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Elham AbolFateh

Arts & Entertainment

Michael Jackson: The story of the troubled star's final day، 10 years on

Tuesday 25/June/2019 - 03:36 PM
Sada El Balad
News of a medical emergency involving Michael Jackson started filtering through at around 22:00 BST on Thursday 25 June 2009.

I know because I was on my way to watch cheesy 90s boy band East 17 in the Dance Tent at the Glastonbury Festival. They were a warm-up act the day before the event properly began.

My editor called. Michael Jackson might have been rushed to hospital. He might be in a coma. That was according to TMZ، which was gaining a reputation for celebrity scoops.

But no-one knew if it was true. Strange stories about the King of Pop often bubbled up. A few weeks earlier، it had been reported that he had skin cancer، which was later denied.

Even so، I turned around and headed back to the dusty backstage cabin I had just been working in and searched for an update. In London، Los Angeles and around the world، newsrooms swung into action to try to find out what had happened. The BBC's LA bureau phoned spokespeople، associates and business managers. None would confirm anything. Some just hung up.

A short time later، my editor called again. "Er، TMZ are saying he's dead." A deep breath. Michael Jackson was arguably the biggest pop star of the previous 30 years، and the greatness of his music is undeniable. But there was a more troubling side - accused (and acquitted) of child molestation، and with a downright strange persona and personal life.

At that stage، the world had no information about what had happened in the preceding hours. But in the months and years that followed، details of his final day became clear.

Jackson was just weeks away from a series of lucrative comeback concerts at the O2 Arena in London، and was under pressure to make them a success.

He had left rehearsals in Los Angeles shortly after midnight the night before his death، according to the book 83 Minutes: The Doctor، The Damage and the Shocking Death of Michael Jackson. But for years، the superstar had been unable to sleep without the help of sedatives.

Dr Conrad Murray، who had been employed as his $150،000-a-month personal physician for the shows، was waiting when the star arrived home at his mansion. In Jackson's bedroom، pill bottles، vials، syringes and oxygen tanks littered tables، shelves and the floor.

Dr Murray told police he had given the singer propofol - a powerful drug usually given before and during surgery in hospitals - for 60 nights in a row until 22 June 2009، when he tried to wean him off.

In the early hours of 25 June، the physician gave Jackson a series of different sedatives in an attempt to help him sleep. But they didn't have the desired effect، and Dr Murray said Jackson was getting increasingly agitated about the forthcoming day's rehearsals. "I must be ready for the show in England،" he said، according to the physician.

It reached 10:00 local time and the singer was still awake. Dr Murray told police Jackson had begged him: "Please، please، give me some milk so that I can sleep." He was referring to the milk-like propofol. The physician consented، and said he administered the drug via an intravenous drip around 10:40 PST.

Dr Murray told detectives he had the necessary equipment to monitor heart rate and oxygen levels in the blood، and that he stayed at Jackson's bedside before leaving for two minutes to go to the bathroom. When he returned، he found his patient wasn't breathing.

But Dr Murray's timeline was called into question by phone records، which suggested it was just before noon that he noticed something was wrong.

Edited by rehab sayed

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