Fame and celebrity

Michael Jackson’s father, the infamously domineering Joe Jackson, dies at 89

Joe Jackson guided his children to pop stardom with the Jackson 5 during the 1970s, but spent the rest of his life fending off allegations of abusive parenting

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 28 June, 2018, 2:31am
UPDATED : Thursday, 28 June, 2018, 10:01pm

Joe Jackson, who guided his children to pop stardom with the Jackson 5 during the 1970s and spent the rest of his life fending off allegations of abusive parenting, has died. He was 89.

The Associated Press reported his death, citing an unnamed family source who did not provide additional details. He had received treatment for pancreatic cancer, according to People magazine.

A former crane operator at US Steel Corp, Jackson led his family out of poverty in Gary, Indiana, when he founded the quintet with sons Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, Marlon and Michael. The group, signed by Berry Gordy of Motown Records, dominated the music charts for much of the decade with its blend of pop, soul and R&B on hits such as I Want You Back, ABC and I’ll Be There.

Jackson worked several jobs to keep the family fed and invested his savings in the band. He spent endless hours perfecting their stage act and organised their tours and recording contracts, according to his 2004 memoir.

The Jackson 5’s diminutive lead singer and dance prodigy, Michael – who joined the Jackson 5 at age eight – would become the main beneficiary and victim of his father’s harsh discipline as he slipped from superstardom to a premature death in 2009.

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Michael Jackson, whose 1982 album Thriller sold more than 100 million copies, credited his father for some of the commercial success, while lamenting a deficit in the relationship with the man who preferred to be known as “Joseph” to his own children.

Michael Jackson died at age 50 in his rented house in the Holmby Hills district of Los Angeles. His father was not named in his son’s will, though the singer’s mother, Katherine, was.

“We were nervous rehearsing because he sat in the chair and he had this belt in his hand and if you didn’t do it the right way, he would tear you up,” Michael Jackson said about his father in a 2002 interview with UK journalist Martin Bashir.

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Joe Jackson said in his memoirs that he was “extremely strict” with his children and “pushed them to the limit” to achieve success. They had a demanding rehearsal schedule and were rarely allowed to leave the house.

He was also accused of sexual abuse in daughter La Toya’s 1991 book Growing Up in the Jackson Family and in a live-television interview on the Donahue show. La Toya Jackson later retracted those comments, saying they had been motivated by an abusive husband who controlled her, and she and her father reconciled.