gone too soon

Michael Jackson's family thanked his fans yesterday with a free glossy souvenir programme at the King of Pop's memorial service.

Michael Jackson's family thanked his fans yesterday with a free glossy souvenir programme at the King of Pop's memorial service.

Keenly aware that they will become collectors' items, arena staff shouted, "One programme for each. Do not ask for another one," as they handed them out to the lucky few who beat nearly 200 to 1 odds to win tickets.

The front cover for "A Celebration of the Life of Michael Jackson" shows the pop star with a wide smile on his face and stretching out his hands.

The back shows a newspaper clipping of the young Michael with his brothers in the Jackson 5 winning a talent contest that sent them on their way to stardom. Juxtaposed beneath is a picture of Jackson rehearsing on June 23, two days before he died.

His fans at the Los Angeles service at the Staples Centre agreed that the song Gone Too Soon from his 1991 Dangerous album was all too prophetic.

The inside six pages feature tributes from family, friends and fans ending with a simple "thank you" on behalf of the Jackson family.

"You've done your work here, Michael, you've entertained us for decades and there's nothing else that you can prove or accomplish here on Earth," his sister La Toya Jackson wrote.

"You taught us how to laugh, how to love and how to believe," said La Toya, who had been estranged for several years from her brother after backing claims he molested children charges she later recanted.

Another dedication was sent collectively from "Your Neverland Family" in what appears to be from the former staff at his fantasy childhood-themed estate north of Los Angeles.

"Because of you, the sound of children's laughter, the whistle of a steam train or the whirl of a carousel will always bring a smile to our hearts," they wrote. - Sapa-AFP

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