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Saying goodbye to the king of pop: one million head for star-studded memorial

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"More than anything, I have to say goodbye to Michael," said one of the 8,750 ticket holders for the musical homage to the star
 Photo: © Rex

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Stevie Wonder, seen here with the Thriller artist in 1986, is one of the headline acts who'll be performing at the celebration of his life which is due to to begin at 10am, LA time
 Photo: © Getty Images

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Paul McCartney, another of Michael's favourite artists, is also expected Photo: © Getty Images

06 JULY 2009

Los Angeles is bracing itself for the biggest showbiz funeral in years as fans turn out to pay their last respects to Michael Jackson, among them a huge contingent of British followers.

One million mourners are on their way to the city, with many airlines reporting that flights to LA and nearby San Francisco and Denver are sold out.

Some 8,750 of the Michael faithful, selected by lottery, have been given tickets for the memorial service at LA's Staples Center.

It was here that the Thriller artist performed a sensational rehearsal gig, captivating onlookers with his moves just hours before his death. The remaining 6,500 tickets are to attend a live broadcast of the service at the nearby Nokia Theatre.

The lucky few responded with delight. "OMG OMG OMG OMG I got tickets to the Michael Jackson memorial service," tweeted Deka Motanya from San Francisco.

Another admirer said between tears: "More than anything, I have to say goodbye to Michael".

Also bidding farewell at the event will be close friend Elizabeth Taylor, who'll be escorted by Barry Manilow, and President Barack Obama.

Soul legend Stevie Wonder is expected to raise the roof when he takes to the stage along with Jennifer Hudson and Whitney Houston.

Representing the British rock contigent are Paul McCartney and David Bowie, who've apparently been invited.

There are reports of plans for an all-star finale of We Are The World, the hit 1985 multi-racial anthem Michael wrote with Lionel Richie.

Poignantly his three children Prince Michael I, Paris Katherine and Prince Michael II, known as Blanket, are also expected to join the extravaganza.

Immediately before the musical tribute, they and other family members will see the legend laid to rest in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park, 10 miles down the road.

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