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Family and close friends of Michael gather to bid him farewell at private service

7 July 2009
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"To you, Michael was an icon. To us, Michael is family."  Those words spoken by Janet Jackson last week rang true on Tuesday morning as the Jackson family gathered to say their farewells at a private funeral ahead of the huge tribute memorial. A fleet of four black Rolls-Royces and a half dozen black Cadillac Escalades arrived at the Jackson compound in Encino, LA to shuttle guests across the San Fernando Valley for the service.

A five-lane motorway was closed amidst early morning rush hour traffic to make way for the motorcade, which travelled to the Forest Lawn Memorial Centre. The Hollywood Hills cemetery is the resting place of such names as Bette Davis, Humphrey Bogart, Sammy Davis Jr, Nat King Cole, Sam Cooke and Marvin Gaye. Rev Jesse Jackson said the funeral would be a small religious service in accordance with the family's Jehovah's Witness beliefs. 

The Forest Lawn Cemetery was just 11 miles away from the Staples Centre, where a memorial concert - featuring performances by Mariah Carey, Stevie Wonder, Usher and Jennifer Hudson - was due to start at 10 am local time. Michael's casket was to be taken from the private service to the public memorial, with a burial expected to take place later in the day. "Mr. Jackson's remains will be going to the Staples Center. We're not giving any details," Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton confirmed.

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