Joseph Walter “Joe” Jackson was born 26 July 1928 as the eldest of five to Samuel Jackson (1893 - 13 February 1992) a school teacher and Crystal Lee King (1907 - 4 November 1992) in Fountain Hill, Arkansas. His siblings were Samuel, Jr. (born c. 1930), Helen (born c. 1932), Luther (1935-2021) and Alfred (born c. 1942). Joe's paternal grandfather was Israel Nero Jackson (a slave) was the son of Jack July Jackson, an indigenous Choctaw of the Plantation of Gale. He is thus of both African and distant Native American Ancestry. His life story is one of rags to riches. His early childhood was one with a domineering, strict father with very few friends. His parents separated at the tender age of twelve, and he moved with his father to Oakland, California.
At 18, with his father remarrying, Joe moved back to live with his mother in East Chicago. Early attempts at becoming a boxer found success with the Golden Gloves program. However his progress to a professional boxing career were derailed when he met is 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 Joe and 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 to support his growing family, Joe left the hopes of becoming a professional boxer and took up employment at Inland Steel, working as a full time crane operator. He further took on part time jobs at the American Foundries in East Chicago. During the early 1950's, he tried again to pursue other dreams. He briefly performed with his own blues band "The Falcons" (also including his brother Luther), playing guitar. Despite their efforts the Falcons did not get a recording deal and subsequently broke up. 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 and he began working with his son's musical group. Younger sons Marlon and Michael eventually joined the band. Joe began enforcing long and intense rehearsals for his sons. At first, the group went under The Jackson Brothers. Following the inclusions of Marlon and Michael in the group and Michael's increased vocal presence within the group, their name was changed to The Jackson Five. After a couple years performing in talent contests and high school functions, Joseph booked them in more and more respectable venues until they landed a spot at the renowned Apollo Theater in Harlem, New York.
On November 21, 1967, The Jackson Five were signed by their father to their first professional contract with Steeltown Records in Gary, Indiana. The group's first single "Big Boy" was released by Keith on January 31, 1968 on the Steeltown label. Within the year, Joe helped to land his sons an audition for Motown Records in Detroit. The Jackson Five were signed with Motown in March 1969. Joe later relocated his family to California and supervised every recording session the group made for Motown.
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. 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 went on to become celebrated as stars throughout the world.
Joseph and Katherine made An American Dream come true:
The Jacksons the extraordinary musical talents has earned the family the status of Pop Royalty in the music world, a Family Dynasty.
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.
Joseph had a lasting extramarital affair with Cheryle Terrell and they had a daughter together who was named Joh'Vonnie (born 30 August 1974). Despite living separately, Joe and Katherine remained legally married until his death. The patriarch passed away on 27 June 2018.
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 the truth about his personality be told and known.
Bookbaby, 8 March 2018
60 Years in Show Business: A Life in Pictures. Relieve Mr. Jackson's adventure through timeless pictures accompanied with his favorite song lyrics, movie and television quotes.
Vintage Pop Media, 1 June 2010
The untold story of The Jacksons by family matriarch Katherine Jackson. 150 pages of never-before-seen photos from The Jackson Family's Personal Archives.
Autobiography by Joseph Jackson. Originally published in German in 2004 by Random House Entertainment and re-published in German and English by Blanvalet in 2009.
St Martins PR, 1 October 1990
The matriarch of the Jacksons reveals the story of the Jackson family and shares her memoirs.
For a proper viewing of the Jackson Family Tree, please view this page on a desktop or large screen.
Maureen Reilette (Rebbie)
married (1968) Nathaniel Brown (died 6 January 2013)
Born 21 January 1971
married to Rex Salas
Sigmund Esco (Jackie)
married (1974) and divorced (1987) Enid Spann (born 27 June 1954, died 20 December 1977)
married since 2017 to Toyia Parker
(daughter of Toyia)
Skyy Okhi Enid
Anai Icon Katherine
married since 2006 to Emily Besselink
Tariano Adaryll (Tito)
married (1972) and divorced (1989) Delores "Dee Dee" Martes (Born 1 April 1955
Tariano Adaryll (Taj)
married since 2013 to Thayana S.C.O.
Taylor Aurora Sco
Toria Katherine Sco
in a relationship with Breana Cabral
Born 17 February 2011
Tito Joe (TJ)
married since 2008 to Frances Casey
Royal Tito Joseph
Delores Dior (Dee Dee)
Dallas Jordan Michael (Jo Jo)
Rio Tito Joe
Jermaine La Juane
married (1972) and divorced (1988) Hazel Gordy (born 24 August 1954)
Jermaine La Juane Jr
in a relationship with Asa Soltan Rahmati
in a relationship (1986-1993) with Margaret Maldonado
married to Marike le Roux
married (1995) and divorced (2008) Alejandra Loaiza
Donté William (adopted)
married (2009) and divorced (2019) Halima Rashid
in a relationship since 2016 with Maday Velázquez Gutierrez
La Toya Yvonne
married (1989) and divorced (2002) Jack Gordon
married since 1975 to Carol Ann Parker
married and divorced (2009) Chris Laniak
Born 4 Septembert 1978
married since 2007 to Robert Sanchez
married (1994) and divorced (1996) Lisa Marie Presley
married (1996) and divorced (1999) Debbie Rowe
Michael Joseph Jr (Prince)
Michael Katherine (Paris)
Michael Joseph Jr II (Bigi)
Steven Randall (Randy)
married (1989) and divorced (1991) Eliza Shaffe
married (1992) and divorced (1994) Alejandra Loaiza
married since 2022 to Brandon (Jola) Huguely
Randall Franchesco (Randy)
Janet Damita Jo
married (1984) and divorced (1985) James DeBarge
married (1991) and divorced (2000) René Elizondo
married (2012) and divorced (2017) Wissam Al Mana
This picture is taken from on a family day on 14 May 2009 to commemorate Joe and Katherine's 50 years union.
Not in this picture are: Randy, Carol, Valencia, Sophia, Noah.
And of course not in this picture are the children who weren't born yet at that time. ;-)
Image source: Jermaine Jackson's book You Are Not Alone Michael: Through A Brother's Eyes)