Last week, Joe Jackson’s son, Jermaine, said his father was “very, very frail” and “doesn’t have long.” Three days before he passed, someone running Joe’s Twitter account wrote, “I have seen more sunsets than I have left to see. The sun rises when the time comes and whether you like it or not the sun sets when the time comes.”
Born on July 26, 1928 in Fountain Hill, Arkansas, Joseph Walter Jackson was the eldest of five siblings. After bouncing between Oakland, California and East Chicago, Indiana after the separation of his parents, he eventually settled in Indiana and pursued a career as a boxer.
Joe Jackson found success in the Golden Gloves program and trained to become a professional prizefighter. While training, he met Katherine Scruse and the pair married on November 5, 1949. The following year, they moved to Gary, Indiana and purchased a small house, ironically, at 2300 Jackson Street. Joe and Katherine Jackson would go on to have 10 children, many of whom would go on to make musical history.
Because of his rapidly growing family, Joe Jackson gave up his dream to be a boxer but tried his hand at music. He played bass for a group called The Falcons, but the group failed to attain much success. Still, Joe Jackson’s love of music never died and when he realized his older sons Jackie, Tito, and Jermaine were talented, he formed The Jackson Brothers and acted as their manager. Eventually, sons Marlon and Michael joined the group and in 1966 they became The Jackson 5.
Under his direction — which included intense, physically demanding rehearsals — Jackson helped his sons become international superstars. The Jackson 5 went on to release more than a dozen studio albums, sell millions of records, and become of the first Black groups to appeal to white audiences.
While many of his children — Michael and Janet, especially — went on to be musical stars, it came at a price. After Michael spoke out about his father’s abusive parenting tactics, Joe Jackson told Oprah Winfrey he didn’t regret beating his children because “It kept them out of jail and kept them right.” And though the patriarch had been reported estranged from his wife in recent years, Katherine and many of his children were by his bedside during his final days.
Joe Jackson was remembered across social media by many who paid their respects in the wake of his passing. Rev. Jesse Jackson said “We will remember him as long as his family’s music plays,” while fans shared their condolences for his family.
Joe Jackson was preceded in death by his sons Brandon and Michael. He is survived by his wife Katherine and his children Maureen (Rebbie), Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, La Toya, Marlon, Randy, and Janet, and a host of grandchildren.
Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends during this difficult time.