Joe Jackson (manager)

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Joe Jackson
Jackson in 2007
Born Joseph Walter Jackson
(1928-07-26) July 26, 1928 (age 86)
Fountain Hill, Arkansas
Nationality American
Occupation Talent manager
Years active 1960s–present
Spouse(s) Katherine Scruse (m. 1949)
Children 11, See below
Parent(s) Samuel Jackson (1893–1993)
Crystal Lee King (1907–1992)

Joseph Walter "Joe" Jackson (born July 26, 1928) is a talent manager and the father of the Jackson family of entertainers which includes music superstars Michael Jackson and Janet Jackson.

Early life[edit]

Jackson was born to Crystal Lee (née King; 1907–1992) and Samuel Jackson (1893–1993), a schoolteacher, in Fountain Hill, Arkansas, on July 26, 1928.[1] Jackson was the eldest of five children, which included sisters Verna Mae and Lula Mae, and brothers Lawrence and Luther.

Jackson recalled from early childhood that his father was domineering and strict and he described himself as a "lonely child" in his memoirs, The Jacksons. Jackson's family moved to East Chicago, Indiana while he was still a toddler. At eleven, his parents divorced and for a while he lived with his mother at their East Chicago home with a stepfather. In his teen years, he spent a few years in Oakland where his father relocated. He returned to East Chicago where he eventually began working at East Chicago's Inland Steel Company, where he eventually became an overhead crane operator. He also had a second job at the American Foundries food store.

Jackson first became acquainted with Katherine Scruse in 1948. Within a year, the couple married on November 5, 1949. In January 1950, they purchased a three-room house in Gary, Indiana. During the early 1950s, Jackson briefly performed with his own blues band, The Falcons, playing guitar. Despite their efforts, the Falcons failed to get a recording deal and subsequently broke up.

The Jackson 5[edit]

See also: The Jackson 5

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. At first, the group went under The Jackson Brothers. Following the inclusions of Marlon and Michael and Michael's increased vocal role in the group, their name was changed to the The Jackson Five.

After a couple years performing in talent contests and high school functions, Jackson had his sons perform on the chitlin' circuit, where they eventually performed at the Regal Theatre and the Apollo Theater.[2] After this success, Jackson began only working part-time at Inland Steel Company. In November 1967, The Jackson Five signed their first contract with Gordon Keith, an owner and producer of Steeltown Records in Gary, Indiana and released their first single "Big Boy" on January 30, 1968. Within the year, however, Jackson helped to land his sons an audition for Motown Records in Detroit. The Jackson Five were signed in March 1969.

The Jackson Five became the Jackson 5 with the release of their first album, Diana Ross Presents The Jackson 5 in December 1969. The group eventually became crossover stars, scoring four consecutive number-one hits on the Billboard Hot 100. The group also became international sensations. In 1973, wanting to reassure his role of 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. In 1975, the Jackson 5, with the exception of Jermaine, left Motown and signed a lucrative deal with CBS Records without alerting Motown of the deal, leading to a lawsuit against the family.

Public image[edit]

Joseph's image as a father became tarnished from the late 1980s onward, as the media reported stories told by his children that he was heavily abusive toward them. When he managed his family, he ordered each of them to call him "Joseph", which contributed to several siblings being estranged from their father. Joseph is also alleged to have engaged in several extramarital affairs; one affair resulted in the birth of a daughter, Joh'Vonnie, born in 1974.

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.[3] In one altercation—later recalled by Marlon Jackson—Joseph held Michael upside down by one leg and "pummeled him over and over again with his hand, hitting him on his back and buttocks."[4] 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 and would sometimes get sick or start to vomit upon seeing his father.[5][6][7][8] 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."[9] 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."[10] Despite the much-publicized abuse, Michael honored his father with an annual "Joseph Jackson Day" at Neverland Ranch[11] 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.[12]

In 2003, in an interview with Louis Theroux for a BBC TV documentary called Louis, Martin & Michael, Joseph admitted to using physical punishment on his children.[10] In the same documentary, Joseph took advantage of the opportunity to promote his record label's new artists, even though the intention was to talk about Michael in the interview.[13] In the same interview, Joe Jackson expressed an extreme dislike of gay people after Theroux asked if he'd like to see Michael settle down with a "partner".

