He’s the patriarch of the most famous family in music history — the architect of the Jackson Five, Janet Jackson and, of course, the King of Pop, Michael Jackson.
His progeny include nine living children, 30 grandchildren and countless great-grandchildren.
Yet Joe Jackson, 86, is not living out his golden years surrounded by the fruits of his labor or his loins. Instead, the man who ruled his brood with an iron fist and icy demeanor is frail and alone.
The once-proud music manager lives humbly in a furnished 1,000-square-foot $500,000 condo in a gated community close to the Stratosphere Casino in Las Vegas. Framed photos of his famous children adorn shelves, a coffee table and a nightstand, but he almost never sees their faces at his front door.
“No one has really taken the time to as much as ask about his well-being,” a family insider said last week. “Don’t get me wrong. Joe is OK. He gets around, travels a lot, but he’s no longer a part of the family.”
‘NO ONE HAS REALLY TAKEN THE TIME TO AS MUCH AS ASK ABOUT HIS WELL-BEING. DON’T GET ME WRONG. JOE IS OK. HE GETS AROUND, TRAVELS A LOT, BUT HE’S NO LONGER A PART OF THE FAMILY.’ - Jackson Family Insider
In a rare display of vulnerability and even rarer emotion, Jackson opened up about his lonely life in a post to his Web site a few weeks ago.
“When I suffered four strokes last year and was in the hospital recovering, only two people in my family traveled all the way to see me,” he wrote. “My granddaughter Brandi [Jackie Jackson’s daughter] and my baby girl, Janet.
“She sat right next to me as I lay in bed, and she spent time with me. We were talking a lot together and it meant a lot to me.”
Jackson freely expressed his love and admiration for his superstar daughter — something insiders say he never did while his kids were growing up.
“I never tell [her] this, but I am proud of Janet,” he said.
Family insiders said Jackson never even allowed his kids to call him Dad, Daddy or Father; they were ordered to simply call him Joseph.
“I taught them to be tough,” Jackson explained to The Post in a recent phone interview. “We raised them in a tough neighborhood [in Gary, Ind.], where other kids were in gangs and getting into drugs. I didn’t want them to be soft.”
He stubbornly maintains he has no regrets. “Not at all. I don’t live that way.”
Michael Jackson, who died five years ago at age 50, frequently complained that his father physically abused him. He famously told Oprah Winfrey that the sight of his father made him throw up, and many close to the family believe Jacko’s extensive plastic surgery was a desperate effort to undo his resemblance to papa Joe.
The Jackson 5 —Michael, Marlon, Tito, Jermaine, and Jackie — with their parents Katherine and Joe in 1971.Photo: Getty Images
In her 1991 memoir, La Toya Jackson, 58, wrote that her father beat his children and molested her and sister Rebbie.
“When your father gets out of bed with your mother and gets into bed with his daughter and you hear the mother saying, ‘No, Joe, not tonight. Let her rest. Leave her alone, she’s tired,’ that makes you crazy,” La Toya wrote.
Rebbie, now 64, claimed at the time of the book’s release that she was not raped, but when interviewed later for a planned book of her own, she said, “Joseph did inappropriately touch me.”
While Joe Jackson and 84-year-old wife Katherine have never divorced, the two have lived apart for several years. In addition to the 10 children he fathered with his wife, Jackson sired at least one other child, Joh’Vonnie Jackson, with another woman. Even to this day, he calls himself “The Hawk” for his propensity to spot and seduce much younger women, according to family members.
Jackson said he took advantage of an opportunity to see four of his sons perform last year in Las Vegas, where he was temporarily joined by Katherine and comedian Eddie Murphy.
During the show, Jermaine, Jackie, Tito and Marlon honored their father by shining a spotlight on him and thanking him from the stage.
Still, he feels betrayed by children who shun him and ignore him in his time of need, his associates say.
While Katherine receives more than $1 million annually from Michael Jackson’s estate, Joseph was completely left out of his son’s will. Since Michael’s death, he has scrounged for cash, once even selling perfume at a Las Vegas strip mall. But even that venture soon went south.
Because the perfume line contained his late son’s image, the mall shut down the operation until Joe Jackson could provide proof he had the legal right to sell products. He never did.
Jackson also charges $50,000 appearance fees to whomever will bite, though there are few takers.
‘THEY ARE GROWN NOW, JOE. THEY ARE STARS. THEY HAVE FANS… WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO WITH A BELT?’ - Katherine Jackson To Joe
“There’d be no Jackson Five, no Michael, no Janet without him,” said a friend of the Jackson patriarch. “He shouldn’t have to call any of them. They should have enough respect and feel an obligation to come out and see how he’s doing. The man did have a series of strokes — and whatever it is that they are holding against him, they need to get over it.”
But his heavy hand remains indelibly imprinted upon the family.
Even while married and into their 20s, the Jackson brothers couldn’t escape their father’s physical anger. On several occasions, Katherine intervened when Joseph took after one of his famous sons with a belt, insiders said.
“They are grown now, Joe. They are stars. They have fans,” she would chastise. “What are you going to do with a belt?”
Joseph’s relentless aggression pushed many of his children into early marriages and doomed relationships as they fled his control, family insiders said.
“Why there were no expressions of love? Even after Michael died, the world saw Joe using that sad time to promote himself. It’s a lesson for everyone that children remember everything, and now Joe is suffering the consequences,” one insider said.
“The phone never rings. The doorbell is always quiet.”