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JOE JACKSON,
1928-2018

Joe Jackson, patriarch of the musical family that included Michael and Janet Jackson, died Wednesday of pancreatic cancer in Las Vegas. He was 89.

Jackson, who lived in Las Vegas, reportedly suffered a heart attack while celebrating his 87th birthday in Brazil. Variety reported that he had suffered strokes and had dementia.

“Joe was a strong man who acknowledged his own imperfections and heroically delivered his sons and daughters from the steel mills of Gary, Ind., to worldwide pop superstardom,” John Branca and John McClain, the executors of the estate of Michael Jackson, said in a statement confirming Joe’s death.

In the early 1960s, he was the first to notice that his sons Tito, Jackie and Jermaine possessed musical talent and had them perform as the Jackson Brothers in and around Gary, Ind., beginning in 1963. They became the Jackson 5 in 1966 when Marlon and Michael joined the group and they went on to win multiple talent contests including the Apollo Theater’s famous Amateur Night. He was their manager when they signed with Motown in 1968.

Motown CEO Berry Gordy took over much of the management of the brothers though Joe Jackson helped his sons seal a deal with CBS after leaving Motown. Michael fired his father in 1979, though he managed daughters Rebbie, La Toya and Janet in the early 1980s. 

All of the Jacksons have spoken about the physical and emotional abuse they endured at the hands of their father who saw himself as a taskmaster. They rehearsed for five hours a day after school, were not allowed play with other children and a misstep in a dance routine meant a beating with a tree branch.

Jackson, born in Fountain Hill, Ark., spent his teen years in Oakland and moved to East Chicago, Ind., when he was 18. A crane operator for a steel company, he joined his brother’s blues band, The Falcons, for a while without much success.

Estranged from his children, he was unapologetic about the way he raised them during a CNN interview in 2013. “I'm glad I was tough, because look what I came out with,” he said. “I came out with some kids that everybody loved all over the world. And they treated everybody right."

 

 

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