— Michael Jackson, among the most famous performers in pop music history, spent
his final days in a sleep-deprived haze of medication and misery until finally
succumbing to a fatal dose of potent drugs provided by the private physician he
had hired to act as his personal pharmaceutical dispensary, a jury decided on
The physician, Dr. Conrad Murray, was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter
nearly two and a half years after Jackson’s shocking death at age 50. The
verdict came after nearly 50 witnesses, 22 days of testimony and less than two
days of deliberation by a jury of seven men and five women. The trial had
focused primarily on whether Dr. Murray was guilty of abdicating his duty or of
acting with reckless criminal negligence, directly causing his patient’s death.
Dr. Murray, 58, faces up to four years in prison and the loss of his medical
license. He sat stoically as the verdict was read and did not react as he was
led out of the courtroom in handcuffs. Judge Michael Pastor ruled that he should
be held without bail until his sentencing, set for Nov. 29.
Jackson, who had become a star as a child in Gary, Ind., singing with his
siblings in the Jackson 5, grew into one of the best-known performers in the
world. Though increasingly eccentric in his later years, often living on a
secluded California estate he called Neverland, Jackson always had a fervent
core of fans and, despite scandals, his lavish lifestyle and persistent money
woes, always seemed just a comeback away from a return to the top.
Hundreds of fans showed their devotion by gathering outside the downtown
courthouse throughout the trial — many of them sporting Jackson’s signature
single white glove. On Monday, they chanted “Justice, justice” and spent hours
after the verdict dancing to his hits, from “Beat It” to “I Want You Back.” Huge
crowds had also gathered outside the California court where Jackson was tried,
and acquitted, on child molesting charges in 2005.
The singer’s parents, Joe and Katherine Jackson, and siblings La Toya, Jermaine
and Randy were in the courtroom for the verdict. The family left the courthouse
without speaking to the hordes of reporters gathered outside, simply saying they
were “very happy” with the verdict and flashing a thumb.
Dr. Murray, a Houston cardiologist, was paid $150,000 a month to work as
Jackson’s personal physician as he rehearsed in Los Angeles for “This Is It,” a
series of 50 sold-out concerts in London that he needed to pay off hundreds of
millions of dollars in mounting debts.
Testimony showed that Dr. Murray had stayed with Jackson at least six nights a
week and was regularly asked — and sometimes begged — by the insomniac singer to
give him drugs powerful enough to put him to sleep. Jackson, Dr. Murray told the
authorities, was especially eager to be administered propofol, a surgical
anesthetic that put him to sleep when other powerful sedatives could not.
Testimony indicated that propofol, in conjunction with other drugs in the
singer’s system, had played the key role in his death on June 25, 2009.
Prosecutors tried to paint Dr. Murray as a money-hungry physician who would do
things no reputable doctor would do — including improperly and recklessly
administering an anesthetic normally given only in a hospital. The full retinue
of drugs given to Jackson while he was under Dr. Murray’s care was so beyond
normal practice, prosecutors said, that it amounted to a “pharmaceutical
For its part, the defense tried to portray Jackson as a man so desperate to make
his comeback concerts a success that he was willing to take wild chances and
grew terrified that he would not be able to perform to his own exacting
standards without more rest and less stress.
The morning Jackson died, Dr. Murray told investigators during a recording
played in State Superior Court here, the singer told him, “Just make me sleep;
it doesn’t matter what happens.”
When Jackson died, he was more than $400 million in debt, but since his death,
his estate has prospered, generating more than $310 million and paying off most
of his debts.
The estate has struck several lucrative deals, including a movie, video games, a
new recording contract and two productions by Cirque du Soleil.
Shortly after Jackson’s death, Dr. Murray told investigators that the pop star
would routinely plead with him to administer more propofol, calling it his
“milk.” The defense argued that Jackson gave himself the fatal dose of the drug.
The Los Angeles County coroner ruled that Jackson’s death was caused by “acute
propofol intoxication,” in combination with two other drugs in his system.
Two days after Jackson’s death, Dr. Murray told investigators that he had been
using propofol almost nightly for two months to help the singer sleep.
In their closing arguments, prosecutors repeatedly invoked Jackson’s three
children to a jury that included nine parents, saying that the singer wanted to
perform, in part, so that they could see their father on stage. David Walgren,
the deputy district attorney in charge of the case, described the frantic
moments after Dr. Murray realized that Jackson was not responsive and as the pop
star’s children watched him lie lifeless on his bed.
