U.S. News

Joe Jackson, patriarch of US musical dynasty, dead at 89

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Key Points
  • Both TMZ and CNN cited an unidentified source close to the family.
  • Jackson had been accused by his son Michael of abuse when he oversaw "The Jackson Five."
Joe Jackson, father of Michael Jackson arrives at at Santa Barbara County Superior Court in Santa Maria, Calif., Monday, June 6, 2005. 
Steve Grayson | WireImage | Getty Images

Joe Jackson, the patriarch of an American musical dynasty who started his son Michael and his Jackson 5 brothers on the road to stardom but also verbally and physically abused them, has died at the age of 89, CNN reported on Wednesday.

Jackson, who lived in Las Vegas and had been estranged from much of his family, had been suffering from cancer, according to media reports.

TMZ.com first reported the death. Both TMZ and CNN cited an unidentified source close to the family.

The Jackson family was often riven by legal battles, jealousies, money disputes, Joe’s philandering and allegations of child molestation against Michael, as well as Michael’s eccentric lifestyle.

Joe was estranged from Michael - who became one of the world’s most successful and best-known performers - before the singer’s 2009 death. He was also estranged from his wife, Katherine, and many of his other children, including another singing superstar, Janet.

Joe Jackson, who was born July 26, 1928, in Fountain Hill, Arkansas, had tried careers as a boxer and a guitarist with little success in the 1950s. He was working as a crane operator at a steel plant in Gary, Indiana, when he took note of the musical talents of his sons.

He called them the Jackson 5 and, with Michael as the precociously talented lead singer, they would become one of the world’s top acts with a flashy stage show and irresistible pop songs. But it came at a price.

As the group’s manager, Jackson put his sons through long, regimented rehearsals. Michael, who died in 2009 at age 50 of a drug overdose, told interviewer Oprah Winfrey that he was so afraid of his father that he would sometimes vomit when he saw him.

He said Joe presided over rehearsals with a belt.

“If you messed up during rehearsal, you got hit,” Michael was quoted as saying in J. Randy Taraborrelli’s biography. “Once he ripped the wire cord off the refrigerator and whopped me with it ... I would fight back and my father would kill me, just tear me up.”