American pop music legend Michael Jackson died of a heart attack in a Los Angeles hospital today, just weeks before he hoped to resurrect his four-decade long career with a series of sold-out shows in London.
Jackson was taken to the University of California at Los Angeles medical centre, and paramedics administered cardiopulmonary resuscitation in the ambulance. He arrived at the hospital in a coma and was reported dead about three hours later.
The world-famous entertainer had planned a series of 50 concerts in the O2 area beginning on 12 July. Although in the last two decades his reputation was sullied by accusations of child molestation and his bizarre public behaviour, the shows sold 1m tickets within hours, proving the King of Pop has enduring appeal, even among fans who were not yet born when he released the “Thriller” album in 1982.
Jackson was rushed to Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center by Los Angeles Fire Department paramedics.
Fire Capt. Steve Ruda said paramedics responded to a call at Jackson’s home at 12:26 p.m. He was not breathing when they arrived. The paramedics performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation and took him to the hospital.
Paramedics were called to a home in the 100 block of Carolwood Drive off Sunset Boulevard. Jackson had rented the Bel-Air home for $100,000 a month. It was described as a French chateau estate built in 2002 with seven bedrooms, 13 bathrooms, 12 fireplaces and a theater.
The home is about 2 1/2 miles, about a six-minute drive, from UCLA Medical Center. An earlier version of this post incorrectly described the time to travel between the home and hospital as two minutes.]
The news comes as Jackson, 50, was attempting a comeback after years of tabloid headlines, most notably his trial and acquittal on child molestation charges.
In May, Jackson had rented the Bel-Air residence and was rehearsing for a series of 50 sold-out shows in London’s O2 Arena. Jackson had won the backing of two billionaires to get the so-called “King of Pop” back on stage.
His backers envision the shows at AEG’s O2 as an audition for a career rebirth that could 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. Such a rebound could wipe out Jackson’s massive debt.
Jackson performed on countless music television shows, including his family’s own animated series, and even travelled to Australia to apear on Perth’s Telethon to buy the rights to The Beatles songs from millionaire Robert Holmes a Court. His video clips also revolutionised MTV.
Former Countdown host Molly Meldrum on radio today said, “It’s really hard to work out the Michael Jackson thing, because he’s always been a star.
“He didn’t really know a real world. When he wasn’t rehearsing he was watching shows like My Three Sons, Leave it to Beaver and The Partridge Family.
“I’ve done interviews with him since 1977. But once the Thriller thing happened…. all the interviews were vetted.”
“He was in that stratosphere of John Lennons and Elvis Presleys. It’s hard to believe he is gone.”
UPDATED: As tributes pour in, Jermaine Jackson has given a Press Conference saying: “This is hard…. My brother the legendary King of Pop Michael Jackson passed away on Thursday June 25th 2009 at 2.26pm. It is believed he suffered cardiac arrest in his home. However the cause of his death is unknown until the results of the autopsy are known. His personal physician, who was with him at the time, attempted to resuscitate my brother.
“Upon arriving at the hospital at approximately 1.14pm a team of doctors including emergency physicians and cardiologists attempted to resuscitate him for a period of more than one hour. They were unsuccessful.
“Our family requests that the media please respect our privacy during this tough time,” he said.
“May Allah be with you Michael, always. Love you.”
This post updates.