Friends, family say goodbye to Michael Jackson

Last updated 08:20 08/07/2009
Michael Jackson's daughter Paris Jackson and two sons Prince Michael Jackson II and Prince Michael Jackson I wave at the end of a memorial service for their father at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
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WAVE GOODBYE: Michael Jackson's daughter Paris Jackson and two sons Prince Michael Jackson II and Prince Michael Jackson I wave at the end of a memorial service for their father at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
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WHO'S BAD? Michael Jackson performs at A Night At The Apollo, 2002.
JACKSON STUFF: Michael Jackson's carved hanging swing is displayed in Beverly Hills. Items from the life and career of the pop star were to have been auctioned.
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JOHN SELKIRK/Fairfax Media Zoom
TO THE POINT: Michael Jackson performs at Mt Smart Stadium in Auckland in November, 1996.
Neverland
INSIDE NEVERLAND: The main room is seen at Neverland Ranch in Los Olivos. The door to the right leads to the kitchen.
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SAY GOODBYE: Fans gather outside the Forest Lawn Mortuary as preparations get underway for the funeral of Michael Jackson.

Memorial fit for a king

NY Jackson fans gather for memorial

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The memorial service for the 'King of Pop' Michael Jackson has ended with an emotional goodbye from the star's only daughter.

Paris Katherine Jackson, 11, fought tears as she told an audience of millions her father had been great since the day she was born.

"I just want to say, ever since the day I was born, Daddy has been the best father you could ever imagine. I just want to say I love him so much."

Afterwards she burst into tears and was helped off the stage by her aunt Janet Jackson.

Her brothers Prince Michael, 12, and Blanket, 7, were also on stage with their uncles and aunts but did not speak.

7.49AM: The Staples Centre in Los Angeles erupted into song for renditions of Jackon's hit songs We Are The World and Heal The World.

The stage, filled with Jackson's family and performers such as Lionel Richie, Usher, Smokey Robinson, Mariah Carey, sung the iconic songs along with the thousands of fans crammed into the stadium for the memorial service.

Jackson's brother, Marlon Jackson said he would "treasure the good memories of his brother."

"I hurt".

"I stand here trying to find words of comfort, trying to understand why the world has taken our brother to return home after such a short visit here on earth.

"Michael when you left, a part of me went with you and a part of you will live forever within me."

Marlon Jackson said people would never be able to understand what his brother had endured.

"Being judged, ridiculed, how much pain can one take? Maybe now Michael they will leave you alone.

"I thank you Michael, I thank you for all the smiles you have placed in people's hearts."

Marlon said his last request was for Jackson to give his late brother Brandon a hug for him.

7.28AM: Twelve-year-old singing sensation Shaheen Jafargholi – who burst into the spotlight on hit show Britain's Got Talent – has sung a tribute song at Jackson's memorial service.

Shaheen, who sung Who's Lovin You, had been invited to join Jackson's planned concert tour in Britain prior to his death.

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"I just want to say I love Michael Jackson... I just want to say thanks for blessing me and every single person on this earth with his amazing music."

7.23AM: Singer Smokey Robinson told the 20,000-strong crowd at the Staples Centre that he never thought he would bear witness to "his little brother's" funeral.

"You just don't think you'll live to see him gone, but he will never really be gone.

"He has made an enormous impact on all of our lives all over the world.

"The world will never ever forget Michael Jackson. I am proud I had the chance to know you.”

R n B singer Usher is singing Gone Too Soon. An emotional Usher descended from the stage and sung parts of the song with his hand resting on Jackson's casket.

7.09AM: The children of famous civil rights activist Martin Luther King, Bernice King and Martin Luther King III, have called Michael Jackson's life "inspired by God".

Mr King III said "Michael Jackson was truly the best at what he was."

Ms King recalled the time in October 2005 when Jackson had called her sick, elderly mother, Coretta King, from the Middle East.

"He told her that he had been praying on his knees every day for her and to him she was America's true royalty. My only wish is that he could have seen the glow on her face. That day Michael Jackson made our mother's face smile despite her condition."

"He was such a thoughtful and selfless man full of the unconditional love of god. He was indeed a shining light, like our father Martin, and in remembrance of Michael may we all be inspired to go and let out lights shine. Rest in peace, our brother Michael."

6.55AM: A tearful Brooke Shields has spoken of her lifelong friendship with Michael Jackson.

