Entertainment

Reports: Michael Jackson has died

Posted June 25, 2009 5:48 p.m. EDT
Updated June 25, 2009 7:46 p.m. EDT

— After a decades-long career in the music industry, Michael Jackson has died, newspaper the Los Angeles Times and the Associated Press reported Thursday.

The circumstances of his death were not immediately clear. Jackson was not breathing when Los Angeles Fire Department paramedics responded to a call at his Los Angeles home about 12:30 p.m., Capt. Steve Ruda told the Los Angeles Times. The paramedics performed CPR and took him to UCLA Medical Center, Ruda told the newspaper.

The hospitalization was first reported by the Web site TMZ.

Jackson's death brought a tragic end to a long, bizarre, sometimes farcical decline from his peak in the 1980s, when he was popular music's premier all-around performer, a uniter of black and white music who shattered the race barrier on MTV, dominated the charts and dazzled even more on stage.

His 1982 album "Thriller" - which included the blockbuster hits "Beat It," "Billie Jean" and "Thriller" - remains the biggest-selling album of all time, with more than 26 million copies.

In February 1984, Jackson won eight Grammy Awards – the most to be won by anyone in a single year.

He was perhaps the most exciting performer of his generation, known for his feverish, crotch-grabbing dance moves, his high-pitched voice punctuated with squeals and titters. His single sequined glove and tight, military-style jacket were trademarks second only to his ever-changing, surgically altered appearance.

As years went by, he became an increasingly freakish figure. His skin became lighter and his nose narrower. He surrounded himself with children at his Neverland ranch, often wore a germ mask while traveling and kept a pet chimpanzee named Bubbles as one of his closest companions.

In 2005, he was cleared of charges he molested a 13-year-old cancer survivor at Neverland in 2003. He had been accused of plying the boy with alcohol and groping him. The case took a fearsome toll on his career and image, and he fell into serious financial trouble.

Hundreds of people gathered outside the hospital as word of his death spread. The emergency entrance at the UCLA Medical Center, which is near Jackson's rented home, was roped off with police tape.

In New York's Times Square, a low groan went up in the crowd when a screen flashed that Jackson had died, and people began relaying the news to friends by cell phone.

"No joke. King of Pop is no more. Wow," Michael Harris, 36, of New York City, read from a text message a friend sent to his telephone. "It's like when Kennedy was assassinated. I will always remember being in Times Square when Michael Jackson died."

Jackson was planning to perform 50 concerts this summer at London’s 02 arena.

Jackson is survived by his three children Michael Joseph Jackson, Jr., Paris Michael Katherine Jackson and Prince Michael Jackson II.