Joe Jackson (manager)

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Joe Jackson
Jackson in 2007
Born Joseph Walter Jackson
July 26, 1928 or 1929 (age 87 or 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 or 1929) 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][2] or 1929.[3][4] Jackson was the eldest of five children, which included brothers Lawrence and Luther and sisters Lula Mae and Verna Mae (died at age seven).[3] Jackson is of African-American ancestry.[5]

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. 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.[3] When he was 18, after his father remarried, he moved to East Chicago to live with his mother, two brothers, and sister.[3] He soon got a job in East Chicago at Inland Steel Company,[3] 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.[3] 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;[3] Joe married another woman and in less than a year he was divorced before he started dating Katherine.[3]

Joseph and Katherine were married on November 5, 1949. In January 1950, they purchased a small two-bedroom home next to East Chicago in Gary, Indiana.[3][6] The Jacksons' first child, Maureen Reillette "Rebbie" Jackson, was born four months later on May 29, 1950, in the Jackson house.[3] 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;[3] he later took a second part-time job at American Foundries in East Chicago.[3] In the meantime, his wife Katherine tended to their growing family; she started working part-time at Sears in Gary in the late 1950s.[3] The Jacksons would go on to have ten children (their son Brandon Jackson died just after he was born).[3] During the early 1950s, Jackson briefly performed with his own blues band The Falcons, playing guitar.[3] 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.[3]

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.[7] Younger sons Marlon and Michael eventually joined the backing band.[7] Joseph began enforcing long and intense rehearsals for his sons. At first, the group went under The Jackson Brothers.[7] 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.[7] 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.[8][9] On November 21, 1967, The Jackson Five were signed by Jackson to their first professional contract with Gordon Keith, an owner and record producer of Steeltown Records in Gary, Indiana. The group's first single Big Boy, with Michael as the lead singer, was released on January 31, 1968 on the Steeltown label.[7][10] Within the year, however, Jackson helped to land his sons an audition for Motown Records in Detroit.[7] The Jackson Five were signed with Motown in March 1969.[11]

Jackson later relocated his family to California and supervised every recording session the group made for Motown.[7] The group began to receive nationwide fame after their first single for Motown, I Want You Back, hit #1, was released on October 7, 1969, followed by their first album, Diana Ross Presents The Jackson 5 in December 1969.[12] 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.[12]

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.[13]

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.[14] In 1975, the Jackson 5, with the exception of Jermaine, left Motown and signed a lucrative deal with Epic 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.[15]

In 1978, Joseph's youngest son, Randy, released his solo single "How Can I Be Sure" under Joseph's record label.[16] In 1982, Joseph established Janet Jackson's career at age 16 as a recording artist while managing her.[17] 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.[17][18]


Joseph was alleged to have engaged in several extramarital affairs; this prompted Katherine to file for divorce on March 9, 1973 with a 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.[19]

The following year, Joseph fathered a child with another woman named Cheryl Terrell; their daughter, Joh'Vonnie Jackson, was born on August 30, 1974.[20] This led Joseph and Cheryl to a 25-year-long affair while raising their daughter Joh'Vonnie.[3] 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.[19] Despite living separately, Katherine and Joe remain officially married;[21][22] however, Katherine has also denied the longstanding rumours that she and Joseph are estranged.[23][24]

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.[25] 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.[26][27][28][29] 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."[30] 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."[31]

Despite the much-publicized abuse, Michael honored his father with an annual "Joseph Jackson Day" at Neverland Ranch[32] 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.[33]

Both Joe and Katherine have denied the longstanding allegations of abuse and 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.[34][35][36] Other siblings, notably Jackie, Tito, Jermaine and Marlon, have also denied that their father is abusive.[37]

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.[38][39]

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.[18]

Jackson, at age 84, during 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 rumors that Joe was banned from entering the Jackson family Hayvenhurst home, Katherine said it was something the media tried to "cook up".[24] She went on to say that Joe is a good grandfather to Michael's children.[24][40][41]

