Police investigating Michael Jackson's death looked into his medical treatment Friday, seeking to interview one of the pop king's doctors and seizing a car that they said may contain drugs or other evidence.
As medical examiners began an autopsy for Jackson, police towed a BMW from rented home "because it may contain medications or other evidence that may assist the coroner in determining the cause of death," police spokeswoman Karen Rayner said.
She said the car belongs to one of Jackson's doctors whom police wanted to interview. Rayner said she did not know the doctor's identity and stressed the doctor was not under criminal investigation.
The autopsy began Friday morning and was expected to last several hours. An official determination on cause of death was not expected for weeks or longer, until more sophisticated tests are completed.
In a 911 call released by fire officials, a caller reports Jackson was on a bed and not breathing or responding to CPR. The unidentified caller said Jackson only was with his personal doctor at the time. The pop star died later Thursday afternoon at UCLA Medical Center.
As stores reported they were inundated with orders for Jackson's music, a chorus of grief for the megastar spread around the world, from statesmen to icons of music to legions of heartbroken fans.
"I can't stop crying. This is too sudden and shocking," said Diana Ross, who helped launch Jackson's career. "I am unable to imagine this. My heart is hurting."
Lisa Marie Presley, briefly married to the pop icon in the mid-1990s, said he had confided to her 14 years ago that he worried about facing the same tragic fate as her father, Elvis Presley, who died of a drug overdose at age 42.
"The world is in shock but somehow he knew exactly how his fate would be played out some day more than anyone else knew, and he was right," she wrote in a long, emotional statement on her MySpace page online.
The White House also weighed in for the first time, with a spokesman saying President Barack Obama saw Jackson as a spectacular performer and music icon whose life nonetheless had sad and tragic aspects. The House of Representatives observed a moment of silence.
Brian Oxman, a former Jackson attorney and a family friend, said Friday he had been concerned about Jackson's use of painkillers and had warned the singer's family about possible abuse.
"I said one day, we're going to have this experience. And when Anna Nicole Smith passed away, I said we cannot have this kind of thing with Michael Jackson," Oxman said on NBC's
"Today" show. "The result was, I warned everyone, and lo and behold, here we are. I don't know what caused his death. But I feared this day, and here we are."
Oxman claimed Jackson had prescription drugs at his disposal to help with pain suffered when he broke his leg after he fell off a stage and for broken vertebrae in his back.
After Jackson was acquitted on child molestation charges in 2005, prosecutors argued against returning to Jackson items including syringes, the drug Demerol and prescriptions for various drugs, mainly antibiotics, in different people's names.
Jackson died after being stricken at his rented home in the posh Los Angeles neighborhood of Holmby Hills. Paramedics tried to resuscitate him for three-quarter of an hours there before rushing him to the hospital.
His brother Jermaine said Jackson apparently suffered cardiac arrest, an abnormal heart rhythm that stops the heart from pumping blood to the body. It can occur after a heart attack or be caused by other heart problems.
Jackson was preparing for a monster comeback bid — a series of 50 concerts that was to begin next month in London.
A handful of bleary-eyed fans camped out throughout the night with media outside the Jackson family house in the San Fernando Valley and near his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. People heading to work in New York stopped to pay respects outside Harlem's Apollo Theater, where Jackson performed as a child.
"When the autopsy comes, all hell's going to break loose, so thank God we're celebrating him now," Liza Minnelli told CBS' "The Early Show" by telephone.
A producer said Sunday's BET Awards would be dedicated to Jackson because of his influence on music and pop culture. And a screening of Universal Pictures' "Bruno" in Los Angeles on Thursday night cut a scene involving Jackson's sister La Toya.
Jackson's death brought a tragic end to a long, bizarre, sometimes farcical decline from his peak in the 1980s, when he was popular music's premier all-around performer. His 1982 album "Thriller" — which included the blockbuster hits "Beat It," "Billie Jean" and "Thriller" — is the best-selling album of all time worldwide.
Yet after selling more than 61 million albums in the U.S. and having a decade-long attraction open at Disney theme parks, Jackson died reportedly awash in about $400 million in debt, on the cusp of a final comeback after well over a decade of scandal.
The public first knew Jackson as a boy in the late 1960s, when he was the precocious, spinning lead singer of the Jackson 5, the singing group he formed with his four older brothers out of Gary, Ind. Among their No. 1 hits were "I Want You Back," "ABC" and "I'll Be There."
He was perhaps the most exciting performer of his generation, known for his backward-gliding moonwalk, his feverish, crotch-grabbing dance moves and his high-pitched singing, punctuated with squeals and titters. His single sequined glove, tight, military-style jacket and aviator sunglasses were trademarks, as was his ever-changing, surgically altered appearance.
"For Michael to be taken away from us so suddenly at such a young age, I just don't have the words," said Quincy Jones, who produced "Thriller." "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."
Jackson ranked alongside Presley and the Beatles as the biggest pop sensations of all time. He united two of music's biggest names when he was briefly married to Presley's daughter, Lisa Marie. Jackson's sudden death immediately evoked comparisons to that of Presley himself, who died at age 42 in 1977.
As years went by, Jackson became an increasingly freakish figure — a middle-aged man-child weirdly out of touch with grown-up life. His skin became lighter, his nose narrower, and he spoke in a breathy, girlish voice. He often wore a germ mask while traveling, kept a pet chimpanzee named Bubbles as one of his closest companions and surrounded himself with children at his Neverland ranch, a storybook playland filled with toys, rides and animals. The tabloids dubbed him "Wacko Jacko."
After the enormous success of "Thriller," Jackson had strong follow-up albums with 1987's "Bad" and 1991's "Dangerous," but his career began to collapse in 1993 after he was accused of molesting a boy who often stayed at his home.
The singer denied any wrongdoing, reached a settlement with the boy's family, reported to be $20 million, and criminal charges were never filed.
Jackson caused a furor in 2002 when he playfully dangled his infant son, Prince Michael II, over a hotel balcony in Berlin while a throng of fans watched from below.
In 2005, he was cleared of charges that he molested a 13-year-old cancer survivor at Neverland in 2003. He had been accused of plying the boy with alcohol and groping him, and of engaging in strange and inappropriate behavior with other children.
The case followed years of rumors about Jackson and young boys. In a TV documentary, he acknowledged sharing his bed with children, a practice he described as sweet and not at all sexual.
Despite the acquittal, the lurid allegations that came out in court took a fearsome toll on his career and image, and he fell into serious financial trouble.
Jackson married Lisa Marie Presley in 1994, and they divorced in 1996. Later that year,
Jackson married Deborah Rowe, a former nurse for his dermatologist. They had two children together: Michael Joseph Jackson Jr., known as Prince Michael, now 12; and Paris Michael Katherine Jackson, 11. Rowe filed for divorce in 1999.
Jackson also had a third child, Prince Michael II, now 7. Jackson said the boy, nicknamed Blanket as a baby, was his biological child born from a surrogate mother.
Billboard magazine editorial director Bill Werde said Jackson's star power was unmatched.
"The world just lost the biggest pop star in history, no matter how you cut it," Werde said.
"He's literally the king of pop."
Jackson's 13 No. 1 one hits on the Billboard charts put him behind only Presley, the Beatles and Mariah Carey, Werde said.
"He was on the eve of potentially redeeming his career a little bit," he said. "People might have started to think of him again in a different light."
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