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Michael Jackson Memorial: What the attendees said

Michael Jackson

Compiled by Jack Foley

FAMILY members, friends, fellow stars and civil rights leaders took it in turns to pay emotional tribute to the life of Michael Jackson at a memorial service in Los Angeles on Tuesday (July 7, 2009).

Family members including Michael’s 11-year-old daughter Paris and brother Jermaine joined the likes of civil rights leader, the Rev Al Sharpton, and actress Brooke Shields, in reflecting on the life of the superstar.

They bid both sad farewell and defiant thanks in recognition of all that the singer achieved throughout his life.

Here is a selection of some of what was said at the Memorial Ceremony (held at Los Angeles Staples Center).

Paris Jackson, 11, daughter: I just wanted to say, ever since I was born, daddy has been the best father you can ever imagine. And I just wanted to say I love him so much.

Jermaine Jackson, brother: I’m lost for words. I was his voice and his backbone. I had his back and so did the family. We thank you. That’s all I can say, we thank you very much.

Marlon Jackson, brother: I will treasure the good times, the fun we had, singing, dancing, laughing. I remember when we used to come home from school and grab a quick bite to eat and try to watch The Three Stooges – as much of it as possible before mother would come in and say it’s time to go to the recording studio.

“I also remember a time when I went into the record store. There was this man purchasing a lot of CDs. He was an older gentleman, he had a short afro, bucked, crooked teeth and his clothes were rumpled.

“I walked up behind him and said: “Michael, what are you doing in this store?” I told him: “Michael, you’re my brother, I can spot you anywhere regardless of your make-up.”

Rev Al Sharpton: “I first met Michael around 1970. From that day as a cute kid to this moment, he never gave up dreaming. It was that dream that changed culture all over the world. When Michael started, it was a different world. But because Michael kept going, because he didn’t accept limitations, because he refused to let people decide his boundaries, he opened up the whole world.

He put on one glove, pulled his pants up and broke down the colour curtain. When now our videos are shown and magazines put us on the cover, it was Michael Jackson that brought blacks and whites and Asians and Latinos together. Michael made us love each other.

I want his three children to know, there wasn’t nothing strange about your daddy. It was strange what your daddy had to deal with. He dealt with it anyway. He dealt with it for us.

Stevie Wonder: This is a moment that I wish that I didn’t live to see come. But as much as I can say that and mean it, I do know that God is good and I do know that as much as we may feel – and we do – that we need Michael here with us, God must have needed him far more.

Berry Gordy, Motown founder: Michael Jackson went into orbit and never came down. Though it ended way too soon, Michael’s life was beautiful. Sure, there was some sad times and maybe some questionable decisions on his part, but Michael Jackson accomplished everything he dreamed of.

Diana Ross: I’m trying to find closure, I want you to know that even though I am not there at the Staples Center I am there in my heart. I’ve decided to pause and be silent. This feels right for me. 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.

Brooke Shields, actress: Michael was one of a kind. Whenever we were out together and there would be a picture taken, there would be caption of some kind, and the caption usually said something like, ‘an odd couple’ or ‘an unlikely pair’. But to us it was the most natural and easiest of friendships. I was 13 when we met, and from that day on our friendship grew. Michael always knew he could count on me to support him or be his date.

“We had a bond. Maybe it was because we both understood what it was like to be in the spotlight from a very, very young age. Both of us needed to be adults very early, but when we were together, we were two little kids having fun.

Smokey Robinson: You don’t think you’ll live to see them gone… He is going to live forever and ever and ever and ever.

Read more about the Michael Jackson Memorial