Prosecutors sought to show that Dr. Murray veered significantly from acceptable
medical practice at nearly every turn: by administering the propofol, not having
proper monitoring equipment and failing to call 911 right away, among other
things. They said Dr. Murray had not kept any records of administering propofol
but had taken time to record Jackson’s voice on his iPhone.
He did not tell the paramedics who arrived at Jackson’s home about the propofol,
which prosecutors said showed that he knew he was responsible for the singer’s
death. Just one day before the trial ended, Dr. Murray decided he would not
Steve Cooley, the Los Angeles County district attorney, said that he hoped the
trial would send a message to other “unscrupulous, corrupt” doctors who help
fuel patients’ reliance on powerful drugs.
“In Los Angeles we see many examples of high-profile people losing their lives
because of their addiction to prescribed medication,” Mr. Cooley said. “To the
extent that someone dies as a result of their playing the role of Dr. Feelgood,
they will be held accountable.”
Mr. Cooley said that he doubted that Dr. Murray would serve a full four-year
sentence because of the state’s chronically overcrowded prisons.
In one of the most dramatic moments in the trial, prosecutors played the iPhone
recording Dr. Murray made of Jackson toward the end of his life and the court
heard the singer rambling about his dream of building the world’s largest
“I’m going to do that for them,” Jackson is heard saying in slurred speech.
“That will be remembered more than my performances. My performances will be up
there helping my children and always be my dream. I love them. I love them
because I didn’t have a childhood. I had no childhood. I feel their pain.”
When his voice trailed off, Dr. Murray waited several seconds before asking,
After several more seconds, Jackson answered, “I am asleep.”
GLENDALE, Calif. — More than two months after he died, and following a steady
trickle of gossip over how and where he would be laid to rest, family members
and friends gathered Thursday night for a private entombment of Michael Jackson
at a highly guarded mausoleum in a Los Angeles suburb.
With closed streets, nervous guards and restricted airspace over the grounds,
the proceedings were taking on the feel of a presidential visit at the cemetery,
Forest Lawn Glendale, where guests began arriving for an evening service.
Only a smattering of fans of Mr. Jackson, one the biggest-selling entertainers
of all time, gathered at blockaded streets around the cemetery, with one group
unfurling a large white banner that read in part “Gone too Soon.”
Members of the news media — 460 people from the around the world received
credentials — far outnumbered the fans, and they greeted every car turning into
the gated grounds with a bouquet of camera flashes and quizzical looks. Was that
Elizabeth Taylor? Joe Jackson?
The police had the streets and airspace around Forest Lawn virtually locked
down, in keeping with the family’s wishes that the service be invitation only.
A memorial service attended by several thousand fans, family members and friends
had already been held for Mr. Jackson, 50, who died June 25. The memorial, on
July 7 at the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles, took place in the arena
where he had been rehearsing for a series of London concerts expected to revive
But the family never announced burial plans, and news station helicopters lost
track of the hearse carrying his gleaming gold coffin after it left the arena.
Representatives of Mr. Jackson inquired about a burial at the Neverland Ranch he
lived in for several years until after his acquittal on child molesting charges
in 2005, but that proposal would entail months of red tape, local and state
A couple of weeks ago, his family announced he would be entombed at Forest Lawn
Glendale, joining Walt Disney, Clark Gable, Carole Lombard, W. C. Fields and
many other famed Hollywood figures.
The cemetery, about eight miles north of downtown Los Angeles, covers 300
verdant acres and includes the statue-studded, castle-like Great Mausoleum that
was chosen as Mr. Jackson’s final resting place.
The cemetery prides itself on a high level of security, with guards shooing away
loiterers and restricting mausoleum visits largely to people authorized by the
family of the deceased.
Mark Masek, who maintains cemeteryguide.com, which tracks entertainers’ graves,
said that a couple of weeks ago guards stopped him from taking pictures outside
the mausoleum and forced him to delete the images.
“They are not kidding,” he said, predicting fans would have trouble finding and
documenting Mr. Jackson’s crypt.
“If they wanted to restrict access and keep people out, they could not have
picked a better place,” he said.
William Martin, a spokesman for the cemetery, declined to discuss security
arrangements for Mr. Jackson’s crypt or what steps might be taken to keep out
“We are very cognizant of what may happen in the near future, and we are taking
the necessary steps,” he said.
The Glendale police have said the family will pay for the costs of security for
the event. The police asked for and received a restriction on the airspace to
safeguard helicopter patrols, a police spokesman said.
A judge Wednesday approved Mr. Jackson’s estate paying the costs, with the total
described in court papers as “extraordinary,” but the actual amount blacked out.
