Pop diva Madonna opened the MTV Video Music Awards 2009 in New York with a personal tribute to late pop legend Michael Jackson, accusing herself and the world for "abandoning him".
The Music hitmaker described her early friendship with Jackson and said she regretted the fact she had lost touch with the star over time, reports dailymail.co.uk.
"For one reason or another we fell out of touch, then the witchhunt began and it seemed like one story after another came out about Michael. I felt his pain, I know what it's like to walk down the street and feel like the whole world is turned against you," she said to the audience.
"I know what it's like to feel hopeless and not able to defend yourself because the roar of the witchhunt is so loud you're convinced your voice can never be heard," she added.
She spoke of her emotions when she heard that Jackson had died.
"When I first heard that Michael had died I was in London, days away from the opening of my tour. Michael was supposed to perform in the same venue as me a week later, all I could think about in that moment was I had abandoned him, that we had abandoned him, that we had allowed this magnificent creature who once set the world on fire to somehow slip through the cracks," she said.
"While he was trying to build a family and rebuild his career, we were all busy passing judgment, most of us had turned our backs on him. Sometimes, we have to lose things before we can truly appreciate them... There will never be anyone like him ever again, he was a king. Long live the king," she added.
The sombre note to the award ceremony was followed by a musical tribute to the late star.
A montage of his music videos, including Thriller and Bad, were played on the big screen, while performers dressed like Jackson danced in his signature style on the stage in front.
They were joined by Jackson's sister Janet who came out to perform her part of the song Scream, which she had released as a duet with Michael in 1995.