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In death, Jackson still breaks more records

Nine days after his death, Michael Jackson is back at the top of the charts. Sales of Michael Jackson’s music have skyrocketed since he died…

Nine days after his death, Michael Jackson is back at the top of the charts. Sales of Michael Jackson’s music have skyrocketed since he died last Thursday, returning the late pop star to the top-selling spot he held more than once during his career.

Jackson’s albums and other related compilations now hold the top nine positions on Billboard’s Top Pop Catalog chart, all posting remarkable jumps in sales in the days following the singer’s death, according to Nielsen SoundScan, which tracked sales through Sunday.

The King of Pop holds a record eight of the top 10 spots. His Number Ones greatest hits package leads the pack at No. 1, selling more than 108,000 copies, a staggering 2,340 per cent sales increase.

The essential Michael Jackson and Thriller take the next two spots, selling more than 102,000 and 101,000 copies, respectively.

Nearly 30 years after its first release, his breakthrough Off the Wall album came in at No. 4. The Jackson 5’s Ultimate Collection is next at No. 5. Also on the list were his Bad, Dangerous and ‘History’ — Volume 1 albums and his 2004 box set, The Ultimate Collection’, which landed at No. 9.

The only non-Jackson album that was on the Billboard’s top 10 list was a reissue of the Woodstock movie. It came in at No. 10.

Jackson’s solo albums sold more than 422,000 copies this past week, according to Nielsen. The week before his death, the same titles sold only 10,000 copies. The one-week total is also nearly 40 per cent more than what his catalog had sold in all of 2009.

The late singer also broke the record for digital downloads, as 58 per cent of his solo albums were attained this way. He is the first artist to hold six of the top 10 slots on the Digital Albums chart, including the top four spots. He also holds a staggering 25 songs on Billboard’s Hot Digital Songs chart, shattering a record set by David Cook last year.

Each of the tracks in the top 10 of Hot Digital Songs were among the top 10 most-played Jackson selections at radio following his passing, according to research provided by Nielsen BDS of monitored airplay from more than 1,600 radio stations and cable music channels.

According to reports by Ethan Smith, U.S. retailers sold 415,000 albums by Michael Jackson in the four days following his death, according to Nielsen Co.’s SoundScan, compared with fewer than 10,000 copies in the previous full week. More than half of those album sales were digital downloads made on services such as Apple Inc.’s iTunes and Amazon.com Inc.’s AmazonMP3.

In addition, the artist sold more than 2.3 million digitally downloaded songs since his death. That compares with 37,000 song downloads during the previous week.

Albums of the Jackson 5 sold 32,000 copies since the singer’s death, compared with about 1,000 during the previous full week.

The increase far surpasses the jump in Nirvana sales following lead singer Kurt Cobain’s suicide in April 1994. The band’s four studio albums sold a total 68,000 copies the week after Mr. Cobain killed himself, according to contemporary SoundScan reports, up from 29,000 copies the previous week.

Mr. Jackson’s “Thriller” is routinely ranked as one of the two best-selling albums in U.S. history, with 28 million copies shipped to retailers nationally, according to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). The Eagles’ Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975 has shipped 29 million copies, according to the RIAA.

Innocent ‘Suicide’

In the last couple of days there have been series of reports associating Jackson with insomnia and addiction to prescription drugs.

In an exclusive report by Associated Press from his nurse, Cherilyn Lee, Michael Jackson was so distraught over persistent insomnia in recent months that he pleaded for a powerful sedative despite warnings it could be harmful, says a nutritionist who was working with the singer as he prepared his comeback bid.

Cherilyn Lee, a registered nurse whose specialty includes nutritional counseling, said Tuesday that she repeatedly rejected his demands for the drug, Diprivan, which is given intravenously.

But a frantic phone call she received from Jackson four days before his death made her fear that he somehow obtained Diprivan or another drug to induce sleep, Lee said.

While in Florida on June 21, Lee was contacted by a member of Jackson’s staff.

“He called and was very frantic and said, `Michael needs to see you right away.’ I said, ‘What’s wrong?’ And I could hear Michael in the background …, ‘One side of my body is hot, it’s hot, and one side of my body is cold. It’s very cold,’” Lee said.

“I said, `Tell him he needs to go the hospital. I don’t know what’s going on, but he needs to go to the hospital … right away.”

“At that point, I knew that somebody had given him something that hit the central nervous system,” she said, adding, “he was in trouble Sunday and he was crying out.”

Jackson did not go to the hospital. He died June 25 after suffering cardiac arrest, his family said. “I don’t know what happened there. The only thing I can say is he was adamant about this drug,” Lee said.

Following Jackson’s death, allegations emerged that the 50-year-old King of Pop had been consuming painkillers, sedatives and antidepressants. But Lee said she encountered a man tortured by sleep deprivation and one who expressed opposition to recreational drug use.

