Singer Michael Jackson, 50, died in Los Angeles today, various news sources reported.
Jackson, a child Motown sensation who grew into a moon walking megastar, sold millions of records, earning worldwide adoration in the 1980s.
Later he came to be regarded as one of show business’s legendary oddities, hopping from one public relations crisis to another.
The Los Angeles Times, citing city and law enforcement officials, reported late this afternoon that the singer was dead after being rushed to UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles around 3:30 p.m.
Eastern time. Other news sources and Web sites also reported the death. The Times reported that the singer was not breathing when paramedics arrived at the singer’s home, at 12:26 p.m. Pacific time.
Authorities were closing down the streets around UCLA and the hospital and were expected to make an announcement shortly.
As news spread, a large crowd gathered outside the hospital awaiting word on the performer who had sold 750 million albums, was twice inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and received 14 Grammy Awards, including one for lifetime achievement.
People snapped photos and called friends. His music blared from a fan’s boombox.
Jackson was planning to appear in a sold-out series of concerts in London next month that would have run until March.
Promoters of the concerts had recently said that the singer had passed a physical examination to assuage any doubts he was ready for a comeback.
Alan Light, former editor of Vibe and Spin magazines, said, “It’s almost impossible to overstate the impact he had on popular music and popular culture.” . . . He really defined what the music video could be.
He was the ultimate crossover figure, bringing black music and rock-and-roll together.”
For all his many successes as a child and young man, Jackson’s later life devolved into a series of tabloid headlines, bizarre plastic surgeries, and more courtroom appearances than hit songs.
After he was acquited of child molestation charges in 2005, Jackson has led an increasingly reclusive life.
He traveled the world with his three children, and the family’s whereabouts were rarely known, as they jumped from hotels to rental homes around the world.
His Neverland ranch north of Santa Barbara, Calif., is no longer the scene of private amusement fairs for needy children.
He narrowly avoided having many of his belongings from the ranch sold at auction this year.
“Everybody had the sense that there was not going to be a happy ending to this story,” Light said.