Stars & Colleagues React To Michael Jackson’s Surprising Death
First Published: June 26, 2009 4:17 PM EDT Credit: AP
BURBANK, Calif. -- The shocking death of Michael Jackson, the King of Pop, at age 50, surprised the world on Thursday – and the stars are sharing their grief.
“I am absolutely devastated at this tragic and unexpected news. For Michael to be taken away from us so suddenly at such a young age, I just don’t have the words. Divinity brought our souls together on ‘The Wiz’ and allowed us to do what we were able to throughout the 80’s. To this day, the music we created together on ‘Off The Wall,’ ‘Thriller’ and ‘Bad’ is played in every corner of the world and the reason for that is because he had it all…talent, grace, professionalism and dedication. He was the consummate entertainer and his contributions and legacy will be felt upon the world forever. I’ve lost my little brother today, and part of my soul has gone with him.”-- Quincy Jones, producer of “Off The Wall,” “Thriller” and “Bad”
“I was lucky enough to know and work with Michael Jackson in his prime. Michael was an extraordinary talent and a truly great international star. He had a troubled and complicated life and despite his gifts, remains a tragic figure. My wife Deborah and I will always have great affection for him.”-- John Landis, director of “Thriller”
“I knew Michael as a child and watched him grow over the years. Of all the thousands of entertainers I have worked with, Michael was THE most outstanding. Many have tried and will try to copy him, but his talent will never be matched. He was truly one-of-a-kind.” --Dick Clark
“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. This is such a massive loss on so many levels, words fail me.”
--Lisa Marie Presley
“I can’t stop crying over the sad news… I have always admired Michael Jackson..The world has lost one of the greats, but his music will live on forever!.. My heart goes out to his 3 children and other members of his family… God bless.”
“I am so devastated by this terrible news. From the beginning of my career, he was my idol in show business. He was a genius and an incredible artist!! I remember when I was growing up and watching him on TV, and all his videos…I had his poster on my wall…he was so amazing…his singing, his writing, his dancing. We had the same record company, and they knew I was a huge fan, so when things started to happen for me, they arranged for us to meet. I was so nervous, and so excited at the same time, and Michael was so nice. He autographed one of his hats for me…. I was so thrilled. Years later, he came to see my Las Vegas show and we spent some time together….and we were really looking forward to seeing his show in London. It’s unbelievable that he’s no longer with us. It still hasn’t sunk in.
“I guess we’re just finding out what happened, but all I can say is that he must have been under an enormous amount of pressure……to do the shows, and to keep on top of everything, plus this was going to be his big comeback. This is a lot of pressure and it can be overwhelming for anyone. I’m sure it was just too much to handle. Right now, along millions and millions of others I am so sad….and I just want to send my prayers and love to Michael’s family. I can’t imagine how difficult this is for them….to lose someone so special. And it’s the same for everyone in the world who loses a loved one. It just keeps reminding us of how precious life is, and that we never know when it’s our time. God Bless his soul.”
“I was so excited to see his show in London. We were going to be on tour in Europe at the same time and I was going to fly in to see him. He has been an inspiration throughout my entire life and I’m devastated he’s gone!”
“My heart is overcome with sadness for the devastating loss of my true friend Michael. He was an extraordinary friend, artist and contributor to the world. I join his family and his fans in celebrating his incredible life and mourning his untimely passing.”
“My heart…my mind… are broken. I loved Michael with all my soul and I can’t imagine life without him. We had so much in common and we had such loving fun together. I was packing up my clothes to go to London for his opening when I heard the news. I still can’t believe it. I don’t want to believe it. It can’t be so. He will live in my heart forever but it’s not enough. My life feels so empty. I don’t think anyone knew how much we loved each other. The purest most giving love I’ve ever known. Oh God! I’m going to miss him. I can’t yet imagine life with out him. But I guess with God’s help… I’ll learn. I keep looking at the photo he gave me of himself, which says, “To my true love Elizabeth, I love you forever.” And, I will love HIM forever.”
“I am full of grief.”
“This is such a tragic loss and a terrible day. The incomparable Michael Jackson has made a bigger impact on music than any other artist in the history of music. He was magic. He was what we all strive to be. He will always be the king of pop! Life is not about how many breaths you take, but about how many moments in life that take your breath away. For anyone who has ever seen, felt, or heard his art, we are all honored to have been alive in this generation to experience the magic of Michael Jackson. I love you Michael.”
“I am heartbroken. My prayers go out to the Jackson family, and my heart goes out to his children. Let us remember him for his unparalleled contribution to the world of music, his generosity of spirit in his quest to heal the world, and the joy he brought to his millions of devoted fans throughout the world.