A Glendale police spokesman, Tom Lorenz, said police costs would be no more than
The family bought a bloc of 12 spaces in the mausoleum as a single unit.
“Mrs. Jackson and her family wish to honor her son by a funeral that seeks to
offer solace to his multitude of fans and by which the family also may be
comforted,” Burt Levitch, a lawyer for the singer’s mother, Katherine Jackson,
wrote in a court declaration.
The investigation into Mr. Jackson’s death continues. The coroner has ruled he
died from a mix of the anesthetic propofol and another sedative, injected by
Mr. Jackson’s personal physician, Dr. Conrad Murray, has told investigators he
gave Mr. Jackson a mix of drugs, including propofol, to help him sleep, but it
is unclear whether he will face criminal charges. Dr. Murray’s lawyer has said
he did not cause Mr. Jackson’s death.
LOS ANGELES — Lethal levels of a powerful anesthetic caused
Michael Jackson’s death, according to preliminary coroner findings cited in
Texas court documents unsealed Monday.
The documents, a pair of search warrants and affidavits filed by the police in
July to search the Houston office and storage unit of Dr. Conrad Murray, Mr.
Jackson’s private doctor, provide the most detailed evidence against Dr. Murray
by the Los Angeles Police Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration.
The police told judges in Texas and Nevada that they suspected Dr. Murray of
manslaughter, according to documents filed there.
According to the warrants, Dr. Murray told investigators that he had
administered an intravenous drip of 50 milligrams of propofol, an anesthetic, to
Mr. Jackson nightly for six weeks before the singer’s death at his Holmby Hills
home to help him sleep. Dr. Murray also administered lorazepam, an anti-anxiety
drug that can be addictive, and midazolam, a muscle relaxant, to treat Mr.
The chief coroner for Los Angeles County, Dr. Lakshmanan Sathyavagiswaran,
indicated that his preliminary assessment of the cause of death was due to a
lethal dose of propofol, according to the court documents. They also describe
how Dr. Murray administered propofol and other drugs, including Valium, on June
25, the day Mr. Jackson died.
“After approximately 10 minutes, Murray stated he left Jackson’s side to go to
the restroom,” the documents show. “Murray stated he was out of the room for
about two minutes maximum. Upon his return, Murray noticed that Jackson was no
Dr. Murray said he tried to resuscitate Mr. Jackson and administered flumazenil,
a drug to reverse the effects of the sedatives in his system, and then called
Mr. Jackson’s personal assistant, Michael Amir Williams, for help. Dr. Murray
asked the singer’s chef to send one of his sons upstairs to the bedroom as he
continued cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
Dr. Murray waited about 82 minutes before anyone called paramedics to the home,
according to the court documents.
Investigators said Dr. Murray did not initially tell paramedics or doctors that
he had given Mr. Jackson propofol.
Mr. Jackson was eventually taken to University of California Los Angeles Medical
Center, where he died. Medical experts said Monday that the combination of drugs
Mr. Jackson was given would have exacerbated the effect of the propofol.
Drugs like lorazepam and Valium have the effect of slowing a person’s breathing.
“If you are going to put on top of that some propofol, you are not only standing
on thin ice, but starting to jump up and down on that ice,” said Dr. John F.
Dombrowski, director of the Washington Pain Center. “If you don’t have someone
who knows how to manage respiratory depression, you’re going to die.” He and
others said because propofol acts so quickly to slow breathing and lower blood
pressure, it is possible that Mr. Jackson could have stopped breathing in the
short time Dr. Murray indicated he left his bedside to go to the restroom.
The documents indicate that Dr. Murray tried to revive Mr. Jackson with
flumazenil, which reverses the effects of benzodiazepines like lorazepam. But
“there’s no drug that reverses propofol per se,” said Dr. Robert R. Kirby, an
And waiting 82 minutes to call 911 was inexplicable, experts said. “Lord, no;
you’d call right away,” Dr. Kirby said.
Investigators said they found numerous bottles of medications prescribed by
various doctors at Mr. Jackson’s bedside and throughout his living quarters.
Dr. Murray said that he was not the first doctor to administer propofol to Mr.
Jackson, that he suspected Mr. Jackson was addicted to the drug and that he
tried to wean him off of it, the documents state. Dr. Murray told the police
that the singer referred to propofol as his “milk.” On the day he died, Mr.
Jackson was unable to sleep and, after repeated demands, the doctor administered
propofol in an IV drip.
Investigators also interviewed Cherilyn Lee, a nurse who described how Mr.
Jackson asked her to obtain propofol for him.
