Joseph Walter “Joe” Jackson (July 26, 1928 – June 27, 2018) was an American talent manager and the patriarch of the Jackson family of entertainers which includes Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, The Jacksons 5, Rebbie Jackson, Latoya Jackson.
Joseph Jackson was born in Fountain Hill, Arkansas, the eldest of five to Samuel Jackson (1893-February 13, 1992) and Crystal Lee King (1907-November 4, 1992). His siblings were Samuel, Jr. (born c. 1930), Helen (born c. 1932), Luther (1935) and Alfred (born c. 1942). His parents separated when he was age 12. He moved with his father to Oakland, California, where he lived until after turning 18 years old, when he moved to East Chicago, Indiana, to live near his mother. While there, he met his future wife Katherine Scruse. After a brief marriage to and subsequent annulment from another woman, Joseph and Katherine continued an affair, resulting in his second marriage on November 5, 1949.
Settling in Gary, Indiana, Joseph, a former boxer, worked full-time as a crane operator at Gary’s U.S. Steel company, while Katherine tended to their children. In the mid-1950s, Joseph started a music career with his brother Luther, playing guitar in a band called The Ford Falcons. The group split up a couple of years later after failing to get a recording deal. Joseph returned full time to his job at U.S. Steel.
By 1964, Joseph had discovered that his three eldest sons, Jackie, Tito and Jermaine, had musical talent. He had Tito play for him with Jackie and Jermaine backing up vocally. Seeing their budding talent, he helped form an early incarnation of The Jackson 5 with two neighborhood youths though eventually younger brothers Marlon and Michael joined.
Within a few years, the Jackson 5 polished their talents under Joseph’s strict leadership. In 1967, the Jackson brothers turned professional and began performing in paying gigs, which paid off after the group got signed to Motown Records in 1968, and shortly afterwards the brothers became international recording stars. Joseph’s role as manager dwindled however as Motown CEO Berry Gordy began to take more charge on his act, a role that reverted back to Joseph when he began managing the entire family for performances in Las Vegas. Joseph also helped his sons seal a deal with CBS after leaving Motown distraught that the label did not allow the boys creative freedom in the studio. Within a few years, however, Joseph’s sons each left his management company to sign for other managers, starting with Jermaine. In 1982, Joseph also managed the careers of his three daughters Rebbie, La Toya, and Janet until all three eventually left his company for solo ventures.
On June 22, 2018 Mr. Jackson was hospitalized in Las Vegas in the final stages of terminal pancreatic cancer. He died at a hospice in Las Vegas on June 27th at the age of 89, two days after his son Michael’s ninth death anniversary and less than a month before his 90th birthday. He was surrounded by his wife Katherine Jackson, many of his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.