Joe Jackson, Dead at 89

Joe Jackson, Dead at 89

Say what you want about Joe Jackson, but his contributions to music have been massive.

Joe Jackson created a music dynasty

Joe Jackson, born in Fountain View, Arkansas in 1928 was born into a broken family. He moved with his father to Oakland, California while his mother and siblings settled in East Chicago, Indiana. Joe moved there when he turned 18. He got a gig at the Inland Steele Company and began training as a boxer. In 1949, after a divorce, he married Katherine Scruse, and the following year they bought a modest-two bedroom house in Gary, Indiana..

In 1964, Jackson was able to persuade three of his eldest boys – Jackie, Tito, and Jermaine into forming a music group. Marlon and Michael joined later. The Jackson Five appeared on the “Chitlin’ Circuit”. The circuit was a collection of clubs in the South, Midwest and Northwest where black acts could perform freely. In 1967, the Jackson boys won a talent competition at the legendary Apollo Theater in Harlem. An audition tape was made and sent to Berry Gordy, founder of Motown Records. At first, Gordy passed on the band. Gordy now says it was because he was preoccupied by a new Motown talent –  Stevie Wonder. Gordy eventually signed the band of brothers in March 1969.

By 1971, the kids had a top Billboard Hot 100 hit with “I Want You Back”  – which, still remains one of the best American pop singles of all time. 12-year-old Michael and his brothers performed the song on a television show called  “Goin’ Back to Indiana.” (Watch it here – Look closely. Michael is missing a tooth) 

The same year, Michael, under Joe’s guidance, launched his solo career, but not before the group had four consecutive No. 1 hits.


It’s Janet…Ms. Jackson if you’re nasty

When the brothers’ youngest child turned sixteen, Joe negotiated a recording contract for her. Janet Jackson was signed to A&M records under her father’s supervision. She made two unremarkable pop albums. It wasn’t until Janet broke professional ties with her family that she arrived at something spectacular. Control is technically her third album, but it feels like a debut. “No, my first name ain’t baby,” she announced in the song, “Nasty.” “It’s Janet . . . Ms. Jackson, if you’re nasty.”

Earlier this month, Janet Jackson was honoured by being the very first Impact Award honouree at the 2018 Radio Disney Music Awards. In her acceptance speech, she thanked Joe Jackson for driving her to be best she could be.


Joe Jackson frightened Michael

Michael once told Oprah Winfrey that he was afraid of his father. He would sometimes throw up when he saw him. In 2010, Joe Jackson admitted to whipping his kids with straps and belts. “I just remember hearing my mother scream, ‘Joe, you’re gonna kill him, you’re gonna kill him, stop it.'” In 2003, Michael told Martin Bashir in the famous televised sit-down interview, “I was so fast he couldn’t catch me half the time, but, when he would catch me, oh my God, it was bad. It was really bad.”

In her 2011 book “True You,” Janet wrote; “Moving beyond my father’s reach was probably the most difficult thing I ever did.”

“He had done so many good things for me.”

The other Jackson daughter, LaToya, accused her father in a 1993 tell-all of sexual abuse that occurred when she was a child. Years later, she retracted the story. She said she was in an abusive relationship with her Svengali-like husband at the time of the writing.

Court documents revealed that wife, Katherine, had twice initiated paperwork to divorce Joe. He had fathered a child out of wedlock in the early 1970s and never shared his wife’s devotion as a Jehovah’s Witness. In recent years, it’s said that Joe and Katherine lived in different cities.

“I loved Joseph,” Michael said in a 2003 interview. “At the same time I hated him for what he did to my mother.”

Joe Jackson’s  last known public appearance was in May. He attended Cirque Du Soleil’s MJOne – a tribute to Michael through music and acrobatics. After the show, Joe tweeted  “My son’s legacy will live on and continue to inspire people.”

While the kids made peace with their father and the evil things he did over the years, maybe it’s our turn to, not forget, but lean towards more to what beautiful music Joe spawned. Michael once said; “It all begins with forgiveness, because to heal the world, we first have to heal ourselves. And to heal the kids, we first have to heal the child within, each and every one of us.”

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