“He stated he would pay her or another doctor whatever they wanted for it,”
according to the affidavit. Ms. Lee told investigators that she refused.
On June 1, Mr. Jackson’s bodyguard called to tell her Mr. Jackson was ill.
“She heard Jackson in the background saying, ‘One side of my body is hot, and
the other side is cold,’ ” according to the affidavits. Ms. Lee told
investigators that she told the bodyguard he should go to the hospital.
Dr. Murray was a cardiologist in Houston, Las Vegas and Los Angeles for 20
years. Earlier this year, AEG, an event promoter and stadium operator, hired him
to be Mr. Jackson’s personal physician during a planned series of 50 concerts in
London, for a monthly salary of $150,000.
An agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration, which investigates
prescription fraud, said records showed that despite the discovery of bottles of
propofol at Mr. Jackson’s home, Dr. Murray “never ordered, purchased nor
received any propofol.” Dr. Murray told investigators that Mr. Jackson obtained
propofol from various sources, including two unidentified doctors in Germany and
an anesthesiologist in Las Vegas.
Public records show that Dr. Murray was in serious financial trouble before he
became Mr. Jackson’s doctor, facing hundreds of thousands of dollars in debts
and liens and a Las Vegas home in foreclosure proceedings.
Ed Chernoff, a lawyer for Dr. Murray, said in a statement: “Much of what was in
the search warrant affidavit is factual. However, unfortunately, much is police
theory. Most egregiously, the timeline reported by law enforcement was not
obtained through interviews with Dr. Murray.”
Lt. Fred Corral, an investigator at the Los Angeles County coroner’s office,
said the toxicology tests and a final autopsy report had been completed but were
being kept confidential at the request of the Los Angeles Police Department,
which continues to investigate Dr. Murray.
A spokesman for the police department said he had no official statement since
the investigation was continuing.
Pam Belluck contributed reporting from Nantucket, Mass.
LOS ANGELES — The cardiologist who tried to revive Michael Jackson the day he
died is being investigated by the Los Angeles Police Department on suspicion of
manslaughter, according to two sealed search warrants filed Thursday.
The search warrants confirm that the inquiry into Mr. Jackson’s death last month
has become a criminal investigation.
The warrants, filed in Harris County District Court in Texas, were executed by
officers with the Los Angeles and Houston police and agents for the Drug
Enforcement Administration during the raids Wednesday at an office and a
self-storage unit in Houston of the cardiologist, Dr. Conrad Murray.
An inventory of evidence confiscated from the search of the office, at the
Armstrong Medical Clinic, includes Rolodex cards, e-mail messages, letters, a
phone receipt and two vials of medication — phentermine, an appetite
suppressant, and clonazepam, an anti-anxiety drug. Investigators also took a
forensic copy of Dr. Murray’s computer.
A list of evidence obtained at a rental storage unit included computer hard
drives, compact discs and dozens of documents including a medical suspension
notice from a local hospital.
Investigators searched the medical clinic at 10:50 a.m. Wednesday and found
receipts for the storage unit, which they raided four hours later.
Charles Lyon, whose wife manages Eighteenth Street Self Storage, said in a
telephone interview on Thursday that Dr. Murray rented unit No. 337 on April 1
under the name of Acres Home Heart Vascular Institute.
Mr. Lyon said a Los Angeles police officer and two officers with the Houston
Police Department arrived Wednesday afternoon and asked to see the unit.
“Then they went and got a search warrant and I went up there and cut the lock,”
Dr. Murray, who worked in California, Nevada and Texas, is among several doctors
police investigators have interviewed in connection with Mr. Jackson’s death.
Dr. Murray had been recently hired by Mr. Jackson to attend to him during a
planned 50-concert tour.
Ed Winter, the assistant chief coroner for Los Angeles County, said he expected
his office to issue a final autopsy report next week.
Coroner officials confiscated several bags of medical supplies and drugs from
Mr. Jackson’s Holmby Hills home after his death. The cause of his death has been
listed as “deferred” pending a death investigation. A coroner’s official said
this week that toxicology test results had been completed, but that the results
were being analyzed.
Calls to Dr. Murray’s office and to his lawyer, Ed Chernoff, for interviews were
not returned. A statement posted Wednesday on Mr. Chernoff’s Web site confirmed
that the authorities were investigating his client on suspicion of manslaughter
and that they had taken documents and other evidence from his office.
Dr. Murray was well known in Houston, where he practiced medicine in the
predominantly black neighborhood of Acres Home, where his father, Dr. Rawle
Andrews, had established himself as one the few black doctors serving the
community before desegregation.
