Death of Michael Jackson

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Death of Michael Jackson
Jackson's star on The Hollywood Walk of Fame, showing flowers for fans to express grief.
Jackson's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, surrounded by barriers and covered with flowers, became a focal point for fans to express grief.
Date June 25, 2009 (2009-06-25)
Location Holmby Hills, Los Angeles, California, United States
Outcome Personal physician convicted of involuntary manslaughter
Deaths Michael Jackson

On June 25, 2009, Michael Jackson died of acute propofol and benzodiazepine intoxication after suffering cardiac arrest at his home on North Carolwood Drive in the Holmby Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles. His personal physician, Conrad Murray, said he had found Jackson in his room, not breathing and with a barely detectable pulse, and that he administered CPR on Jackson's bed to no avail. After a call was placed to 9-1-1 at 12:21 p.m., Jackson was treated by paramedics at the scene and was later pronounced dead at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center.[1] On the eve of Jackson's 51st birthday, the Los Angeles County Coroner concluded that his death was a homicide.[2] Shortly before his death, Jackson had reportedly been administered propofol and three anti-anxiety benzodiazepines, lorazepam, and midazolam, in his home.[3] His personal physician was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in 2011 and served a two-year prison sentence.[4][5]

Jackson's death triggered an outpouring of grief around the world, creating unprecedented surges of Internet traffic and causing sales of his music and that of the Jackson 5 to increase dramatically.[6] Jackson had also intended to perform a series of fifty comeback/farewell concerts entitled This Is It to over one million people at London's O2 Arena between July 13, 2009, and March 6, 2010.[7] A public memorial service for Jackson was held on July 7, 2009, at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, where he had rehearsed for the London concerts the night before his death. The service was broadcast live around the world, attracting a global audience of up to one billion people.[8] In 2010, Sony Music Entertainment signed a US $250 million deal with Jackson's estate to retain distribution rights to his recordings up until 2017, and to release seven posthumous albums over the decade following his death. Jackson's death is ranked No. 1 on VH1/VH1 Classic's list of 100 Most Shocking Moments in Music.[9]

Circumstances

Two white multi floored squared buildings with blue colored windows. There is a street and clear sky surrounding the buildings.
Jackson's body arrived at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center on June 25, 2009 at 1:14 p.m. local time.

Jackson arrived for rehearsal at Staples Center around 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, June 24, according to Ed Alonzo, a magician who was there. The singer jokingly complained of laryngitis and did not rehearse until 9 p.m. "He looked great and had great energy,"[10] Alonzo added. The rehearsal went past midnight.[10] The next morning Jackson did not come out of his bedroom.[11] According to the attorney of Conrad Murray, Jackson's personal physician, Murray entered the room in the afternoon and found Jackson in bed and not breathing. Jackson had a weak pulse, and his body was still warm.[12] Murray tried to revive Jackson for five to ten minutes, at which point he realized he needed to call for help. Murray stated that he was hindered because there was no landline in the house. Murray also stated that he could not use his cell phone to call 911 because he did not know the exact address. Murray stated that he also phoned security, but did not get an answer. Finally, Murray ran downstairs, yelled for help, and told a chef to bring security up to the room.[13] By the time security called 911, Murray's lawyer stated that at least 30 minutes had passed.[13]

Statements described Murray as using a non-standard CPR technique on Jackson. During the tape of the emergency call, released on June 26 one day after Jackson's death, the doctor was described as administering CPR on a bed, not on a hard surface such as a floor, which would be standard practice.[14][15] The doctor's attorney said that Murray placed one hand underneath Jackson and used the other hand for chest compression, where the standard practice is to use both hands for compression.[11][16] A Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) spokesperson said the 911 call came in at 12:21:04 p.m. PST (19:21:04 UTC). Paramedics reached Jackson at 12:26 p.m. and found that he was not breathing.[17][18]

Paramedics performed CPR for 42 minutes at the house.[19] Murray's attorney stated that Jackson had a pulse when he was taken out of the house and put in the ambulance.[11] An LAFD official gave a different account, stating that paramedics found Jackson in "full cardiac arrest", and that they did not observe a change in Jackson's status on the route to the hospital.[20] LAFD transported Jackson to Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center.[17] The ambulance arrived at the hospital at approximately 1:14 p.m. A team of medical personnel attempted to resuscitate Jackson for more than one hour. They were unsuccessful and he was pronounced dead at 2:26 p.m. at the age of 50.[21][22][23]

Investigation

Autopsies

Jackson's body was flown by helicopter to the Los Angeles Coroner's offices in Lincoln Heights, where on June 26 a three-hour autopsy was performed on behalf of the Los Angeles County Coroner by the chief medical examiner, Lakshmanan Sathyavagiswaran.[24] Jackson's family arranged for a second autopsy, a practice that could yield expedited—albeit limited—results.[25] After the preliminary autopsy was completed, Craig Harvey, chief investigator for the coroner's office, said there was no evidence of trauma or foul play.[26] On August 28, the LA County Coroner made an official statement classifying Jackson's death as a homicide. The county coroner stated that Jackson died from the combination of drugs in his body, with the most significant drugs being the anesthetic propofol and the anxiolytic lorazepam. Less significant drugs found in Jackson's body were midazolam, diazepam, lidocaine and ephedrine. The coroner is keeping the complete toxicology report private, as requested by the police and district attorney.[2] On October 1, the BBC reported that the autopsy report revealed that Jackson was "very healthy"[27] for his age and that his heart was strong. The document stated that Jackson's most significant health problem was his chronically inflamed lungs, but this did not contribute to his death. His other major organs were normal and he had no atherosclerosis except for some slight plaque accumulation in his leg arteries.[28][29] The autopsy stated that he weighed 136 pounds (62 kg) with a height of 5'9" (175 cm), which equates to a BMI of 20.1.[30] Fox News said that this confirmed rumors that Jackson was emaciated,[31] while the Associated Press stated that his weight was in the acceptable range.[29]

