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MICHAEL Jackson dead

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LOS ANGELES – MICHAEL Jackson, the child star turned King of Pop who set the world dancing to exuberant rhythms for decades, died on Thursday, a Los Angeles County Coroner’s office spokesman confirmed Thursday. He was 50.

‘Pop star Michael Jackson was pronounced dead by doctors this afternoon after arriving at a hospital in a deep coma, city and law enforcement sources told The Los Angeles Times,’ the newspaper reported on its website late on Thursday.

Jackson had been taken ill at his home and found not breathing by paramedics who rushed him to a hospital, the paper said.

The paper’s report followed news of Jackson’s death first reported by the TMZ entertainment website, which said that the singer suffered a cardiac arrest. There was no immediate comment from spokespersons for Jackson.

Known as the ‘King of Pop,’ for hit albums that included ‘Thriller’ and ‘Billie Jean,’ Jackson’s dramatic stage presence and innovative dance moves were imitated by legions of fans around the world.

His one-gloved eccentric style also earned him plenty of critics and another nickname, ‘Wacko Jacko.’

Jackson, who had lived as a virtual recluse since his acquittal in 2005 on charges of child molestation, had been scheduled to launch a comeback tour from London next month.

TMZ said on its website that Jackson suffered a cardiac arrest on Thursday afternoon at his Holmby Hills home and paramedics were unable to revive him. ‘We’re told when paramedics arrived Jackson had no pulse and they never got a pulse back,’ the site said.

Earlier, the Los Angeles Times said the singer had been rushed to a Los Angeles-area hospital by fire department paramedics.

The newspaper said paramedics performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation at the singer’s home before taking him to the UCLA Medical Centre hospital.

Jackson had been due to start a series of concerts in London on July 13 running until March 2010. The singer had been rehearsing in the Los Angeles area for the past two months.

The shows for the 50 London concerts sold out within minutes of going on sale in March.

His lifetime record sales tally is believed to be around 750 million, which, added to the 13 Grammy Awards he received, makes him one of the most successful entertainers of all time.

There were concerns about Jackson’s health in recent years but the promoters of the London shows, AEG Live, said in March that Jackson had passed a 4-1/2 hour physical examination with independent doctors. — REUTERS

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