Jackson during the 2014 Cannes Film Festival
Joseph Walter Jackson
July 26, 1928
Fountain Hill, Arkansas, U.S.
|Died||June 27, 2018 (aged 89)|
|Burial place||Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Glendale)|
Katherine Scruse (m. 1949)
|Children||11 (See below)|
Joseph Walter Jackson (July 26, 1928 - June 27, 2018) was an American talent manager and patriarch of the Jackson family of entertainers that includes his children Michael and Janet. He was inducted into the Rhythm and Blues Music Hall of Fame as a member of the class of 2014.
Joseph Walter Jackson was born to Samuel Jackson (1893-1993), a schoolteacher,[clarification needed] and Crystal Lee King (1907-1992), in Fountain Hill, Arkansas, on July 26, 1928 (although, according to the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame and Katherine Jackson's book, My Family, The Jacksons, the year was 1929). Joseph Jackson was the eldest of five children. He was of African and Native American Ancestry.
Jackson recalled from early childhood that his father was domineering and strict, and he described himself in his memoir, The Jacksons, as a "lonely child that had only few friends". After his parents separated when he was twelve, his mother, two brothers, and sister moved to East Chicago, Indiana, a suburb outside Chicago in Northwest Indiana, and he moved with his father to Oakland, California. When he was 18, after his father remarried, he moved to East Chicago to live with his mother, two brothers, and sister. He soon got a job in East Chicago at Inland Steel Company, but did not finish high school. While in East Chicago, he began to pursue his dreams of becoming a boxer and found success with the Golden Gloves program. While he was preparing for a professional boxing career, he met 17-year-old Katherine Scruse, who also lived in East Chicago and attended Washington High School; Joe married another woman and in less than a year he was divorced before he started dating Katherine.
Joseph and Katherine were married on November 5, 1949. In January 1950, they purchased a small two-bedroom home on 2300 Jackson Street near East Chicago in Gary, Indiana. The Jacksons' first child, Maureen Reillette "Rebbie" Jackson, was born four months later on May 29, 1950, in the Jackson house. Still employed at Inland Steel, Jackson left his hopes of becoming a professional boxer in order to support his family, and began working there as a full-time crane operator. He later took a second part-time job at American Foundries in East Chicago. In the meantime, his wife Katherine tended to their growing family. Eventually in the late 1950s she started working part-time at Sears in Gary. The Jacksons would go on to have ten children (their son Brandon Jackson died just after he was born). During the early 1950s, Jackson briefly performed with his own blues band The Falcons, playing guitar. Despite their efforts, The Falcons did not get a recording deal and subsequently broke up after one of their members, Thornton "Pookie" Hudson, founded his own band in 1952. That band would go on to become a successful doo-wop group named The Spaniels.
Joseph Jackson began working with his sons' musical group in the early 1960s, first working with his three eldest sons, Jackie, Tito and Jermaine. Younger sons Marlon and Michael eventually joined the backing band. Joseph began enforcing long and intense rehearsals for his sons. At first, the group went under The Jackson Brothers. Following the inclusions of Marlon and Michael in the group and Michael's increased vocal presence within the group, their name was changed to The Jackson 5. After a couple of years performing in talent contests and high school functions, Joseph booked them in more and more respectable venues until they landed a spot at the renowned Apollo Theater in Harlem, New York City. On November 21, 1967, The Jackson 5 were signed by Jackson to their first professional contract with Gordon Keith, owner and first president of Steeltown Records in Gary, Indiana. The group's first single "Big Boy," with Michael as the lead singer, was released by Keith on January 31, 1968 on the Steeltown label. "Big Boy" became a local hit and the brothers became local celebrities after it was played on radio stations in the Chicago-Gary area. Within the year, Jackson helped to land his sons an audition for Motown Records in Detroit.The Jackson 5 were signed with Motown in March 1969.
Jackson later relocated his family to California and supervised every recording session the group made for Motown. The group began to receive nationwide fame after their first single for Motown, "I Want You Back", hit #1 following its release on October 7, 1969, followed by their first album, Diana Ross Presents The Jackson 5 in December 1969. After the Jackson 5's first four singles, "I Want You Back" (The Jackson 5, 1969), "ABC" (The Jackson 5, 1970), "The Love You Save" (The Jackson 5, 1970), and "I'll Be There" (The Jackson 5, 1970) sold 10 million copies in 10 months, setting a world record for sales, it became clear to Jackson that his dream to make his sons the first African-American teenagers to become internationally known recording stars had come true.