Law enforcement agencies

Although they did not immediately announce that they suspected foul play, by the day after Jackson's death the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) began to investigate the unusual and high-profile case.[32] By August 28, the LAPD had announced that the case would be referred to prosecutors who might file criminal charges.[2] Because the LAPD did not secure Jackson's home, and allowed the Jackson family access to it too, before returning to remove certain items, the department raised concerns by some observers that the chain of custody had been broken.[33][34] The police maintained that they had followed protocol.[34] On July 1, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) joined the LAPD in the investigation. Having the authority to investigate issues otherwise protected by doctor-patient confidentiality, the DEA could legally follow the entirety of what appeared to be the complex trail of prescription drugs supplied to Jackson.[33] California Attorney General Jerry Brown announced that his office was helping the LAPD and DEA to create a statewide database of all medical doctors and prescriptions filled.[35]

The LAPD subpoenaed medical records from doctors who had treated Jackson. On July 9, William Bratton, then the Los Angeles Chief of Police, indicated that investigators were focusing on the possibility of homicide or accidental overdose, but had to wait for the full toxicology reports from the coroner.[36] The Los Angeles Times quoted a senior law enforcement source as saying authorities may not pursue charges even if the coroner declares the case a homicide, because Jackson's well-documented drug abuse would make any prosecution difficult. Nonetheless, the source said prosecutors had not ruled out more serious charges "all the way up to involuntary manslaughter" if it were determined that Jackson's death was indeed caused by the drug propofol.[37]

Drug-use allegations

Jackson was said to have used propofol, as well as alprazolam (an antianxiety agent), and sertraline (an antidepressant).[38] Other drugs named in connection with him included omeprazole, hydrocodone, paroxetine, carisoprodol, and hydromorphone.[39] After his death, police found several drugs in his home, including propofol. Some of these drugs had labels made out to Jackson under pseudonyms, while others were unlabeled.[40][41] A 2004 police document prepared for the 2005 People v. Jackson child abuse trial alleged that Jackson was taking up to 40 alprazolam pills a night.[36] Alprazolam was not found in his bloodstream at his time of death.[3] Dr. A.J. Farshchian, Michael Jackson's friend and confidante, has claimed that Jackson was scared of drugs.[42]

Deepak Chopra, an internist, endocrinologist, and speaker about mind–body intervention who was a friend of Jackson's for 20 years, expressed concern that, despite presumably having access to a large arsenal of drugs, Jackson appears to have been given no naloxone, a drug used to counteract the effects of an opioid overdose.[43] Chopra also criticized what he saw as "enabling" by some Hollywood doctors: "This cult of drug-pushing doctors, with their co-dependent relationships with addicted celebrities, must be stopped. Let's hope that Michael's unnecessary death is the call for action."[43]

Eugene Aksenoff, a Tokyo-based physician who had treated Michael Jackson and his children on a few occasions, expressed concern about Jackson's use of and interest in various drugs. Aksenoff told The Japan Times that Jackson asked for stimulants so that he could get through some demanding performances. Aksenoff said he refused to prescribe them. He recalled that the singer suffered chronic fatigue, fever, insomnia and other symptoms and took a large amount of drugs. He suspected one of the major factors causing Jackson these symptoms was excessive use of steroids or other skin-whitening medications.[44] According to the toxicological tests effectuated on Jackson's body, no addiction had been reported, and none of the experts called to testify at Murray's trial have identified the singer as a drug addict.[3] Janet Jackson confirmed that the Jackson family tried to stage an intervention in early 2007, when Michael was living in Las Vegas.[45] Janet Jackson and some of her brothers allegedly traveled to his home, but were turned away by security guards who were ordered not to let them in. He was also rumored to have refused calls from his mother. "If you tried to deal with him," one source told CNN, "he would shut you out. You just wouldn't hear from him for long periods." The family denied that they had tried to intervene.[46]

Propofol

 An ampoule of propofol.
An ampoule of propofol

Of all the drugs found in Jackson's home, the one that most concerned investigators was propofol (Diprivan), a powerful anesthetic administered intravenously in hospitals to induce and maintain anesthesia during surgery.[47] Nicknamed "milk of amnesia" because of its opaque, milk-like appearance (and a play on the words "milk of magnesia"), the drug has been associated with cardiac arrest,[47] but it still may be increasingly used off-label for anxiolytic and other medically unsubstantiated purposes.[41] Several propofol bottles—some empty, some full—were found in Jackson's home.[41]

On June 30, Cherilyn Lee, a nurse who had worked as Jackson's nutritionist, said that he had asked her in May to provide propofol to help him sleep, but she refused. He told her he had been given the drug before for persistent insomnia, and that a doctor had said it was safe. Lee said she received a telephone call from an aide to Jackson on June 21 to say that Jackson was ill, although she no longer worked for him. She reported overhearing Jackson complain that one side of his body was hot, the other side cold. She advised the aide to send Jackson to a hospital.[48]

Arnold Klein told CNN that Jackson used an anesthesiologist to administer propofol to help him sleep while he was on tour in Germany. CNN said the anesthesiologist would "take him down" at night and "bring him back up" in the morning during the HIStory tour of 1996 to 1997.[46]

Medical professionals

The Los Angeles Times wrote that the DEA was focusing on at least five doctors who prescribed drugs to Jackson, trying to determine whether they had had a "face to face" relationship with him, and whether they had made legally required diagnoses.[41] Fox News Channel published a list of nine doctors who they said were under investigation.[49] The Sunday Times wrote that the police wanted to question 30 doctors, nurses, and pharmacists, including Arnold Klein.[50] Klein said that he occasionally had given Jackson pethidine to sedate him, but had administered nothing stronger, and that he had turned his records over to the medical examiner.[51]

Personal physician

A one-story tan colored building. Bushes, trees, a sidewalk and a sky with multiple clouds surround the building.
Murray practiced out of the Armstrong Clinic in Houston. The clinic was raided during an investigation of Murray in July 2009.

