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Jermaine Jackson: "I wish it was me" who died

 Flowers are placed on the star of Michael Jackson on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Hollywood, California July 1, 2009. REUTERS/Joshua Lott - Reuters
Flowers are placed on the star of Michael Jackson on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Hollywood, California July 1, 2009. REUTERS/Joshua Lott
— image credit: Reuters

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Jermaine Jackson on Thursday said that when he first saw his brother, pop star Michael Jackson, dead in a hospital room he kissed him on the forehead and wished that he had died instead.

"I don't know how people are going to take this, but I wish it was me," Jermaine said on the "Today" morning talk show on NBC television.

"I've always felt that I was his backbone; someone to -- someone to be there for him," said Jermaine, who with Michael and three other brothers formed the Motown band the Jackson 5 and who is four years older than Michael.

Michael Jackson, who later enjoyed massive success as a solo artist with hit albums like 1982's "Thriller," died a week ago after suffering cardiac arrest at his rented Los Angeles mansion.

Speculation has swirled in the media that the 50-year-old pop star was abusing prescription drugs and perhaps intravenous drugs ahead of comeback concerts this month in London.

An official autopsy has been performed but toxicology tests won't be ready for weeks. Results of a private autopsy by a Jackson family doctor have not been released.

Jermaine Jackson said reports of Michael Jackson's possible drug use hurt his family. "For people to come forth and say things that they don't have the facts to is very damaging to the family, to me, to us, because we don't know," he said.

"Michael has always been a person who was against anything like that. But I'm not saying it's right, because it's not right, but in this business the pressures and things that you go through, you never know what one turn(s) to," Jermaine said.

He noted that Michael Jackson underwent a physical exam before starting rehearsals and had been cleared by doctors.

In a will that surfaced on Wednesday, Michael Jackson nominated his 79-year-old mother, Katherine Jackson, to care for his three children in the event of his death, and Jermaine said the family matriarch was capable of handling the responsibility.

"I thought it was a great will because the children are fine, my mother's the perfect person to be there, and it's definitely him," Jermaine Jackson said.

He also said Jackson's Neverland Valley Ranch in central California would make the perfect, final resting place for his brother. "This is his home. He created this. Why wouldn't he be here?" Jackson said.

(Reporting by Bob Tourtellotte; Editing by David Storey)

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