Michael Joseph Jackson was born August 29, 1958 in Gary, Indiana, an industrial suburb of Chicago. The son of African-American parents Joseph Walter “Joe” Jackson and Katherine Esther Scruse. The seventh child of the Jackson family, he made his debut as an entertainer in 1964 as a member of The Jackson Brothers (later renamed The Jackson 5). He then began a solo career in 1971 while still a member of the group, and that successful career led to him being dubbed the “King of Pop” in subsequent years. Jackson’s 1982 album Thriller remains the world’s best-selling album of all time, and four of his other solo studio albums are among the world’s best-selling records: Off the Wall (1979), Bad (1987), Dangerous (1991) and HIStory (1995).
On June 25, 2009, Jackson collapsed at his rented mansion at 100 North Carolwood Drive in the Holmby Hills area of Los Angeles. Attempts at resuscitating him by his personal physician were unsuccessful. Los Angeles Fire Department paramedics received a 911 call at 12:22 p.m. (PDT), arriving three minutes later at Jackson’s location. He was reportedly not breathing and CPR was performed. Resuscitation efforts continued both en route to the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, and for an hour further after arriving at approximately 1:13 p.m. (20:13 UTC). He was noted to have been in cardiac arrest by the paramedics who attended him at his house. Jackson was pronounced dead at approximately 2:26 p.m. local time (21:26 UTC).
A public memorial service was held at the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles on July 7, 2009. It began with a reading by Smokey Robinson of messages of condolence from Nelson Mandela, Diana Ross, and other close friends of Michael Jackson who could not be at the memorial. Mariah Carey then sang “I’ll Be There” with Trey Lorenz, followed by a speech by Queen Latifah. Lionel Richie performed “Jesus is Love”. Berry Gordy, Motown founder, spoke next, offering condolences. Stevie Wonder then performed “Never Dreamed You’d Leave in Summer” and “They Won’t Go When I Go”. Kobe Bryant and Magic Johnson also spoke, with Magic describing the event as a “celebration of Michael’s life and works” rather than a funeral. Jennifer Hudson sang “Will You Be There” accompanied by a music video. Reverend Al Sharpton then gave a speech, saying that Michael kept rising and “never stopped”. John Mayer played the guitar on a mainly instrumental version of Michael Jackson’s song “Human Nature”. This was followed by a speech by Brooke Shields. Jermaine Jackson, Michael’s older brother, then performed “Smile”, which had earlier been mentioned by Brooke Shields as being Michael’s favorite song. This was followed by speeches by Martin Luther King III and Bernice King. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee was the next speaker, remarking that “people are innocent until proven otherwise,” and saying that Michael’s humanitarian efforts needed to be praised. Congresswoman Lee then announced the introduction of “House Resolution 600? which would, if passed, formally recognize “Michael Jackson as an American legend and musical icon, a world humanitarian.” Usher then sang “Gone Too Soon,” and this was followed by a montage of old live videos of Michael himself. Shaheen Jafargholi from Britain’s Got Talent then sang a musical tribute of The Jackson 5’s Who’s Lovin’ You, with Kenny Ortega introducing him afterwards. Kenny Ortega explained that Michael Jackson saw the Staples Center as his home, citing this as a reason for the funeral service being held there. This was followed by Kenny Ortega presenting a tribute to him, including We Are the World and Heal the World. This was said by Ortega to be based upon the versions prepared for the ‘This Is It’ concerts, rehearsals for which had been taking place up to the day of Michael Jackson’s death. The service ended with speeches by members of his family, including his brothers, Jermaine and Marlon, and his daughter Paris.
Initially, Michael Jackson’s casket, dubbed “The Promethean” was not expected to appear at the memorial service, however, due to a change in the family’s plans the casket was taken to the memorial service.
Jackson’s memorial service, which was broadcast live on every major American network television station, is initially being estimated as the largest gathering for a deceased person in world history. In addition to the capacity-filled Staples Center, viewing parties were held all over the world for the broadcast, including several movie theaters, in Times Square, the Apollo Theater, the CNN Center in Atlanta, Georgia, Raleigh, Berlin, as well as Jackson’s hometown of Gary, Indiana. [source: wikipedia.org]