Cardiologist Conrad Murray joined Jackson's camp in May 2009 as part of Jackson's agreement with AEG Live, the promoter of his London concerts. Murray first met Jackson in Las Vegas when the doctor treated one of the singer's children. AEG Live said the singer insisted the company hire Murray to accompany him to England.[52] During Murray's trial it emerged that AEG employed the doctor and that Jackson did not sign the contract for the above-cited employment either.[53]

Murray said through his attorney that he did not prescribe or administer pethidine or oxycodone to Jackson, but did not say what, if anything, he did prescribe or administer.[47] Los Angeles police said the doctor spoke to officers immediately after Jackson's death, and during an extensive interview two days later. They stressed that they found "no red flag" and did not suspect foul play.[14] On June 26, police towed away a car used by Murray, stating that it might contain medication or other evidence. The police released the car five days later.[33]

Politician and minister Jesse Jackson, a friend of Michael Jackson's family, said that the family was concerned about Murray's role. "They have good reason to be [...] he left the scene."[54] Over the next few weeks, law enforcement grew increasingly concerned about the doctor, and on July 22 detectives searched Murray's medical office and storage unit in Houston, removing items such as a computer and two hard drives, contact lists and a hospital suspension notice.[55] On the 27th, an anonymous source reported that Murray had administered propofol within 24 hours of Jackson's death.[56] Murray's lawyers refused to comment on what they called "rumors, innuendo or unnamed sources."[57] The following day, the ABC News program Nightline reported that investigators had searched Murray's home and office in Las Vegas, and that Murray had become the primary focus of the investigation.[58] On August 11, a Las Vegas pharmacy was searched by investigators looking for evidence regarding Murray, according to an anonymous police source cited by The New York Times.[59] Murray's lawyer advised patience until the toxicology results arrived, noting that "things tend to shake out when all the facts are made known".[58] On February 8, 2010, Murray was charged with involuntary manslaughter by prosecutors in Los Angeles. Murray pleaded not guilty and was released after posting $75,000 (USD) bail.[60] Shortly after, the California Medical Board issued an order preventing Murray from administering heavy sedatives.[61]

On January 11, 2011, the judge from Murray's preliminary hearing determined that Murray should stand trial for involuntary manslaughter in the Jackson case. The judge also suspended Murray's license to practice medicine in California.[62] The trial was originally to begin on March 24, but a delayed opening rescheduled it for May 9. Finally, the trial was rescheduled to September 8, with no further delays, as reported by CNN.[63] The jury selection of Murray's trial began on September 8, 2011, in Los Angeles. The trial began on September 27, 2011.[64] On November 7, 2011, Murray was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter[65] and he was held without bail to await sentencing.[66] On November 29, 2011, Murray received the maximum sentence of 4 years in prison.[67] Murray was released on October 28, 2013,[5] due to California prison overcrowding and good behavior.[68]

Health

A white piece of paper with personal information about the death of a person. The paper's writing is all in black and has multiple sections blacked-out.
Michael Jackson's initial death certificate, issued pending toxicology reports
Another white piece of paper, with black writing and multiple sections blacked out, amending the prior form shown
The amendment form issued by the coroner for his death certificate, after toxicology reports became available. Note the change of cause from "deferred" to "acute propofol intoxication" and the ruling of "Homicide" added.

Stacy Brown, a biographer, said Jackson had become "very frail, totally, totally underweight," and that his family had been worried about him. Another biographer, J. Randy Taraborrelli, who became friends with Jackson in the 1970s, said Jackson had suffered from an addiction to painkillers which went on and off for decades.[26] Arnold Klein, Jackson's dermatologist, confirmed that Jackson misused prescription drugs, and that Klein had diagnosed Jackson with vitiligo and lupus. Yet, Klein said, when he saw Jackson at his office three days before his death, the singer "was in very good physical condition. He was dancing for my patients. He was very mentally aware when we saw him and he was in a very good mood."[51]

Family and legal affairs

Further information: Jackson family and The Jackson 5

Jackson is survived by his three children, Prince Michael Joseph Jackson (b. 1997); Paris-Michael Katherine Jackson (b. 1998), born during his marriage to his second wife, Debbie Rowe; and Prince Michael Jackson II, known as "Blanket", born in 2002 to a surrogate mother. He is also survived by his brothers, Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, Marlon and Randy; sisters Rebbie, La Toya and Janet; and parents Joseph and Katherine. Katherine was granted temporary guardianship of Michael's three children on June 29, 2009.[69]

Family reaction

The Jackson family released a collective statement following the death:

Our beloved son, brother and father of three children has gone so unexpectedly, in such a tragic way and much too soon. It leaves us, his family, speechless and devastated to a point, where communication with the outside world seems almost impossible at times.[70]

La Toya indicated that the family would file a lawsuit against anyone they believed responsible for her brother's death, as well as push for criminal charges.[71] In 2009, she stated that Jackson might have been administered an ultimately lethal dose of drugs by "a shadowy entourage" of handlers[71] and, in 2010, said that she believed her brother "was murdered for his music catalogue."[72] Shortly after Jackson's death, the family raised questions about the role of AEG Live, the This Is It concert promoter, in the last few weeks of his life.[54] Joseph has since filed a complaint with the California Medical Board alleging that AEG Live was illegally practicing medicine by demanding that Murray get Jackson off various medications. The complaint also alleges that AEG Live failed to provide the resuscitation equipment and nurse which Murray had requested. AEG spokesman Michael Roth declined to comment on the complaint.[73]

