Stars sing for Jackson in emotional farewell

Tue Jul 7, 2009 4:09pm EDT
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By Bob Tourtellotte

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Mariah Carey, Stevie Wonder and Usher led an emotional public memorial for Michael Jackson on Tuesday as the music world, the Jackson family and thousands of fans bade farewell to the "King of Pop."

Jackson's brothers, each wearing a single sequined glove in homage to his signature look, carried the singer's gold-trimmed casket into the Staples Center sports arena, where Jackson had rehearsed the day before his death for a highly-anticipated series of comeback concerts.

Carey performed Jackson's 1970 ballad "I'll Be There" and singer Smokey Robinson read out tributes from former South African president Nelson Mandela and singer Diana Ross.

But it was Jackson himself who loomed larger than life over the 18,000-plus arena crowd, shown in old concert footage, music videos and news clips, singing, dancing his signature moonwalk and surrounded by adoring crowds.

"The more I think about Michael, and talk about Michael, the more I think that 'King of Pop' is not good enough," said Motown Records founder Berry Gordy, who signed The Jackson 5 in 1968. "I think he is simply the greatest entertainer that ever lived."

Jackson's sudden death from cardiac arrest in Los Angeles on June 25 at the age of 50 prompted a worldwide outpouring of grief and sent sales of his biggest hits back to the top of the music charts.

President Barack Obama, on a visit to Russia, said he was "one of the greatest entertainers of our generation, perhaps any generation," and added: "I think like Elvis, like Sinatra, like The Beatles he became a core part of our culture.

Tuesday's two-hour memorial focused on Jackson's 45-year music career, his charity work for childrens' groups and his role in opening the mainstream pop and celebrity world up to African-Americans.   Continued...

<p>The Andrae Crouch Singers open the memorial service for Michael Jackson at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, July 7, 2009. REUTERS/Mark J. Terrill/Pool</p>