Michael Jackson died after suffering a
cardiac arrest, sending shockwaves sweeping across the world and tributes
pouring in for the tortured music icon revered as the "King of Pop."
Jackson, 50, collapsed at his rented
mansion in the exclusive Los Angeles neighborhood of Holmby Hills and was
rushed to hospital by paramedics before being pronounced dead at 2:26 pm (2126
One of the most influential figures in pop
history whose four-decade career included the highest-selling album of
all-time, "Thriller," Jackson had been preparing for a concert
comeback in London next month he had dubbed "the final curtain."
News of the death triggered an outpouring
of grief as shocked celebrities, foreign governments and devoted fans paid
tribute to the troubled star who struggled to rebuild his career after a 2005
acquittal for child abuse.
Lieutenant Fred Corral, a spokesman for the
Los Angeles County Coroner's office, said an autopsy would likely be carried
out on Friday and would not speculate on the exact cause of death.
Jackson's brother Jermaine, the family's
official spokesman, later revealed physicians had battled for more than an hour
to revive the star after his arrival at the UCLA Medical Center before he was
"Our family requests that the media
please respect our privacy during this tough time," Jermaine Jackson said.
"May Allah be with you, Michael, always."
As the sun began to sink over Los Angeles,
a coroner's office helicopter bearing Jackson's body took off from the UCLA
Medical Center, where hundreds of media and fans had gathered throughout the
Meanwhile police motorcycle riders
surrounded Jackson's gated mansion as crowds of tourists and fans congregated.
Pop diva Madonna was among dozens of
celebrities who struggled to cope. "I can't stop crying over the sad
news," the singer said in a statement. "The world has lost one of the
greats, but his music will live on forever!"
The star's first wife Lisa Marie Presley,
the daughter of Elvis Presley, said his death had left her speechless.
"I am so very sad and confused with
every emotion possible. I am heartbroken for his children, who I know were
everything to him, and for his family," Presley told MTV News in a
British Foreign Secretary David Miliband
also posted his thoughts on micro-blogging site Twitter. "Never has one
soared so high and yet dived so low. RIP Michael," Miliband wrote.
Lana Brown, a 49-year-old tourist from
Dallas, broke down in tears as she digested the news. "Right today, I
can't believe we might have lost the best entertainer this world has ever
seen," she told AFP.
Jackson's death came as the singer prepared
to make a keenly anticipated concert comeback in London, his first series of
shows in more than a decade.
But those concerts were thrown into doubt
after Jackson pushed back the opening dates last month, although organizers
insisted the delay was not linked to his health.
"I would trade my body for his
tomorrow. He's in fantastic shape," Randy Phillips of concert backers AEG
Live said at the time.
But Jackson attorney and family spokesman
Brian Oxman said he had harbored concerns over the singer's condition,
revealing that he had taking prescription medication as he prepared for his
Oxman compared Jackson's fate to the
overdose death of Playboy centerfold Anna-Nicole Smith, voicing concern over
"enablers" in his entourage.
"The people who have surrounded him
have been enabling him... if you think that the case of Anna-Nicole Smith was
an abuse, it was nothing to what we have seen in Michael Jackson's life,"
Oxman told CNN.
"When you warn people that this is
what's going to happen and then it happens, where there's smoke, there's
While Jackson ruled the charts and dazzled
audiences with electric dance moves like the backwards "moonwalk" in
the 1980s, his once-stellar career was overshadowed by his colorful public
behavior, his startling physical transformation and multiple allegations of
Jackson lived as a virtual recluse
following his 2005 acquittal on charges, including child molestation and
plotting to kidnap his young accuser.
Despite his acquittal, the trial was a body
blow from which the pop music superstar, who named his ranch for Peter Pan's
"Neverland" of perpetual childhood and furnished it with
Disney-inspired rides, struggled to recover.
Four years later, Jackson was still
worshipped by fans for revolutionizing music, dance and music videos at the
peak of his success.
The attention paid to him in recent years
was less flattering, focusing on apparent cosmetic surgery, which he denies, his
baby dangling antics and a decade of swirling child abuse allegations.
Born on August 29, 1958, Jackson made his
show business debut with four of his older brothers in the Jackson Five pop
group, and went on to lead the stage clan with a piping soprano and dazzling
By 1969, the group had signed a contract
with Motown Records, becoming one of the last great acts to emerge from the
The Jacksons produced seven platinum
singles for Motown, selling over a million, and three multi-platinum albums,
selling more than two million. They moved to CBS's Epic Records in 1976.
Despite the early success, Jackson was to
recall those years as unhappy and lonely ones. The family act eventually broke
up, as Jackson went solo.
In 1979, Quincy Jones produced Jackson's
first solo album for Epic, "Off the Wall," a huge disco-oriented
success that sold 10 million copies.
They teamed up again in 1982 for what would
be Jackson's breakthrough album as a composer and co-producer, "Thriller,"
which became the top-selling album of all time, with sales exceeding 41
Jones reacted with shock after being
informed of Jackson's death Thursday.
"I'm absolutely devastated at this
news," he said. "I just don't have the words. Divinity brought our
souls together and allowed us to do what we could do through the '80s,"
"To this day that music is played in
every corner of the world, and the reason is because he had it all - talent,
grace, and professionalism. I've lost my little brother today and part of my
soul has gone with him."