"Michael was one of a kind.

"I was 13 when we met and from that day on our friendship grew. Michael always knew he could count on me to support him or be his date. We had a bond and maybe it was because we both understood what it was like to be in the spotlight from a very young age."

"We never collaborated together, we never performed together, although he did try in vain one night to un-successfully teach me the moonwalk.

"We never filmed a video or record a song, but what we did do was laugh.

"Michael loved to laugh, his heart would just burst out of him when he laughed.

"MJ's laugh was the sweetest and surest laugh of anyone's I had ever known."

Shield's said Jackson's favourite song wasn't one of his countless hits, but a song written by Charlie Chaplain for the movie Modern Times called Smile.

Shields referred to line in the song ,"Smile though your heart is aching".

"Today though our hearts are aching we need to look up to where he is undoubtedly perched in a crescent moon and we need to smile."

Jackson's brother Jermaine Jackson is now performing Smile.

6.40AM: Civil rights activist Al Sharpton has given a rousing speech to the memory of Michael Jackson.

The crowd greeted his speech with a standing ovation as he thanked Jackson for "refusing to let people decide his boundaries" or "accept limitations".

Jackson had paved the way for racial unity across the world, he said.

"It was Michael Jackson who brought black and whites and Asians and Latinos together.

"Michael made us love each other, Michael taught us to stand with each other."

He thanked the Jackson family for giving the world "someone who taught us love, someone who taught us hope."

He urged Jackson's children to remember their father with pride. "Wasn"t nothing strange about your daddy, it was strange what he had to deal with.

"He dealt with it anyway, he dealt with it for us."

Singer John Mayer then took out his guitar and performed Jackson's Human Nature.

6.30AM: Basketball greats Kobe Bryant and Magic Johnson have thanked Jackson for his many gifts to charities and the progress he made for the African-American community.

Bryant said Jackson not only broke record with his songs "he even made the Guinness Book of World Records for most charities supported by a pop star."

"Michael was also a true humanitarian, who gave just as much offstage as he did onstage."

Magic Johnson said he had known the Jackson family for over 20 years.

He remembered the first time he visited Michael Jackson and was amazed to find him eating Kentucky Fried Chicken.

"I was scared to death to go to his house because this was my idol."

"This is a celebration of his life, his legacy, I want to thank Michael for opening up so many door for African Americans.

"His three children will have the most incredible grandmother that God has put on this earth to take care of them.

Johnson also thanked the city of Los Angeles for putting on the memorial service.

Pregnant singer Jennifer Hudson is now performing song Will you be there.

6.15AM: Iconic music artist Stevie Wonder has taken to the stage to perform a piece in Jackson's memory.

"This is a moment that I wished I didn’t live to see come. But as much as I can say that and mean it, I do know that God is good and I do know as much as we may feel that we need Michael here with us, God must have needed him far more.

"Michael I love you and I told you that many times."

Wonder is now singing his 1971 song Never dreamed you'd leave in summer, amended to feature Jackson's name.

6.09AM: Motown founder Berry Gordy has spoke of his sadness of the death of Michael Jackson, a man who was "like a son" to him.

Mr Gordy spoke of the first time he heard a 10-year-old Jackson sing.

"The Jackson Five were just amazing and little Jackson's performance was far beyond his years.

"Michael had a quality that I couldn't completely understand but we all knew he was special."

"He studied the greats and became greater; he raised the bar and then broke the bar.

"His talent and creativity thrust him and entertainment into another stratosphere."

The Jackson family can be seen sitting in the front row, each wearing a single sequined glove, the signature of their departed brother.

"Though it ended too soon, Michael, life was beautiful.”

"The more I think and talk about Jackson the more I think the title King of Pop simply isn't big enough…I think he is simply the greatest entertainer that ever lived.”

"Michael thank you, thank you for the joy, thank you for the love, you will live in my heart forever, I love you."

The crowd are now watching a montage of Jackson's career ranging from childhood photos, to his iconic music videos Bad and Thriller, to award acceptance speeches and live concert performances.

5.55AM: Friend and fan Queen Latifah has paid tribute to Michael Jackson.

She recounted how she and her brother had grown up listening to songs from the “King of Pop”.

“Michael was the biggest star of Earth.”

Singer Lionel Ritchie – dressed all in black with a yellow rose on his lapel – has sung Jesus is Love.

