Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Joe Jackson in 2014.
Photo: Anthony Harvey (Getty Images)

On Friday we told you that Joe Jackson was in the final stages of terminal cancer, and this morning The Hollywood Reporter brings the update that Jackson has died at the age of 89. Joe Jackson was the father of Michael, Janet, La Toya, and their seven siblings, several of whom have reported that their father subjected them to horrible physical and emotional abuse as children. Other siblings have denied the abuse, or dismissed it as typical of his generation.

Beginning in the early 1960s in their hometown of Gary, Indiana, Joe Jackson groomed his children for stardom, putting his sons Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, Marlon, and Michael together to form the Jackson 5. By all accounts, he pushed his children extremely hard, forcing them to rehearse for long hours; in 1993, Michael Jackson told Oprah Winfrey that his father would sit with a belt in his hand and watch him and his brothers rehearse, threatening to whip them if they made any mistakes.


Despite the abuse allegations, Jackson received many honors for his work as his children’s manager, including being declared the “best entertainment manager of all time” in 2002 by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. As Pitchfork points out, Janet Jackson broke off her business relationship with her father after her second album was released in 1984, although he would later accompany her to the BET Awards in 2015, where she received the Ultimate Icon Award.

Throughout his life, Jackson maintained he had been “tough” on his children, and even beat them, but didn’t really consider his actions abusive. In a 2013 interview cited by Billboard, he said, “I’m glad I was tough, because look what I came out with. I came out with some kids that everybody loved all over the world. And they treated everybody right.” Joe Jackson’s death comes almost exactly nine years after Michael Jackson’s death on June 25, 2009.

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