In 1973, wanting to reassert his control, Jackson had his family, including youngest son Randy, and daughters Rebbie, La Toya and Janet perform at casinos and resorts in Las Vegas, inspired by the success of fellow family act, The Osmonds.
Joseph had also formed his own record label, Ivory Tower International Records and signed artists under his management in which they toured internationally with The Jackson 5 as opening acts in 1974. In 1975, the Jackson 5, with the exception of Jermaine, left Motown and signed a lucrative deal with Epic Records. Michael Jackson had brokered a deal where they could eventually produce their own songs, leading to Motown retaining the Jackson 5 name, so they renamed themselves The Jacksons in 1976.
In 1978, Joseph's youngest son, Randy, released his solo single "How Can I Be Sure" on Joseph's record label. In 1982, Joseph established Janet Jackson's career at age 16 as a recording artist while managing her. He financed the recording of his daughter's first demo then, arranged her a recording contract with A&M Records and began recording her debut album, overseen by him.
Joseph was alleged to have engaged in a lasting extramarital affair; this prompted Katherine to file for divorce on March 9, 1973 with a Los Angeles County clerk, but she chose to rescind the divorce papers.
The following year, Joseph fathered a child with Cheryl Terrell; their daughter, Joh'Vonnie Jackson, was born on August 30, 1974. This led Joseph and Cheryl to a 23-year-long affair while raising their daughter Joh'Vonnie. Katherine attempted once again to divorce her husband in 1982, but again was persuaded to drop the action. Joseph then moved away to Las Vegas, with Katherine remaining at the Jackson family home Hayvenhurst in Encino, California. Despite living separately, Katherine and Joe remained legally married until his death in 2018; Katherine denied the rumors that she and Joseph were estranged.
Jackson had eleven children, ten with his wife Katherine Jackson (née Scruse):
In the late 1980s, Joseph's image as a father became tarnished as the media reported stories told by his children that he was abusive towards them. When he managed his family, he allegedly ordered each of them to call him "Joseph", which contributed to several siblings having been estranged from him. Michael Jackson claimed that from a young age he was physically and emotionally abused by his father, enduring incessant rehearsals, whippings and name-calling, but also admitting that his father's strict discipline played a large part in his success. Michael first spoke openly about his childhood abuse in a 1993 interview with Oprah Winfrey. He said that during his childhood he often cried from loneliness. Michael recalled that Joseph sat in a chair with a belt in his hand as Michael and his siblings rehearsed and that "if you didn't do it the right way, he would tear you up, really get you." Joseph admitted to whipping his children with switches and belts as punishment, but said he did not do so at random, and claimed never to have used any hard object as he felt was implied by the word "beating."
Despite the abuse allegations, Michael honored his father with an annual "Joseph Jackson Day" at Neverland Ranch and ultimately forgave him, noting that Joseph's deep-South upbringing during the Great Depression and the Jim Crow years and working-class adulthood hardened him emotionally and made him push his children to succeed as entertainers.
Both Joe and Katherine have denied the characterization of abuse. Katherine has said that while the whippings may be viewed as abuse by current generations, such methods were normal ways to discipline children for misbehavior in those days. Other siblings, Jackie, Tito, Jermaine and Marlon, have denied that their father had been abusive. Some of Jackson's sons went on to be at the center of various abuse cases, with Randy being charged with beating his wife and daughter.
Joseph Jackson was portrayed by Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs in the mini-series The Jacksons: An American Dream, and by Frederic Tucker in the 2004 VH1 biopic Man in the Mirror: The Michael Jackson Story.
In 2011, Jackson was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame.
In 2014, Jackson accepted the award on behalf of his son Michael, when he was inducted into the Rhythm & Blues Music Hall of Fame with a Lifetime Achievement Award. The following year he was awarded The Rhythm & Blues 2015 Humanitarian Award. In June 2015, Jackson appeared at the BET Awards 2015 with daughter Janet Jackson as she accepted the Ultimate Icon Award.
On July 27, 2015, Jackson was rushed into a hospital after a stroke and heart arrhythmia while celebrating his 87th birthday in Brazil. He was not stable enough to fly out of the country for further treatment until two weeks later. Upon his arrival to Los Angeles, California on August 11, he was treated at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center to correct his blurred vision following the stroke.
In January 2017, Jackson's brother Lawrence died.
On June 22, 2018, TMZ reported that Jackson was hospitalized in Las Vegas in the final stages of terminal pancreatic cancer. He died at a hospice in Las Vegas on June 27, two days after the ninth anniversary of his son Michael's death and less than a month before his 90th birthday. He was surrounded by his wife and his surviving children.