Celebrities and stars around the globe have paid tribute to pop icon Michael Jackson, praising his contributions to the music world as they reeled from the news of his sudden death. Madonna said she was left in tears at the news that the world had lost "one of the greats" of pop music. "I can't stop crying over the sad news," the veteran pop star 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."
As crowds of people gathered at the Los Angeles hospital where Jackson was rushed for treatment and later pronounced dead, some of the biggest names in the entertainment world were grappling with the news of his death. The actress Elizabeth Taylor, one of Jackson's closest and longstanding friends, was "too devastated" to issue a statement, her spokesperson said. The record producer and former Jackson collaborator Quincy Jones said he too was "devastated" by the news that the "King of Pop" had died, apparently after suffering a heart attack at his Beverly Hills home.
"I just don't have the words. Divinity brought our souls together and allowed us to do what we could do through the 80s," Jones told US television network NBC. "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've lost my little brother today and part of my soul has gone with him." The star's first wife Lisa Marie Presley, the daughter of Elvis Presley, said his death had left her speechless.
"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," Presley told MTV News in a statement. "This is such a massive loss on so many levels. Words fail me." Justin Timberlake said in a statement that the world had "lost a genius and a true ambassador of not only pop music, but of all music." He said: "He has been an inspiration to multiple generations and I will always cherish the moments I shared with him on stage and all of the things I learned about music from him and the time we spent together."
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger lamented the loss of "one of the most influential and iconic figures in the music industry". There were "serious questions" about Jackson's personal life, Mr Schwarzenegger noted, adding, however, that he and his wife Maria Shriver joined "all Californians in expressing our shock and sadness over his death". Uri Geller, a close friend of the star, said: "I'm just devastated, very, very sad. I pray that his soul is up there now." Jackson was best man when the television psychic renewed his wedding vows in 2001.
Geller told the BBC that he was "absolutely shocked," as Jackson had been in good shape training for his comeback tour due to launch on July 13 in London. Celebrities from Oscar-winning actress Jane Fonda to hip-hop icon and fashion mogul Sean "Diddy" Combs to cycling champion Lance Armstrong used micro-blogging website Twitter to express their sadness. "Michael Jackson showed me that you can actually see the beat. He made the music come to life. He made me believe in magic. I will miss him," said Combs.
Even the British foreign secretary David Miliband joined the Twitter tributes, saying: "Never has one soared so high and yet dived so low. RIP Michael." Many paid tribute to Jackson's influence on the world of music and dance. Jackson's album "Thriller" remains the bestselling album of all time with more than 41 million sales. And his iconic moonwalk has passed into dance legend. "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.
"His talent, his wonderment and his mystery make him a legend." Jackson's former publicist Michael Levine said the entertainer's sudden death had not come out of the blue. "I must confess I am not surprised by today's tragic news," Levine said. "Michael has been on an impossibly difficult and often self-destructive journey for years. His talent was unquestionable, but so too was his discomfort with the norms of the world."