Joe Jackson, father of Michael, Janet and the performing family, and architect of The Jackson 5, is in the final stages of terminal cancer, a source close to the situation confirmed to Variety. TMZ and Britain’s Daily Mail first reported the news.
Family members, including his wife Katherine, are said to have visited him in the hospital this week. Jackson, 89, has suffered from a variety of ailments in recent years, including dementia, strokes, and at least one heart attack, according to reports. He was injured in a car accident a year ago.
The famously headstrong Jackson, father of 11 children, drove his performing family hard and at times subjected them to physical and mental abuse; the original Jackson 5 included sons Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, Marlon, and Michael, although younger sibling Randy also performed with the group and daughters LaToya, Rebbie, and, most famously, Janet also released albums. Over the decades, Joe has had a contentious relationship with many family members, including Michael. The Daily Mail claims that Jackson’s “handlers” had barred certain family members from visiting him, which son and former Jackson 5 member Jermaine spoke about to the paper.
“No one knew what was going on — we shouldn’t have to beg, plead, and argue to see our own father, especially at a time like this,” he reportedly said. “We have been hurting. We were not being told where he was and couldn’t get the full picture. Even from the doctor. My mother was worried sick.”
“He’s very, very frail, he doesn’t have long,” he continued. “The family needs to be by his bedside — that’s our only intention in his final days.”
Jackson famously steered his sons from hardscrabble beginnings in Gary, Ind., to superstardom as The Jackson 5 in the late 1960s, and their chart reign continued well into the 1970s. Yet the group splintered as Michael’s solo career blossomed, particularly with his breakthrough 1979 album “Off the Wall” and its blockbuster 1982 follow-up “Thriller,” and he effectively left the group after the troubled “Victory” tour in 1984. Joe ceased managing Michael in the early 1980s; the singer died of an accidental drug overdose in 2009.
The Jackson family patriarch has lived in Las Vegas for several years. One of his most recent public appearances was at the BET Awards in 2015, attending with his daughter Janet as she accepted the ultimate icon award. That same year, he suffered a stroke that reportedly left him with temporarily blurred vision.