The King of Pop is dead

Jackson dies aged 50 on the eve of his 'final tour'

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Huge crowds gather to mourn the man who bestrode the pop world for 25 years

The sensational, yet tragic life of Michael Jackson, the supremely-gifted pop singer who emerged from childhood stardom to become one of the most influential and infamous celebrities of modern times, was cut short late last night in the chaotic emergency room of a Los Angeles hospital. He was 50.

Doctors pronounced the King of Pop dead at around 2.30pm local time (10.30 GMT), after he suffered a massive cardiac arrest at his rented chateau-style home in the Holmby Hills area of the city, shortly after mid-day. He had been discovered in a coma when emergency services arrived at the scene. The death of the once-dazzling performer came weeks before he was due to attempt to re-launch his career with a series of 40 comeback concerts in London.

Jackson was reportedly taken ill as he prepared to leave home and drive to Burbank, where he was rehearsing the new show that was to mark his return to the stage for the first time in almost ten years. He was hoping to rehabilitate his reputation following a series of freakish scandals that had left him bankrupt, with his private life and reputation in tatters.

Exact circumstances of the incident were still unclear at time of going to print. However paramedics reported being called to a 7 bedroom, 13 bathroom house on Carolwood Drive, just off Sunset Boulevard, at 12.21pm Los Angeles time. The French-style property, boasted 12 fireplaces and a cinema, and was being rented by Jackson for $100,000 [£60,000] a month.

An ambulance arrived less than five minutes later and discovered the singer unconscious and in full cardiac arrest. Unconfirmed reports said he had been working out in the home's gym with Lou Ferrigno, the actor who played the Incredible Hulk and had been helping him get in shape for the forthcoming concerts.

The ambulance was logged leaving the property at 12.32, and doctors performed CPR throughout the 2 mile, six minute journey to UCLA medical centre. However, they were unable to revive him and he never regained consciousness.

Large crowds were gathering outside the hospital last night, with many carrying flowers and banners, and some mourners wearing fancy dress costumes. The sudden news of Jackson's death shocked the world, crashed news websites, and prompted tens of millions of viewers to switch to rolling news channels. At one point, almost a dozen TV helicopters were hovering above the hospital.

Scores of policemen arrived at the scene, and mounted a chaotic effort to secure the building. Family members were on the scene from shortly after Jackson's admission. Joe Jackson, the star's father, told showbiz website TMZ.com, which broke the story, that he had been rushed to hospital that "he is not doing well."

The website later broke the news that the singer had died. TMZ added that his sister LaToya Jackson ran into the hospital sobbing. Also at the venue were Jackson's three children, who he has brought up alone: Michael Joseph Jackson Jr, Paris Michael Katherine Jackson, and Prince Michael Jackson II, who is known as "Blanket."

Jackson's death brings a tragic conclusion to a long, bizarre, sometimes farcical decline from his commercial peak in the 1980s, when he was popular music's premier all-around performer, and dazzled the world with the haunting reach of his artistic possibilities.

In public, he was perhaps the most exciting artist of his generation, known for crotch-grabbing dance moves and his high-pitched. His single sequinned glove, tight, military-style jacket and aviator sunglasses were trademarks second only to his ever-changing, surgically altered appearance.

In terms of his earnings and fame, he ranked alongside Elvis Presley and the Beatles as the biggest pop sensations of all time. In fact, he united two of contemporary music's biggest names when he was briefly married to Presley's daughter, Lisa Marie.

Yet in private, he became an increasingly tortured soul, who perhaps never recovered from being denied a normal childhood. At the height of his fame, he lived at a bizarre Hearstian theme park called Neverland where he slept in oxygen tents, held hands with a chimpanzee called Bubbles, and (at a time when it didn't have dubious connotation) invited thousands of children to play.

As years went by, he became an increasingly freakish figure – a middle-aged man-child weirdly out of touch with grownup life. His skin became lighter, his nose narrower, and he spoke in a breathy, girlish voice. He surrounded himself with children, and became an object of tabloid infamy.

In 2005, he was tried and then cleared of charges he molested a 13-year-old cancer survivor at Neverland in 2003. He had been accused of plying the boy with alcohol and groping him. Jackson's financial problems finally caught up with him in November, after four years on the road, living in luxury hotels in Bahrain, Ireland and Germany, mostly at other people's expense, when Neverland went into foreclosure. In a bid to clear his debts, creditors persuaded him to announce a series of 50 concerts at the O2 arena in London, which sold out in hours when tickets went on sale.