In 2011, Jackson was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame.[42]

In 2014, Jackson was inducted into the Rhythm & Blues Music Hall of Fame with a Lifetime Achievement Award.[43] The following year he was awarded The Rhythm & Blues 2015 Humanitarian Award.[43] In June 2015, Mr. Jackson appeared at the BET Awards 2015 with daughter Janet Jackson as she accepted the Ultimate Icon Award.[44]

On July 27, 2015, Joseph was rushed into a hospital after suffering a stroke and heart arrhythmia while celebrating his 87th birthday in Brazil.[45] The stroke reportedly left him with temporarily blurred vision[46] 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 the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center to correct his blurred vision following the stroke.[47]


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.[48]


  1. ^ "Joe Jackson celebrates birthday in Chicago". July 25, 2008. Retrieved December 24, 2015. 
  2. ^ Laura Phillips (August 7, 2008). "Joe Jackson Celebrates 80th Birthday Party Chicago Style". All Access Magazine. Retrieved December 24, 2015. Born July 26, 1928... 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Jackson, Katherine; Rich Wiseman (1990). My Family, the Jacksons. St. Martin's Paperbacks. ISBN 0-312-92350-3. 
  4. ^ "Joseph Jackson: Biography". Retrieved December 24, 2015. Joseph Jackson was born July 26, 1929, in Fountain Hill, Arkansas. 
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  8. ^ "Jackson 5 and Johnny |". 2010-08-28. Retrieved 2015-06-20. 
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  10. ^ Big Boy, 40th Anniversary
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  17. ^ a b Cornwell, Jane (2002), Janet Jackson, Carlton Books, pp. 2, 10, 24, ISBN 1-84222-464-6 
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  24. ^ a b c "Katherine Jackson Speaks To Geraldo Rivera 8/2/09". 2009-08-02. Retrieved 2015-06-20. 
  25. ^ "Michael Jackson's Secret Childhood". VH1. Retrieved June 20, 2008. 
  26. ^ Campbell, Lisa (1995). Michael Jackson: The King of Pop's Darkest Hour. Branden. pp. 14–16. ISBN 0-8283-2003-9. 
  27. ^ 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. 
  28. ^ George, Nelson (2004). Michael Jackson: The Ultimate Collection booklet. Sony BMG. pp. 45–46
  29. ^ Taraborrelli, p. 620
  30. ^ Taraborrelli, p. 602
  31. ^ "Singer Jackson whipped by father". BBC News. November 13, 2003. Retrieved May 6, 2010. 
  32. ^ Michael Jackson's Private Home Movies
  33. ^ Jackson, Michael. "Heal the Kids." Speech at the Oxford Union, March 2001.
  34. ^ Katherine Jackson: Michael's strict upbringing not abuse (video). CNN. May 15, 2012. Retrieved May 31, 2015. 
  35. ^ Friedman, Roger (February 7, 2003). "Michael Jackson's Unacceptable Behavior Revealed". Fox News Channel. Retrieved May 31, 2015. 
  36. ^ Duke, Alan (July 21, 2009). "Joe Jackson denies abusing Michael" (Press release). CNN. Retrieved May 31, 2015. 
  37. ^ "Jackson Brothers: Was Joe Jackson Abusive?". Yahoo! Celebrity. Retrieved May 31, 2015. 
  38. ^
  39. ^
  40. ^ Michael Jackson. "Michael Jackson's mother Katherine: 'He didn't die of natural causes'". Retrieved 2015-06-20. 
  41. ^ "Michael Jackson’s Death Wasn’t ‘Natural,’ Katherine Jackson Says". Retrieved 2015-06-20. 
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  48. ^ Khan, Urmee (September 14, 2009). "Michael Jackson’s secret sister JohVonnie Jackson says she was 'rejected'". The Daily Telegraph (London). 

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