Joseph Walter “Joe” Jackson (born 26 July 1928) was born on 26 July 1928 in Fountain Hill, Arkansas as 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 (1935-2010) 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. She was born on 4 May 1930 as Kattie B. Screws (Katherine Esther Scruse) in Barbour County, Alabama. Katherine was the daughter of Martha (née Upshaw) and Prince Albert Screws (born October 16, 1907 and died January 21, 1997). The family name was changed to 'Scruse" by her father when she was four years old. 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.
And they started what would become the world’s most popular music family group in 1950 when daughter Rebbie was born, followed by Jackie (1951), Tito (1953), Jermaine (1954), La Toya (1956), Marlon (1957, twin brother Brandon died within 24 hours after birth), Michael (1958 - 2009), Randy (1961) and Janet (1966).
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.
Joseph and Katherine shared the same goal in life: fame and fortune. And Joseph had his own band called The Falcons with his brother Luther and a friend. They rehearsed a lot, played R&B songs and they wrote their own songs. Katherine also dreamt of becoming an entertainer, the first black country music star. But this dream had to be passed on to her children, since Katherine suffered polio as very young child. Luckily she survived, but Katherine would have a limp for the rest of her life.
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. Joseph and Katherine had 10 children together and now have many many grandchildren and great grandchildren. Their children are Rebbie, Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, La Toya, Marlon (twin brother Brandon passed way within 24 hours after birth), Michael, Randy and Janet.
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.
Religion played a very important role in the way Joe and Katherine raised their children. Music was another significant aspect of their upbringing. Joseph, a former crane crane operator in Gary, Indiana and who’s family were still slaves when President Lincoln freed them in 1865, turned out be a very successful manager and producer for his sons. Jermaine, Tito, Jackie, Marlon and Michael, who, in particular in the 70s, enjoyed considerable worldwide success as the “Jackson Five”. The foundation of the “Jackson Five” was the start of Joseph’s successful career as a producer. With this group, the Jackson children toured the world and had several top ten albums. As all his children showed considerable musical talent and some were already making their own way, Joseph could dedicate himself to his daughters La Toya and Janet, who are also now celebrated as stars throughout the world.
Joseph remains one of the most successful music producers to this day. Katherine has always played an important role in her children’s life, as far as teaching and advising them on life’s issues. Katherine has always had a special place in the hearts of all her (grand)children, as well as most of the Jackson fans. Katherine enjoyed her job as a parent to watch her children develop their own personalities. Katherine is and Joseph was deeply saddened about seeing certain people and the media attacking the personalities of their children, especially what Michael had to endure.
Joseph was and Katherine is very supportive of the next generation of Jacksons that are arriving at the music scene. And they stood by Michael's side and accompanied him to the court room during the trial. When Michael passed, Katherine became the legal guardian of his three children Prince, Paris and Blanket, along with Tito's on TJ. Katherine wants to world to remember her son Michael for who he really was and wants to truth about his personality be told. Katherine published her memoirs about her family in the book The Jacksons: My Family in 1990 and Joseph published his memoirs in a book titled Die Jacksons in German in 2004. In 2010 Katherine published another book with exclusive family pictures and her memories of Michael in Never Can Say Goodbye: The Katherine Jackson Archives. If you are interested in the personal stories of Katherine and/or Joseph, you can read their biographies.
A Life in Pictures
|Never Can Say Goodbye:
Katherine Jackson Archives (2010)
Memoires and exclusive family
|Die Jacksons (2004)
Autobiography by Joseph Jackson
Re-published by Blanvalet (2009
|The Jacksons: My Family (2004)
Autobiography by Katherine Jackson