Friday, 26 June 2009

Michael Jackson dies

Michael Jackson: talented, troubled voice of pop

Michael Jackson
Jackson was one of the most innovative songwriters of his era

Pop star Michael Jackson, whose life and career were the stuff of both popular music record books and tabloid television, died Thursday afternoon at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center after being rushed by ambulance from his rented Holmby Hills home. He was 50.

Paramedics responded to a call at about 12:30 p.m. and tried to resuscitate Jackson at his home for almost 45 minutes, then rushed him to the hospital, where doctors continued to work on him.

"It is believed he suffered cardiac arrest in his home. However, the cause of his death is unknown until results of the autopsy are known," his brother Jermaine said.

Police said they were investigating, standard procedure in high-profile cases.

Fans began to gather outside the hospital soon after the news broke on the Web site and then in other media outlets. TMZ first quoted Mr. Jackson's father, Joseph, as saying his son was not doing very well. Shortly thereafter, Mr. Jackson's death was confirmed by the family. As the day wore on, the throng of fans outside the hospital grew.

The death of Michael Jackson brought a tragic end to a long, turbulent and often bizarre career, marked by legal and financial problems, charges of child molestation and failed comeback attempts. At times, it seemed as though everything Mr. Jackson did became fodder for the media, from his marriage to Lisa Marie Presley, to the photograph of him dangling one of his children over a balcony, to his plastic surgeries.

Born in Gary, Ind., on Aug. 29, 1958, the seventh of nine children, all of whom were famously pushed into performing by Joseph Jackson, a steel mill worker.

Once the Jackson 5 was launched, Michael Jackson became an immediate sensation. The group included older brothers Jermaine, Jackie, Tito and Marlon, but young Michael was the star. After the group racked up hits such as "I Want You Back" and "ABC," Mr. Jackson eventually moved off on his own, building a career that peaked with the release of "Thriller" in 1982. That album still holds the title of the best-selling album of all time, with 28 million copies sold in the United States and 50 million worldwide.

Mr. Jackson was often credited with breaking the race barrier on MTV with his innovative videos for the singles "Billie Jean" and "Beat It." When "Thriller" earned him a record-breaking eight Grammy Awards, Mr. Jackson appeared at the ceremony wearing his signature white sequined glove and with Elizabeth Taylor as his date.

But as time passed, he became an increasingly freakish and sometimes reclusive figure. His skin became lighter, his nose narrower and smaller, and he often appeared in public in heavy makeup or hiding his face behind scarves. He surrounded himself with children at his opulent Neverland ranch and kept a chimpanzee named Bubbles as a companion.

In 2005, he was found not guilty on charges he had molested a 13-year-old boy at Neverland two years earlier. The trial, like so much of Mr. Jackson's public life, was a media circus.

His financial struggles necessitated the near-sale of Neverland and much of his personal memorabilia.

Mr. Jackson was scheduled to perform an unprecedented 50 shows in London, his first public performances in eight years. The first was set for July 13, and he was in rehearsal in Los Angeles for the concerts.

The London concerts, for which 750,000 tickets had been sold, were planned as a way to reverse his fortunes. Press reports said the singer hoped the concerts would serve as a trial run for a lengthy world tour, new album, Michael Jackson museum and Las Vegas stage show, as well as helping to erase his huge financial problems.

Mr. Jackson, however, had publicly protested that he was not physically ready for the shows and the opening dates had already been pushed back.

Earlier this month, Mr. Jackson reportedly told a group of fans outside his Burbank rehearsal studio, "I'm really angry with them booking me up to do 50 shows. I only wanted to do 10, and take the tour around the world to other cities, not 50 in one place. I went to bed knowing I sold 10 dates and woke up with the news I was booked to do 50."

Funeral arrangements have not been announced.

The King of Pop

1958: Michael Joseph Jackson is born Aug. 29 in Gary, Ind. He is the seventh of nine children.

1966: His father, Joseph Jackson, a steel mill worker and guitar player, organizes the Jackson 5. The group comprises Michael and brothers Jackie, Tito, Jermaine and Marlon.

1969: The Jackson 5 signs with Motown and scores its first hit a year later with "I Want You Back."

1972: Michael Jackson releases his first solo album after recording 14 albums with the group. His first hit is "Ben," a song about a rat from the cult film "Willard."

1976: The band leaves Motown for Epic Records, changes its name to The Jacksons.

1978: Jackson makes his film debut as the Scarecrow in "The Wiz."

1979: Releases "Off The Wall." Produced by Quincy Jones, the album heralds his arrival as an adult star.

1982: "Thriller" is released.

1983: Jackson debuts his signature "moonwalk" during a Motown television special.

1984: He reunites with his brothers in the Jacksons. Hair catches fire during the filming of a Pepsi commercial. Co-writes the charity anthem "We Are the World."

1986: Stars in the 3-D Disney park film "Captain EO," directed by Francis Ford Coppola and produced by George Lucas.

1987: Releases "Bad." Also attempts to buy the bones of the so-called Elephant Man, John Merrick.

1988: Jackson puts out his autobiography, "Moonwalk." Has surgery to add cleft to chin. Moves into Neverland Ranch in the Santa Ynez Valley (Santa Barbara County).

1991: "Dangerous" released on a new recording contract with Sony. The album sells 7 million copies.

1992: Named "highest paid entertainer" by the Guinness Book of World Records.

1993: He appears on "Oprah," claiming he suffers from vitiligo, a condition that makes his skin lighter. A lawsuit claims he molested a 13-year-old boy at Neverland, but the victim refuses to testify so no criminal charges are filed. Jackson cancels his world tour and announces he is addicted to painkillers.

1994: The molestation lawsuit is settled out of court. Jackson secretly marries Lisa Marie Presley, the only child of Elvis Presley.

1996: Presley and Jackson divorce. The singer marries nurse Debbie Rowe, who is already pregnant.

1997: Rowe gives birth to a boy, Michael Joseph Jackson Jr., also known as Paris Michael I. The Jackson 5 are inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

1998: Rowe gives birth to a girl, Paris Michael Katherine Jackson.

1999: Rowe and Jackson are divorced.

2001: Jackson releases "Invincible," which sells 2.1 million copies. He is inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a solo artist.

2002: Accusing Sony Chairman Tommy Mottola of racism, Jackson tries to leave the label. His third child, Prince Michael Jackson II, a.k.a. "Blanket," is born to a surrogate mother. Jackson later dangles him from a fourth-floor Berlin hotel balcony.

2003: Jackson admits having sleepovers with young boys on the television documentary "Living With Michael Jackson." He is arrested on child molestation charges by the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department, facing 20 years in prison.

2004: Jackson pleads not guilty on the molestation charges.

2005: Acquitted of all charges, Jackson moves to Bahrain.

2008: Promoters announce plans for 50 Jackson concerts at London's O2 Arena, which sell out instantly.

2009: Jackson dies on June 25.

BBC News - Chicago Tribune - Newsday - TIME

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