After Murray pleaded not guilty to the manslaughter charge, several members of the Jackson family said they felt he deserved a more severe charge.[74] On June 25, 2010, Joseph filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Murray. The lawsuit alleges that Murray repeatedly lied to cover up his use of propofol, did not keep sufficient medical records and was negligent in his use of medications on Jackson. Murray's civil attorney, Charles Peckham, denied that Murray gave Jackson anything life-threatening.[75] On August 15, 2012, Joseph dropped his wrongful death lawsuit against Murray.[76][77]

On September 15, 2010, Panish Shea & Boyle LLP also filed a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of Michael Jackson's three children and his mother against the Anschutz Entertainment Group, Inc. (AEG) and its subsidiaries and principals (including Randy Phillips, Kenny Ortega, Paul Gongaware and Thimothy Leiweke).[78] The suit alleges that AEG put their desire for profits from the This Is It concerts over the health and safety of Michael Jackson, ultimately causing his death". Roth declined to comment on the lawsuit, saying that AEG not seen it.[79]

On November 7, 2011, Michael Jackson's family arrived at the courthouse in Los Angeles shortly after the jury announced they reached their verdict: Guilty. Michael's father Joe Jackson replied to reporters, only saying, "Justice." LaToya Jackson tweeted that she was shaking uncontrollably when she heard the verdict, and continued to tweet her emotions throughout the day.[80]

Estate

Jackson's last will was filed by attorney John Branca at the Los Angeles County courthouse on July 1, 2009. Signed July 7, 2002, it names Branca and accountant John McClain as executors; they were confirmed as such by a Los Angeles judge on July 6, 2009.[81] All assets are given to the (pre-existing) Michael Jackson Family Trust (amended March 22, 2002),[82] the details of which have not been made public. The Associated Press reports that, in 2007, Jackson had a net worth of $236.6 million: $567.6 million in assets, which included Neverland Ranch and his 50% share of Sony/ATV Music Publishing' catalogue, and debts of $331 million.[83] The guardianship of his three children is given to his mother, Katherine, or if she is unable or unwilling, to singer Diana Ross.[84] The will states that Jackson's former wife Debbie Rowe was omitted intentionally.[85] Jackson's will allocates 20% of his fortune as well as 20% of money made after death to unspecified charities.[86]

Media reports suggested that settlement of Jackson's estate could last many years.[87] The value of Sony/ATV Music Publishing is estimated by Ryan Schinman, chief of Platinum Rye, to be US$1.5 billion. Shinman's estimate makes Jackson's share of Sony/ATV worth US$750 million, from which Jackson would have had an annual income of US$80 million. Sony Corporation has not commented on whether it intends to buy Jackson's share of Sony/ATV from the Jackson estate. Jackson's creditors could force a distressed sale, which would act in Sony's favor since it would lower the sale price, but only if the trust set up by Jackson for his stake in Sony/ATV is revocable. A distressed sale would lower the value of Jackson's estate, and thus might not raise enough to cover the debts owed by the estate.[88]

Taxation of estate

The estate administrators and the IRS have estimated portions of the estate differently.[89][90] The estate estimated that the value of Jackson's likeness is only $2,105; whereas the IRS estimated that the likeness to be worth $434.26 million.[90] The estate estimated "no worth in Jackson's interest in a trust that owns some songs of his and the Beatles, but the IRS valued it at $469 million."[90] Also in dispute is the value of "Jackson's share of the Jackson 5 master recordings rights, stocks and bonds, and various cars Jackson owned."[90][91] The IRS proposed "imposing $505 million in taxes plus an additional $197 million in penalties, including a gross valuation misstatement penalty."[89][90] On July 26, 2013, the estate filed a U.S. Tax Court petition claiming "the IRS overestimated the value of its assets, including Jackson's likeness, real estate, a Bentley, a Lloyds of London insurance policy, Jackson's share of MJJ Ventures Inc., and two trusts.".[91][92] Jackson estate attorney Paul Hoffman of Hoffman, Sabban & Watenmaker told Bloomberg News, "The IRS is wrong."[92] The case title is Estate of Michael J. Jackson v. IRS, 17152-13, U.S. Tax Court in Washington, DC.[91]

Public reaction

Media and Internet coverage

Wikipedia spikes at 15:00 hrs in Los Angeles, June 25.

The first reports that Jackson had suffered a cardiac arrest, then that he had died, came from TMZ.com, a Los Angeles-based celebrity news website. Doctors at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center pronounced Jackson dead at 2:26 p.m., and 18 minutes later at 2:44 p.m., TMZ published: "Michael Jackson passed away today at the age of 50."[18] The Los Angeles Times website confirmed the report at 2:51 p.m. PDT (5:51 p.m. EDT).[93] The news spread quickly online, causing websites to slow down and crash from user overload. Both TMZ and the Los Angeles Times suffered outages.[93] Google initially believed that the input from millions of people searching for "Michael Jackson" meant that the search engine was under attack. Twitter reported a crash, as did Wikipedia at 3:15 p.m.[94] The Wikimedia Foundation reported nearly a million visitors to Jackson's biography within one hour, probably the most visitors in a one-hour period to any article in Wikipedia's history.[95] AOL Instant Messenger went down for 40 minutes. AOL called it a "seminal moment in Internet history", adding, "We've never seen anything like it in terms of scope or depth."[96]

Around 15% of Twitter posts—or 5,000 tweets per minute—reportedly mentioned Jackson after the news broke,[97][98] compared to the 5% recalled as having mentioned the Iranian elections or the flu pandemic that had made headlines earlier in the year.[98] Overall, web traffic ranged from 11% to at least 20% higher than normal.[97][99] MTV and Black Entertainment Television (BET) aired marathons of Jackson's music videos.[100] Jackson specials aired on multiple television stations around the world. The British soap opera EastEnders added a last-minute scene, in which one character discussed the news with another, to the June 26 episode.[101] Whilst all British newspapers printed pictures of Jackson in his youth or in his prime, The Sun (for the day after his death) was the only paper to show Jackson from 2009 at his frailest, and keeping to their regular promotion of 'Wacko Jacko.' The next day The Sun fell into course with the rest of the newspapers and Jackson was the topic of every front-page headline in The Sun for about two weeks following his death.[102] Magazines including TIME published commemorative editions.[103] A scene that had featured Jackson's sister La Toya was cut from the film Brüno out of respect toward Jackson's family.[104]

