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Priscilla Presley

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LOS ANGELES — Michael Jackson, the pop superstar who dazzled the world with his dancing but also led a strange private life that included a child-molestation charge, died suddenly Thursday after suffering a cardiac arrest.He was 50.Jackson was taken to hospital Thursday afternoon after going into cardiac arrest at his Los Angeles home, said his brother Jermaine Jackson at an evening news conference.

A personal physician who was with the icon at the time was unable to resuscitate him.He was taken to UCLA Medical Center and was pronounced dead at 2:26 p.m.

local time, Jermaine said.In his brief statement, an emotional Jermaine, said: "May Allah be with you always, Michael." He also asked for reporters and fans to "please respect our privacy during this tough time."Hundreds of fans and reporters had gathered outside the hospital, waiting for any news about the singer after he was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance."I just have tears," Jackson family lawyer Brian Oxman told CNN.

"Michael Jackson is my friend and I am just heartbroken"Tributes to the iconic singer quickly poured in online and to news outlets."I am absolutely devastated at this tragic and unexpected news," said Quincy Jones in a statement.

"For Michael to be taken away from us so suddenly at such a young age, I just don't have the words."He was the consummate entertainer, and his contributions and legacy will be felt upon the world forever.

I've lost my little brother today, and part of my soul has gone," added Jones, who produced Jackson's Thriller, the world's bestselling album.Celine Dion, the Canadian pop singer said it "feels like when Kennedy died, when Elvis Presley died.

We are not only talking about a talented person dying, it's an amazing loss.""I think he was just an amazing genius; dancing, singing.

Since he's very little, he (was) under pressure," said Dion.Former Barenaked Ladies frontman Stephen Page saluted Jackson on Twitter: "You saved a very shy and awkward 12-year-old boy in 1983.

Thank you.""I think we'll mourn his loss, as well as the loss of ourselves as children listening to Thriller on the record player," wrote John Mayer, also on Twitter.TMZ reported that singer Elton John heard the news of the death during his annual White Tie and Tiara Ball, and dedicated a song to Jackson.

Several of the party's celebrity guests left upon hearing the news, the site said."I'm in shock, as I know everyone must be," Jackson's former mother-in-law, Priscilla Presley, told Entertainment Tonight.

"What a tragic loss.

My heartfelt thoughts are with his family at this very difficult time."Jackson was planning a comeback tour with a series of 50 sold-out shows at London's O2 Arena, with the first show scheduled to take place July 13.

The first show was originally scheduled for July 8, but was later postponed.

Three other shows set for July were reportedly delayed until March 2010.The comeback tour has been marred in controversy after Jackson's manager previously signed a contract that would bring about a Jackson 5 reunion tour that conflicted with the planned London had been reporting that bookies had already been increasing the odds against Jackson actually appearing at the concerts, which would have attracted some 750,000 fans."While Jackson has been rumoured to be frequently absent from his Los Angeles rehearsals with choreographer and musical director Kenny Ortega, the technical complexity of the shows, as well as Jackson's perfectionism, has been cited for the delayed starting dates," Rolling Stone reported.

"Jackson is reportedly seeking a children's choir that knows sign language and is "exactly equal" in racial diversity.After years of bad press coverage of his trial and acquittal on child-molestation charges, Jackson had been hoping the 02 concerts would signal a comeback.Jackson, in massive debt, was hoping the shows would restart his career with a world tour, new album and movies.

The L.A.

Times reported the pop icon was being funded by two billionaires to ensure the success of the shows."This family has been trying for months and months and months to take care of Michael Jackson," Oxman said, addressing reports that said the cardiac arrest could be linked to medication, including sleeping pills."This is something that I feared, and it is something that I warned about.




Where there is smoke, there is fire.

This is a case of abuse of medication, (as well as) other causes, which I don't know about," said Oxman, saying Jackson continued through rehearsals while using "extensive" medication to nurse a broken leg.Oxman has a long history with the Jackson family, including as a lawyer for various members since 1989.

He joined the King of Pop's defence team in 2004 during his child-molestation trial.Jackson's former publicist Michael Levine echoed those concerns."Michael has been on an impossibly difficult and often self-destructive journey for years.

His talent was unquestionable but, so too, was his discomfort with the norms of the world.

A human simply cannot withstand this level of prolonged stress," he said in a statement.Lt.

Fred Corral of the Los Angeles County Coroner's Office said an autopsy would likely be done on the singer Friday, with results expected that afternoon, CNN reported.© Copyright (c) The Montreal Gazette
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