Probably no celebrity has been as revered and reviled over the past 40 years as Jackson, 50, who died Thursday in Los Angeles, according to the Associated Press. The troubled, reclusive star was rushed to UCLA Medical Center by paramedics responding to a call from his home at about 12:30 p.m.
Jackson had been scheduled next month to begin the first of 50 sold-out concerts at London’s O2 Arena, a testament to his enduring popularity with fans around the world, a love affair that reached a peak on that March evening 26 years ago.
The occasion was the Motown 25: Yesterday, Today and Forever television special that celebrated a milestone for the legendary label, but it was also a seminal moment for the King of Pop. A then-record 47 million people watched in awe as Jackson unveiled the moonwalk with an electrifying performance. Other Motown greats performed that night and Jackson himself had reunited with brothers Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, Marlon and Randy for a walk down memory lane with the Jackson 5.
But in that moment, Jackson stood alone in the spotlight, a singular figure riding a wave of popularity rarely seen anywhere. His groundbreaking Thriller— still the biggest selling album of all time — was dominating the charts and Jackson was in the process of reshaping the musical landscape with his videos and celebrity. There were still millions of records to be sold, acclaimed videos to be filmed and record-shattering concert tours to be undertaken.
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