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Michael Jackson Dies Of Heart Attack At 50
The King Of Pop Is Dead John Doran , June 26th, 2009 01:04

The King Of Pop, Michael Jackson was pronounced dead yesterday (Thursday) after suffering a heart attack at his Bel Air home.

An ambulance crew was called after he went into cardiac arrest and they administered CPR at the scene before taking him to UCLA hospital but he was announced dead shortly after midday (7pm GMT).

The singer had been suffering from ill-health for many years in connection with his excessive use of cosmetic surgery. Concerns about his well-being were heightened recently after he pulled out of a string of live dates at the O2 Dome in London.

The gigs were pulled on May 20th and the announcement came with an insubstantial statement that read: "Due to the sheer magnitude of the 'This Is It' concerts at the O2 Arena promoters and producers AEG Live and Kenny Ortega, Michael's directorial partner and creative collaborator have elected to move back a few of the opening shows in order to meet the challenges presented by such a massive and technically complex show.

"Organisers are determined that all Michael's legions of fans attending the opening nights get the same quality of staging and level of entertainment."

But sources behind the scenes claimed that there was just no way that Jackson was well enough to complete even a couple of these extravaganza dates, let alone a month of them.

That the concerts had been suggested at all suggested that the troubled singer was remarkably looking at a return to popularity just a handful of years after a child molestation trial threatened to ruin his already tattered reputation.

In 2005 he was brought to trial accused of indecently assaulting a 13-year-old boy two years previously and threatening to abduct him. He wasn't found guilty of the charges but the case raised serious doubts about the star's sanity and morality. Coming after similar accusations in 1993 the star's reputation seemed tarnished beyond repair and he disappeared into self-imposed exile in the Middle East, Ireland and the UK.

To see why he his held in such strong affection by so many people around the world, despite the horrific allegations made against him, attention must be focused on the early part of his career as a singer.

Jackson was born on Aug. 29, 1958, in Gary, Indiana, the seventh of nine children. Five Jackson boys - Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, Marlon and Michael - first performed together at a talent show when Michael was 6. It goes without saying that they won first prize.

Jacko's problems started, as they often do, with his dad, Joe.

His old man meted out cruel, unusual and painful punishments to the boy for little in the way of good reason. One night to teach his son not to leave his bedroom window open, Jackson Snr climbed up the outside of the house wearing a mask and leapt in on his son screaming. It was incidents such as these that led to his crippling insomnia.

At the age of 10 as part of the Jackson 5 he signed to Motown and almost immediately set a record when their first four singles went to number one. Berry Gordy was aware of his young charge's charismatic pull from a tender age and arranged for him to release four solo albums while recording with the group.

As well as the pure pop of 'ABC' and 'I Want You Back' the group matured into a disco sound by the early 80s and also scored more dancefloor friendly hits with the likes of 'Shake Your Body Down To The Ground' and 'Can You Feel It?'

But it was with his first adult solo album Off The Wall that he became an international phenomenon. CBS must have been fairly confident as they drafted in, amongst others, Quincy Jones, Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder to help with production and song writing.

Their confidence was not misplaced. Featuring the stone cold classics 'Rock With You' and 'Don't Stop Til You Get Enough' , Off The Wall went on to sell 20 million albums world wide and is widely held to be his finest moment.

It was Thriller that made him unassailable however. Every single track was a potential chart topper (and most of them went on to be) - why anyone actually needed to buy the album once they owned all the singles was debatable. But buy the album people did. Selling somewhere vaguely in the region of 100million copies, it is probably the best selling album of all time. It certainly won't be bettered now.

By this point he had redefined what it meant to be iconic. Not only was Jackson more famous than nearly anyone living or dead but his glove was as well. And arguably even his sock on top of that. He took full advantage of the blooming MTV culture with his epic promo video for Thriller, directed by John Landis and featuring an unhinged vocal contribution from Vincent Price. He would go on to beat the extravagance of this video however with his joint effort with sister Janet for 1995's 'Scream', which at £7million, was certainly the most expensive video that had ever been made then.

Commercially he plateauxed in the mid 80s and even though he would produce a clutch of stone cold brilliant tracks after this point, it is better probably to remember him for his sparkling and life-affirming work on Off The Wall, Thriller and as a member of the Jackson Five.