The world of music and entertainment was in mourning today after singer Michael Jackson collapsed and died at his Los Angeles home.
Jackson, 50, suffered a massive heart attack and stopped breathing last night, although the exact circumstances of his death are not yet known.
His personal doctor was with him at home when he collapsed but could not revive him. Unconfirmed reports claim the catastrophic heart attack could have been triggered by a painkiller injection.
Sources close to the Jackson family had recently told the Daily Mail how the singer was addicted to painkillers and that they had taken over his life. One side effect of their abuse is cardiac arrest.
An autopsy will be held in Los Angeles today but those close to the star believe it is an addiction to prescription drugs, as he battled to get fit for his comeback in London next month, that killed him
The Jacksons family lawyer Brian Oxman said he had been taking the drugs to cope with previous injuries, including a broken vertebrae in his back.
‘This was something which I feared and something which I warned about. This is a case of abuse of medication unless there is another cause that I don’t know about,’ he said. ‘Where there is smoke there is fire.’
Promoters of the shows in London, which were due to start on July 13, said in March that Jackson had passed a four and half hour medical with independent doctors.
Mr Oxman was with Jackson’s sister La Toya and brothers Jermaine and Randy at UCLA hospital in LA soon after the singer fell into a coma at his rented home nearby.
‘You’ve got to save him,’ aides screamed as the unconscious singer was wheeled into an emergency room on a stretcher.
Doctors fought for more than an hour to bring him back to life but he was eventually pronounced dead at 2.26pm local time.
So sudden: Hours later Michael Jackson’s body is taken away to the Coroner’s office
His mother, brothers, including Jermaine, Tito and Randy and sisters Janet and LaToya, had raced to be at his bedside.
He had been very frail in recent weeks as he struggled to prepare for 50 concerts in London, which had been due to start on July 13.
Elizabeth Taylor, one of Michael Jackson’s closest friends, had been planning to fly out on a private jet to attend Jackson’s opening night in London, Larry King said on CNN last night.
Jackson’s brother, Jermaine Jackson, told reporters during a press conference that he believed Michael had died from a cardiac arrest, but added that the exact cause of death was not known.
Devastated: Jackson’s sister La Toya (left) arriving in tears, followed by his mother, Katherine
Investigators are likely to focus on claims the singer suffered a long-term addiction to painkillers.
Last month it was alleged he was struggling to make even a handful of the rehearsals for his comeback tour in Britain.
It later emerged he had been to just two out of more than 45 rehearsals.
One Jackson family source said at the time he was ‘just not able to pick himself up out of the painkiller stupor’ that he was in.
Police said that an emergency call was made from the house at 12.21pm local time [8.21pm UK] last night and paramedics raced to the scene.
Jackson, who has three young children, was seen being taken into an ambulance by Los Angeles Fire Department paramedics and moved to the UCLA Medical Centre.
The Los Angeles Times reported that the star was not breathing when paramedics arrived at his home.
When emergency staff arrived, they began resuscitation procedures immediately.
Ten bodyguards followed the ambulance to hospital where the star was rushed into the emergency room on a stretcher.
Doctors again tried to revive him, but attempts failed.
Jermaine Jackson told reporters that medical staff had tried to resuscitate his brother for an hour after he collapsed at his home.
‘His personal physician, who was with him at the time, attempted to resuscitate my brother, as did the paramedics who transported him to the UCLA,’ he said.
‘On arrival at 1.14pm (local time) a team of doctors, including emergency physicians and cardiologists, attempted to resuscitate him for one hour but they were unsuccessful.’
Jackson’s mother and brothers raced from the family home nearby to be at his bedside.
A source close to his family said: ‘It’s so tragic but he was such a wreck physically that all the signs were there.’
His ex-wife Lisa Marie Presley said that she was
‘heartbroken’ for his children.
‘I am so very sad and confused with every emotion possible. Words fail
me,’ she said in a statement.
His sister La Toya was spotted running in the UCLA Medical Centre sobbing shortly after he was pronounced dead.
Katherine Jackson, Michael’s mother, arrived at UCLA hospital to be with the rest of the family shortly after 3pm.
Tears for a hero: Fans, with tears streaming down their faces, comfort each other outside Michael Jackson’s home in Los Angeles, where the singer collapsed last night
Fans in Times Square, New York, above and below, watch the news break
Watch a video of Michael Jackson being rushed to hospital below: