Joe Jackson, the patriarch of the Jackson family died today at age 89 in hospice after dealing with the effects of pancreatic cancer. Jackson’s legacy as the father and architect of The Jackson 5, Michael Jackson and Janet Jackson is unprecedented and complicated. No other father can lay claim to nurturing three of biggest entertainment acts of the 20th and 21st century in his own household. Fans watched Jackson start his children’s careers while they were underage and saw them grow into adult masters of the stage. But for all of their achievements Michael Jackson was known to talk about the harsh discipline he and his siblings had to undergo in their path to success. These relationship dynamics were explored in the television series The Jacksons: An American Dream. Jackson’s interview admissions about his father’s abuse were always said alongside compliments about Joe Jackson’s natural instincts as a business manager.
Joe Jackson started The Jackson 5 in 1960’s with Jackie, Tito and Jermaine as The Jackson Brothers. Marlon and Michael joined them and they were renamed signed their first recording contract in 1967. Their first single, “Big Boy” was a local hit in 1968 and Joe Jackson got them an audition with Motown Records later that year. Berry Gordy wanted to only sign Michael but Joe demanded a deal for the entire group. The Jackson 5 became household names because of their hit songs at Motown like “I Want You Back,”The Love You Save” and “ABC.” At the height of their success, they set a new record with four number one singles, had a cartoon series and toured the world. In the mid-70s Jackson took his sons away from Motown and got them a new deal with Epic Records. They recorded as The Jacksons since Motown owned The Jackson 5 name. The Jacksons had a weekly variety show in 1976 and released seven albums for Epic. Michael’s solo career was launched by Motown in 1971 but he did not have a major triumph until his 1981 Off The Wall album. Jermaine’s solo career also began at Motown with the hit record “Daddy’s Home.” In the ’80s, Joe Jackson launched Janet Jackson’s recording career when she was 16 years old. La Toya and Rebbie Jackson also released music in the ’80s and had hits with “Heart Don’t Lie” “Centipede.”
Michael and Janet eventually fired their father and took on new managers but they never stopped acknowledging his contributions to their rise in the entertainment world. Michael referred to him as a “managerial genius” during a speech at Oxford University in 2001. Janet Jackson thanked him in her acceptance speech last week for the Radio Disney Music Impact Award by thanking him for “driving her to be the best that I can.” Jackson was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall Of Fame in 2011 and received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Rhythm & Blues Hall of Fame in 2014.