x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Jackson hailed as greatest entertainer

Michael Jackson's tearful 11-year-old daughter tells mourners at his memorial service he was "the best father you could ever imagine".

LOS ANGELES // Mariah Carey, Stevie Wonder and Usher sang emotional farewells on Tuesday to Michael Jackson, who was hailed as "the greatest entertainer that ever lived" and described by his tearful 11-year-old daughter Paris as "the best father you could ever imagine". Some 18,000 fans, family members and friends took part in a public memorial for Jackson in the Los Angeles sport arena where the singer had rehearsed the day before his death for a highly-anticipated series of comeback concerts.

Jackson's brothers, each wearing a single sequinned glove in homage to his signature look, carried the singer's golden casket into Los Angeles' Staples Center. Carey performed Jackson's 1970 ballad "I'll Be There", Usher's voice cracked as he sang "Gone Too Soon" and the King of Pop's three children made a rare public appearance without veils, which were used for years by Jackson to shield them from the media.

Prince Michael, 12, Paris and Prince Michael II, 7, appeared with the family on stage to join in a mass chorus of Jackson's inspirational hits "We Are the World" and "Heal the World". Paris, in tears, took the microphone to say: "Ever since I was born my daddy has been the best father you can ever imagine and I just wanted to say I love him, so much." But it was Jackson himself who loomed larger than life, shown in old concert footage, music videos and news clips, singing, dancing his moonwalk and surrounded by adoring crowds.

"The more I think about Michael, and talk about Michael, the more I think that 'King of Pop' is not good enough," said Motown Records founder Berry Gordy, who signed The Jackson 5 to a recording contract in 1968. "I think he is simply the greatest entertainer that ever lived." The two-hour 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.

Jackson's sudden death from cardiac arrest in Los Angeles on June 25 at the age of 50 stunned fans across the world and sent sales of his biggest hits from albums such as "Thriller" and "Off the Wall" back to the top of music charts. President Barack Obama, on a visit to Russia, said he was "one of the greatest entertainers of our generation, perhaps any generation," and added: "I think like Elvis, like Sinatra, like The Beatles he became a core part of our culture.

The memorial was broadcast live on US national TV networks and internet company Akamai said it was the most widely viewed event on the internet since the inauguration of President Obama in January. Jackson's family and close friends held a brief private ceremony earlier on Tuesday at a Los Angeles cemetery before bringing the singer's body and casket to the memorial. Questions remained on where exactly Jackson would be buried.

*Reuters