According to an analysis released by the Global Language Monitor, "72 hours after his death, Jackson jumped to the No. 9 spot for the global print and electronic media. For Internet, blogs and social media, Jackson jumped to the No. 2, only trailing the election of Barack Obama to the presidency of the United States. The results showed the growing disparity between the mainstream global media, and what is playing out for news on the Internet, and beyond".[105] Paul JJ Payack, president and chief word analyst of GLM said, "the death of Michael Jackson has resulted in a global media event of the first order", and added, "the fact that he has broken into the top media of the 21st century is a testament to the global impact of the man and his music." Commentators around the globe made connections between Jackson's death and the problems they perceived with everything from the racial dichotomy that Jackson sang about, to the "profoundly tragic figure of Michael Jackson"[106]—from American capitalism[107] and globalization, to the fall of the music industry in the 1980s. "Commentators around the world have absolutely flipped", wrote Patrik Etschmayer of Switzerland's Nachrichten newspaper.[108] Le Figaro columnist Yann Moix said that although Jackson, like his iconic Moonwalk, lived life in reverse, the world at his death shed "identical and universal tears".[109]

Statistics published by the Pew Research Center suggested that two out of three Americans believed the coverage of Jackson's death was excessive, while 3% felt it was insufficient.[110] In the UK, the BBC received over 700 complaints from viewers who thought the death dominated the news.[111] On June 29, American conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh said the coverage was "a horrible disgrace" and lent his support to activist-ministers Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, who were fighting to stem the press's speculation about what caused the death.[112] Other conservatives, including commentator Bill O'Reilly[113] and Congressman Peter T. King,[114] also disapproved of the media attention Jackson's death received. Meanwhile, Hugo Chávez, the President of Venezuela, called the pop star's death "lamentable news",[115] but criticized CNN for giving this news more coverage than they gave a coup d'état taking place in Honduras.[107][115]

In August 2009, there were reports that Michael Jackson's family paid social media marketing company uSocial.net to increase the numbers of followers on Jackson's Twitter profile.[116] According to the New York Daily News, uSocial was contracted to deliver 25,000 followers to the account.[117] It was not specified whether the service was rendered before or after his death.

Grief

The floor on an area on the ground is covered with flowers, cards and balloons. The area is closed off with metal barricades.
Jackson's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame became a focal point for public grief.

News of Jackson's death triggered an outpouring of grief around the world. The circumstances and timing of his death were compared to those of Elvis Presley and John Lennon. Fans gathered outside the UCLA Medical Center, Neverland Ranch, his Holmby Hills home, the Hayvenhurst Jackson family home in Encino, the Apollo Theater in New York, and at Hitsville U.S.A., the old Motown headquarters in Detroit where Jackson's career began, now the Motown Museum. Streets around the hospital were blocked off, and across America people left offices and factories to watch the breaking news on television.[118] A small crowd, including the city's mayor, gathered outside his childhood home in Gary, where the flag on city hall was flown at half staff in his honor.[119] Fans in Hollywood initially gathered around the Walk of Fame star of another Michael Jackson—unable to access the singer's star, which had been temporarily covered by equipment in place for the Brüno film premiere.[120] Grieving fans and memorial tributes relocated from the talk radio host's star the next day.[121]

From Odessa[122] to Brussels,[123] and beyond, fans held their own memorial gatherings. U.S. President Barack Obama sent a letter of condolence to the Jackson family,[14] and the House of Representatives observed a moment of silence.[124] Obama later stated that Jackson "will go down in history as one of our greatest entertainers".[125] Former South African President Nelson Mandela issued a message through his foundation saying Jackson's loss would be felt worldwide.[126]

A group of people standing outside a gated area. There are trees, bushes, and grassed areas. A majority of the area the people and in are shadowed by the trees by the gate.
Fans visiting the makeshift memorial set up outside the Neverland Ranch entrance shortly after Jackson's death.

In Japan, where Jackson had somewhat of an idol status, the top government spokesman and other ministers expressed their condolences. Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Tsutomu Sato told reporters, "I feel sad as I had watched him since he was a member of Jackson Five." "Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada has credited him with building a generation with his music."[127] "'He was a superstar. It is an extremely tragic loss. But it is fantastic he was able to give so many dreams and so much hope to the people of the world,' said Health Minister Yoichi Masuzoe."[128]

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown issue a brief statement on Jackson's death: "This is very sad news for the millions of Michael Jackson fans in Britain and around the world." The Conservative opposition leader, David Cameron, said, "I know Michael Jackson's fans in Britain and around the world will be sad today. Despite the controversies, he was a legendary entertainer."[129]

Russian fans gathered outside the U.S. embassy in Moscow to mourn. One told Russia's Novosti newspaper, "This is so difficult! I'm hurt, very hurt! … For us, this is a very great loss. To us, he became a symbol of the spiritual world. It's hard to convey how great a loss this is."[130] France's Minister Culture, Frédéric Mitterrand, said, "We all have a Michael Jackson within."[131] Elizabeth Taylor, a long-time friend, said she can't imagine life without him.[132] Liza Minnelli told CBS, "When the autopsy comes, all hell's going to break loose, so thank God we're celebrating him now."[133] His sister La Toya claimed that his daughter said he was being overworked. La Toya is quoted as saying: "She said, 'No, you don't understand. They kept working him and Daddy didn't want that, but they worked him constantly'. I felt so bad."[134]

Tributes

A group of males and a female performing on stage in front of a crowd of people. A male is shown blowing a kiss to the audience while wearing a white glove on his right hand and a white shirt with black pants and a jacket. An African American male wearing a white and dark grey shirt is shown in a crouched down position. The female is waving her hands in the air while wearing black fingerless gloves with a black shirt and pink shorts. There is also two other African American males in the background making hand gestures. Behind the people on the stage, there is a screen that shows a black and white photo.
During the second leg of Madonna's Sticky & Sweet Tour in June 2009, she and a Jackson impersonator performed a medley of Jackson's songs while photos of Jackson's were shown on a screen behind them.

