Death of King of Pop Michael Jackson shocks the world

By Arun Kumar, IANS
Friday, June 26, 2009

WASHINGTON - The death of pop star Michael Jackson with best-selling albums like “Off the Wall”, “Thriller” and “Bad” has shocked the world with messages pouring in from his family and close friends in Hollywood and around the globe.

The 50-year-old moonwalking former child star, who became known the world over as the King of Pop, was not breathing when paramedics arrived at his home early Thursday afternoon, according to various media reports.

He was taken to the University of California, Los Angeles Medical Centre, where he died at 1.07 p.m. Pacific time Thursday (1:37 a.m. IST Friday).

“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. This is such a massive loss on so many levels, words fail me,” said Jackson’s ex-wife Lisa Marie Presley, daughter of Elvis Presley.

Madonna also issued a statement, saying: “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. My heart goes out to his three children and other members of his family. God bless.”

“Michael Jackson was my generation’s most iconic cultural hero. Courageous, unique and incredibly talented. He’ll be missed greatly,” said Russell Simmons, hip-hop entrepreneur and founder of Def-Jam Records.

The son of a steelworker, he rose to fame as the lead singer of the Jackson 5, a band he formed with his brothers in the late 1960s. By the late ’70s, as a solo artist, he was topping the charts with cuts from “Off the Wall”, including “Rock With You” and “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough”.

In 1982, he released “Thriller”, an album that eventually produced seven hit singles. An appearance the next year on a Motown Records 25th-anniversary special cemented his status as the biggest star in the country.

“Thriller’s” follow-up, 1987’s “Bad”, sold almost as many copies. A new Jackson album - a new Jackson appearance - was a pop culture event.

Michael Jackson was born August 29, 1958, to Joe Jackson, a Gary, Indiana, steelworker, and his wife, Katherine. By the time he was 6, he had joined his brothers in a musical group organised by his father, and by the time he was 10, the group - the Jackson 5 - had been signed to Motown. He made his first television appearance at age 11.

Jackson, a natural performer, soon became the group’s front man. Its first four singles - “I Want You Back”, “ABC”, “The Love You Save” and “I’ll Be There” - went to No. 1 on the Billboard pop chart, the first time any group had pulled off that feat.

The group’s popularity waned as the ’70s continued, and Michael eventually went solo full time. He played the Scarecrow in the 1978 movie version of “The Wiz”, and released the album “Off the Wall” in 1979.

Its success paved the way for “Thriller”, which eventually became the best-selling album in history, with 50 million copies sold worldwide.

June 26, 2009: 10:33 am

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