King of Pop set for Live 8 comeback

MICHAEL Jackson could perform at next month's Live 8 concerts, organisers said yesterday, as the singer prepared for a career comeback only a day after being cleared of child sex abuse.

Jackson is said to be keen on joining the line-up for the 2 July event, in either London or Philadelphia.

Harvey Goldsmith, promoter of Live 8, said he would consider adding Jackson to the bill. "Of course we'd consider it," he said. "Whether it's appropriate or not is another issue, whether he's in a fit state to work is another issue, whether he can work is another issue and whether he can work live is another issue."

Jackson would be most likely to appear at the Philadelphia concert, at the city's Museum of Art. His close friend Stevie Wonder, who was listed as a potential character witness at the trial, is on the bill.

Jackson co-wrote the 1985 song We Are The World, the United States answer to Band Aid's Do They Know It's Christmas?. The star has failed to set the charts alight in recent years, but he could use the publicity surrounding the trial to reinvent his music career and reclaim his crown as the "King of Pop".

A spokesman for entertainment retailer HMV said: "This trial can be a turning point for Jackson and the making of him once again.

"A lot of the key elements of a successful career are still in place - he has a dedicated fan- base and he remains the most famous man on the planet, so is guaranteed huge publicity in everything he does."

Whatever Jackson does, he must act quickly to stave off financial ruin. His best-selling albums, a property portfolio including the Neverland ranch and a wise investment in a company which owns the back catalogue to virtually all the Beatles songs should have assured that he remained one of pop's wealthiest stars.

But his income does not keep pace with his extravagant lifestyle, with the prosecution describing his spending habits as those of "a billionaire on a millionaire's budget".

He has to spend thousands to maintain his image, thousands more paying his entourage and even reputedly had a 6,700 monthly bill from a Beverly Hills chemist.

Jackson's trial heard the star had only $38,000 (21,000) in the bank in February 2003, with debts totalling almost $300 million. Jackson is also facing a legal bill of at least $1 million from his lawyers.

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