“Dr. Murray’s been my doctor five or six years,” said Cuney Williams, who had
surgery performed by Dr. Murray. “He saved my life and my husband’s life.”
(Reuters) - Michael Jackson, 50, one of pop music's biggest
stars, was rushed to a Los Angeles-area hospital by paramedics who found him not
breathing when they arrived at his home, the Los Angeles Times said, quoting
fire officials. The TMZ website reported later he had died.
There was no official confirmation of the reported death, and spokesmen for
Jackson could not be reached for comment.
Here are some key facts about Jackson.
* Jackson was born on August 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. They walked off
with first prize.
* Their group later became The Jackson Five, and when it was signed by Motown
Records in the late 1960s it underwent its final metamorphosis to become The
Jackson 5. Jackson made his first solo album in 1972.
* Jackson released "Thriller" in 1982, which became a smash hit that yielded
seven top-ten singles. The album sold 21 million copies in the United States and
at least 27 million worldwide.
* The next year, he unveiled his signature "moonwalk" dance move while
performing "Billie Jean" during an NBC special.
* Jackson's lifetime record sales tally is believed to be about 750 million,
which, added to the 13 Grammy Awards he has received, makes him one of the most
successful entertainers of all time.
* In 1993, Jackson was accused of sexually abusing a 13-year-old boy, and police
raided his California ranch "Neverland."
* The same year, Jackson announced he had become addicted to painkillers and
abruptly canceled a world tour to promote his album, "Dangerous."
* He reached a settlement in 1994, later reported to be $23 million, with the
family of the boy he was accused of abusing.
MARRIAGE & FAMILY:
* In 1994, Jackson married Elvis Presley's only child, Lisa Marie, but the
marriage ended in divorce in 1996. Jackson married Debbie Rowe the same year and
had two children, before splitting in 1999. The couple never lived together.
* Jackson has three children named Prince Michael I, Paris Michael and Prince
Michael II, known for his brief public appearance when his father held him over
the railing of a hotel balcony, causing widespread criticism.
* A television documentary "Living with Michael Jackson" was aired in 2003,
saying that Jackson still had sleepovers with young boys and had his third child
with a surrogate mother. Jackson aired his own rebuttal.
* Jackson went on trial in 2005 on charges of molesting a 13-year-old boy in
2003, as well as conspiring to abduct the boy. The singer faced nearly 20 years
in prison if convicted.
* The four-month trial ended in June 2005 with his being acquitted of all
charges. Jackson has spent time in Bahrain, Ireland and France since the child
molestation case ended.
* After several false dawns, Jackson and music promoter AEG Live announced he
would perform 50 concerts at London's O2 Arena. Jackson had been due to start
the concerts on July 13. Jackson had been rehearsing in the Los Angeles area for
the London shows, which sold out within hours of within hours of going on sale
LOS ANGELES — For his legions of fans, he was the Peter Pan of pop music: the
little boy who refused to grow up. But on the verge of another attempted
comeback, he is suddenly gone, this time for good.
Michael Jackson, whose quintessentially American tale of celebrity and excess
took him from musical boy wonder to global pop superstar to sad figure haunted
by lawsuits, paparazzi and failed plastic surgery, was pronounced dead on
Thursday afternoon at U.C.L.A. Medical Center after arriving in a coma, a city
official said. Mr. Jackson was 50, having spent 40 of those years in the public
eye he loved.
The singer was rushed to the hospital, a six-minute drive from the rented Holmby
Hills home in which he was living, shortly after noon by paramedics for the Los
Angeles Fire Department. A hospital spokesman would not confirm reports of
cardiac arrest. He was pronounced dead at 2:26 pm.
As with Elvis Presley or the Beatles, it is impossible to calculate the full
effect Mr. Jackson had on the world of music. At the height of his career, he
was indisputably the biggest star in the world; he has sold more than 750
million albums. Radio stations across the country reacted to his death with
marathon sessions of his songs. MTV, which grew successful in part as a result
of Mr. Jackson’s groundbreaking videos, reprised its early days as a music
channel by showing his biggest hits.
From his days as the youngest brother in the Jackson 5 to his solo career in the
1980s and early 1990s, Mr. Jackson was responsible for a string of hits like “I
Want You Back,” “I’ll Be There” “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” “Billie Jean”
and “Black or White” that exploited his high voice, infectious energy and ear
for irresistible hooks.
As a solo performer, Mr. Jackson ushered in the age of pop as a global product —
not to mention an age of spectacle and pop culture celebrity. He became more
character than singer: his sequined glove, his whitened face, his moonwalk dance
move became embedded in the cultural firmament.
