Jackson 5 Patriarch Joe Jackson Has Passed Away At Age 89

Joseph Walter Jackson, one of music’s most famed and successful managers, has died this morning (June 27). The 89-year-old Jackson was battling pancreatic cancer. In the last three years, the longtime executive behind the Jackson 5, Michael Jackson, and Janet Jackson had suffered a stroke and survived an injury in an automobile accident.

The Fountain Hill, Arkansas native, has a controversial legacy in music. Although he was a driving and stern force behind the group that would ultimately introduce “the King of Pop” Michael Jackson, the group’s patriarch is also remembered for widespread reports of physical, verbal, and emotional abuse of his children. Michael, in particular, described his father beating the children in professional settings, including band rehearsals. Jackson also famously demanded his children to call him by his first name. Many of these revelations went mainstream during a 1992 miniseries The Jacksons: An American Dream, and a televised 1993 Oprah interview with Michael.

As a child, Jackson’s family relocated to just east of Chicago, Illinois, in Gary, Indiana. He played guitar in an unsigned R&B group known as The Falcons. After Jackson’s departure, the band re-branded as The Spaniels and found success playing Doo-Wop. As a father, by the early 1960s, Joe began working on a musical group with three of his sons: Jermaine, Jackie, and Tito Jackson. As younger brothers Michael and Marlon were eventually added to the group, the act rebranded itself The Jackson 5.

By 1968’s first release on Steeltown Records, Michael assumed the duty as the group’s lead vocalist. Within one year, the band auditioned for Berry Gordy’s Motown Records. By early 1969, the quintet was signed to the iconic imprint.

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As manager of J5, Joe and wife Katherine relocated their family to Southern California. The patriarch insisted on being present for all recordings and group events while at Motown. The group would enjoy a meteoric rise soon after signing, achieving chart-topping and diamond-certification in less than one year of the band’s eponymous debut.

By the early 1970s, Joe Jackson developed other members of his family, including would-be star Janet Jackson. He arranged performances by at least nine of his 11 total children (one from outside his marriage, and another who died shortly after birth). Joe launched Ivory Tower International Records, signing acts within and beyond his family.

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In addition to Michael and The Jacksons, Joe was managing Janet Jackson’s solo career in the early 1980s. By the middle of the decade, both M.J. and his sister would fire their father from their management teams. Despite the business moves, Joe Jackson remained close with his family. Michael held annual days in his father’s honor at Neverland Ranch throughout the 1980s, ’90s, and 2000s.

In recent years, Jackson authored several books. He published a 2004 memoir in German. In 2018, he released the hardcover Precious Moments: 60 Years In Show Business. A Life In Pictures.

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Joe Jackson’s death comes just two days after the ninth anniversary of Michael’s passing (June 25, 2009). He is survived by wife, Katherine, as well as children Maureen, Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, LaToya, Marlon, Randy, Janet, and Joh’Vonnie.