RIP: Joe Jackson

Posted June 27, 2018 by J Matthew Cobb in Features

Father of Jacksons, early manager of Janet and Michael, dies at the age of 89

Jackson family portrait , circa 1970

Jackson family portrait , circa 1970

Patriarch of the Jackson dynasty, Joe Jackson died Wednesday at the age of 89 after a long bout with terminal pancreatic cancer. He was pronounced dead at a Las Vegas hospital. Hours before his passing, news broke out that he was not allowed to leave the hospital he was residing in due to grave illness and that he would live out his final days there.

Born in 1928, Joe moved from Arkansas up north to Chicago at the age of twelve. He later landed on Gary, Indiana in search of  financial security, leaning on the thriving steel industries. At that time, he married Katherine in 1949, settled on a small home on 2300 Jackson Street and gave birth to Rebbie, Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, La Toya, Marlon, Michael, Randy and Janet between the years of 1950 and 1966. He would have eleven children in all.

The love of music from both Joe and Katherine ultimately fell upon their children, which he helped cultivate and encourage. Although Jackson long endured a reputation for having an iron-clad fist and grip on his children’s careers, his discipline ultimately led his sons to be signed with Berry Gordy’s Motown Records. A move to Los Angeles immediately followed, so did three back-to-back hit singles rocketing to number one (“ABC,” “I Want You Back,” “The Love You Save”). Done in the style of bubblegum pop and soul, the Jackson 5’s earliest hits sparked Jacksonmania with teens, a teen-driven popularity facsimile of Beatlemania.

Jackson would oversee their careers as well as the solo careers of Michael throughout much of the ’70’s. He even managed baby daughter Janet, all the way up to her breakout album Control. On that record, you can hear Janet’s emancipation from Joe’s totalitarian grip on the album’s title cut, a track she co-wrote with Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. “When I was seventeen, I did what people told me/I did what my father said, and let my mother mold me…but that was long ago/I’m in control.”

On most occasions, the family has spoken of how brutal Joe was as a taskmaster, talent manager and parent, but amends have been made, Most recently, Janet spoke of her adoring love to her ailing dad during her acceptance speech of the Impact Award at the Radio Disney Awards. “My father, my incredible father drove me to be the best I can,” she said of her father.

Jackson never recorded music professionally, but in 2002, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame honoured him with an award for Best Entertainment Manager of All Time. In a 2013 interview with CNN, Jackson said he was glad that he was tough on his children. “Look what I came out with. I came out with some kids that everybody loved all over the world. And they treated everybody right,” he added.


About the Author

J Matthew Cobb

Managing editor of HiFi Magazine


Be the first to comment!

Leave a Response


Please support HIFI Magazine
By clicking any of these buttons you help our site to get better