American music legend Michael Jackson died on Thursday after he was rushed to hospital following a heart attack that paramedics were unable to revive him from.
Hollywood stars and fans alike quickly sent out condolences as there was a sense of "shock" at the sudden loss of the 50-year-old "King of Pop," who is survived by three children, Prince Michael, 12, Paris, 11 and seven-year-old Prince Michael II.
Fans immediately gathered outside the UCLA Medical Center, less than 10 minutes from his home, where he was rushed to at around 2.30 p.m. (2230 GMT) on Thursday the singer was pronounced dead about fifteen minutes later. According to reports he was not breathing and arrived at the hospital in a deep coma.
Jackson, whose career began to take off in the 1970s as the lead singer for the Jackson Five and soared to fame with his dance moves and off-the-charts pop anthems, was set to perform a 50 show concert series for more than 1 million people over the summer in London.
Tickets for the comeback show at London's O2 Arena, which was to kick off July 8, sold out in a matter of hours after going on sale in March.
The singer would have been 51 on Aug. 29.
Jackson's 1982 Thriller album, featuring some of his most popular songs like Billy Jean, was the best-selling album of all time. And the video helped launch the music video genre.
In recent years he was most often in the spotlight for his odd behavior, including allegations of paedophilia and dangling his baby son from a balcony. He settled a child molestation case in 2005 for $10 million.
His appearance also became the focus of headlines over the years due to plastic surgery and a medical condition called vitiligo that Jackson alleged is the reason he went from African-American to white.
Tears and tributes
Fans around the world grieved for Jackson while his star friends in Hollywood and music declared themselves devastated by the sudden death of the "King of Pop."
Jackson's sister, Janet, was "grief stricken and devastated at the sudden loss of her brother" and flying back to California to be with her family, according to a statement released through her manager.
Actress Brooke Shields, another longtime friend of Jackson said: "My heart is overcome with sadness for the devastating loss of my true friend Michael. He was an extraordinary friend, artist and contributor to the world. I join his family and his fans in celebrating his incredible life and mourning his untimely passing."
Pop diva Madonna called Jackson "one of the greats" of modern music.
"I can't stop crying over the sad news," she told celebrity website People.com. "I have always admired Michael Jackson. The world has lost one of the greats, but his music will live on forever."
Actress Elizabeth Taylor, one of Jackson's longstanding friends, was "too devastated" to issue a statement, her spokesperson said.
Quincy Jones who produced the "Thriller" album said: "To this day, that music is played in every corner of the world, and the reason is because he had it all -- talent, grace and professionalism."
I can't stop crying over the sad news," she told celebrity website People.com. "I have always admired Michael Jackson. The world has lost one of the greats, but his music will live on forever
The star's first wife Lisa Marie Presley, the daughter of Elvis Presley, said: "I am so very sad and confused with every emotion possible. I am heartbroken for his children, who I know were everything to him, and for his family."
Justin Timberlake -- who like Jackson is known for both his singing and dancing -- said in a statement that the world had "lost a genius and a true ambassador of not only pop music, but of all music."
Music diva Beyonce called Jackson's death a "tragic loss."
"The incomparable Michael Jackson has made a bigger impact on music than any other artist in the history of music," she told U.S. television program Entertainment Tonight.
Jackson has immediately been put among the all-time entertainment greats.
"Just as there will never be another Fred Astaire or Chuck Berry or Elvis Presley, there will never be anyone comparable to Michael Jackson," director Steven Spielberg told Entertainment Weekly.
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger called Jackson "one of the most influential and iconic figures in the music industry" but said there were "serious questions" about Jackson's personal life.
I am so very sad and confused with every emotion possible. I am heartbroken for his children, who I know were everything to him, and for his family.
Lisa Marie Presley
Jackson's former producer and friend Tarak Ben Ammar denounced the pop icon's doctors as "criminals" and "charlatans" who had taken advantage of his hypochondria.
"It's clear that the criminals in this affair are the doctors who treated him throughout his career, who destroyed his face, who gave him medicine to ease his pain," he told French radio.
He was a hypochondriac and one never really knew if he was sick because he had become surrounded by charlatan doctors who were billing him thousands and thousands of dollars worth of drugs, vitamins
Ben Ammar-- Jackson friend
"He was a hypochondriac and one never really knew if he was sick because he had become surrounded by charlatan doctors who were billing him thousands and thousands of dollars worth of drugs, vitamins," said the Tunisian producer.
"He ate badly, he didn't have a very healthy life, he couldn't do sport," said Ben Ammar.