R.I.P. Joe Jackson, 89, Patriarch of Musical, Legendary Jackson Family

Joe Jackson (photo via latimes.com)

by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

Joseph Walter Jackson aka Joe Jackson, the patriarch of one of the most famous singing family acts of all time, has died, according to the Los Angeles Times. He was 89. Jackson died at 2:55 a.m. Wednesday at Nathan Adelson Hospice in Las Vegas, Clark County coroner John Fudenberg told the Associated Press.

Jackson was born in the tiny town of Fountain Hill in southeast Arkansas on July 26, 1929, to Samuel and Chrystal Lee Jackson. His father was a teacher in a one-room schoolhouse; she was one of his students. After the parents separated, Jackson went with his father to Oakland and later joined his mother in Indiana. An early marriage was annulled. He married Katherine Scruse in 1949.

A onetime amateur boxer, Jackson was working as a steelworker in Gary, Ind., when he began relentlessly coaching his children to be singers, plotting a record deal even before it grew clear that Michael, at the time four years old, wasn’t just another voice in the crowd, but would soon become the lead singer of the Jackson 5 on the Motown label and eventually a world-reknowned superstar solo act.

Motown founder Berry Gordy recalled seeing 9-year-old Michael try out in 1968. The boy singer crooned Smokey Robinson’s “Who’s Loving You” like “a man who had been living with the blues and heartbreak his whole life,” Gordy recalled. “I couldn’t believe it.” It was a prelude to future breakout performances.

Who could have imagined what it was like to grow up a poor black man in the South, robbed of dignity, bereft of hope … working long hours in the steel mills? Is it any wonder why he pushed his sons so hard to succeed as performers? – Michael Jackson

The Jackson 5’s first three singles sold millions of copies, and their national television debut in 1969 was a sensation. As time went on, other family members, such as Jermaine and  baby sister Janet, had solo musical success. But Michael Jackson’s fame would prove stratospheric. Jackson managed his childrens’ careers until the 1980s.

Joe Jackson is survived by his wife, Katherine, and their children: Janet, Jermaine, La Toya, Rebbie, Randy, Jackie, Marlon and Tito Jackson, as well as several grandchildren. He is also survived by daughter Joh’Vonnie Jackson, his child with longtime girlfriend Cheryl Terrell.

2 thoughts on “R.I.P. Joe Jackson, 89, Patriarch of Musical, Legendary Jackson Family”

  1. Mr. Jackson did something that many Black fathers wished they could do – take his children, maintain them financially, teach them professionally, and set them loose on the world, getting an overabundant return on his investment. His methods were what he thought best to accomplish his goal; maybe not always the best, but what he and Katherine had available. Look what they produced – gifts to the world. Young men still do Michael imitations like they do for Elvis. But moreover, I’m trying to say that the ‘white man’s burden,’ what my ex-business partner said his father gave as the reason he lay in a hospital dying back in the 80s – is heavy for any Black man. It was particularly heavy during the time that Joe and Katherine were trying to raise all of those children. He pulled off a miracle, and no one has the right to say anything less, particularly those who’ve done nothing w/their children. There should be statues to fathers like him, Venus & Serena’s father, and Tiger Woods’ father. Surely that’s not the entire list; many more. All of the denigration of a brother heard daily, and nothing is said about these amazing examples of child rearing in America – indeed, in any country. God rest Joseph W. Jackson’s soul, and my condolences to the entire Jackson family.

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