The death of a superstar: How exactly did Michael Jackson die?

Cropped image of Michael Jackson with sunglasses in hands
Michael Jackson. Photo Courtesy of Constru-centro via Wikimedia Commons.

Always in the spotlight, Michael Jackson was the star whose electric career captivated audiences and garnered fanatically loyal fans across the globe. 

Yet his later years were mired in controversy with failed marriages, rumors of health problems, and even accusations of child molestation. 

Following his death at age 50, news of Michael Jackson’s death dominated media around the globe.

Fans were out in the streets and tributes poured in from celebrities and politicians like Barack Obama and Nelson Mandela.

Yet with the grief came questions about the stars final days. The circumstances were murky and people were left wondering how exactly did Michael Jackson die.

Let’s take a look at a few of the key events that led up to the star’s fateful death, noting how old Michael Jackson was when he died and when exactly when it was Michael Jackson died.

Cropped image of Michael Jackson
Michael Jackson. Photo Courtesy of Antonio Manfredonio via Flickr.

How did Michael Jackson die?

On June 25th, 2009 Michael Jackson died of a cardiac arrest at the age of 50, as a result of a deadly cocktail of sedatives and an anesthetic, propofol, which was administered by his physician, Conrad Murray.

It was later concluded the death was a homicide and Murray was charged with involuntary manslaughter in November 2011. 

Yet the story of Michael’s death has its roots in the pop star’s deteriorating health over the last 20 years of his life.

Cropped image of Michael Jackson in 1988
Michael Jackson. Photo Courtesy of Images Alight via Flickr.

It is claimed he suffered from an eating disorder, stress, insomnia, and notably, a reliance on prescription medication.

It was this last fact that was said to play a key role in the events culminating in the death of Michael Jackson when he was rushed to the Ronald Reagan UCLA medical center on that fateful day.

The day before

The 24th of June saw Michael in rehearsals for his final This Is it comeback tour. Nothing seemed amiss that day at the Staples Centre in downtown Los Angeles, with fellow performers stating that he seemed on top form.

The rehearsal even went on past midnight and afterward, though afterward Jackson still found the time to greet fans that gathered outside the gate of his residence on North Carolwood Drive in the Holmby Hills.

Problems began when, after arriving home, he complained of fatigue and insomnia.

The morning of June 25th 

Michael Jackson’s physician, Conrad Murray administered the star a series of drugs over the course of the early hours to help him sleep. 

Concern was raised later when Michael failed to leave his room

The afternoon of June 25th 

Murray found the star unresponsive and no longer breathing, though he claimed he still had a weak pulse.

He attempted to revive Jackson, though statements have questioned his CPR technique and the fact he chose to do it on a soft bed rather than a hard surface.

Questions also arose regarding the time it took Murray to get help. Notably, there was no landline phone in the residence and Murray stated he didn’t know the address well enough to call paramedics by mobile.

As a result, 30 minutes passed before security at the North Carolwood Drive property eventually made the call to paramedics.

Emergency services performed CPR there for 42 minutes before rushing Jackson to the hospital.

Here, emergency services attempted to resuscitate Jackson. After over an hour the star was pronounced dead. 

Michael Jackson died at 2:26 pm on the afternoon of June 25, 2009 at the Ronald Reagan UCLA medical center.

Cropped image of Michael Jackson
Michael Jackson. Photo Courtesy of Michael Jackson Cannes.jpg via Wikimedia Commons.

How old was Michael Jackson when he died?

Jackson was 50 years old at the time of death.

Autopsy and subsequent investigation 

The Los Angeles County coroner determined that Jackson’s death was a homicide as a result of combined drug intoxication. 

The toxicology report suggested the most important drug found was propofol, an anesthetic associated with cardiac arrest. However, lidocaine, ephedrine, and lorazepam were also found within Jackson’s system.

The finding relates to broader questions regarding Jackson’s health and history of drug use during his later years. 

Following his death, police found drugs in his home, including some made out to false names.

Statements were also made by family members, former doctors, and associates expressing concern over Michael’s weight and continued use of prescription medication. 

The finding that Jackson died of a propofol overdose led to Conrad Murray being charged with involuntary manslaughter on February 8th, 2010.

The physician was sentenced to four years in jail over his role in Jackson’s death. However, he was released in only two as a result of good behavior. His license to practice medicine in California remains suspended.

Cropped image of Michael Jackson
Michael Jackson. Photo Courtesy of White House Photo Office via Wikimedia Commons.

The broader reaction to the superstar’s death was considerable. 

There was a widespread outpouring of grief from fans and celebrities across the world and groups gathered outside the gates of his Neverland Ranch and hometown of Gary, Indiana. No less than Barack Obama stated later that the star would “go down in history as one of our greatest entertainers.”

Up Next: 31 Interesting Facts about Michael Jackson

Written by Bo Weber

Supporting artists since 2014


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