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Goodbye Michael Jackson

Last update - Thursday, July 2, 2009, 15:57 By Metro Éireann

As the family of arguably the world’s greatest entertainer continues to grieve over their loss, fans across the world have paid special tribute to the late Michael Jackson.

The self-styled ‘King of Pop’ was pronounced dead in a Los Angeles hospital after suffering a full cardiac arrest last Thursday. He was 50 years old.
The Los Angeles County Coroner’s office has ruled out foul play, but could not announce the cause of death until the results of toxicology tests which are expected in a few weeks’ time are known.
Jackson’s personal physician Dr Conrad Murray – who was present at the star’s home when he went into cardiac arrest – has denied he has anything to do with his sudden death.
However, the Jackson family has admitted their suspicions over the death. Speaking at the annual Black Entertainment Television (BET) Awards night in Los Angeles, Jackson’s father Joe said the family had “a lot of concerns” over events that happened just before his passing. The family had requested a second, private autopsy.
Addressing guests at the BET Awards show, which was reconceived as a tribute to the life and times of the entertainer, BET chairwoman Debra L Lee, said: “Michael Jackson was so important to our world, to our country... Michael was truly a musical deity.”
Her words have been echoed by many fans and admirers in Ireland and beyond.
“Michael Jackson as an artist has been copied and influenced many youngsters in Latin Music,” Robert Navan of the Latin American Solidarity Centre in Ireland told Metro Éireann. “I’ve played his music in Latin clubs – I’m a DJ as well –  and anywhere you play it you get a good response.  If you play Billie Jean people everywhere will jump up and start dancing.  It’s the universal language of dance.”
For Tosin Agbabiaka, a student at Duke University in the US here on work experience: “[Jackson’s death] was sad. I really respected him as a performer… obviously he had a questionable personal life, but as a performer, there’s no doubt that he was just fantastic and amazingly influential.
“It’s was sort of unbelievable how arguably the most prolific performer ever could just pass away so quickly, especially right before his big 50-show comeback tour. That’s the sad part, really,” he added.
Elias Nwakamma, a Nigerian musician in Ireland, said: “Even though he is gone, people will still try to imitate him because he created a way of music and dancing and the way he put everything together that is amazing. If I could do what he did, I would be very happy.”
Nwakamma maintained that Michael’s “final legacy will be dance... I have never seen anybody who could do what he did. I think it’s amazing that he could communicate with everyone ¬– white, black, it didn’t matter. He brought everyone together.”
Sergey Tarutin, editor of Russian language newspaper Nasha Gazeta, remembers Jackson’s first visit to his home country. “I went to one his concerts in 1996 and it was one of the first big concerts to come to Russia. The city was both happy and angry: happy because Michael was coming, but angry because traffic was shut down because of the concert!”
Others, however, are more pragmatic about Jackson’s importance to today’s generation. Kevin Courtney, music critic for The Irish Times, says: “What his legacy will be is a hard question to answer. He’s been a bit of a freak show lately and it’s sort of overshadowed his music a bit. Apart from that, he was one of the greatest artists of the century, but tragically, not of this century.”
While highlighting President Obama’s tribute to Michael Jackson as a spectacular performer and music icon, the US Embassy in Ireland said the American people have been touched by the sheer numbers who have contacted the embassy over the pop legend’s death.
“The embassy would like to thank everyone who has sent us condolences on Mr Jackson’s passing,” said Sheila Paskman, the embassy’s public affairs officer. “The wonderful thing about CDs and DVDs is that we will get to enjoy his performances long into the future.”
Indeed, as his sister Janet Jackson said last Sunday: “Michael will forever live in all of our hearts.”

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