Joe Jackson (manager)

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Joe Jackson
Jackson in 2007
Born Joseph Walter Jackson
(1928-07-26) July 26, 1928 (age 87)
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.[2]

Jackson recalled from early childhood that his father was domineering and strict and he described himself as a "lonely child that had only few friends" 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 became an overhead crane operator. He also had a second job at the American Foundries food store.[2] While in Indiana, he began to pursue his dreams of becoming a boxer. He found success with the Golden Gloves, and was preparing for a professional career when he met 17-year-old Katherine Scruse.[2]

The couple married on November 5, 1949 and Jackson's first child, Maureen Reilette "Rebbie" Jackson was born six months later on May 29, 1950. Joseph decided to leave his life as a boxer in order to support his family.[3] He began to work as a full-time crane operator for U.S. Steel. In the meantime, his wife Katherine tended to their growing family; the Jacksons would go on to have ten children (son Brandon Jackson died at birth). In January 1950, they purchased a three-room house in Gary, Indiana.[3] 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. 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 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, Joseph booked them in more and more respectable venues until they landed a spot at the renowned Apollo Theater in Harlem, New York.[4][5] 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.

Jackson later relocated his family to California and supervised every Jackson 5 recording session. The Jackson Five became the Jackson 5 with the release of their first album, Diana Ross Presents The Jackson 5 in December 1969. After the Jackson 5's first single, "I Want You Back" hit #1, his group's first four singles sold 10 million copies in 10 months, setting a world record for sales, it becomes clear 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 reassure his role of control, Jackson had his family, including youngest son Randy, and daughters Rebbie, La Toya and Janet performed at casinos and resorts in Las Vegas, inspired by the success of fellow family act, The Osmonds.

Joseph had also opened 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.[6] In 1975, the Jackson 5, with the exception of Jermaine, left Motown and signed a lucrative deal with CBS Records after 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" under Joseph's record label.[7] 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.[8] [9]


Joseph was alleged to have engaged in several extramarital affairs; this prompted Katherine to file for divorce on March 9, 1973 at the Los Angeles County clerk but was finally convinced to rescind the divorce papers at the urging of elders at her Jehovah's Witnesses Kingdom Hall.[10]

The following year, Joseph's daughter named Joh'Vonnie Jackson with another woman named Cheryl Terrell was born on August 30, 1974. This led Joseph and Cheryl to a 25-year-long affair while raising their daughter, Joh'Vonnie .[11] Katherine attempted once again to divorce her husband in or around 1979, but again was persuaded to drop the action. Joseph then, moved away to Las Vegas while sharing the Jackson Family Home Hayvenhurst with Katherine in Encino, California.[10] Despite living separately, Katherine and Joe remained officially married.[12][13]

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 towards them. When he managed his family, he allegedly ordered each of them to call him "Joseph", which contributed to several siblings being estranged from their father. 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.[14] 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.[15][16][17][18] 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."[19] 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."[20]

Despite the much-publicized abuse, Michael honored his father with an annual "Joseph Jackson Day" at Neverland Ranch[21] 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.[22]

Both Joe and Katherine have denied the longstanding allegations of abuse and Katherine has said that whilst the whippings may be viewed as abuse by current generations, such methods were normal ways to discipline children for misbehavior in those days.[23][24][25] Other siblings, notably Jackie, Tito, Jermaine and Marlon, have also denied that their father is abusive.[26]

In October 2002, Mr. Jackson was awarded a proclamation in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as the Best Entertainment Manager of All Time by Jane L. Campbell, mayor of Cleveland, Ohio.[9]

Jackson at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival.

Michael's death[edit]

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. 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.

Recent years[edit]

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 the Jackson family Hayvenhurst home as something the media tried to "cook up". She went on to say that Joe was a good grandfather to Michael's children.[27][28][29]

In 2014, Mr. Jackson 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.[30] In June, 2015 Mr. Jackson appeared at the BET Awards 2015 with daughter Janet Jackson as she accepted the Ultimate Icon Award.

His daughter Janet, was later seen paying homage to her father in her latest music video "No Sleeep", with a photo montage of Joseph and Janet as a young girl.[31] She later tweeted, "The image of us is my tribute to you. xo. JANET",[32] and just hours later on July 27, 2015 Joseph was rushed into a hospital after suffering a stroke and heart arrhythmia while celebrating his birthday in Brazil.[33] The stroke reportedly left him temporarily blind,[34] and 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 Cedars-Sinai to make a plan to correct his blurred vision following the stroke.[35]


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

Jackson also has a daughter, Joh'Vonnie Jackson, who was born on August 30, 1974 during Jackson's 25-year-long affair with Cheryl Terrell.[36]


  1. ^ "Joe turns 80". 2008. Retrieved 2015-06-20. 
  2. ^ a b c
  3. ^ a b
  4. ^ "Jackson 5 and Johnny |". 2010-08-28. Retrieved 2015-06-20. 
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ Cornwell, Jane (2002), Janet Jackson, Carlton Books, pp. 2, 10, 24, ISBN 1-84222-464-6 
  9. ^ a b
  10. ^ a b
  11. ^ Jackson, Katherine; Rich Wiseman (1990). My Family, the Jacksons. St. Martin's Paperbacks. ISBN 0-312-92350-3. 
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^ "Michael Jackson's Secret Childhood". VH1. Retrieved June 20, 2008. 
  15. ^ Campbell, Lisa (1995). Michael Jackson: The King of Pop's Darkest Hour. Branden. pp. 14–16. ISBN 0-8283-2003-9. 
  16. ^ 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. 
  17. ^ George, Nelson (2004). Michael Jackson: The Ultimate Collection booklet. Sony BMG. pp. 45–46
  18. ^ Taraborrelli, p. 620
  19. ^ Taraborrelli, p. 602
  20. ^ "Singer Jackson whipped by father". BBC News. November 13, 2003. Retrieved May 6, 2010. 
  21. ^ Michael Jackson's Private Home Movies
  22. ^ Jackson, Michael. "Heal the Kids." Speech at the Oxford Union, March 2001.
  23. ^ Katherine Jackson: Michael's strict upbringing not abuse (video). CNN. May 15, 2012. Retrieved May 31, 2015. 
  24. ^ Friedman, Roger (February 7, 2003). "Michael Jackson's Unacceptable Behavior Revealed". Fox News Channel. Retrieved May 31, 2015. 
  25. ^ Duke, Alan (July 21, 2009). "Joe Jackson denies abusing Michael" (Press release). CNN. Retrieved May 31, 2015. 
  26. ^ "Jackson Brothers: Was Joe Jackson Abusive?". Yahoo! Celebrity. Retrieved May 31, 2015. 
  27. ^ "Katherine Jackson Speaks To Geraldo Rivera 8/2/09". 2009-08-02. Retrieved 2015-06-20. 
  28. ^ Michael Jackson. "Michael Jackson's mother Katherine: 'He didn't die of natural causes'". Retrieved 2015-06-20. 
  29. ^ "Michael Jackson’s Death Wasn’t ‘Natural,’ Katherine Jackson Says". Retrieved 2015-06-20. 
  30. ^
  31. ^
  32. ^
  33. ^
  34. ^
  35. ^
  36. ^ Khan, Urmee (September 14, 2009). "Michael Jackson’s secret sister JohVonnie Jackson says she was 'rejected'". The Daily Telegraph (London). 


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