Thousands Bid Farewell to Michael Jackson at Staple Center
CNS–Music industry giants, entertainment superstars and thousands of fans packed into Staples Center today to say a melodic farewell to Michael Jackson, who was hailed as the “greatest entertainer that ever lived.”
The ceremony, which followed a private memorial held by family and friends at Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills, was a celebration of the life of the 50- year-old King of Pop, who was found in full cardiac arrest at his rented Holmby Hills estate on June 25 and died two hours later at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center.
“Michael Jackson wanted nothing more than to give love to the world, to share of his singular talent and his soul and perhaps be loved back in return,” the Rev. Lucious Smith, a longtime Jackson family friend, told the crowd at the beginning of the service. “Through his words, his music and his countless good deeds, Michael did so much to try and heal our world. And so for the Jackson family and for all who grieve his loss everywhere in the world, may this moment of remembrance, a moment of healing, a moment of music, and a moment of love bring comfort to those who loved our friend.”
Jackson’s casket was wheeled into Staples Center to the strains of the The Andrae Crouch Choir singing “Soon and Very Soon,” which features the lyrics, “We are going to see the king. No more crying there, we are going to see the king.”
It was the beginning of a string of musical performances, including Mariah Carey and Trey Lorenz singing, “I’ll Be There,” a gospel performance by Lionel Richie and a short speech and performance by Stevie Wonder of the song, “They Won’t Go When I Go.”
“The Jackson Five was the only group in history to have their first four records go to number one,” Motown founder Berry Gordy told the crowd. “In 1983, the brothers reunited and returned to do Motown’s 25th anniversary show. After a high-powered, dazzling melody of their songs, Michael took the stage alone and made pop history.
“From the first beat of `Billie Jean’ and the toss of that hat, I was mesmerized,” Gordy said. “And when he did his iconic moonwalk, I was shocked. It was magic. Michael Jackson went into orbit and never came down. Though it ended way too soon, Michael’s life was beautiful. Sure, there were some sad times and maybe some questionable decisions on his part, but Michael Jackson accomplished everything he dreamed of. At 10 years old, he had passion. He had passion to be the greatest entertainer in the world and he was willing to work as hard to do whatever it took to become what he indeed became the undisputed King of Pop the world over.
“… In fact, the more I think and talk about Michael Jackson, I feel the King of Pop is not big enough for him. … I think he is simply the greatest entertainer that ever lived,” Gordy said, prompting a standing ovation from the Staples Center crowd.