I feel blessed to have performed with him several times and to call him my friend. No artist will ever take his place. His star will shine forever.”
“I loved Michael Jackson from the first moment laid eyes on him as a young performer and over all the years of his career. I never wavered for a moment in my belief in his talent and creativity. He was head and shoulders above every performer of his generation. I personally intend to only remember the best of him, his kindness, his charm, his superb musicianship, his magical dancing and his beautiful voice. He was a showman without equal. May he finally rest in peace.”
“Michael was a dear friend and a consummate professional.This was the most exciting collaboration of my life with a man who has inspired me like no other. He will be deeply missed. I am terribly sad. We had a 25 year friendship.
This is all too much to comprehend. This was the world’s greatest performer and the world will miss him. My heart goes out to his family and fans.”
--Kenny Ortega, Michael Jackson’s partner in the creating, producing and directing of the THIS IS IT Concert Series
“Rarely has the world received a gift with the magnitude of artistry, talent, and vision as Michael Jackson. He was a true musical icon whose identifiable voice, innovative dance moves, stunning musical versatility, and sheer star power carried him from childhood to worldwide acclaim. A 13-time GRAMMY recipient, Michael’s career transcends musical and cultural genres and his contributions will always keep him in our hearts and memories. We are deeply saddened by this tragic news and our hearts go out to his family and to music lovers around the globe who mourn this great loss.”
--Neil Portnow, President and CEO of The Recording Academy
“This is such traumatic loss to the world of entertainment and our global culture. His musical impact has changed lives forever including mine. I had the opportunity to perform at his Neverland ranch and cover one of his songs, “Rock With You,” that to this day I still perform on stage. I know his legacy will live on forever. Tonight our performance of ‘The Wiz’ will be dedicated to Michael Jackson.”--Ashanti
“Today, the world has lost one of the most influential and iconic figures in the music industry. From his performances with the Jackson 5, to the premiere of the ‘moonwalk’ and ‘Thriller,’ Michael was a pop phenomenon who never stopped pushing the envelope of creativity. Though there were serious questions about his personal life, Michael was undoubtedly a great entertainer and his popularity spanned generations and the globe. Maria and I join all Californians in expressing our shock and sadness over his death and our hearts go out the Jackson family, Michael’s children and to his fans worldwide.”
--Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
“I am stunned and deeply saddened by the sudden loss of Michael Jackson. Michael was a huge supporter of my career but more importantly he was a good friend, had the biggest heart and it was an honor and pleasure to be able to work with him and know him. There will never be another Michael Jackson, my thoughts and prayers are with his family.”
“Michael Jackson is the reason why I do music and why I am an entertainer. I am devastated by this great loss, and I will continue to be humbled and inspired by his legacy. My prayers are with his family. Michael will be deeply missed, but never forgotten. He’s the greatest… the best ever. No one will ever be better.”
“I will be mourning my friend, brother, mentor and inspiration.. He gave me and my family hope. I would never have been me without him.”
-- MC Hammer
The world has lost an amazing man. A man that cared, and loved and gave everything he had for others. Michael I love you and I will miss you.
“Michael Jackson will live forever through the thing that he put all of his life energy into: his music. I will do my part to keep the melody alive, to keep the energy forever changing form, but never ever dying!! Long live Michael Jackson.”
“The entire Apollo family is saddened to learn of Michael Jackson’s untimely passing. Michael first performed at the Apollo in 1969 with his brothers when he was only nine years old, winning Amateur Night, and catapulting their career as the Jackson 5. We will always remember Michael in our hearts as a true Apollo legend, known for his professionalism and grace. Our sympathy goes out to his entire family. He will be deeply missed.”--Jonelle Procope, Preszident & CEO, The Apollo Theater Foundation, Inc.
“I met Michael Jackson at the age of eight — when his father and my new friend, Joe Jackson, first began to bring the Jackson 5 to Chicago, from their home in Gary, Indiana, for concert appearances. As the word of the Jackson 5’s devastating abilities as concert artists had already begun to spread like an out-of-control forest fire-- to the, laser-like, attention of all Chicago area, R&B Music Stars!
“The prevailing thought process, among local, R&B stars, with respect to this very young group of entertainers known as the Jackson 5, had become: “If Michael Jackson & his brothers were booked on an, upcoming, Chicagoland show — leave it alone! Don’t book it — Don’t go on that show and get, completely blown away by young Michael and the Jackson 5!! Michael Jackson’s, personal, crescendo of amazing power, as an entertainer — was clear and unmistakable; and has never slowed to this very day!
