Joe Jackson, the patriarch of the Jackson family music group and father of pop icon Michael, has died following a cancer diagnosis. He was 89.
Jackson was born to Samuel Jackson (1893–1992),a university professor, and Crystal Lee King (1907–1997), in Fountain Hill, Arkansas, on July 26, 1928 (although, according to the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame and Katherine Jackson’s book, My Family, The Jacksons, the year was 1929). Jackson was the eldest of five children, which included brothers Lawrence (died 2017) and Luther and sisters Lula Mae and Verna Mae. Samuel was the son of Israel Nero Jackson (1839–1934), a slave. Israel was the son of July “Jack” Gale (1802–1909), an indigenous Choctaw of the Plantation of Gale. Jackson was of African and Native American Ancestry.
Joseph Jackson recalled from early childhood that his father was domineering and strict, and he described himself as a “lonely child that had only few friends” in his memoirs, The Jacksons. After his parents separated when he was twelve, his mother, two brothers, and sister moved to East Chicago, Indiana, a suburb outside Chicago in Northwest Indiana, and he moved with his father to Oakland, California. When he was 18, after his father remarried, he moved to East Chicago to live with his mother, two brothers, and sister.He soon got a job in East Chicago at Inland Steel Company but did not finish high school. While in East Chicago, he began to pursue his dreams of becoming a boxer and found success with the Golden Gloves program. While he was preparing for a professional boxing career, he met 17-year-old Katherine Scruse, who also lived in East Chicago and attended Washington High School;Joe married another woman and in less than a year he was divorced before he started dating Katherine.
Joseph and Katherine were married on November 5, 1949. In January 1950, they purchased 2300 Jackson Street, a small two-bedroom home near East Chicago in Gary, Indiana.The Jacksons’ first child, Maureen Reillette “Rebbie” Jackson, was born four months later on May 29, 1950, in the Jackson house. Still employed at Inland Steel, Jackson left his hopes of becoming a professional boxer in order to support his family, and began working there as a full-time crane operator;he later took a second part-time job at American Foundries in East Chicago.In the meantime, his wife Katherine tended to their growing family; she started working part-time at Sears in Gary in the late 1950s.The Jacksons would go on to have ten children (their son Brandon Jackson died just after he was born). During the early 1950s, Jackson briefly performed with his own blues band The Falcons, playing guitar. Despite their efforts, The Falcons did not get a recording deal and subsequently broke up after one of their members, Thornton “Pookie” Hudson, founded his own band in 1952. That band would go on to become a successful doo-wop group named The Spaniels.