5.48AM: Reverend Lucious Smith has begun Michael Jackson’s memorial service by urging fans to remember a “great brother, father, son and friend”.

"To millions around the world Michael Jackson was an idol, a hero, even a king but first and foremost this man before us was a brother, a father, a son and a friend.

"Our hearts are heavy today…because this man, this brother, this son is gone far too soon.”

"In his very beautiful and very human heart Michael Jackson wanted nothing more than to give love to the world.

"Through his words, his music and his countless good deeds Michael did so much to try and heal this world.

Rev. Smith said he hoped "this moment of remembrance" would bring comfort to the many who loved "his friend" Jackson.

Pop star Mariah Carey then sang the hit song I’ll Be There.

5.37AM: Michael Jackson’s casket has been carried onto the stage at the Staples Centre by eight family members clad in black suits and sunglasses.

As the coffin – adorned with bright floral wreaths - was brought into the memorial service a 30-strong gospel choir sung a rousing song.

Members of the crowd applauded and yelled “we love you Michael”.

5.30AM: Social networking site Twitter has been bombarded with messages from people attending the Jackson memorial service.

soulsongwriter: excitement over being at MJ's memorial makes me a tad uncomfy..balancing death + celebration of a life is tricky. Grief takes many face.

noellehannibal: 11,000 people at the Staples Centre and it's completely silent. Wow.

Thousands of tweets are flooding the site as people around the world gather to watch the service live.

smofiex: Michael Jackson tribute is starting ... I am so excited ... I love how people are remembering him in this way, it's amazing.

NicolaLMyers: Good Bye Michael Jackson, I will never forget you and your beautiful music. God Bless you & your family.

There has been a delay in the memorial service since Smokey Robinson read tribute messages from Nelson Mandela and close friend Diana Ross.

5.20AM: The memorial service for Michael Jackson has begun with readings from veteran singer Smokey Robinson.

Robinson read a passage from former South African President Nelson Mandela, who recounted his fond memories of Jackson.

Mandela said: “We had great admiration for his talent and that he was able to triumph over tragedy at so many stages in his life”.

Robinson also read a message from Michael’s close friend, iconic singer Diana Ross, who was unable to attend the memorial service.

Ross said: “Michael was a personal love of mine. Michael wanted me to be there for my children and I will be there for them if they need me.”

5AM: Legions of Michael Jackson fans have descended on the Staples Centre in Los Angeles to mourn the death of the “King of Pop”.

Jackson’s hearse and his family’s motorcade have arrived at the Staples Centre after a private gathering at a Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Hollywood.

Thousands of fans – described as “cordial” and “festive” by international news agencies – have already gathered in the stadium awaiting the start of Jackson memorial service.

CNN reported the Staples event will feature a star-studded cast of music elite including singers Mariah Carey, Usher and Stevie Wonder.

Also expected are basketball stars Kobe Bryant and Magic Johnson; singers Jennifer Hudson, John Mayer and Smokey Robinson; and activists Martin Luther King III and the Rev. Al Sharpton.

The late Thriller singer’s coffin – which was made of solid bronze with a blue velvet interior and valued at US$25,000 – is believe to be positioned underneath the stage awaiting the start of the memorial service.

Earlier, the city of Los Angeles came to a standstill as police shut a five-lane freeway to escort the 18-car motorcade funeral procession to both the cemetery and the Staples Centre.

Inside the venue, the stage is adorned with a large projection of the star's image, which bears the words "In Loving Memory. Michael Jackson King of Pop - 1958-2009."

EARLIER: Family members, including his three children, and friends appeared at the Forest Lawn Cemetery in the Hollywood Hills on Monday evening (US time) for a "Celebration of Life" service for the late pop star.

La Toya Jackson, wearing sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat, was seen being driven away from the cemetery. KCAL-TV showed helicopter footage of a hearse backing up to the Hall of Liberty - a circular building at the cemetery that contains a 1200 seat auditorium - to deliver a casket.

His 11-year-old daughter Paris wiped tears from her face as she was driven away at the conclusion of the service. Family and close friends are expected to return on Tuesday morning (5am Wednesday NZT) for a private funeral.

Jackson's family is hoping the funeral will be a quiet affair, but the cemetery, a resting place for Hollywood legends including Bette Davis, Buster Keaton and Liberace, is swarming with paparazzi and news crews on the ground and in helicopters above.

- By CLIO FRANCIS, Stuff.co.nz, with AP/AAP

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