The Los Angeles County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner confirmed Jackson’s passing, which happened early Wednesday morning. His death comes a mere two days after the 9th anniversary of his son Michael Jackson‘s death.
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In his later years, the elder Jackson had been plagued by poor health; in 2012, he had a minor stroke. In 2015, he suffered another stroke on his 87th birthday. In 2016, he was hospitalized with a severe fever, and in 2017, he had to receive medical care following a car accident in Las Vegas.
Jackson had been living in Las Vegas. His memoir, Precious Moments, was released in March.
He is survived by his wife Katherine and their children Maureen, 68, Jackie, 67, Tito, 64, Jermaine, 63, La Toya, 62, Marlon, 61, Randy, 56, and Janet, 52. Michael died at age 50 and another son, Brandon, died during childbirth in 1957.
He also has another daughter, Joh’Vonnie Jackson, 43, with Cheryl Terrell, a woman with whom he had an admitted affair for 25 years. He leaves behind more than two dozen grandchildren.
Born in Fountain Hill, Arkansas, on July 28, 1928, Jackson was 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.
In his late teens, he moved to Chicago and met Katherine, and they wed in November 1949. The couple relocated to Gary, Indiana, where they started their big family together.
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.
In the early 1960s, Jackson started up The Jackson Brothers, featuring sons Michael, Jackie, Tito, Jermaine and Marlon. Once they started picking up steam, the group name was changed to The Jackson 5. Approximately one year after releasing their first single in 1968 — Big Boy — they were signed to Motown Records.
It wasn’t long before The Jackson 5 achieved nationwide fame with a young, charismatic Michael at the head, and they had numerous hits including ABC and I’ll Be There.
Jackson also helped launch the careers of daughter Janet and son Randy.
He was fired as manager by Michael in 1983, in an effort to separate family and business. Rumours and stories of abuse dogged the senior Jackson throughout his life; even his own children, including Michael, claimed that he beat them and terrorized them emotionally and physically. (Joe Jackson was completely left out of Michael’s will after his 2009 death.)
“We’d perform for him and he’d critique us,” wrote Michael in his 1985 autobiography Moonwalk. “If you messed up, you got hit, sometimes with a belt, sometimes with a switch. My father was real strict with us — real strict.”
However, during some of his son’s most difficult times, including his 2004 molestation trial, Joseph was by his side, and Michael acknowledged their complicated relationship in a 2001 speech about healthy relationships between parents and their children:
“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.”
“Papa Joe,” as he would become known, ruled through his stern, intimidating and unflinching presence, which became so indelible it was part of black popular culture, even referenced in song and on TV.
“This is bad, real bad Michael Jackson, Now I’m mad, real mad Joe Jackson,” Kanye West rhymed in Keri Hilson’s 2009 hit, Knock You Down.
By 2005, no longer involved in his children’s careers, 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.
A rep for John Branca and John McClain, co-executors of the Estate of Michael Jackson, released a statement to celebrity site The Blast.
“We are deeply saddened by Mr. Jackson’s passing and extend our heartfelt condolences to Mrs. Katherine Jackson and the family,” it reads. “Joe was a strong man who acknowledged his own imperfections and heroically delivered his sons and daughters from the steel mills of Gary, Indiana to worldwide pop superstardom.”
“Mr. Jackson’s contributions to the history of music are enormous,” it continued. “They were acknowledged by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002 in a proclamation naming him as Best Entertainment Manager of All Time; he was inducted into Rhythm & Blues Hall of Fame in 2014 and his son Michael acknowledged him with a Joe Jackson Day at Neverland.”
— With files from the Associated Press