Hours before the memorial was set to begin, fans just beginning to enter the Staples Center were greeted by a sound check of a recording of Jackson singing "Have you seen my childhood," lyrics from his hit song "Childhood."
President Obama said he was not upset that Jackson's funeral had overshadowed his summit with Russia's leaders that resulted in an agreement to drastically cut the world's two largest nuclear arsenals.
"You know, this is part of American culture," the president said told ABC News. "Michael Jackson, like Elvis, like Sinatra, when somebody whose captivated the imagination of the country for that long passes away, people pay attention. And I assume at some point people will start focusing again on things like nuclear weapons."
The star studded tribute to the man who some have said was the most famous person in the world and died of cardiac arrest June 25 at the age of 50, ran over its schedule 90 minutes.
About a half hour before the original scheduled start of the Jackson memorial it was obvious that fears of Los Angeles being swamped by Jackson fans did not materialize.
The Staples Center itself was not yet filled to capacity. Police aviation units were looking down at crowd density outside the venue that would indicate that no more than a few thousand fans had gathered outside.
From the outset the LAPD had called the crowd issue the great unknown and had projected the possibility of three quarters of a million or more fans showing up.
Thousands of LAPD officers mustered under arc lights shortly before 3 a.m. this morning, just as the final notes of the dress rehearsal for the Michael Jackson had begun to fade.
The cops were part of a 3,000 person response team put together in anticipation of a large turnout for the Jackson services. The response team includes firefighters, deputy sheriffs, FBI agents and technicians, California Highway Patrol officers and members of other agencies.
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa used his Facebook page and Twitter account to encourage Jackson fans to help the cash strapped city pay for the huge law enforcement presence needed to police the memorial service.
Villaraigosa tweeted, "MJ fans, you can help LA give Michael the safe and orderly send off he deserves," and then linked to a PayPal account where tax-deductible donations could be given.
The LAPD has begun to consider shifting manpower and demobilizing some units early in an effort to curb overtime and other costs had begun.
Lucky fans and lottery winners are inside Staples Center -- the same place Jackson recently rehearsed for his planned farewell tour -- to say good-bye to the "Thriller" star.
Forecasting measures such as hotel room attendance and airline ticket sales did not prove to be adequate indicators of the potential fan base arriving at the Staples Center, nor did the pre-event trumpeting of the number of hits on the Center's ticket lottery site by the organizers. And nor did the volume of Twitters expressing an interest in attendance.
Hotel owners near the Staples Center had said earlier in the day that occupancy was at 98 percent and they have been inundated with calls since Thursday from fans needing a place to stay, some traveling to the city from Europe. Flights to Los Angeles have also been filled to capacity.