POP Superstar Michael Jackson Dies at 50

Friday, June 26, 2009


The death of Michael Jackson brings to a sudden end the life of a performer who captivated pop audiences with the Jackson 5 and matured into a performer of electric charisma and unprecedented crossover appeal, before living out his final years as a virtual recluse.

Born Aug. 29, 1958, in Gary, Ind., Jackson was the seventh of nine children born to Katherine and Joseph Jackson. Along with older siblings Jackie, Tito, Jermaine and Marlon, Jackson first rose to fame as the pint-sized lead singer of the Jackson 5. Formed in 1964 and signed to Motown in 1968, the group quickly scored four back-to-back No. 1 pop and R&B hits, beginning with its 1969 debut single, "I Want You Back." That was followed by "ABC,"
"The Love You Save" and "I'll Be There."
In late 2008, Jackson biographer Ian Halperin claimed the pop star suffers from Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, a potentially fatal genetic illness, as well as emphysema and gastrointestinal bleeding. Halperin also told various sources that Jackson could barely speak and was 95% blind in his left eye.

Jackson died June 25 after reportedly being found unconscious in his Bel Air, Calif., home. Paramedics rushed the 50-year-old icon to UCLA Medical Center, where he was declared dead. Jackson was in Los Angeles rehearsing for a 50-date run of concerts at London's O2 Arena that was to begin July 13.

Jackson and his representatives at the time vigorously denied these claims. In the run-up to his planned 2009 series of concerts in London, rumors surfaced that Jackson was suffering from skin cancer, a claim denied by the concert promoter AEG Live. "He's as healthy as he can be-no health problems whatsoever," AEG Live CEO Randy Phillips told CNN. Phillips also said Jackson had passed a stringent physical exam before signing a deal to perform the concerts.

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