Michael Jackson dead at 50

Pop star Michael Jackson died in a Los Angeles hospital after suffering cardiac arrest Thursday (6/25), according to reports. The Los Angeles County Coroner's office has confirmed that an autopsy is scheduled for Friday (6/26) to determine the exact cause of death.

Details of the entertainer's passing are still emerging, but sources told CNN this afternoon that Jackson, 50, had been in a coma at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. A Jackson family spokesman said he was told by Randy Jackson that his brother had collapsed at his West Los Angeles home Thursday morning.

LA Fire Department Capt. Steve Ruda told reporters that paramedics responded to a call at Jackson's home at 12:26 p.m., and that Jackson was not breathing when they arrived. CPR was administered at the scene and Jackson subsequently was taken to the hospital, Ruda added.

According to the LA Times, Jackson had rented the home in the Bel Air neighborhood of Los Angeles while he rehearsed for his planned series of 50 sold-out shows at London's O2 Arena, which were to have kicked off July 13. The ambitious concert run would have been Jackson's first in more than 12 years.

The Los Angeles Police Department is launching an investigation into Jackson's death, the LA Times reported. Though police reportedly do not suspect homicide, they do hope to clear up what they view as some cloudy circumstances surrounding the death.

"This is an unbelievable tragedy, first of all for his family, for his devout fans, for the world of music and for the world of culture," said jazz great Herbie Hancock in a prepared statement. "Michael was one of the most diligent creators. His passion flowed through every pore of his being. His sense of invention was unparalleled. Who else could have thought of the moonwalk and who else could have created such a unique sense of movement in dance. His contribution to music and music videos; 'Off the Wall,' 'Thriller,' 'We are the World' are expressions of his consummate talent. Above all his compassion for serving humanity and desire to uplift and encourage excellence are etched in his legacy. He changed the world."

Born in 1958 in Gary, IN, Jackson was the seventh of nine children. Along with four of his brothers, Jackson exploded on the music scene in the late '60s and early '70s as the lead singer of the Jackson 5. After signing with Motown in 1968, the group's first four singles ("I Want You Back," "ABC," "The Love You Save" and "I'll Be There") all hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Jackson started his long and fruitful solo career when he was just 14 years old, releasing four solo albums for Motown, including "Got to Be There" and "Ben." After a commercial slump in the mid-'70s, Jackson (still operating as part of the Jackson 5) left Motown and signed a record deal with Epic.

It was at Epic where Jackson realized and unleashed his immense potential as a solo artist, uncorking "Off the Wall" in 1979, which eventually sold more than 20 million copies worldwide and scored four top 10 hits, including "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" and "Rock with You".

But it was the performer's next album that would define the remainder of his musical career. "Thriller," released in 1982, broke a myriad of chart records, remaining in the Top 10 of The Billboard 200 for 80 consecutive weeks, 37 of them at No. 1. The album produced seven Top 10 singles as well, including "Billie Jean," "Beat It" and the title song, which spawned an iconic music video, along with a somewhat ironic dance craze.

"Thriller," generally cited worldwide as the best-selling album of all time, was certified for sales of 28 million by the RIAA, with worldwide sales reportedly approaching 50 million copies.

Following up on "Thriller" was a tough act for the new King of Pop, but Jackson took his best shot, co-writing "We Are the World" with Lionel Richie in 1984, which was released internationally and sold more than 20 million copies, with the proceeds going to famine relief.

In 1987, amid reports of Jackson's increasingly eccentric behavior, the singer finally released his "Thriller" follow-up. "Bad" sold more than 30 million copies and sent five singles to the top of the Billboard charts, including "I Just Can't Stop Loving You" and "The Man in the Mirror."

In 1988 the performer purchased land near Santa Ynez, CA, and built his Neverland Ranch at a cost of $17 million. The 2,700-acre property included an amusement park, and Jackson frequently and publicly invited children to stay at the estate for sleepovers, an equation that would later lead to sexual abuse allegations against the entertainer.

Jackson released his eighth solo album, "Dangerous," in 1991. The album approximately replicated the success of his previous album, "Bad," with similar sales figures and the No. 1 single "Black or White."

In 1993, Jackson was accused of sexual abuse by 13-year-old Jordan Chandler and his father Evan Chandler. After a police investigation was unable to turn up definitive proof of the Chandlers' allegations, Jackson settled a civil lawsuit with the family out of court in 1994 for a reported $22 million.

Later that year Jackson married Lisa Marie Presley, daughter of Elvis Presley. The marriage was short-lived, with the couple divorcing less than two years later. In 1997, Jackson married dermatologist Deborah Jean Rowe and fathered two children, son Michael Jr. and daughter Paris. The couple divorced in 1999, with Rowe granting full custody of the children to Jackson.

The increasingly reclusive Jackson issued one final studio album, 2001's "Invincible," which debuted at No. 1 on the charts, but was considered a relative failure after the wild success Jackson had enjoyed over the previous two decades, with sales of more then 10 million copies worldwide and no No. 1 singles.

Following the birth of Jackson's third child, Prince Michael Jackson II, in 2002 (the mother's identity remains undisclosed), the performer was rocked by another sexual abuse allegation when Santa Barbara County, CA, police charged Jackson with seven counts of child sexual abuse.

A trial on the charge began two years later in Santa Maria, CA, lasting five months, after which Jackson was acquitted on all charges. Following the verdict, Jackson moved to the Persian Gulf nation of Bahrain as special guest of Sheikh Abdullah.

Jackson had planned on performing in front of more than one million people during the 50-night London engagement, which would have run through March 2010 and was expected to gross more than $400 million.



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