World mourns Michael Jackson, hails "heir to Elvis"

Fri Jun 26, 2009 7:21am EDT
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By Bob Tourtellotte and Mike Collett-White

LOS ANGELES/LONDON (Reuters) - Michael Jackson's death dominated news bulletins, radio airwaves and social networking sites the world over on Friday as tributes poured in for a man called the "King of Pop" and "natural heir to Elvis."

The 50-year-old, whose towering musical legacy was tarnished by often bizarre behavior and sex scandals, was pronounced dead at 2:26 p.m. PDT (2126 GMT) on Thursday after arriving at a Los Angeles hospital in full cardiac arrest.

"King of pop is dead. Black day for music," was the simple message left by "johnyvergosa" on the Twitter messaging site, where Jackson accounted for four of the five top topics. Actress Farrah Fawcett, who also died on Thursday, was the fifth.

Other online contributors expressed disbelief at the suddenness of Jackson's death, less than three weeks before he was due to launch a series of comeback concerts in London.

The singer's lasting appeal, despite life as a virtual recluse since his acquittal of child abuse charges at a 2005 trial, was underlined when 750,000 fans of all ages snapped up tickets for the sellout gigs.

From "Thriller" to "Billie Jean" and "Rock With You" to "The Way You Make Me Feel," Jackson's hits filled the airwaves.

Local politics and global affairs were bumped off the front pages of newspapers, trading rooms were abuzz with the news and entertainment websites saw a surge in traffic.

"The King of Pop is Dead" read the main headline of Britain's Independent newspaper, below a full-page portrait.   Continued...

<p>A visitor writes: "June 26th we will remember " on a condolence book next to a wax figure of Michael Jackson at Madame Tussauds Wax Museum in Shanghai June 26, 2009. REUTERS/Aly Song</p>