His entertainment career hit high-water marks with the release of “Thriller,”
from 1982, which has been certified 28 times platinum by the Recording Industry
Association of America, and with the “Victory” world tour that reunited him with
his brothers in 1984.
But soon afterward, his career started a bizarre disintegration. His darkest
moment undoubtedly came in 2003, when he was indicted on child molesting
charges. A young cancer patient claimed the singer had befriended him and then
groped him at his Neverland estate near Santa Barbara, Calif., but Mr. Jackson
was acquitted on all charges.
Reaction to his death started trickling in from the entertainment community late
“I am absolutely devastated at this tragic and unexpected news,” the music
producer Quincy Jones said in a statement. “I’ve lost my little brother today,
and part of my soul has gone with him.”
Berry Gordy, the Motown founder who helped develop the Jackson 5, told CNN that
Mr. Jackson, as a boy, “always wanted to be the best, and he was willing to work
as hard as it took to be that. And we could all see that he was a winner at that
Tommy Mottola, a former head of Sony Music, called Mr. Jackson “the cornerstone
to the entire music business.”
“He bridged the gap between rhythm and blues and pop music and made it into a
global culture,” said Mr. Mottola, who worked with Mr. Jackson until the singer
cut his ties with Sony in 2001.
Impromptu vigils broke out around the world, from Portland, Ore., where fans
organized a one-gloved bike ride (“glittery costumes strongly encouraged”) to
Hong Kong, where fans gathered with candles and sang his songs.
In Los Angeles, hundreds of fans — some chanting Mr. Jackson’s name, some doing
the “Thriller” dance — descended on the hospital and on the hillside house where
he was staying.
Jeremy Vargas, 38, hoisted his wife, Erica Renaud, 38, on his shoulders and they
danced and bopped to “Man in the Mirror” playing from an onlooker’s iPod
connected to external speakers — the boom boxes of Mr. Jackson’s heyday long
past their day.
“I am in shock and awe,” said Ms. Renaud, who was visiting from Red Hook,
Brooklyn, with her family. “He was like a family member to me.”
Dreams of a Comeback
Mr. Jackson was an object of fascination for the news media since the Jackson
5’s first hit, “I Want You Back,” in 1969. His public image wavered between that
of the musical naif, who wanted only to recapture his youth by riding on
roller-coasters and having sleepovers with his friends, to the calculated mogul
who carefully constructed his persona around his often-baffling public behavior.
Mr. Jackson had been scheduled to perform 50 concerts at the O2 arena in London
beginning next month and continuing into 2010. The shows, which quickly sold
out, were positioned as a comeback, with the potential to earn him up to $50
million, according to some reports.
But there had also been worry and speculation that Mr. Jackson was not
physically ready for such an arduous run of concerts, and his postponement of
the first of those shows to July 13 from July 8 fueled new rounds of gossip
about his health. Nevertheless, he was rehearsing Wednesday night at the Staples
Center in downtown Los Angeles. “The primary reason for the concerts wasn’t so
much that he was wanting to generate money as much as it was that he wanted to
perform for his kids,” said J. Randy Taraborrelli, whose biography, “Michael
Jackson: The Magic and the Madness,” was first published by Citadel in 1991.
“They had never seen him perform before.”
Mr. Jackson’s brothers, Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, Marlon and Randy, have all had
performing careers, with varying success, since they stopped performing
together. (Randy, the youngest, replaced Jermaine when the Jackson 5 left
Motown.) His sisters, Rebbie, La Toya and Janet, are also singers, and Janet
Jackson has been a major star in her own right for two decades. They all survive
him, as do his parents, Joseph and Katherine Jackson, of Las Vegas, and three
children: Michael Joseph Jackson Jr., Paris Michael Katherine Jackson, born to
Mr. Jackson’s second wife, Deborah Jeanne Rowe, and Prince Michael Jackson II,
the son of a surrogate mother. Mr. Jackson was also briefly married to Lisa
Marie Presley, the daughter of Elvis Presley.
A spokesman for the Los Angeles Police Department said the department assigned
its robbery and homicide division to investigate the death, but the spokesman
said that was because of Mr. Jackson’s celebrity.
“Don’t read into anything,” the spokesman told reporters gathered outside the
Bel-Air house. He said the coroner had taken possession of the body and would
conduct an investigation.
