Joe Jackson Goes Home at 89: Life and Times of a Patriarch

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After several unsuccessful battle with cancer, patriarch of the Jackson family, Joe Jackson has died at the age of 89.
Joe was hospitalized earlier this month as his illness took a turn for the worse, according to his son Jermaine.

Jackson had reportedly barred his family, including his wife, Katherine, from seeing him in the hospital, but according to report, the family raced to his bedside during his final days.
Jackson had faced years of medical issues. He suffered a stroke and three heart attacks in 2015 and was rushed to the hospital in 2017 after being involved in a car accident in Las Vegas.
Just last Sunday, there was prophetic tweet posted on his official Twitter page: “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.
Widely considered the driving force behind his children’s successful careers, Joe not only launched and managed the Jackson 5 but also the solo careers of son Michael and daughter Janet, two of the best-selling artists of all time.
Most sports fans, and baseball fans in particular, are familiar with Shoeless Joe’s story: a poor illiterate southerner from a South Carolina mill town who rose through baseball’s ranks to be, according to some, the greatest left-handed hitter in the game. Whether myth or fact, the legend has been kept alive by past and present figures within and outside the game
Author David Fleitz’s well-researched and excellent narrative presents Jackson as a tragic figure whose fall from baseball grace was inevitable regardless of his ability, positing that events during his entire life were a prelude to his baseball demise.
Perhaps this tragic non-avoidance can be traced to Jackson’s youth and his early discontent with his economic situation. Growing up in the poverty and ignorance that often characterized South Carolina mill towns of the period, Joe began working alongside his father and brothers in the Brandon Mill, in Greenville, South Carolina, before age thirteen. By age fifteen, his earnings exceeded the average pay of most mill workers (due to extra compensation for his exploits on the baseball diamond with mill league teams), but he was always looking for ways to make an extra buck.
As Jackson’s baseball prowess advanced him from mill leagues to the class D Carolina Association, he more than doubled his mill wages when he promised to leave corn whiskey alone and “play my head off for $75 a month”
As he rose through the minors and into the majors, he continually sought ways to supplement his income doing advertising endorsements and making vaudeville appearances. But even with his supplementary ventures, compared to other ballplayers of lesser ability Jackson was grossly underpaid, due in part to his poor negotiating skills and the misfortune of playing for greedy owners. Fleitz points to notoriously stingy White Sox owner Charles Comiskey, who paid Jackson the same $6,000 salary that Comiskey himself received as player-manager of the St. Louis Browns in the 1880s.
Fleitz provides in-depth detail of the difficulties a rural, uneducated southern boy had adjusting to Major League life in northern metropolitan cities. This was especially true in Philadelphia as Jackson found it difficult to adjust to the city’s “tough” fans, compounded with bouts of homesickness and the insecurities of being around better-educated teammates.
Fleitz points out that Jackson’s inability to acclimate to big-city life prompted A’s manager Connie Mack to trade him to Cleveland, where he enjoyed several outstanding seasons. But Jackson never really adjusted to city life in the North.
In his autobiography, Joseph Jackson acknowledged that he believed being stern was the only way to prepare his children for the tough world of show business, having had stern parents himself, but always denied physically abusing his children.

The eldest of four children, Joseph Walter Jackson was born in Fountain Hill, Arkansas, on July 26, 1928. His father, Samuel Jackson, was a high school teacher, and his mother, Crystal Lee King, 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. When he turned 18, he moved to Indiana to live near his mother. It was there that he met and married Katherine Scruse.

In the 1950s, he had tried to launch his own music career as a guitarist, but he came to realize the truly gifted musicians in his family were his children.

He launched a group in 1962 that featured his three eldest sons — Jackie, Tito and Jermaine — and two neighbors. He eventually replaced the neighbors with brothers Michael and Marlon, and the Jackson Five went professional in 1966. By 1969, they had signed to Motown, when their bubble gum soul-pop hybrid would create Beatle-like mania, with hits including I Want You Back, ABC and I’ll Be There.
Michael, who joined the group at age 8, was its showstopper from the beginning. A bright-eyed bundle of energy with a soaring voice and dynamic dance moves, he quickly became the lead singer.

Joe Jackson literally drove his kids to success, taking them around the country looking for singing engagements and recording opportunities.

Randy, the youngest Jackson brother, replaced Jermaine in the mid-1970s when the group left Motown and became The Jacksons at CBS; Jermaine, then married to founder Berry Gordy’s daughter Hazel, stayed behind and launched a solo career.

