Tears and tributes for the flawed 'genius' of pop
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Tears and tributes for the flawed 'genius' of pop

Fans around the world grieved for Michael Jackson, while many friends hailed his 'genius' but raised questions about the King of Pop's entourage and drug consumption. Many tributes put Jackson into the pantheon of tragic stars alongside Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe and James Dean. Discography | Life and times | More about Jackson

music Updated: Jun 27, 2009 08:07 IST

Fans around the world grieved for Michael Jackson on Friday, while many friends hailed his 'genius' but raised questions about the King of Pop's entourage and drug consumption.

Many tributes put Jackson into the pantheon of tragic stars alongside Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe and James Dean.

Fans from Paris to Sydney planned candlelit vigils for the 50-year-old superstar who died on Thursday from cardiac arrest. At the Glastonbury pop festival in Britain, thousands danced to Jackson's iconic songs such as Thriller and Billie Jean.

But recriminations also started over the treatment of the singer who made the world's biggest selling album Thriller and was planning comeback shows in London next month after being dragged through the courts on paedophilia charges.

Some of the biggest names in entertainment paid tributes.

Pop diva Madonna called Jackson "one of the greats" of 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."

Beatle Paul McCartney hailed Jackson as a "massively talented boy man with a gentle soul".

Singer Liza Minnelli called Jackson "a genius talent, who revolutionised show business." Actress Elizabeth Taylor, another 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."

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."

Jackson's influence was also highlighted by the new generation of pop stars.

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."

Singer Beyonce said: "The incomparable Michael Jackson has made a bigger impact on music than any other artist in the history of music."

"Just as there will never be another Fred Astaire or Chuck Berry or Elvis Presley, there will never be anyone comparable to Michael Jackson," film director Steven Spielberg told Entertainment Weekly.
"His talent, his wonderment and his mystery make him a legend."

But many lamented the pressures of his eccentric private life, financial troubles and his planned comeback.

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger highlighted Jackson's influence but said there were "serious questions" about the singer's personal life.

Jackson was a "universal star" whose "tragic" destiny places him alongside Monroe, Dean and Elvis, France's Culture Minister Frederic Mitterrand said.

All "ended (their lives) in a manner not very different to his, devoured by medication in great solitude," he told Europe 1 radio.

Jackson represented "this idea of a perpetual adolescence that one must try to preserve all one's life until the end. He did it but at such a price that he died from it."

Uri Geller, the psychic and friend of Jackson, blamed the preparations for his London comeback shows for Jackson's death.

Geller said Jackson was desperate to prove to the world that he was still a superstar despite child abuse allegations which had tainted his career.

"He wanted to prove to the world that he is number one, that he is still Michael Jackson, that he can still deliver a thriller," Geller told BBC radio.

"The anticipation, the stress levels, the anxiety for what was coming up in London was so huge... I believe that that stopped his heart".

Jackson's former producer and friend Tarak Ben Ammar denounced the pop icon's doctors as "criminals" 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," said the Tunisian producer.

"He ate badly, he didn't have a very healthy life, he couldn't do sport," said Ben Ammar.

But amid the shock and the controversy some moments of humour from Jackson's often eccentric career also came out.

On a 1996 visit to Mumbai, Jackson reportedly autographed the toilet he used when visiting local Hindu nationalist firebrand Bal Thackeray.

In a statement, Thackeray, now 83, recalled Jackson's dancing. "How many people can dance that way? You'd break your neck... He represents certain values in America that India should not have qualms in accepting," he said.

Mohammed Al Fayed, owner of London department store Harrods, said he would erect a statue in honour of Jackson, as he did for the late Princess Diana.

First Published: Jun 27, 2009 00:56 IST