The untold truth of Joe Jackson

Joe Jackson, the patriarch of the Jackson family, left his mark on the music industry as the critical yet driving force behind his children's singing careers — most notably, that of the late Michael Jackson. With an iron fist, he ordered non-stop, grueling rehearsals and transformed his family's life. They went from living in a two-bedroom home in Gary, Ind. to ascending into the realm of international superstardom.

He lived out the final years of his life battling various ailments, including a stroke and three heart attacks in 2015. Days before his passing, a message was posted to his Twitter on his behalf, which read, "I have seen more sunsets than I have left to see. The sun rises when the time comes and whether you like it or not the sun sets when the time comes." Three days later, on June 27, 2018, Joe died at a Las Vegas hospice at the age of 89 from pancreatic cancer

When most people think of Joe, their minds immediately drift towards the abuse allegations, which he never denied. Instead, he defended his controversial parenting tactics to CNN. "I'm glad I was tough, because look what I came out with. I came out with some kids that everybody loved all over the world. And they treated everybody right," he said.

There's much more to his life than the incessant reports of him being an alleged cold-hearted disciplinarian, though. Let's dig deeper as we explore the untold truth of Joe Jackson.

An untraditional marriage

With Joe setting up residence in Las Vegas and his wife of almost 70 years, Katherine, staying behind in the suburbs of Los Angeles, many rightfully assumed the couple was estranged, though she did rush to be by his side when he was transferred to a Las Vegas hospice during his final days, TMZ reported.

However, Katherine insisted they were still in love during a 2011 interview with CNN. She admitted Joe remained in a Las Vegas home purchased by their daughter Janet, but she insisted that she frequently made the drive up from Los Angeles to spend a few days with him and vice versa.

While uncommon, it's not completely unheard of for married couples to live under separate roofs. But in the case of this legendary duo, their unorthodox living arrangements came after years of cheating allegations and Katherine's reported threats to pull the plug on their marriage multiple times. More on that in a bit.

Fans clued him in on tragic news

Though Joe was by Michael's side during the singer's lengthy 2005 child molestation trial, their relationship was quite complicated, to say the least. 

After Michael was rushed from his home to UCLA Medical Center by paramedics on June 25, 2009, Joe was asked by CNN how he learned of his son's death. "Well, I — I learned that by some of the fans, you know. They called me and they told me that the ambulance was leaving Michael's house and it looked it was headed toward the hospital," he told CNN host Larry King. "And he said the fire truck was following the ambulance. And they said we are following the fire truck. That's how I learned."

Instead of connecting with other family members to receive an update or turning on the television to gather more information, Joe told the host he reached out to his son's fans. "They always keep me abreast of what's going on," he said.

So despite his less-than-stellar reputation in the music industry for being strict and causing alleged physical and emotional harm to his children, Joe was still well-respected among the family's fanbase. 

He was a professional boxer

Joe Jackson is known for being the mastermind behind his children's success. He was even inducted into the R&B Music Hall of Fame in 2014 for his work with the Jackson 5 and for propelling his son Michael's and daughter Janet's successful solo careers. But long before he cemented himself in music history, Joe was headed down the path of becoming a professional boxer. 

According to Yahoo! EntertainmentJoe relocated to East Chicago, Ind. at the age of 18 to pursue his sports career. He then briefly married another woman before meeting and marrying Katherine. After the birth of their first child, Rebbie, he had to give up on his aspirations of duking it out in the ring and went to work in a steel mill to support his family.

Long after his dream sailed, he still stayed connected to the boxing community and even got chummy with Mike Tyson (pictured) during the 2012 Las Vegas opening of the show Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth, Live on Stage.

Daughter Janet to the rescue

During the final years of his life, the music mogul lived in a "furnished 1,000-square-foot $500,000 condo" in Las Vegas, and he had framed photos of his brood on display, the New York Post reported. Sadly, those photographs were the only time Joe was able to regularly see his children's faces. "No one has really taken the time to as much as ask about his well-being," an insider close to the family stated. "Don't get me wrong. Joe is OK. He gets around, travels a lot, but he's no longer a part of the family."

Joe confirmed visits from his family members were few and far between, even as his health declined. In an entry from his official blog, dated July 25, 2014, he wrote, "When I suffered 4 strokes last year, and was in the hospital recovering, only two people in my family traveled all the way to see [me] in the hospital. My granddaughter Brandi (Jackie's daughter) and my baby girl Janet."

He went on to write that the "Rhythm Nation" singer kept him company as she stayed by his side and chatted with him. "It meant a lot to me," he wrote. "I never tell you this, but I am proud of you Janet."

Michael's fans were his 'inspiration'

After making the move to Las Vegas, and with the majority of his family still living in California, Joe Jackson found comfort in the outpouring of love he received from his children's fans.

In a blog post from his official website, entitled "Fans Are My Inspiration," Joe detailed a January 2018 get-together with his loyal supporters. "They are my inspiration these days, what motivates me to go out and mingle. I always, always love interacting with them, taking pictures, hearing their stories," he wrote.

He described the supporters, many of which were fans of his late son Michael, as the "best fans in the world."

"I mean it with all my heart. With love like this, his legacy will live forever. The love [they] show me is out of this world and warms my heart," he professed. Though he was often vilified, he still had a group of people who embraced him and could see beyond his storied past.

His kids called him 'Joseph,' but he called himself 'The Hawk'

During his marriage to Katherine, from 1949 until his death, Joe Jackson was known as a bit of a ladies' man. While his children referred to him by his first name, he reportedly crowned himself "The Hawk" — a nicknamed he borrowed from his favorite boxer, Aaron Pryor, for his "propensity to spot and seduce much younger women," the New York Post reported.

According to The Daily Beast, the Jackson patriarch frequently attended events with a bevy of PYTs by his side. On one occasion, he showed up to a courthouse in Santa Maria, Calif. during Michael's child sex abuse trial with a "busty blonde" waiting for him in the backseat of a car. And then there was the time he spent a month in a Sao Paulo, Brazil hospital after suffering a stroke from allegedly taking three Viagra pills — a medication that's used to treat erectile dysfunction.

To make matters even more complicated, his philandering also resulted in a child being born outside of his marriage

A 25-year affair resulted in a love child

In her 1990 memoir titled My Family, The Jacksons (via E! News), Katherine Jackson came clean about her husband's infidelities. She even filed for divorce in 1973 and again in 1979, according to Fox News. But she reportedly didn't go through with legally severing ties due to the influence of the elders at her Jehovah's Witness church.

There were rumors that Joe Jackson had an extramarital affair with a woman named Gina Sprague, which resulted in Katherine allegedly administering a beatdown on the Motown Records' assistant. But the one affair that really threw a wrench in the family's dynamics was when Joe fathered a child with his mistress of 25 years, Cheryle Terrell.

Their daughter, Joh'Vonnie Jackson, reportedly had a great relationship with Joe and even lived with him in Las Vegas at one point, according to the Mirror. Sadly, the rest of the Jackson clan "rejected" her, as she told the publication. 

Joh'Vonnie was by his bedside during his final days. Sharing a photo of their hands clasped together, she posted a touching tribute to her late father that read, in part, "My Daddy departed this evil world. I'm so glad I was there until the end."