Joe Jackson, the patriarch of a musical family that included Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson and the Jackson 5, died Wednesday. He was 89.
The Las Vegas Clark County Coroner John Fudenberg said Jackson died at 2:55 a.m. on Wednesday at Nathan Adelson Hospice in Las Vegas. Fudenberg said he did not have full details, and a determination was not immediately made about whether his office would handle the case.
“We are reviewing the circumstances surrounding the death, but there is no reason to believe it’s anything other than a natural death,” the coroner said.
Jackson’s grandson, Randy Jackson Jr., shared the news of the passing of his grandfather via Twitter.
Jackson’s passing comes just two days after the ninth anniversary of Michael’s death in 2009.
Michael Jackson’s estate released a statement mourning Joe Jackson’s passing: “We are deeply saddened by Mr. Jackson’s passing and extend our heartfelt condolences to Mrs. Katherine Jackson and the family. 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,” said John Branca and John McClain, co-executors of the estate.
At the recent Radio Disney Awards, honoree Janet Jackson gave an emotional speech in which she revealed her father was in the end stages of pancreatic cancer. “My mother nourished me with the most extravagant love imaginable,” she said. “My father — my incredible father — drove me to be the best that I can. My siblings set an incredibly high standard for artistic excellence. … Sometimes, having an impact can be as simple as a smile, a handshake or a hug.”
In a June 24 tweet, Jackson himself talked about his end of days, writing “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.”
Jackson was born in Fountain Hill, Arkansas, in 1928. As a child, he moved with his mother and siblings to East Chicago, Indiana. He later went to work for the Inland Steel Company.
In 1950, after his marriage to Katherine Scruse, the couple moved to a two-bedroom house in Gary, Indiana, where the musical family began to take shape. The Jacksons were parents to 10 children: Michael, Janet, Rebbie, La Toya, Randy, Jermaine, Jackie, Tito, Marlon and Marlon’s twin, Brandon, who died shortly after birth.
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.
The Jackson 5 would sign with Motown records in 1969, prompting the family’s move to California, where the singing group skyrocketed to superstardom. “I Want You Back,” released the following year, became the group’s first No. 1 hit.
“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.”
In his 1985 autobiography “Moonwalk,” Michael Jackson wrote, “We’d perform for him and he’d critique us. If you messed up, you got hit, sometimes with a belt, sometimes with a switch. My father was real strict with us — real strict.”
In a 2010 interview with Oprah Winfrey, Joe Jackson admitted he would discipline his children by hitting them with a strap, and famously declared: “I don’t think [Michael] was afraid of me. What he was afraid of, he may do something wrong and I’d chastise him but not beat him. I never beat him like the media tried to say.”
By the time they were adults, most of the Jackson siblings had dismissed him as their manager; Michael and Joseph’s relationship was famously fractured. However, during some of his son’s most difficult times, including his molestation trial, Joseph was by his side.
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.
For many years before that, he and his wife had lived in an estate they built in Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley. 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.
In addition to his wife and children, Jackson is survived by more than two dozen grandchildren.
Contributing: Associated Press