8 Jul 2009

Emotional farewells paid to Jackson

11:32 am on 8 July 2009

Mariah Carey, Stevie Wonder and Usher sang emotional farewells on Tuesday to Michael Jackson.

He was hailed as "the greatest entertainer that ever lived" and described by his daughter Paris, 11, 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 sports arena where the singer rehearsed the day before his death for a series of comeback concerts.

Jackson's brothers, each wearing a single sequined glove, carried the singer's golden casket into the Staples Center.

Carey performed Jackson's 1970 ballad I'll Be There, Usher sang Gone Too Soon andJackson's three children made a rare public appearance without veils.

Jackson was shown in old concert footage, music videos and news clips, singing, dancing his moonwalk and surrounded by adoring crowds.

The two-hour memorial focused on his musical achievements.

Jackson's musical careeer covered 45-years in which he was awarded 13 Grammys, his charity work for childrens' groups and his role in opening the mainstream pop and celebrity world to African-Americans.

The event was broadcast live on national and international TV networks.

Jackson, 50, died on 25 June.

Messages read

Messages were read from absent guests including former South African President Nelson Mandela, poet Maya Angelou and singer Diana Ross.

Civil rights leader Reverend Al Sharpton gave a fiery speech, telling Jackson's children: "There weren't nothing strange about your daddy.

"It was strange what your daddy had to deal with, but he dealt with it."

Millions of fans around the world watched the event on TV.

As the ceremony ended, pallbearers carrying Jackson's golden casket swathed with red flowers placed it into a black hearse.

The BBC reports it is not known where Jackson's final resting place will be.