The shows were heralded as the first step in an unlikely career renaissance that would ultimately encompass a three-year world tour, a new album, movies, a Graceland-like museum, musical revues in Las Vegas and Macau, and even a "Thriller" casino. It would wipe out his massive debts, variously estimated at between $60m and $200m, and allow him to retire in comfort.

However cynics always doubted Jackson was physically capable of a comeback, which was originally scheduled for 8 July. Attention may now turn to whether it was responsible for the promoters to let Jackson carry out the tour. In May, Randy Phillips, the head of AEG who had promoted the concerts, denied tabloid reports that he was suffering from skin cancer. "He's as healthy as can be; no health problems whatsoever." However days later, AEG was forced to cancel the first four shows of the run, blaming "technical issues." The opening night was moved to July 13.

Quincy Jones, who helped arrange Thriller and produced Off the Wall album, told reporters: "I am absolutely devastated at this tragic and unexpected news. For Michael to be taken away from us so suddenly at such a young age, I just don't have the words. I've lost my little brother today, and part of my soul has gone with him."

Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Hope Fletcher
booksFirst video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Arts and Entertainment
Damien Hirst
artCoalition's anti-culture policy and cuts in local authority spending to blame, says academic
Arts and Entertainment
A comedy show alumni who has gone on to be a big star, Jon Stewart
tvRival television sketch shows vie for influential alumni
Arts and Entertainment
Jason goes on a special mission for the queen
tvReview: Everyone loves a CGI Cyclops and the BBC's Saturday night charmer is getting epic
Arts and Entertainment
Image has been released by the BBC
tv
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Henry Marsh said he was rather 'pleased' at the nomination
booksHenry Marsh's 'Do No Harm' takes doctors off their pedestal
Arts and Entertainment
All in a day's work: the players in the forthcoming 'Posh People: Inside Tatler'

tv
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne plays Stephen Hawking in new biopic The Imitation Game

'At times I thought he was me'

film
Arts and Entertainment

books
Arts and Entertainment
One Direction go Fourth: The boys pose on the cover of their new album Four

Review: One Direction, Four

music
Arts and Entertainment
'Game of Thrones' writer George RR Martin

Review: The World of Ice and Fire

books
Arts and Entertainment
Sean Bean will play 'extraordinary hero' Inspector John Marlott in The Frankenstein Chronicles
tvHow long before he gets killed off?
Arts and Entertainment
Some like it hot: Blaise Bellville

music
Arts and Entertainment
A costume worn by model Kate Moss for the 2013 photograph

art
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Len Goodman appeared to mutter the F-word after Simon Webbe's Strictly performance

Strictly
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie T makes his long-awaited return to the London stage
musicReview: Alexandra Palace, London
Arts and Entertainment
S Club 7 back in 2001 when they also supported 'Children in Need'
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Bruce Forsyth rejoins Tess Daly to host the Strictly Come Dancing Children in Need special
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Dornan plays Christian Grey getting ready for work

Film More romcom than S&M

Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

Review: The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment
The comedian Daniel O'Reilly appeared contrite on BBC Newsnight last night

comedy
Arts and Entertainment
The American stand-up Tig Notaro, who performed topless this week

Comedy...to show her mastectomy scars

Arts and Entertainment

TVNetflix gets cryptic

Arts and Entertainment
Claudia Winkleman is having another week off Strictly to care for her daughter
TV
Arts and Entertainment
BBC Children in Need is the BBC's UK charity. Since 1980 it has raised over £600 million to change the lives of disabled children and young people in the UK

TV review A moving film showing kids too busy to enjoy their youth

Arts and Entertainment
Richard Flanagan with his winning novel

Books Not even a Man Booker prize could save Richard Flanagan from a nomination

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

    Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

    Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
    Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

    The last Christians in Iraq

    After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
    Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

    Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

    Britain braced for Black Friday
    Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

    From America's dad to date-rape drugs

    Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
    Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

    Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

    As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
    Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

    Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

    The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
    Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

    The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

    Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
    Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

    Flogging vlogging

    First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
    Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

    Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

    US channels wage comedy star wars
    When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

    When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

    When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible
    Look what's mushrooming now! Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector

    Look what's mushrooming now!

    Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
    Neil Findlay is more a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

    More a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

    The vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
    Bill Granger recipes: Tenderstem broccoli omelette; Fried eggs with Mexican-style tomato and chilli sauce; Pan-fried cavolo nero with soft-boiled egg

    Oeuf quake

    Bill Granger's cracking egg recipes
    Terry Venables: Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back

    Terry Venables column

    Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back
    Michael Calvin: Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

    Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

    Those at the top are allowing the same issues to go unchallenged, says Michael Calvin