jackson has died, aged 50. Paramedics were called to the singer's Beverly Hills home at midday on Thursday (June 25) after he stopped breathing. He was pronounced dead two hours later at the UCLA medical centre.
It is thought the singer died of a heart attack, possibly brought on by his high intake of painkillers - although images were later released of the singer looking fit and healthy while rehearsing for his planned comeback live residency at London's O2.
A team of doctors tried to resuscitate Jackson for more than an hour before he was declared dead at 2.26pm. Tributes from the music world immediately flooded in. At Glastonbury, Emily Eavis promised a weekend of tributes to the pop star.
Musicians have rushed to pay tribute to Michael Jackson. Britney Spears said, "He was a wonderful man and will be greatly missed." The rapper Ludacris said, "His music and legacy will live on forever".
Hundreds of fans converged on the Los Angeles hospital where Michael Jackson died. Tearful crowds lined the streets near the UCLA Medical Center, where the self-styled King Of Pop was pronounced dead on June 25.
Jackson first found fame with his brothers in the Jackson 5, scoring a string of hits in the late 1960s/early 1970s, including 'ABC', 'The Love You Save' and 'I Want You Back'.
The star’s fame continued throughout the 1970s, but he broke off from his siblings to make the 'Off The Wall' album with producer Quincy Jones in 1979, a partnership which also resulted in 1982’s 'Thriller' album, a record which remains the biggest selling album of all time.
Jackson's big comeback was planned for this summer, when he was scheduled to play 50 nights at the UK capital’s 02 Arena, kicking off on July 13.
London's O2 Arena have told fans they can expect news soon regarding the ticketing situation following Jackson's death. The singer was due to perform 50 dates at the venue, kicking off on July 13 and going on well into 2010.
British culture minister Ben Bradshaw MP was one of many public figures to pay tribute to the singer. He said: "Michael Jackson was a superb artist who inspired and brought joy to millions around the world."
As the world waits on the autopsy results, there is mounting speculation that Michael Jackson's long-term use of painkillers could have been a factor in his death.
Michael Jackson's brother Jermaine gave the following statement: "My brother, the legendary King of Pop, passed away on Thursday 25 June
at 2.26pm. We believe he suffered a cardiac arrest at his
home, however the cause of his death is unknown until the results of
the autopsy are known."
Reports in 'The Sun' suggested that Jackson may have taken a fatal overdose of the painkiller Demerol, to which he had become addicted during his 2005 trial for child abuse.
Brian Oxman, a Jackson family lawyer, gave weight to these speculations when he said: "This is not something that has been unexpected… because of the
medications which Michael was under. I do not know
the extent of the medications that he was taking but the reports we had
been receiving in the family is that they were extensive."
The timing of Jackson's death was particularly cruel since he seemed on the verge of a genuine career rehabilitation after many years of bad press. His planned London O2 Arena residency sold one million tickets in just a few hours.
Question marks were raised over Jackson's health when a batch of his London O2 dates were rescheduled - although at the time, the promoters AEG insisted that the delay was purely logistical, and had "absolutely nothing" to do with Jackson's health.
Quincy Jones, who produced 'Thriller', gave a heartfelt tribute to Jackson. "He was the consummate entertainer and his contributions and legacy will
be felt upon the world forever," said Jones. "I've lost my little brother today, and
part of my soul has gone with him."
Before announcing his live comeback earlier this year, Michael Jackson was facing financial ruin. Enormously in debt, he had been forced to give up his sprawling Neverland ranch.
In recent years Michael Jackson cut an increasingly eccentric figure. Often seen wearing a mask, in 2002 he was seen dangling his son Prince Michael II from
the balcony of a hotel room.
Justin Timberlake was among the performers who rushed to praise Michael Jackson in the wake of his death: "I can’t find the words right now to express how deeply saddened I am by
Michael’s passing," said Timberlake. "We have lost a genius and a true ambassador of not
only pop music but of all music."
Former Soundgarden vocalist Chris Cornell, who recently covered 'Billie Jean', had this to say about Michael Jackson: "I hope that the media will be kind and celebrate the genius instead of
cashing in on the tabloid angles that made him a prisoner. I think he
Michael Jackson - born August 29, 1958. Died June 25, 2009.