Star-studded tribute to Michael Jackson draws millions of viewers
The Jackson family, from left, Marlon Jackson, Jermaine Jackson, Tito Jackson, Randy Jackson, Paris Katherine Jackson, Janet Jackson and Rebbie Jackson at Tuesday's memorial service. AP photo.
Around the world, millions stopped in their tracks Tuesday, in front of giant video screens in public squares and hunched over computer screens in offices, to witness the star-studded tribute to Michael Jackson.
With the same pageantry and showmanship that marked his life, Jacksons death was commemorated by a host of celebrities who sang, gave rousing speeches and bid teary farewells during a three-hour ceremony at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
I think he is simply the greatest entertainer who ever lived, said Berry Gordy, the founder of Motown Records, which signed the Jackson 5 more than four decades ago.In perhaps the days most heart-wrenching moment, Jacksons 11-year-old daughter Paris broke down at the end of the ceremony as the family stood on stage, crying as she told the world how much she loved her father before falling into the arms of her aunt, singer Janet Jackson.
About 20,000 people packed into the arena, which was bathed in blue light, a multi-colored stained glass window serving as a backdrop to the stage. Jacksons gold coffin, topped with red roses, was set in front of the stage by his brothers, each dressed in a dark suit, sunglasses and one white, sequined glove their late brothers signature.
This is a celebration of his life, of his legacy, said Magic Johnson, the former NBA star and a friend of Jacksons who appeared in one of his music videos. He was my idol. He was everything to me.
With performances by Stevie Wonder, Usher, Mariah Carey, John Mayer and others, the memorial at times emotional and subdued, at others and celebratory was broadcast live on network and cable TV and beamed across the Internet.
It capped nearly two weeks of public outpourings for the self-declared King of Pop, whose death on June 25 at age 50 has gripped the nation. Topics relating to Jackson and the memorial dominated the top 100 search terms on Google Tuesday.
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), read a resolution that will be voted on in the House honoring Jacksons life.
Michael fought for the tolerance of all people, she said.
Jackson Lee, who is of no relation, was one of several speakers to address the controversy that surrounded the late pop star, including accusations of child molestation and his multiple cosmetic surgeries.
As you climb up mountains sometimes you scar your knees, said the Rev. Al Sharpton. But dont focus on the scars.
Sharpton then addressed Jacksons three children, seated in the front row along with his siblings and parents: There wasnt nothing strange about your daddy, he said. It was strange what he had to deal with.
Gordy said there were some tough times and some questionable decisions on his part but concluded by saying: Michael thank you for the joy, thank you for the love, you will be in my heart forever.
The day began with a private service for Jacksons family and close friends at Forest Lawn cemetery in the Hollywood Hills. It remained a mystery where his final resting place would be.
But there was little doubt what Jacksons lasting legacy will be.
From the speakers inside the Staples Center to the fans who lined streets in cities across the globe, Jacksons music and his charity were the dominant theme.
Towards the end of the memorial, dozens of singers, and many children, crowded the stage to sing We Are the World and Heal the World as symbols from various religions flashed across a giant screen.
Michael did so much to heal the world, said the Rev. Lucious Smith, who opened and closed the ceremony with a prayer. May this moment of remembrance bring comfort to those who loved our friend.