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Michael Jackson's death: Family friend says 'He was a loving soul'

June 25, 2009 |  6:11 pm

Florence LaRue, one of the lead singers of the 1960s pop group the Fifth Dimension, stopped by the Jackson family home in Encino with pink azaleas and placed them at an ever-expanding memorial.

Dressed in black, with a red beret and sunglasses, her face wet with tears, LaRue talked fondly of Jackson and her memories of him.

"Not only is he the greatest performer in the world, but he's a very loving soul," said the Grammy-winning singer. “He has helped so many people not only financially but also with love.”

“He has helped so many people the world will never know about,” she continued. “He was a loving soul. We all talk about being generous but he lived what he talked."

She said Jackson gave LaRue ideas for her group. He invited her to his hotel one day and said the Fifth Dimension should sing old hits and dress in Mod clothes for their performances.

She was anticipating Jackson's comeback.

"That's why it came as such a shock," she said. "We're in such a doom and gloom time. The world needed to be lifted up. He could do it."

LaRue said she was making a DVD for her group when her sister called her with the news.

"She didn't want me to hear it on the radio," she said.

He was an inspiration to her, she said.

"He brought a lot of love through his music," she said. "He wasn't selfish unlike so many entertainers."

-- Nicole Santa Cruz in Encino