“His passing will be grieved far beyond that of any other singer, composer, producer, dancer and choreographer, in the history of the world. Indeed, in my very firmest, personal, belief there will never, ever, be another Michael Jackson!”
--Don Cornelius, “Soul Train”
“This loss has deeply saddened me! It is with a heavy heart I composed this statement. May God cover you Michael. We all lift your name up in prayer. I pray for the entire JACKSON family particularly Michael’s mother, children and all his fans that loved him so much. I would not be the artist, performer, and philanthropist I am today without the influence of Michael. I have great admiration and respect for Him and I’m so thankful I had the opportunity to meet and perform with such a great entertainer, who in so many ways, transcended the culture. He broke barriers, he changed radio formats! With music, he made it possible for people like Oprah Winfrey and Barack Obama to impact the mainstream world. His legacy is unparalleled. Michael Jackson will never be forgotten.”
“Words cannot begin to express my heartfelt sorrow upon hearing the news of Michael Jackson’s passing. I was blessed to be able to work with, and witness first hand, his tremendous talent and growth through the years as he truly became an icon. Today we have all lost a legend who has touched each of our lives through his music and showmanship over the past five decades. To his family, the entire Jackson clan, and to all his adoring legions of fans throughout the world, my prayers and deepest condolences to all.”
“I am deeply saddened to hear of Michael’s sudden passing. His was a rare talent that we witness once in a lifetime. One who makes such an indelible mark that for generations singers and dancers attribute him as inspiration. I had the great privilege of watching him every night doing what he did best…entertain. I am grateful to have known him for the two years I worked for him and will mourn his loss with his many millions of fans across the world.”
“I am shocked beyond words. It’s like a dream — a bad dream. This cannot be! How can Michael Jackson not be here? As a kid, Michael was always beyond his years. He had a knowingness about him that was incredible. When I first heard him sing Smokey’s song, ‘Who’s Lovin’ You’ at 10 years’ old, it felt like he had lived the song for 50 years. Somehow, even at that first meeting with him, he had a hunger to learn, a hunger to be the best and was willing to work as hard and as long as it took. I had no concern about his ability to go to the top. He was like my son. He had warmth, sensitivity and two personalities. When he was not on stage, he was loving, respectful and shy. When he WAS on stage, he was so in charge you would not believe he was the same person. Michael was and will remain one of the greatest entertainers that ever lived. He was exceptional, artistic and original. He gave the world his heart and soul through his music. I extend my sympathies to Joe, Katherine and the entire Jackson family. My prayers are with them.”
--MOTOWN Founder Berry Gordy
“We are shocked and heartbroken about the sudden passing of our friend Michael Jackson. Michael Jackson was by far one of the most talented entertainers in the world! Like Sammy Davis, Michael had the ability to entertain audiences from all walks of life and keep them memorized. Michael was born with enormous talent. The world has certainly lost a great individual and we only hope that America and the rest of the world will continue to focus on the positive and not speak poorly of a man who was under constant scrutiny his entire life. We are happy to have had the opportunity to know Michael since he was a little boy and most recently we had the pleasure of working on one of his projects in Los Angeles. We send our condolences to his mother Katherine, his father Joseph, his children, his brothers, his sisters and the entire Jackson Family and all of Michael’s extended family, fans and friends. God Bless You, Michael and we will miss you!”
--The O’Jays: Walter Williams, Sr., Eddie Levert, Sr., & Eric Nolan Grant
“Not only was Michael Jackson one of our greatest entertainers, he was a son, a brother, a father and my friend. Let’s take this opportunity to pray for his children and his family, that they may find peace and God’s grace during these trying times. Michael Jackson will live forever through his music, he has given to the world. My heart goes out to this family.”
“I am shocked, saddened and still in disbelief over the death of Michael Jackson. He was one of, if not THE greatest entertainer of all time, and was without question the ‘King of Pop.’ He was also my friend. He recorded a song of mine on his 1979 ‘Off The Wall’ album and in 1981 we sang a duet together. We spent a considerable amount of time together in 2001 at my home music studio and I saw him in a totally different light - as a nurturing and caring father. I was so honored that he dedicated that album to me.
“My heart and prayers are with his family, his three children, my friend Elizabeth Taylor, and all us who are mourning the premature loss of his very precious life.”--Carole Bayer Sager
“I can’t find the words right now to express how deeply saddened I am by Michael’s passing. We have lost a genius and a true ambassador of not only Pop music, but of all music. 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. My heart goes out to his family and loved ones.”
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