At a news conference at the hospital, Jermaine Jackson spoke to reporters about
his brother. “It is believed he suffered cardiac arrest at his home,” he said
softly. A personal physician first tried to resuscitate Michael Jackson at his
home before paramedics arrived. A team of doctors then tried to resuscitate him
for more than an hour, his brother said.
“May Allah be with you always,” Jermaine Jackson concluded, his gaze aloft.
In Gary, Ind., hundreds of people descended upon the squat clapboard house were
Mr. Jackson spent his earliest years. There were tears, loud wails, and quiet
prayers as old neighbors joined hands with people who had driven in from Chicago
and other nearby towns to pay their respects.
“Just continue to glorify the man, Lord,” said Ida Boyd-King, a local pastor who
led the crowd in prayer. “Let’s give God praise for Michael.”
Shelletta Hinton, 40, drove to Gary from Chicago with her two young children.
She said they had met Mr. Jackson in Gary a couple of years ago when he received
a key to the city. “We felt like we were close to Michael,” she said. “This is a
As dusk set in, mourners lighted candles and placed them on the concrete
doorstep. Some left teddy bears and personal notes. Doris Darrington, 77, said
she remembered seeing the Jackson 5 so many times around Gary that she got sick
of them. But she, too, was feeling hurt by the sudden news of Mr. Jackson’s
“He has always been a source of pride for Gary, even though he wasn’t around
much,” she said. “The older person, that’s not the Michael we knew. We knew the
little bitty boy with the big Afro and the brown skin. That’s how I’ll always
Michael Joseph Jackson was born in Gary on Aug. 29, 1958. The second youngest of
six brothers, he began performing professionally with four of them at the age of
5 in a group that their father, Joe, a steelworker, had organized the previous
year. In 1968, the group, originally called the Jackson Brothers, was signed by
Motown Records. The Jackson 5 was an instant phenomenon. The group’s first four
singles — “I Want You Back,” “ABC,” “The Love You Save” and “I’ll Be There” —
all reached No. 1 on the pop charts in 1970, a feat no group had accomplished
before. And young Michael was the center of attention: he handled virtually all
the lead vocals, danced with energy and finesse, and displayed a degree of
showmanship rare in a performer of any age.
In 1971, Mr. Jackson began recording under his own name, while continuing to
perform with his brothers. His recording of “Ben,” the title song from a movie
about a boy and his homicidal pet rat, was a No. 1 hit in 1972.
The brothers (minus Michael’s older brother Jermaine, who was married to the
daughter of Berry Gordy, Motown’s founder and chief executive) left Motown in
1975 and, rechristened the Jacksons, signed to Epic, a unit of CBS Records.
Three years later, Michael made his movie debut as the Scarecrow in the screen
version of the hit Broadway musical “The Wiz.” But movie stardom proved not to
be his destiny.
A Solo Sensation
Music stardom on an unprecedented level, however, was. Mr. Jackson’s first solo
album for Epic, “Off the Wall,” released in 1979, yielded two No. 1 singles and
sold seven million copies, but it was a mere prologue to what came next. His
follow-up, “Thriller,” released in 1982, became the best-selling album of all
time and helped usher in the music video age. The video for title track,
directed by John Landis, was an elaborate horror-movie pastiche that was more of
a mini-movie than a promotional clip.
Seven of the nine tracks on “Thriller” were released as singles and reached the
Top 10. The album spent two years on the Billboard album chart and sold an
estimated 100 million copies worldwide. It also won eight Grammy Awards.
The choreographer and director Vincent Paterson, who directed Mr. Jackson in
several videos, recalled watching him rehearse a dance sequence for four hours
in front of a mirror until it felt like second nature.
“That’s how he developed the moonwalk, working on it for days if not weeks until
it was organic,” he said. “He took an idea that he had seen some street kids
doing and perfected it.”
Mr. Jackson’s next album, “Bad,” released in 1987, sold eight million copies and
produced five No. 1 singles and another state-of-the-art video, this one
directed by Martin Scorsese. It was a huge hit by almost anyone else’s
standards, but an inevitable letdown after “Thriller.”
It was at this point that Mr. Jackson’s bizarre private life began to overshadow
his music. He would go on to release several more albums and, from time to time,
to stage elaborate concert tours. And he would never be too far from the public
eye. But it would never again be his music that kept him there.
Even with the millions Mr. Jackson earned, his eccentric lifestyle took a severe
financial toll. In 1988 Mr. Jackson paid about $17 million for a 2,600-acre
ranch in Los Olivos, Calif., 125 miles northwest of Los Angeles. Calling it
Neverland after the mythical island of Peter Pan, he outfitted the property with
amusement-park rides, a zoo and a 50-seat theater, at a cost of $35 million,
according to reports, and the ranch became his sanctum.
