Joseph Jackson Biography

(1928–)
Joseph Jackson is best known for being the father of international pop superstar Michael Jackson.

Synopsis

Joseph Jackson was born July 26, 1928, in Fountain Hill, Arkansas. He married Katherine Scruse in 1949, and together they had 10 children. Jackson soon noticed their musical talent and began acting as manager for The Jackson 5. The group enjoyed success but tensions eventually led to them firing Jackson. Son Michael later accused him of abuse, which some siblings confirmed and others denied.

Early Life

Born Joseph Walter Jackson on July 26, 1928, in Fountain Hill, Arkansas, as the eldest of five children. His father, Samuel Jackson, was a high school teacher and his mother, Crystal Lee King, was a housewife. The couple split up when Jackson was 12. He moved with his father to Oakland, California, while his mother moved to East Chicago, Indiana. Jackson lived a lonely childhood, and had few friends. When he turned 18, he moved to Indiana to live near his mother.

While in Indiana, he began pursuing his dreams of becoming a boxer. He found success with the Golden Gloves, and was preparing for a professional athletic career when he met 17-year-old Katherine Scruse. He was already married at the time, but had his union quickly annuled to be with Katherine.

Starting a Family

The couple married on November 5, 1949, and moved into a two-bedroom house in Gary, Indiana. The Jackson's first child, Maureen Reilette "Rebbie" Jackson was born six months later on May 29, 1950. Joseph decided to leave his life as a boxer in order to support his family. He began work as a full-time crane operator for U.S. Steel. In the meantime, his wife Katherine tended to their growing family; the Jacksons would go on to have ten children (son Brandon Jackson died at birth).

But while Joseph may have given up his dreams of becoming a boxer, he was still determined to make it big. In the mid-1950s, Joseph started a band called The Falcons with his brother, Luther. The group split up a couple of years later after they failed to gain notoriety. Joseph returned full time to his job at U.S. Steel.

Commercial Success

In 1963, however, Joseph noticed his children's musical talents after he caught his son Tito playing his guitar. That year Jackie, Tito and Jermaine formed The Jackson Brothers with Joseph serving as the group's manager. He began entering the trio in local talent competitons and by 1965, he had younger brothers Marlon and Michael also involved in the band. The group renamed themselves The Jackson 5 in 1966, and began gaining accolades in the R&B circuit.

Joseph began enforcing long and intense rehearsals for his sons, and booked them in more and more respectable venues until they landed a spot at the renowned Apollo Theater in Harlem, New York. The group won an amateur night contest, and their win earned them a Motown record contract. The Jackson 5 enjoyed immediate success, becoming the first American group to have their first four singles go straight to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. With the money he earned from managing the group, Joseph moved the family out of Indiana and into a mansion in Encino, California.

Issues Surface

However, tensions within the group also caused deep rifts within the family. Joseph was a strict disciplinarian, and reports of his abusive nature began leaking into the press. In 1979, Joseph's son Michael fired his father as his manager, and took control over his own career. The rest of the Jackson brothers would follow suit in 1983.

Personal Life

Joseph's personal life also began to suffer. His wife publicly denounced him after another woman gave birth to his daughter. Katherine filed for divorce twice, but eventually dropped both cases. In 1993, his son Michael spoke out against him on the popular Oprah Winfrey Show, detailing the physical and mental abuse he endured from the hands of his father throughout his childhood. This issue split the Jackson siblings, many of whom claimed abuse and several of whom claimed it never occured.

On June 25, 2009, his son, pop icon, Michael Jackson suddenly died. Michael's will listed his mother as guardian of his three children. His father, Joseph, received nothing from his estate.

Currently, Joseph lives in California with his wife, Katherine, despite rumors of their estrangement. In one of his more recent projects, Jackson said he was hosting a boot camp for aspiring hip-hop artists.

Health Issues

In July 2015 Jackson was rushed to a hospital in Brazil after suffering a stroke and heart arrhythmia. He had been visiting the country to celebrate his 87th birthday. After being treated, he returned to the United States but his health remained frail as he recovered. Jackson previously had a stroke in 2012 and reportedly others before that. In May 2016, he was admitted to a hospital in Los Angeles but later posted a message via his publicist he was doing okay.

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