Rest in Peace

Michael Jackson’s family and fans have said farewell to the pop superstar at an emotional memorial service.

Jackson’s daughter Paris, 11, fought back tears to describe him as “the best father you could ever imagine”.

The singer’s coffin was placed in front of the stage during the event at the Staples Center in Los Angeles after an earlier private funeral.

Lionel Richie, Stevie Wonder and Mariah Carey paid tribute before the family joined a sombre finale on stage.

Jackson’s siblings, children and parents took part in a chorus of We Are The World and Heal the World.

His family, with the brothers each wearing a single jewelled glove in Jackson’s honour, then took to the podium.

Michael Jackson's family

Michael Jackson’s brothers wore his trademark single gloves

Comforted by aunts and uncles, Paris stepped up the microphone. “I just wanted to say, ever since I was born, Daddy has been the best father you could ever imagine,” she said.

“And I just wanted to say I love him so much.”

Marlon Jackson spoke of the troubles his brother faced. “We will never, never, understand what he endured,” he said.

“Not being able to walk across the street without a crowd gathered around, being judged, being ridiculed. How much pain can one take?

“Maybe now, Michael, they will leave you alone.”

‘Nothing strange’

Jackson’s brother Jermaine earlier took to the stage to perform the song Smile. It was said to be the King of Pop’s favourite song, featuring the lyric: “Smile though your hearts are aching.”

At the start of the service, Jackson’s brothers carried the golden flower-draped coffin into the arena to the strains of a choir singing “Hallelujah, hallelujah, we’re going to see the King” from the song Soon And Very Soon.

Mariah Carey was among the artists paying tribute, performing I’ll Be There and ending with the words: “We miss you.”

Stevie Wonder said: “This is a moment I wished I didn’t live to see come. Michael I love you.”

Civil rights leader the 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.”

Motown boss Berry Gordy, who signed the Jackson Five, ended his tribute with the words: “Michael, thank you for the joy, thank you for the love. you will live in my heart forever.”

Actress Brooke Shields, who first met Jackson when she was 13, broke down in tears as she took to the stage.

Describing Jackson as “pure”, she said: “He was often referred to as the King but the Michael that I knew was always the little prince. Michael saw everything with his heart.”

The 17,500 people in the arena cheered as clips of Jackson’s life and music were played on big screens.

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

Stevie Wonder performing

Images of Jackson flashed on screens as Stevie Wonder performed

The message from Ross was read by Smokey Robinson. “I’m trying to find closure,” it said.

“I want you to know that even though I am not there at the Staples Center I am there in my heart.

“Michael was a personal love of mine, a treasured part of my world, part of the fabric of my life in a way that I can’t seem to find words to express.

“Michael wanted me to be there for his children and I will be there if they ever need me. I hope today brings closure for all those who loved him.”

Other people taking part include Usher and Britain’s Got Talent finalist Shaheen Jafargholi, who has played the young Michael Jackson in the musical Thriller – Live.

The stage was adorned with the star’s image, alongside a mural carrying the words: “In Loving Memory. Michael Jackson King of Pop – 1958-2009.”

‘Everybody cried’

Speaking after the event, one fan, Marianne Green, told the BBC the memorial was “heart wrenching”.

“It was really beautiful. A lot of people got up and said wonderful things,” she said.

Pamela Green added: “We laughed at some jokes, but everybody cried. I’ve never seen anything like that, ever.”

Millions of fans around the world watched on TV.

Roads were closed off and concrete barriers erected outside the Staples Center, where Jackson had been rehearsing a comeback show before his sudden death aged 50 on 25 June.

More than 1.6 million fans applied to attend the memorial event, with 8,750 people chosen at random to receive a pair of tickets.

Family members earlier attended a short funeral service at the Forest Lawn cemetery.

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