Carey, Wonder sing at MJ memorial

Carey, Wonder sing at MJ memorial

Thousands of fans descend on Los Angeles to bid farewell to King of Pop

Carey, Wonder sing at MJ memorial

Last glimpse: Fans who have tickets pass through a barricade as they arrive at the Staples Centre, the site of the memorial service for Michael Jackson, in Los Angeles on Tuesday. AFP

Jackson’s brothers carried the singer’s gold-trimmed casket into the Staples Centre sports arena in downtown Los Angeles for the memorial, the place where Jackson rehearsed the day before his death for a highly-anticipated comeback tour.
Mariah Carey performed Jackson’s 1970 hit “I’ll Be There” and singer Smokey Robinson read out written tributes from former South African president Nelson Mandela and Diana Ross.

Singer Stevie Wonder also sang and a glossy memorial program was filled with pictures of Jackson and testimonials from friends and family.

“Michael was the biggest star on earth,” said actress Queen Latifah, to a huge applause.
Some 18,000 fans and friends got tickets in the arena or at a nearby, overflow theatre for the ceremony, which took place against a large backdrop and picture of Jackson that read “In Loving Memory of Michael Jackson King of Pop 1958 - 2009.”

Usher and Jennifer Hudson also performed, while basketball star Kobe Bryant and civil rights leader Al Sharpton were among the other celebrity guests.

Jackson’s family and close friends held a brief private ceremony earlier on Tuesday at a Los Angeles cemetery.

Fans watched from bridges as the funeral procession made its way along freeways cleared of traffic for one of the biggest celebrity events ever seen in a city accustomed to living with superstar citizens.

But the orderly crowds were much smaller than expected and many fans and downtown office workers appeared to have stayed at home. The ceremony was carried live on most television networks. Tuesday’s memorial focused on Jackson’s musical achievements, overshadowed in the last 10 years by the darker side of the singer’s life, including his humiliating 2005 trial and acquittal on charges of child sex abuse.

Questions persist over the cause of his death, which is being investigated by coroners, police and drug police amid reports of possible prescription medication abuse.

Police, security, escorts and sanitation for the memorial ceremony are expected to cost the cash-strapped Los Angeles city council nearly $4 million. The city council on Tuesday launched a website asking fans to make donations towards the cost of hosting Tuesday’s events.

The memorial was being shown live on US television networks, in some 37 US movie theatres, and was streamed on the Internet.

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