Minutes after word that Michael Jackson had died, tributes poured in -- and radio stations in Boston and elsewhere switched to playing wall-to-wall Jackson songs and mining memories of the boy idol of the Jackson 5 who became the King of Pop.
The morning DJs at Boston's WODS -- Oldies 103.3 -- rushed in to join regular programmers for a special Thursday evening show, with evening DJ JJ noting the bizarre final chapters of Jackson's life but also his talent for infectious, danceable music that crossed genres.
Shortly after 7 p.m., the station played "Don't Stop 'til You Get Enough,'' the first single off Jackson's wildly successful 1979 solo "Off The Wall'' album. It followed that up with "Thriller,'' the theme of his followup -- and best-selling-ever -- album. Then it went deep into the singer's past, playing "I'll Be There.'' Other songs it played were The Jacksons' "Dancing Machine'' and Michael's creepy but syrupy solo debut, "Ben,'' from a 1970s movie about a rat.
He's an artist who will be forever remembered for his music, morning DJ Zito told listeners.
Over at Mix 98.5 FM, Lady D held her own tribute to Jackson, playing songs like "Man in the Mirror'' and "I Want You Back'' and reminiscing about growing up with his music.
Similar programs took place in Philadelphia and New York. By 7:30 p.m., all but one of the Top 10 Twitter trending topics were about Michael Jackson. Boston media critic Dan Kennedy Tweeted that Jackson, embroiled in legal financial troubles in later years, was the biggest wasted talent since Elvis.
MSNBC quoted Quincy Jones, a longtime friend and producer of Jackson's "Thiller'' album, as saying: "I am absolutely devastated at this tragic and unexpected news. For Michael to be taken away from us so suddenly at such a young age, I just don't have the words. ...... I've lost my little brother today, and part of my soul has gone with him."
Jackson was preparing to embark on a sold-out 50-concert tour that would represent a long-awaited comeback. Here's a look at Jackson throughout his career.
In May, The Times had reported that Jackson had rented a home in the Bel-Air section of Los Angeles and was rehearsing for the series of shows in London's O2 Arena. Jackson had won the backing of two billionaires to get the so-called "King of Pop" back on stage.
According to the Times:
His backers envisioned the shows at AEG's O2 as an audition for a career rebirth that could ultimately encompass a three-year world tour, a new album, movies, a Graceland-like museum, musical revues in Las Vegas and Macau, and even a "Thriller" casino. Such a rebound could wipe out Jackson's massive debt.