Jackson at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival.

Following Michael's death on June 25, 2009, Joseph attended the BET Awards on June 28. The event was hastily reorganized as a tribute to Michael following his sudden passing. Joseph appeared at the event, speaking to several reporters about Michael's death.[14] He struggled with CNN reporter Don Lemon's questions about his family, first appearing cheerful, then mournful, then asking a family spokesperson to read a prepared statement. After the statement was read, Joseph talked about his new hip-hop recording project. This exchange led to accusations of insensitivity from the press.[15] In a press conference two days later, Joseph said he had honestly answered a question about what he had been doing, and mentioned his recording project again before going on to praise Michael's life and work. Additionally, when speculation arose that a Norwegian friend of Michael, named Omer Bhatti, was Michael's son, Joseph accepted the claims, even though sources close to Bhatti had denied the claims.

Joseph Jackson was portrayed by Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs in the mini-series The Jacksons: An American Dream & by Frederic Tucker in the 2004 VH1 biopic Man in the Mirror: The Michael Jackson Story.

Contrary to media rumors that Joseph and Katherine are estranged, Katherine denied this in a phone interview to Geraldo Rivera in 2009. She also described rumors that Joe was banned from entering their house as something the media tried to cook up. She went on to insist that Joe was a good grandfather to Michael's children and that she had no idea where people were getting those rumors from.[16][17][18]

In 2010 while being interviewed by Oprah Winfrey, Katherine again reiterated her denial of the rumours that she and Joseph were separated.[19]


Jackson has had eleven children, ten with his wife Katherine Scruse.

Jackson has a daughter born on August 30, 1974 named Joh'Vonnie Jackson who was born while Jackson was in a 25-year-long affair with a woman named Cheryl Terrell.[20]


  1. ^ "Joe turns 80". Chicago Defender. 2008. 
  2. ^ The Jackson Five And Johnny. (August 28, 2010)
  3. ^ "Michael Jackson's Secret Childhood". VH1. Retrieved June 20, 2008. 
  4. ^ Taraborrelli, pp. 20–22
  5. ^ Campbell, Lisa (1995). Michael Jackson: The King of Pop's Darkest Hour. Branden. pp. 14–16. ISBN 0-8283-2003-9. 
  6. ^ Lewis, Jel (2005). Michael Jackson, the King of Pop;: The Big Picture: the Music! the Man! the Legend! the Interviews!. Amber Books Publishing. pp. 165–168. ISBN 0-9749779-0-X. 
  7. ^ George, Nelson (2004). Michael Jackson: The Ultimate Collection booklet. Sony BMG. pp. 45–46
  8. ^ Taraborrelli, p. 620
  9. ^ Taraborrelli, p. 602
  10. ^ a b "Singer Jackson whipped by father". BBC News. November 13, 2003. Retrieved May 6, 2010. 
  11. ^ Michael Jackson's Private Home Movies
  12. ^ Jackson, Michael. "Heal the Kids." Speech at the Oxford Union, March 2001.
  13. ^ Video of the interview, 24:00 onwards
  14. ^ Premsrirut, Rutt (July 1, 2009). "In Defense of Joe Jackson". (ABC News). Retrieved July 1, 2009. 
  15. ^ Staff writer (June 30, 2009). "Joe Jackson's behavior draws criticism". (United Press International). Retrieved June 30, 2009. 
  16. ^
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  19. ^
  20. ^ Khan, Urmee (September 14, 2009). "Michael Jackson’s secret sister JohVonnie Jackson says she was 'rejected'". The Daily Telegraph (London). 


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