While Michael’s success as a solo performer would eventually dwarf that of the rest of his family, Janet would become another multiplatinum superstar; Joe Jackson initially managed her career, too, putting her in the Jacksons’ variety show in the early 1970s, where she charmed with her Mae West routine, and shepherding her acting career on shows like Good Times. But soon after she put out Control, her breakthrough album at 19, she, too, would sever managerial ties with her father.

Michael Jackson opened up in 2003 when discussing the alleged abuse in an interview with Martin Bashir, saying he would sometimes vomit or faint at the sight of his father because he was so scared of him.

“We were terrified of him. Terrified, I can’t tell you I don’t think to this day he realizes how scared,” said Jackson, who added that his father would only allow him to call him by his first name, not “daddy.”

According to Michael, the abuse wasn’t just physical, as through the years, he talked severally about how his father would mock the size of his once-broad nose, calling him “big nose.” Michael Jackson, would drastically change his face with plastic surgery later on.

After Michael’s death, Joseph Jackson sued when it was disclosed that he wasn’t included in Michael’s will. Michael’s mother, Katherine, was given custody of Michael’s three children and the money to support them. But none of the siblings were named as heirs.

Joe and his son Michael seemed to have reconciled for a time when Michael Jackson was on trial on child molestation charges. His father was in court to lend him support nearly every day, and Michael was acquitted of all counts in 2005. But he left the country and when he returned, they weren’t close.

Toward the end of his life, Michael did not allow his father to visit his Holmby Hills home. Bodyguards said they turned away Joseph Jackson when he appeared at the gate wanting to visit his grandchildren.

By 2005, no longer involved in his children’s careers, Joseph Jackson had launched a boot camp for aspiring hip-hop artists, promoting lyrics without vulgarity and sponsoring competitions for young artists from across the country. He spent most of his time at a home in Las Vegas and traveled the country auditioning talent for the competition.
Still married to Katherine, in 1974 Joe fathered another daughter, Joh’Vonnie, 43, with Cheryl Terrell, a secretary 20 years his junior with whom he had a 25-year affair.
In a recent interview she described Joe as a “loving” father who was a regular visitor to his secret family, lavishing her with gifts and tending the vegetable patch with her mother, who died in 2014.
But if he had a good relationship with Joh’Vonnie, by the time of Michael’s death in 2009, Joe was all but cast out from the superstar family he had helped create.
Although Katherine receives more than $1million (£750,000) annually from Michael’s estate, Joe was completely left out of his son’s will.
Yet despite that, he has still attempted to cash in on Michael’s fame, allegedly charging $50,000 (£38,000) “appearance fees” to talk about his son, and even trying to market a range of perfumes in a Las Vegas mall with Michael’s image on them.
As the patriarch’s health faded, it seemed he’s still attempted to assert one last degree of control over his family, even as they tried to visit his sickbed to say their last farewells.
In one of his most recent interviews, Joe Jackson remained unrepentant about the way he brought up his children. “I’m glad I was tough, because look what I came out with,” he said. “I came out with some kids that everybody loved all over the world.”
Michael would also come to admit in later years that his father loved his children and wanted the best for them,
“I have begun to see that even my father’s harshness was a kind of love, an imperfect love, to be sure, but love nonetheless. He pushed me because he loved me. Because he wanted no man ever to look down at his offspring,” he said. “And now with time, rather than bitterness, I feel blessing. In the place of anger, I have found absolution. And in the place of revenge I have found reconciliation. And my initial fury has slowly given way to forgiveness.” He said.
For many years, Joe and his wife had lived in an estate they built in Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley where he had hoped his children would remain with him at least until they were married and perhaps even afterward. But there were estrangements, and Jackson, a dandy who wore a pencil-thin mustache and huge diamond pinky ring, faced allegations by his wife of infidelity. She filed for divorce twice but never followed through.

“We just let our troubles die out,” Jackson said in 1988, following a reconciliation. “We survived. We love each other, and we have children. That’s why we’re together.”

When Dr. Conrad Murray went on trial in 2010, charged in Michael’s overdose death from propofol, Joseph and Katherine attended court with several of Michael’s siblings. Murray’s conviction of involuntary manslaughter provided some measure of comfort for the family.

Joe Jackson, at the last count will always be remembered and perhaps well credited for the success of his children’s music careers, being a big influence therein. He is survived by his wife, his children and more than two dozen grandchildren.

Africh Royale

Africh Royale

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