On June 30, 2009, U2 while performing their first show of the U2 360 tour in Barcelona dedicated the song "Angel of Harlem" to Jackson. Bono sang verses from "Man In The Mirror" and "Don't Stop Till You Get Enough" at the end of the song. On July 10, 2009, six thousand fans attended a musical tribute in Jackson's hometown of Gary, Indiana. Local performers staged a medley of his songs, and mayor Rudy Clay unveiled a seven-foot memorial to him. Jesse Jackson addressed the crowd, stating, "This is where Michael learned to dance, where he learned to sing, where he learned to sacrifice."[135] The Game, was among the first performers to release a tribute song: his single "Better on the Other Side" came out the day after Jackson's death. Produced by DJ Khalil, this song featured vocals by Diddy, Chris Brown, Polow da Don, Mario Winans, Usher, and Boyz II Men.[136] A wide variety of other artists recorded musical tributes, such as 50 Cent,[137] LL Cool J, Robbie Williams, Akon and guitarist Buckethead (whose song entitled "The Homing Beacon" was inspired by Jackson's 3-D film, Captain EO.)[138]

On June 26, multiple artists, such as Pharrell Williams and Lily Allen, paid tribute to Jackson at the Glastonbury Festival.[139] Performances included Allen wearing a single white glove (which was a signature look for Jackson) for her set on the Pyramid Stage, while The Streets performed a cover of "Billie Jean".[139] Tributes to Jackson at the musical festival continued over the weekend from June 26 to June 28.[140] On July 5, 2009. Madonna performed a tribute to Jackson during the second leg of the Sticky & Sweet Tour.[141] While performing a medley of Jackson's songs, as a Jackson impersonator performed Jackson's signature moves, photos of Jackson were shown on screen behind them.[141][142] After the performance, Madonna told the crowd, "Let's give it up for one of the greatest artists the world has ever known", leading to applause from the crowd.[142] Beyonce Knowles dedicated her song "Halo" to Jackson during multiple concerts during her I Am... World Tour. Knowles, who cites Jackson as her biggest influence, has been referred to as Jackson's heir apparent, along with drawing continuous comparisons to him.

Artists from the metal and hard rock community also paid homage to Jackson. Metallica paid tribute to Jackson during its encore at the Sonisphere Festival. Honoring Michael Jackson during its July 4 headlining appearance at the event, the band played a portion of 'Beat It' before easing into a riotous cover of Queen's 'Stone Cold Crazy'.[143] Boston hard rockers Extreme performed a cover version of Jacksons's "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin" at the Midnight Rodeo in Amarillo, Texas.[144] Judas Priest bassist Ian Hill, spoke about Jackson in an interview for an internet blog: "He was an immense star, wasn't he? Let's face it. He's a worldwide superstar really and the grief that everybody's is showing, it doesn't surprise me at all. He was a very, very talented man." [145] Members of the legendary metal band Black Sabbath released official statements regarding the passing of Michael Jackson. Drummer Bill Ward: "For those in heartache today, I wish you all wellness in healing. A great entertainer has died. I think those who experienced and heard his heart are more enlightened people for it than before. I believe you're all most fortunate to have connected to Michael Jackson." [146] Bassist Geezer Butler: "Saddened and shocked to hear of the passing of Michael Jackson. He truly was, and always will be, a true icon. 'Thriller' was one of the greatest pop masterpieces of all time. A sad day for our world. R.I.P." [147] Legendary shock rocker, Alice Cooper released the following statement: "Michael Jackson was easily as influential as James Brown, and that's saying a lot. We had Vincent Price in common. I used him first on 'Welcome To My Nightmare' in 1975, and he later used him on 'Thriller'. Nobody moved like Michael, he was truly the King of Pop." [148] Van Halen guitarist Eddie Van Halen, who worked with Jackson during the recording of Thriller, stated: "I am really shocked; as I'm sure the world is, to hear the news. I had the pleasure of working with Michael on 'Beat It' back in '83 — one of my fondest memories in my career. Michael will be missed and may he rest in peace." [149] Queen guitarist Brian May stated in his official website: "Hard to know what to say — what to feel. I find myself wondering what might have happened on his tour... The number of dates in the U.K. that he had committed to was insane. I did have a feeling it was impossible, but I was so shocked to hear that he went so suddenly. Very sad. Of course, I still think of him as a boy — he used to come and see us (Queen) play when we were on tour in the States, and he and Freddie Mercury became close friends, close enough to record a couple of tracks together at Michael's house. Tracks which have never seen the light of day. Michael was the boy star of the Jackson Five, and always the most screamed at. I remember in their show, they tried very hard to make all the brothers equal in the presentation, but it was abundantly obvious that all most of the girl fans really wanted to see was little Michael. It was Michael who heard our track 'Another One Bites the Dust' when he came to see us on 'The Game' tour ... and told us we were mad if we didn't release it as a single." [149] Former Guns n' Roses guitarist Slash, who played guitar on Jackson's single "Give In to Me" stated: "Really sad news about Michael. He was a talent from on high." [149] Chris Cornell of Soundgarden and Audioslave performed a cover version of "Billie Jean" on June 27, 2009, at the Peace & Love festival in Borlänge, Sweden.[150] Steve Vai and Andy Timmons of Danger Danger performed an instrumental version of "Beat It" at the Meinl Guitar Festival 2009 on June 27 in Gutenstetten, Germany.[151] Former Skid Row frontman, Sebastian Bach commented: "Another angel down... I am very sorry for my friend Jermaine's loss. I lived with Jermaine for three weeks last year (during the filming of the second season of CMT's hit series, 'Gone Country'), and we talked about his brother frequently. He said to me, 'When you cut up my brother, you're cutting up me'. I feel for the Jackson family, because I know all too well how they feel. Unfortunately." [152] Geoff Tate of Queensrÿche stated: "I grew up listening to Michael Jackson, watching him and his brothers perform on television. He made performing seem easy and inspired my generation with his music and his grace. He was one of a kind and will be missed but his music will live forever." [152] Legendary Swedish guitarist Yngwie Malmsteen recorded "Beat It" with ex-Judas Priest/Iced Earth frontman Tim "Ripper" Owens on vocals.[153] Guitarist Buckethead wrote a song entitled "The Homing Beacon", inspired by Jackson's 3-D film, Captain EO.)[138] Alternative metal band CKY performed "Beat It" for the duration of their "Carver City" Tour. In some instances, guitarist Chad I Ginsburg wore T-shirts depicting Jackson during the performances.[154] Poison drummer Rikki Rockett commented: "Michael Jackson — huge loss!!! The words genius and musical are used in the same sentence too often. Not in the case of Michael Jackson. His musical expression will never be topped and his inspiration will live forever. R.I.P." In October 2013, an all-star tribute album was released featuring current and former members of Iron Maiden, Kiss, Motörhead, Testament, Guns N' Roses, Fozzy, Quiet Riot, Dio, Whitesnake, Mr. Big, among others.[155]

