A private funeral service for Michael Jackson has taken place, and his body is now being taken to the Staples Center in Los Angeles, where a memorial service is set to take place.
Michael Jackson's body is on its way to the singer's memorial service.
The late 'Thriller' singer's solid bronze coffin was wheeled out of Hollywood's Forest Lawn Cemetery and into a waiting black hearse following a private funeral for the singer, who died of a suspected cardiac arrest on June 25.
The casket was accompanied by the star's siblings and parents Joe and Katherine, who had attended this morning's service (07.07.09) and got into waiting limousines to follow the hearse to Los Angeles' Staples Center, where thousands of fans have gathered for the tribute to the pop icon, whose coffin will be displayed on stage.
Michael's three children, Prince Michael, 12, Paris, 11 and Prince Michael II, seven, were not seen but it is believed they were at the service.
Earlier, Los Angeles was driven to a standstill when police shut a five-lane freeway to escort the 18-car funeral procession from Joe and Katherine's home to the cemetery for the funeral service.
Fans at the Staples Center cheered as video footage of his coffin was shown on big screens.
Inside the venue, the stage is adorned with the star's image, alongside a mural carrying the words "In Loving Memory. Michael Jackson King of Pop - 1958-2009."
It is not known where the singer's body will be taken following his star-studded memorial service, but it is expected to return to Forest Lawn Cemetery.
Watch the Video of Michael Jackson Funeral.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Michael Jackson's golden casket has been placed on stage at his public memorial service in downtown Los Angeles.
The casket was brought into Staples Center on Tuesday as a choir sang in front of a backdrop of stained-glass windows.
The public event followed a private service for family and friends in a cemetery hall in the Hollywood Hills.
Jackson's flower-draped casket was brought to Staples Center in a motorcade under law enforcement escort.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A public memorial service for Michael Jackson began Tuesday with Smokey Robinson reading comments from Nelson Mandela, Diana Ross and other friends of the King of Pop.
Following a long silent period inside the venue, piano music and a gospel choir kicked things off with a stained-glass motif in the background.
An estimated 20,000 people filed smoothly into the Staples Center as Jackson's golden, flower-draped casket was brought to the venue in a motorcade under law enforcement escort.
Fans with a ticket wore gold wristbands and picked up a metalic gold program guide on their way in. Pallbearers who placed Jackson's casket into the hearse wore gold neckties.
Jackson's hearse had been part of a motorcade that smoothly whisked his body 10 miles across closed freeways from a private service at a Hollywood Hills cemetery to his public memorial and awaiting fans.
The hearse pulled into Staples Center complex and drove into an underground structure as fans began to file into the venue for the start of the service.
Some arriving celebrities strolled down a black carpet on their way in. Spike Lee, Wesley Snipes and Barbara Walters were among the celebrities seen at the entrance, the Los Angeles Times said.
The traffic snarls and logistical nightmares that had been feared by police and city officials had not materialized. The thousands of fans with tickets began filing in early and encountered few problems, and traffic was actually considered by police to be lighter than normal.
"I think people got the message to stay home," said California Highway Patrol Officer Miguel Luevano. "When you have people staying home, it clears up those freeways."
Earlier in the morning, Jackson's family members and dozens of friends, led by his parents, Joe and Katherine, were seen entering a building at the cemetery. News reports estimated as many as 20 helicopters circled overhead.
In addition to Jackson's gold-plated casket, his pallbearers wore dark suits and gold neckties. Fans with a ticket wore gold wristbands and picked up a gold program guide on their way in.
The public memorial was to be televised live around the world. Among the celebrities expected to attend the memorial were Stevie Wonder, Mariah Carey, Usher, Lionel Richie, Kobe Bryant, Jennifer Hudson, John Mayer and Martin Luther King III.
Outside the Staples Center, Claudia Hernandez, 29, said she loved Jackson's music as a girl growing up in Mexico. Now a day-care teaching assistant in Los Angeles, Hernandez said she cried watching TV coverage of his death.
"I'm trying to hold in my emotions," said Hernandez, wearing a wristband to allow her admittance to the service and holding a framed photograph of Jackson. "I know right now he's teaching the angels to dance."
Police blocked off perimeter roads and warned those without tickets to stay away because they would not be able to get near the downtown venue.