1928-1958: Early lifeEdit

Joseph Walter Jackson was born in Fountain Hill, Arkansas, the eldest five to Crystal Lee (née King; 1907-1992) and Samuel Jackson (1893-1993). His siblings were Verna Mae (1930 - 1937), Lula Mae (born c. 1932), Lawrence (born c. 1933), and Luther (c. 1935).

Jackson described his childhood as "lonely" later writing in his memoirs that he rarely played with other children and said his father was domineering and strict. When he was twelve, his parents divorced and Jackson and some of his siblings moved with their father to Oakland. At eighteen, he moved to East Chicago, Indiana to live near his mother. Jackson married his first wife shortly thereafter but their marriage was annulled. During this time, Jackson had an affair with Katherine Scruse. After a two-year courtship, the couple married on November 5, 1949.

Jackson spent part of his life wanting to be a professional boxer and spent time at the Golden Gloves. However, Jackson's dreams of boxing glory ended early and he then began pursuing a musical career, forming The Falcons, where he played guitar, his brother Luther also joined as a saxophonist. However, after a couple years, the group failed to get a recording deal and broke up. With now three children to feed, Jackson began working as a crane operator at Gary's U.S. Steel company. The family's growing brood caused Jackson to work overtime to make ends meet leading to the family getting their clothing and food from the Salvation Army.

1959-1990: The Jackson 5Edit

During this time, Joseph Jackson's son, Tito, would play his father's guitar while his father was away at work. One night, nine-year-old Tito broke a string off Jackson's guitar. While upset, Jackson demanded his son to play the guitar after he fixed the guitar string. Noticing Tito's talent, he bought Tito his own guitar afterwards and after discovering his two other sons Jackie and Jermaine's talents as singers, decided to form a band around his sons. Within a couple years, The Jackson Brothers became The Jackson 5 after Joseph included his two younger sons Marlon and Michael as backing percussionists. Though young Michael had been singing onstage from age five, his father didn't notice his other talents until the brothers performed a talent show at Gary's Roosevelt High School where Michael imitated James Brown as both a vocalist and dancer. Afterwards, following a victory at a local Gary talent show, Jackson began only working part-time at U.S. Steel and began managing his sons full-time in 1967 turning them professional.

Jackson's strict domineering and leadership lead to the group's well-sequenced act to be booked on several popular venues in the chitlin circuit, leading then being signed to Motown Records in 1968. After re-signing with the label for a seven-year deal in March 1969, the group relocated to Detroit to record at the label's Hitsville USA studios for their first album. Following the success of the album, Diana Ross Presents the Jackson 5 and its single, "I Want You Back", Jackson began fighting with Motown CEO Berry Gordy for control of the group. After a period of success, the The Jackson 5's success tapered off after 1974, with the group wanting creative control. During this time, Joseph Jackson began adding the rest of his children, including eldest daughter Rebbie, La Toya, Randy and the youngest child, Janet, into his sons' act when the group began performing in Las Vegas. Jackson was inspired by the success of fellow famous family group The Osmonds, who also had successful Las Vegas run around the same time. Jackson would also convince the family to partake on a musical variety show a couple years later. Meanwhile, after complaints from several of his sons, Joseph Jackson and his sons signed a lucrative contract with CBS Records in 1975 without telling Motown Records of the deal, later leading to a headline-making lawsuit against the family, which led to the recording of their debut CBS record to be delayed. That same year, Jermaine Jackson broke ties with his father and family after he decided to stay with Motown. Randy Jackson became Jermaine's official replacement in 1976 and the group changed their name to the The Jacksons (after being noted that The Jackson 5 was now owned by Motown. Four years later, Michael Jackson followed his brother to leave his father's management and released the successful Off the Wall album.