Jackson's sister La Toya released her song, "Home", on July 28 as a charity single in her brother's honor. All proceeds are being donated to one of Michael's favorite charities.[156] BET's annual 2009 Awards Ceremony aired three days after Jackson's death, on June 28, 2009. It featured a tribute to the singer. Host Jamie Foxx said, "We want to celebrate this black man. He belongs to us and we shared him with everybody else." The ceremony featured performances of several of Jackson's songs, including pieces from his time with The Jackson Five and those from his solo career.[157] Joe Jackson and Al Sharpton were in the audience, and Janet Jackson spoke briefly on behalf of the family. The show was the most watched BET annual awards show in the awards shows history.[158] A few days after Jackson's death, there were news reports to the effect that AEG Live, the promoter for Jackson's This Is It concerts, was preparing a tribute concert for September 2009. The show would reportedly follow the style arranged for the This Is It concerts.[159][160] However, no details of any such concert have been announced.

The day after Jackson's death, the mayor of Rio de Janeiro announced that the city would erect a statue of the singer in the favela of Dona Marta. Jackson visited the community in 1996 and filmed a music video for "They Don't Care About Us" there. The mayor said that Jackson had helped make the community into "a model for social development."[161] Memorials were held all over the world, in places as diverse as Tokyo,[161] Bucharest[162] and Baku, Azerbaijan.[163] In Midyat, Turkey, even a Salat al-Janazah (Islamic funeral prayer) was performed, and traditional funeral helva was cooked and distributed.[164] The music video for "Do the Bartman", a Simpsons song co-written by Jackson, was broadcast ahead of an episode rerun of The Simpsons on June 28. It featured a title card paying tribute to Jackson.[165] The 1991 Simpsons episode that Jackson guest starred in under the name of John Jay Smith, "Stark Raving Dad", was broadcast on Fox on July 5.[166] The episode had been broadcast on the Dutch Comedy Central the day after his death, and was dedicated to Jackson's memory.[167] His 1978 film The Wiz (in which he co-starred alongside Diana Ross and Richard Pryor) was briefly re-released in a rare 35mm format and was shown at the Hollywood Theater in his honor. It was also re-released a week prior to the release of Michael Jackson's This Is It in select cities. Madonna opened the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards with a speech about Michael Jackson. Janet Jackson made an appearance at the VMAs to pay musical tribute to her late brother and honor his career.[168] He was honored with a posthumous lifetime achievement award during the 52nd Grammy Awards on January 31, 2010.[169] Jackson, who had an acting role in the 1978 film The Wiz, was featured in the 82nd annual Academy Awards ceremony's "In Memoriam" tribute.[170]

Record sales

Jackson's record sales increased dramatically, eightyfold by June 29, according to HMV.[171] Bill Carr of Amazon said the website sold out of all Jackson and Jackson 5 CDs within minutes of the news breaking, and that demand surpassed that for Elvis Presley and John Lennon after their sudden deaths.[172] In Japan, six of his albums made SoundScan Japan's Top 200 Albums chart,[161] and in Poland, Thriller 25 topped the national album chart and was replaced by King of Pop the following week.[173]

In Australia, 15 of his albums occupied the ARIA top 100 as of July 5, four of them in the top ten, with three occupying the top three spots. He had 34 singles in the top 100 singles chart, including four in the top ten. Album sales were 62,015 for the previous week; singles tallied 107,821 units.[174] In the second week, album sales rose from the previous week and tallied 88,650 copies. On July 12, four albums were in the top 10 with three occupying the top three spots. In New Zealand, Thriller 25 topped the chart.[175] In Germany, King of Pop topped the album chart,[176] and from June 28 to July 4, nine of his albums occupied the Top 20 of CAPIF in Argentina.[177] In Billboard's European Top 100 Albums, he made history with eight of his albums in the top ten positions.[178] As of August 3, King of Pop has spent four weeks atop Billboard's European Top 100 Albums chart.[179] The Collection also spent two weeks atop the same chart.[180]

