Jun 28 2009 David Taylor

THE Jacksons gathered last night for the saddest of family reunions – to prepare for one of the biggest funerals in history. Hundreds of thousands of fans from around the world are expected to line the streets of Los Angeles.pilgrimage of michael jackson

The funeral is likely to eclipse Elvis Presley’s 1977 send-off when 75,000 people lined the streets of Memphis.

It could even be bigger than Princess Diana’s when 250,000 gathered at London’s Hyde Park to pay their last respects in 1997.

Jacko’s parents, Joe and Katherine, his eight brothers and sisters, and three children were at the family’s compound in Encino, Los Angeles, to plan the event.

Showbiz friends will make their way to LA to pay their last respects to the King of Pop.

Those likely to attend include Sir Paul McCartney, who worked with the star several times, and former child actor Macaulay Culkin, a close family friend.

Psychic spoon-bender Uri Geller will attend along with film director Steven Spielberg.

Jackson was raised a Jehovah’s Witness but there had been speculation that he secretly converted to Islam.

Brother Jermaine, who became a Muslim 20 years ago, confirmed the star’s death by saying: “May Allah be with you, Michael.” Jackson moved to Dubai after he was cleared of child abuse in 2005. Security at his trial was provided by the Muslim organisation, the Nation of Islam.

Meanwhile, tributes from celebrities and ordinary fans continued to flood in.

Close friend Elizabeth Taylor was too devastated to talk but yesterday posted a tribute via social networking website Twitter.

The actress said: “My heart… my mind… are broken. I loved Michael with all my soul and I can’t imagine life without him.

“I still can’t believe it. I don’t want to believe it. It can’t be so.

“My life feels so empty. I don’t think anyone knew how much we loved each other. The purest, most giving love I’ve ever known.

“I keep looking at the photo he gave me of himself, which says, ‘To my true love Elizabeth, I love you forever.’ And I will love HIM forever.” Motown superstar Diana

Ross said: “I can’t stop crying, this is too sudden and shocking. My heart is hurting.”

Tina Turner added: “I am shocked and saddened. Now, may he rest in peace.” Relatives received Jackson’s body on Friday night after the LA Forensic Institute carried out a post-mortem examination.

The cause of death will not be released until additional tests, including a toxicology report, are carried out. It could be four to six weeks before the results are known.

Meanwhile, an eccentric German doctor has made the macabre claim that Jackson’s body could be preserved in his famous moonwalk stance.

Gunther von Hagens said the corpse would be placed next to the singer’s late pet chimp, Bubbles, which he also preserved, at London’s O2 Arena where Jackson was due to perform 50 concerts.

Actress Farrah Fawcett, who also died on Thursday, will be laid to rest on Tuesday in Los Angeles after a private funeral.

The Charlie’s Angels star, 62, died after a long battle with cancer.

TOP 10 MIKE MAKES HISTORY Michael Jackson could today make history if he takes every slot in the UK top 10 singles and albums charts.

Yesterday, 16 of his albums were in online retailer Amazon’s Top 20 bestsellers list, including every single position in the top 10.

Downloads are a huge slice of chart sales and nine of the top 10 albums – such as Thriller and HIStory – on Apple’s iTunes were Jackson’s.

Paul Maslin, of Fopp stores, said the rush was unprecedented with stock “flying off the shelves”.


Heartbroken fans around the world united in mourning yesterday.

Devotees in China wore Jackson’s trademark face mask with the words “MJ I love you”, while in London a shrine grew at a theatre hosting Thriller Live – a celebration of Jackson’s life.

The most bizarre event was at a Philippines jail, where orange-clad cons did dances from the Thriller video two years after their first version became a YouTube hit