The father of Michael Jackson says he remains concerned about the circumstances of his son’s death as the tragic pop icon’s personal doctor protested his innocence.
In a surprising first public appearance since the death of his superstar son, family patriarch Joe Jackson appeared on the red carpet of a Los Angeles awards show dedicated to the African-American entertainment industry.
The Jackson family is reportedly angry at the “unanswered questions” concerning the role of doctor Conrad Murray in the final hours of Michael Jackson’s life.
Lawyers for Murray insist he has been cleared of wrongdoing.
However, speaking to a CNN reporter at the Black Entertainment Television (BET) awards, Jackson, 79, said he continued to harbour misgivings about the sudden death of his son at the age of 50.
“I have a lot of concerns. I can’t get into that, but I don’t like what happened,” Jackson said, before directing questions to a family lawyer who declined to comment further.
“We can’t talk about that now,” lawyer Londell McMillan said. “There is a second autopsy that is underway and we’ll let that process take its course at this time. We’ll have more detail at a later point.”
Joe Jackson said his grandchildren – two boys and a girl – were his first priority now. “They’re fine. They’re with us,” he said.
The children know their father has died, he said. Los Angeles police conducted a second interview with Murray on Saturday but cleared him of any criminal wrongdoing, the doctor’s lawyers said.
The 51-year-old cardiologist, who became part of Jackson’s staff in March to help the singer prepare for a concert comeback in London, has faced intense speculation amid reports he injected Jackson with the potent prescription painkiller Demerol just before he died.
However, a lawyer for Murray said that reports of an injection were “absolutely false”, the first time the allegation has been denied.
“There was no Demerol. No OxyContin,” Edward Chernoff, a lawyer for Murray was quoted as saying by the Los Angeles Times, adding that Murray had discovered Jackson unconscious in the bedroom of his home.
“(Murray) was the one who suggested the autopsy to the family while they were still in the hospital.
He didn’t understand why Michael Jackson had died,” Chernoff was quoted as saying. Meanwhile, Jackson’s family have yet to finalise funeral plans and were due to meet activist Reverend Al Sharpton on Sunday to discuss plans for a tribute.
Sharpton was cited in several media reports as saying Jackson’s family was considering a series of simultaneous memorials around the world to reflect the huge appeal of the late King of Pop.
“Reverend Sharpton will discuss with the family ideas that people from around the world have sent him about how they would like to memorialise Michael Jackson,” a spokeswoman for Sharpton said.
However, an unofficial memorial appeared to already be underway at Los Angeles’s famous Shrine Auditorium, where the cream of the African-American music, acting and sporting worlds was gathering for the BET Awards.
A galaxy of stars paid tribute to Jackson as they walked the red carpet, hailing his role as a star who had helped break racial barriers.
While Jackson’s incredible influence stretched across genres, races, and cultures, he had a very unique place in the world of black entertainment.
His influence is arguably most visible in urban music, seen in stars like Usher who mimic his dance moves, to Ne-Yo, whose music is marked by its Jackson-isms.
But that influence went beyond music: Jackson was black America’s biggest star, who broke racial barriers that allowed for so many other superstars to follow.
Foxx kicked off the show with a re-enactment of the choreography from Jackson’s iconic Beat It video in front of the star-studded crowd, on its feet from the start of the show.
Throughout the night, Foxx wore some of Jackson’s signature looks, like the wide-collar black leather outfit from Billie Jean.
“You know, my man is the greatest,” hip-hop mogul Sean “Diddy Combs” told CNN. “He’s one of the reasons why Barack Obama’s president … He started the change in the world about how African-Americans are perceived.”
“We miss him and we love him and we just feel devastated,” said soul singer Alicia Keys, urging people to remember Jackson in a “respectful, positive way”.
Asked how Jackson had influenced her, Keys replied: “In every way. How could he not influence us to break the barrier and to think bigger, and to try new things and to break the rules?
“Tonight is a true memorial for him. It’s really about honouring him.” Thousands of Jackson devotees continued to gather outside the singer’s star on the walk of fame as well as the Jackson family’s home in Encino, where makeshift shrines of flowers and cards have grown rapidly since Friday.
Jackson’s death has sent fans scrambling to stock up on his music across the world. British chart officials said a compilation album of the star’s greatest hits had rocketed to the top of the charts on Sunday.
A spokesman for music retailer HMV said there had been an 80-fold increase in demand for Jackson’s music “almost overnight” after the singer’s death — the biggest one-day rise in sales seen for any artists, including Elvis Presley and John Lennon.