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Michael Jackson, the king of pop, is dead. He was 50.
He died Thursday, at 2:26 p.m. PT, at UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles, after he was taken ill at his rented home in nearby Holmby Hills about two hours earlier.
An autopsy was planned for Friday, though results were not likely to be final until toxicology tests could be completed, and that process could take several days or weeks. However, if a cause can be determined by the autopsy, the results will be announced, said Los Angeles County Coroner Investigator Jerry McKibben.
Police said they were investigating, standard procedure in high-profile cases.
The cause of death was unclear, but his brother Jermaine Jackson said at a brief press conference late Thursday that he appeared to have suffered cardiac arrest at home. The official cause won’t be known until after an autopsy. Jackson’s personal physician was with him when he was taken ill and attempted to resuscitate him, as did arriving paramedics, Jermaine Jackson said. He was unconscious when the ambulance delivered him to the hospital.
he county coroner’s office said it would investigate the circumstances of the death, which stunned fans and foes alike as the news circled the globe Thursday afternoon. Los Angeles police also will investigate, which is common in a high-profile case.
Jackson, gifted from birth, famous since childhood and a figure of equal parts tragedy and success, had long demonstrated physical and mental frailty. But he was said to be working out and rehearsing at the Staples Center in Los Angeles in preparation for yet another comeback. He was scheduled for an unprecedented 50 concerts at a London arena, starting on July 13. The shows were to feature the elements that made him such a sensational performer — fabulous choreography, elaborate staging, and irresistible dance beats.
Longtime Grammy Awards producer Ken Ehrlich says Jackson was physically fit and in high spirits when they met Wednesday night to discuss an upcoming TV project. “He was really in good shape,” Ehrlich says. “That’s what’s so upsetting. There was no doubt in my mind that he was ready to go, that these shows would be significant.”
Ehrlich saw a half-dozen “signature Michael” numbers planned for what he described as a “terrific” show. “Seeing him do those moves again, you’re struck by the impact he’s had on the whole popular culture for 40 years.”
Once the most popular musical entertainer in the world — his 1982 album Thriller is the bestselling album of all time, with an estimated 50 million sold — Jackson dominated his industry for years, breaking records and barriers as a performer who appealed to all races and cultures.