Joseph “Joe” Walter Jackson, the patriarch and architect of the iconic Jackson entertainment family industry, died Wednesday after a battle with cancer. He was 89. News of his death was first reported by TMZ. There was no immediate comment from his family.
Jackson had a complicated history overseeing the careers of his children — including superstars Michael and Janet Jackson. He was the prototypical stage father, employing heavy-handed tactics with both outsiders and his children, which eventually led to sometimes strained relationships with his family later in life. Nonetheless, wife Katherine Jackson and several of his children were said to be at his bedside in his final days.
Born in Arkansas, the eldest of five children, Joe Jackson moved to California with his father following his parents’ divorce when he was 12. At age 18, he relocated to East Chicago, Ind., where his mother and siblings lived; there, he began pursuing a career as a professional boxer.
After a brief first marriage, he met and married Katherine Scruse. The couple moved to Gary, Ind. Following the birth of their first child, Jackson abandoned his hopes of becoming a professional boxer and instead concentrated on supporting the family by working in a steel mill. The couple would go on to have 10 children, with nine living to adulthood (son Brandon died shortly after birth).
A guitar player who dabbled in a blues band in the early ’50s, Jackson noticed musical aptitude early in his children and began concentrating on developing these talents, starting off with his three oldest sons (Jackie, Tito, and Jermaine) and soon adding younger songs Marlon and Michael to the mix. The group became known as the Jackson 5 and was first signed to a local record label and then the legendary Motown Records in 1969 — eventually leading to massive international success as one of the first black groups to gain a crossover following.