Michael Jackson public memorial held in Los Angelels
[ 2009-07-08 09:18 ]
LOS ANGELES: A Gospel choir singing "We're going to see the king" launched an emotional public memorial for Michael Jackson on Tuesday as the music world and thousands of fans bade farewell to the singer known as the "King of Pop."
Jackson's brothers carried the singer's gold-trimmed casket into the Staples Center sports arena in downtown Los Angeles for the memorial, the same place where Jackson rehearsed the day before his death for a highly-anticipated comeback tour.
Mariah Carey performed Jackson's 1970 hit "I'll Be There" and singer Smokey Robinson read out written tributes from former South African president Nelson Mandela and Diana Ross. Singer Stevie Wonder also sang and a glossy memorial program was filled with pictures of Jackson and testimonials from friends and family.
"Michael was the biggest star on earth," said actress Queen Latifah, to huge applause.
Michael Jackson's casket is carried into the Staples Center during his public memorial service in Los Angeles July 7, 2009. [Agencies]
Some 18,000 fans and friends got tickets in the arena or at a nearby, overflow theater for the ceremony, which took place against a large backdrop and picture of Jackson that read "In Loving Memory of Michael Jackson King of Pop 1958 - 2009."
Jackson's sudden death from cardiac arrest in Los Angeles on June 25 at the age of 50 prompted a worldwide outpouring of grief and sent sales of his biggest hits back to the top of the music charts.
Usher, Jennifer Hudson and Stevie Wonder were also expected to perform, while basketball star Kobe Bryant and civil rights leader Al Sharpton were among the other celebrity guests.
Jackson's family and close friends held a brief private ceremony earlier on Tuesday at a Los Angeles cemetery.
Dozens of fans watched from bridges as the funeral procession made its way along freeways cleared of traffic for one of the biggest celebrity events ever seen in a city accustomed to living with superstar citizens.