Several months ago, Jackson had begun badgering Lee about Diprivan, also known as Propofol, Lee said. It is an intravenous anesthetic drug widely used in operating rooms to induce unconsciousness. It is generally given through an IV needle in the hand.

Patients given Propofol take less time to regain consciousness than those administered certain other drugs, and they report waking up more clear-headed and refreshed, said University of Chicago psychopharmacologist James Zacny.

It has also been implicated in drug abuse, with people using it to “chill out” or to commit suicide, Zacny said. Accidental deaths linked to abuse have been reported. The powerful drug has a very narrow therapeutic window, meaning it doesn’t take doses much larger than the medically recommended amount to stop a person’s breathing.

An overdose that stops breathing can result in a buildup of carbon dioxide, causing the heart to beat erratically and leading to cardiac arrest, said Dr. John Dombrowski, a member of the board of directors of the American Society of Anesthesiologists.

In recent months, Lee said, Jackson waved away her warnings about it.

“I had an IV and when it hit my vein, I was sleeping. That’s what I want,” Lee said Jackson told her.

“I said, ‘Michael, the only problem with you taking this medication’ — and I had a chill in my body and tears in my eyes three months ago — ‘the only problem is you’re going to take it and you’re not going to wake up,” she recalled.

According to Lee, Jackson said it had been given to him before but he didn’t want to discuss the circumstances or identify the doctor involved.

Comedian Dick Gregory, who knows Lee and her work, said he believes Jackson’s insomnia had its roots in the pop star’s 2005 trial on child molestation charges. Jackson’s health had deteriorated so much that his parents called Gregory, a natural foods proponent, for help.

Controversial Will

Last Wednesday it was reported that, Michael Jackson’s Will has been filed in a Los Angeles court and names Motown legend Diana Ross as a potential guardian for his three children.

“The late King of Pop’s will, dated July 7, 2002, says Ross should take custody of his children if his mother is unable to.”

Katherine Jackson, 79, is currently looking after the late star’s children.

The Will says if she dies before Michael or is incapacitated, Ross, 65, should get full custody.

Jackson’s Will also completely cuts out his ex-wife, Debbie Rowe, according to court records.

The five-page document says his entire estate, valued at £300m ($500m), should go to the Michael Jackson Family Trust which will provide for Prince Michael, 12, Paris, 11 and Prince Michael II, 7, who is known as Blanket – as well as his 79-year-old mother Katherine. Meanwhile, the singer’s Will specifically cuts out ex-wife Debbie Rowe.

Final Journey

As the Jackson family makes plans on the final journey of the music icon, his family has said his body ‘won’t go on display’.

Michael Jackson fans will have to wait for a public memorial to the pop singer after his family said his body would not go on show at Neverland.

A statement released by the Jackson family’s PR firm, Sunshine, Sachs & Associates, read: “Contrary to previous news reports, the Jackson family is officially stating that there will be no public or private viewing at Neverland.

“Plans are underway regarding a public memorial for Michael Jackson, and we will announce those plans shortly.”

Santa Barbara County officials said there are no final decisions by the family for any funeral or memorial service in the county or at Neverland, located around 150 miles northwest of Los Angeles.

Elsewhere, his long-time friend and leading civil rights campaigner Jesse Jackson urged mourners to “celebrate Michael’s life” amid reports that obsessed fans were committing suicide in the wake of the superstar’s death.

In a message posted on website YouTube, Mr Jackson said: “This is a time that, while our hearts are heavy and there’s great pain and great loss, we celebrate Michael’s life.

“And we celebrate his life by creating futures not funerals, to make Michael happy and maintain his sense of dignity, (his) sense of decency. It made Michael happy saying ‘We Are The World’. Don’t self destruct, don’t give up or surrender.

“We fall down sometimes, we get back up again, and again and again. That’s the right thing to do. In Michael’s name, let’s live together as brothers and sisters and not die apart as fools. Through all of this, keep your hope alive.”

Tour promoter Randy Phillips, president of AEG Live, denied the singer was suffering from stage fright, saying his firm would at “some point” be releasing footage of the rehearsals.

He said the show was going to be “beyond anything”, adding: “At some point the world needs to see this production and I would imagine it could be done as a tribute with the family, with the brothers performing, some sisters, and the stars who were influenced by him.

“The world needs to see this production. It would have been, which is the tragedy here, one of the most amazing shows ever, so at some point we want the world to see that. We are discussing with the family so the sooner, the better.”

Describing rehearsals the day before his death, Mr. Phillips said: “He was so amazing in the final week. He gave me a hug and said ‘now I know I can do this’. He was that engaged and that incredible.”

Reports on The Economic Times state that, after plans for a grand public memorial at ‘Neverland’ fizzled out, the funeral of ‘King of Pop’ Michael Jackon may be held at the Staples Center in Los Angeles next Tuesday, July 7.

According to them , British tabloid ‘Sun’ which had published the leaked autopsy report of the pop star claimed that the service will start at 10am at the arena which is home to the LA Lakers basketball team, quoting sources in the US.

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