Bloody fantastic: Jackson to announce London dates

Michael Jackson is expected to announce a series of summer comeback concerts at the O2 arena in London.

The pop legend is due to appear at the venue on Thursday make to a "special announcement", a statement said. It follows months of speculation about a string of money-spinning shows. Jackson last performed in 2006, at the World Music Awards in London. But he disappointed fans at that event by singing just a few lines of We Are The World. He last toured 12 years ago.

The O2, in Greenwich, south-east London, is the venue where Prince played for 21 nights in 2007, and where Britney Spears is performing for eight nights in June. Jackson would be likely to follow a similar pattern of a run of gigs at one venue, rather than an extensive tour.

At Thursday's press conference, he will hope to convince fans he is fit enough to perform a number of full shows. His last substantial series of concerts came in 1996 and '97, when he played 82 shows in 58 cities as part of the HIStory tour. His last album of original material came out in 2001. Stories about personal, health and financial problems have circulated in recent years, and he was cleared of child abuse after a four-month trial in 2005. The singer is selling many of the contents of his former Neverland ranch at auction in Los Angeles next month.

But with classic releases like Thriller - the world's best-selling album - plus Bad and Off the Wall, he is the most successful entertainer of all time, according to Guinness World Records, and retains a huge global fan base.

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