But Neverland, and Mr. Jackson’s lifestyle, were expensive to maintain. A
forensic accountant who testified at Mr. Jackson’s molesting trial in 2005 said
Mr. Jackson’s annual budget in 1999 included $7.5 million for personal expenses
and $5 million to maintain Neverland. By at least the late 1990s, he began to
take out huge loans to support himself and pay debts. In 1998, he took out a
loan for $140 million from Bank of America, which two years later was increased
to $200 million. Further loans of hundreds of millions followed.
The collateral for the loans was Mr. Jackson’s 50 percent share in Sony/ATV
Music Publishing, a portfolio of thousands of songs, including rights to 259
songs by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, considered some of the most valuable
properties in music.
In 1985, Mr. Jackson paid $47.5 million for ATV, which included the Beatles
songs — a move that estranged him from Mr. McCartney, who had advised him to
invest in music rights — and 10 years later, Mr. Jackson sold 50 percent of his
interest to Sony for $90 million, creating a joint venture, Sony/ATV. Estimates
of the catalog’s value exceed $1 billion.
Last year, Neverland narrowly escaped foreclosure after Mr. Jackson defaulted on
$24.5 million he owed on the property. A Los Angeles real estate investment
company, Colony Capital L.L.C., bought the note, and put the title for the
property into a joint venture with Mr. Jackson.
A Scandal’s Heavy Toll
In many ways, Mr. Jackson never recovered from the child molesting trial, a
lurid affair that attracted media from around the world to watch as Mr. Jackson,
wearing a different costume each day, appeared in a small courtroom in Santa
Maria, Calif., to listen as a parade of witnesses spun a sometimes-incredible
The case ultimately turned on the credibility of Mr. Jackson’s accuser, a
15-year-old cancer survivor who said the defendant had gotten him drunk and
molested him several times. The boy’s younger brother testified that he had seen
Mr. Jackson groping his brother on two other occasions.
After 14 weeks of such testimony and seven days of deliberations, the jury
returned not-guilty verdicts on all 14 counts against Mr. Jackson: four charges
of child molesting, one charge of attempted child molesting, one conspiracy
charge and eight possible counts of providing alcohol to minors. Conviction
could have brought Mr. Jackson 20 years in prison. Instead, he walked away a
free man to try to reclaim a career that at the time had already been in decline
After his trial, Mr. Jackson largely left the United States for Bahrain, the
island nation in the Persian Gulf, where he was the guest of Sheik Abdullah, a
son of the ruler of the country, King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa. Mr. Jackson
would never return to live at his ranch. Instead he remained in Bahrain, Dubai
and Ireland for the next several years, managing his increasingly unstable
finances. He remained an avid shopper, however, and was spotted at shopping
malls in the black robes and veils traditionally worn by Bahraini women.
Despite the public relations blow of his trial, Mr. Jackson and his
ever-changing retinue of managers, lawyers and advisers never stopped plotting
By early this year, Mr. Jackson was living in a $100,000-a-month mansion in
Bel-Air, to be closer to “where all the action is” in the entertainment
business, his manager at the time, Tohme Tohme, told The Los Angeles Times. He
was also preparing for his upcoming London shows.
”He was just so excited about having an opportunity to come back,” said Mr.
Paterson, the director and choreographer.
Despite his troubles, the press and the public never abandoned the star. A crowd
of paparazzi and onlookers lined the street outside Mr. Jackson’s home as the
ambulance took him to the hospital.
Reporting was contributed by John M. Broder from Washington;
Randal C. Archibold from Los Angeles; Susan Saulny from Gary, Ind.; and Melena
Ryzik, Ben Sisario, Brian Stelter and Peter Keepnews from New York.
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
Correction: June 27, 2009
An article on Friday about the death of Michael Jackson misstated the number of
songs from his album “Off the Wall” that became No. 1 singles. There were two,
not four. The article also misstated part of a comment that Mr. Jackson’s
brother Jermaine offered for Mr. Jackson after speaking with reporters. He said,
“May Allah be with you always,” not “May our love be with you always.”
This article has been revised
to reflect the following correction:
Correction: June 30, 2009
An obituary on Friday about Michael Jackson misidentified the area of Los
Angeles where he was renting a home. It is Holmby Hills,
not the adjacent Bel
This article has been revised
to reflect the following correction:
Correction: July 3, 2009
Because of an editing error, an obituary last Friday
about Michael Jackson
misstated the title of one
of his hit songs.