Smokey Robinson began proceedings at the King of Pop's memorial service at the Staples Center in Los Angeles by reading out a letter from Diana Ross.
The soul man, dressed in a grey three-piece suit and black tie, held the official note from Ross, who refused to attend Tuesday's (07Jul09) tribute, and read it to the 18,000 fans, celebrities and family members present.
Robinson read, "I am trying to find closure. I want you to know that even though I am not there at the Staples Center, I am there in my heart. I have decided to pause and be silent. This feels right for me.
"Michael was a personal love of mine, a treasured part of my world, part of the fabric of my life in a way I can't seem to find words to express.
"Michael wanted me to be there for his children and I will be there if they ever need me. I hope today brings closure for all those who loved him."
Robinson went on to read a written tribute from Nelson Mandela.
Ross was named as an alternative guardian for Jackson's three children in his 2002 will if his first choice, his mother Katherine Jackson, was unable to care for his kids.