Page last updated at 10:48 GMT, Thursday, 21 May 2009 11:48 UK

Jackson delay 'not due to health'

Michael Jackson
In March Michael Jackson announced he will perform 50 dates in London

Michael Jackson's concert promoter has denied reports that the star delayed the first four nights of his UK tour because he has skin cancer.

AEG Live president Randy Phillips said the rescheduling had "absolutely nothing" to do with the star's health.

He added: "I would trade my body for his tomorrow. He's in fantastic shape."

In an email to fans, Ticketmaster and AEG Live said the dates were moved so all fans could "get the same quality in staging and level of entertainment."

'Life-long fan'

The first show of Jackson's 50-date residency at London's O2 Arena on 8 July, has been pushed back by five nights.

Three other July dates will not take place until March 2010.

I am a lifelong fan, this is the straw that could break the camel's back
Theod Simon, Los Angeles

Mr Phillips said the decision had been a "tough" one to make, but stressed that anybody who could not make the rescheduled dates would receive a full refund.

He dismissed health fears about the 50-year-old singer, saying he was a "magnet" for fabricated stories. "He's not dying of skin cancer," he added, in reference to several recent tabloid stories.

Philips said there were no plans to delay further dates, although he conceded that, "if Michael were to get ill, that's possible".

There has been a mixed response from fans.

Theod Simon from Los Angeles told the BBC he had booked flights from the US and time off work to see his idol.

"I cannot believe they would do this. I am a lifelong fan, this is the straw that could break the camel's back."

Natalie from London said: "To say I am devastated is an understatement."

However, not everyone is disappointed.

"I don't care if the great Michael Jackson postpones his tour to 2020, he is king," John from Canada said.

Meanwhile Kelly from Mitcham told the BBC: "I'm happy with the date change, it's closer to my birthday."

Fans cheered as Michael Jackson announced his UK concert dates in March

Jackson's creative collaborator Kenny Ortega said the original schedule would have meant they only had one night to rehearse in the O2 before kicking off the 50 dates.

"It just wasn't practical for safety reasons and professional reasons," he said.

"These choices were made purely based on the practical needs and the responsible needs of putting up a first class production.

"Physically and mentally we're having a blast. We're having a great time."

Mr Ortega promised "the concert of a lifetime" and said: "We have all been inspired to really raise the bar on our thinking."

In March, tickets for Jackson's 50-date residency at the O2 completely sold out.

Hundreds of fans queued at the venue as tickets went on sale to the public and over a quarter of a million people queued online.

Around 750,000 fans have bought tickets to see the veteran pop star.

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