In the UK, on the Sunday following his death, his albums occupied 14 of the top 20 places on the Amazon.co.uk sales chart, with Off the Wall at the top. Number Ones reached the top of the UK Album Chart, and his studio albums occupied number two to number eight on the iTunes Music Store top albums. Six of his songs charted in the top 40: "Man in the Mirror" (11), "Thriller" (23), "Billie Jean" (25), "Smooth Criminal" (28)", "Beat It" (30), and "Earth Song" (38).[181] The following Sunday, 13 of Jackson's songs charted in the top 40, including "Man in the Mirror", which landed the number two spot.[182] He broke Ruby Murray's 1955 record of five songs in the top 30.[183] The Essential Michael Jackson topped the album chart, giving Jackson a second number one album in as many weeks. He had five of the top ten albums in the album chart.[184] In third week sales, The Essential Michael Jackson retained the number one position and Jackson held three other positions within the top five.[185] By August 3, Jackson had sold 2 million records and spent six consecutive weeks atop the album chart.[179][186] He retained the top spot on the album chart for a seventh consecutive week.[187]

In the U.S., Jackson broke three chart records on the first Billboard issue date that followed his death. The entire top nine positions on Billboard's Top Pop Catalog Albums featured titles related to him. By the third week it would be the entire top 12 positions.[188] Number Ones was the best-selling album of the week and topped the catalog chart with sales of 108,000, an increase of 2,340 percent. The Essential Michael Jackson (2) and Thriller (3) also sold over 100,000 units. The other titles on the chart are Off the Wall (4), Jackson Five's Ultimate Collection (5), Bad (6), Dangerous (7), HIStory: Past, Present and Future – Volume 1 (8) and Jackson's Ultimate Collection (9). Collectively, his solo albums sold 422,000 copies in the week following his death, 800,000 copies in the first full week, and 1.1 million copies in the following week of his memorial service.[188] He also broke a record on the Top Digital Albums chart, with six of the top 10 slots, including the entire top four. On the Hot Digital Songs chart he placed a record of 25 songs on the 75-position list. In the U.S., Jackson became the first artist to sell over one million downloads in a week, with 2.6 million sales.[189][190]

By August 5, Jackson had sold nearly 3.8 million albums and 7.6 million tracks in the U.S.. Number Ones was the best-selling album for six out of seven weeks that followed his death.[191][192] By year's end in 2009, Jackson had become the best selling artist of the year selling 8.2 million albums in the U.S.[193] He also became the first artist in history to have four of the top 20 best-selling albums in a single year in the U.S., nearly doubling the sales of his nearest competitor.[194][195] Jackson was also the third best selling digital artist of 2009 in the U.S., selling approximately 12.35 million units.[196] In the 12 months that followed his death Jackson sold nine million albums in the U.S., and 35 million albums worldwide.[197] His estate also generated revenues of one billion dollars.[198]

Services

Memorial

A white round building that has one glass front wall showing with a sign in red text that reads "Staples Center" in capital letters. In the background, there are multiple people waling in front of the building and a white parked car and a cloudy blue sky.
An estimated one billion viewers saw coverage of the memorial held in the Staples Center, pictured here during the memorial service.

A private family service was held at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Los Angeles, after a public memorial at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California on July 7, where Jackson had rehearsed on June 24, the day before he died. The memorial service was organized by Jackson's concert promoter, AEG Live,[199] who gave away 17,500 free tickets (even if AEG was initially out to sell them, but due to complaints had to desist)[200] to fans worldwide through an online lottery that attracted over 1.2 million applicants in 24 hours,[201] and over a half-billion hits to the webpage.[202] The service was broadcast live around the world, and was believed to have been watched by up to 2.5 billion people.[8][203]

Jackson's solid-bronze casket (which reportedly cost USD $25,000)[50] was placed in front of the stage. Numerous celebrity guests attended the services.[204] His brothers each wore a single, white, sparkling glove, while Stevie Wonder, Mariah Carey, Lionel Richie, Jermaine Jackson and others sang his songs. Jackson's then 11-year-old daughter, Paris, broke down as she told the crowd, "I just want to say, ever since I was born, Daddy has been the best father you could ever imagine ... and I just want to say I love him... so much."[205] Marlon Jackson said, "Maybe now, Michael, they will leave you alone."[206]

Burial

According to reports, Jackson's burial was originally scheduled for August 29, 2009 (which would have been his 51st birthday).[207] His service and burial was held at Forest Lawn Cemetery of Glendale on September 3, 2009, 10 weeks to the day after his death.[208] The burial was attended by his family members, first wife Lisa Marie Presley as well as his old friends Macaulay Culkin, Chris Tucker, Quincy Jones, Eddie Murphy and Elizabeth Taylor, amongst others.[209] The service began with Jackson's three children placing a golden crown on his casket.[209]

Jackson's funeral cost one million dollars.[210][211] Cost for the funeral included; $590,000 for Jackson's crypt in Forest Lawn's Great Mausoleum, a vast granite and marble filled palazzo, guest invitations for $11,716.[210][211] The bill for security, including the fleet of luxury cars that delivered Jackson's children, parents and siblings to the ceremony, came to $30,000; the florist's bill was $16,000; and the funeral planner was paid $15,000.[210] Howard Weitzman, a lawyer for the estate executors noted that Jackson's family decided on the details of the ceremony, but said a lavish funeral fit the life Jackson lived, commenting, "It was Michael Jackson. He was bigger than life when he was alive."[210][211]

Jackson's remains are interred in the Holly Terrace section in the Great Mausoleum. The mausoleum is a secure facility that is not accessible to the general public or to the media, except on an extremely limited basis. The unmarked crypt, which is partially visible at the tinted entrance of the Holly Terrace mausoleum, is covered in flowers fans leave, which are placed by security guards outside the crypt.[208] The family had considered burying Jackson at Neverland Ranch. However, some family members objected to the site, saying that the ranch had been tainted by the sexual abuse allegations.[208] Also, the owners of the ranch would have had to go through a permitting process with county and state government before establishing a cemetery at the site. In July 2010, security was increased at the mausoleum due to vandalism by fans leaving messages such as "Keep the dream alive" and "Miss you sweet angel" in permanent ink.[212]

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Further reading