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Michael Jackson, the King of Pop, dies after heart attack at age 50




Michael Jackson, the King of Pop and the most famous name in modern music history, died Thursday shortly after being rushed to an L.A. hospital after suffering cardiac arrest.

Jackson was 50 years old.

As of Thursday night, his official website just showed a red screen with a photo of Jackson saying simply: King of Pop ... Michael Jackson.

"Michael suffered a cardiac arrest earlier this afternoon and paramedics were unable to revive him," the celebrity website first reported shortly before 6 p.m. Eastern time.

The Los Angeles Times originally had reported that the singer was in a coma and family members were gathering. But the paper later confirmed Jackson had dead.

According to the Times, Capt. Steve Ruda of the LA Fire Department said "paramedics responded to a call at Jackson's home around 12:26 p.m. Pacific time. He was not breathing when they arrived. The paramedics performed CPR and took him to UCLA Medical Center."

Jackson was in the midst of preparing a comeback after years of tabloid madness, mostly sparked by his trials (and acquittals) on child molestation charges. He had sold out 50 shows at London's O2 Arena and was beginning to rehearse for those concerts. 

He was the subject of bad health rumors before, but always seemed to recover.

Crowds of fans began gathering around the hospital shortly after the news broke, some not even knowing that Jackson had died, according to TV reports. Aside from his family, who arrived at the hospital shortly after the singer arrived, it's been reported that longtime friend Elizabeth Taylor visited to pay her respects.

"I am absolutely devastated ... I just don't have the words," producer and collaborator Quincy Jones said in a statement today.

The exact cause of death is not known yet, though reports are that Jackson had a heart attack. The Los Angeles Coroner's Office will investigate.

Jackson was a two-time inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame -- once with the Jacksons and again as a solo artist. His record albums are estimated to exceed 750 million in sales. He won 13 Grammy Awards and had 13 No. 1 hits during his career.

Jackson married twice -- to Lisa Marie Presley and later to Debbie Rowe -- and had three children, Michael Jr., Paris and Prince.

Click here for a photo slideshow of his career.

[AP photo]

[Last modified: Wednesday, June 9, 2010 2:47pm]


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