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The Jackson family is an American family of singers who originated in Gary, Indiana. Performing as members of The Jackson 5 and as solo artists, the children of Joseph Walter and Katherine Esther Jackson influenced and shaped the sound of popular music. As a group, the eldest sons Jackie (Sigmund Esco "Jackie" Jackson), Tito (Toriano Adaryll "Tito" Jackson ), Jermaine (Jermaine La Jaune Jackson), Marlon (Marlon David Jackson), and Michael (Michael Joseph Jackson), set the family on a path of musical success that spread among siblings Rebbie, La Toya, and Janet. The acclaim of The Jackson 5 led the group to become known as the "First Family of Soul" (a title first held by the Five Stairsteps); the continued success of Michael and Janet's careers as solo artists led the Jacksons to become known as the "Royal Family of Pop". All nine of the Jackson siblings have gold records to their credits with La Toya holding the distinction of being the first Jackson sister to attain one (awarded by France's SNEP for "Reggae Night", a song she co-wrote for Jimmy Cliff).
Members of the Jackson family have been the subject of heavily publicized controversies and legal imbroglios, most notably allegations of child abuse against Michael in 1993, his criminal trial in 2005, and Janet's controversial Super Bowl halftime performance in 2004. Some Jackson siblings have, at various times, publicly criticized one another and alleged abuse at the hands of their father.
In recent years, certain members of the family have been honored for their work; in 1997 The Jackson 5 was inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Michael would follow the group to the hall in 2001. The Jacksons, Michael and Janet all received stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1980, 1984 and 1990 respectively. In 2009 a new series from A&E entitled The Jacksons: A Family Dynasty premiered documenting the Jackson brothers dealing with the sudden loss of Michael and preparing for a Jackson 5 Reunion tour.
The life of Joseph Walter Jackson began July 26, 1928 in Arkansas but he grew up in Oakland, California with his father Samuel Jackson, a school teacher. At age 18 he moved to East Chicago, Indiana to be with his mother Crystal Lee King and to pursue his dreams of becoming a professional boxer. At age 21, Joseph married Katherine Screws, 19, immediately starting a family. Even though he wanted to be a success in boxing it wasn’t a job for a family man, so he obtained a job as an overhead crane operator with East Chicago's Inland Steel Company. His family continued to blossom and grow steadily and in no time he and Katherine had a house full of nine children. Joe Jackson always wanted to make it big and although he couldn’t in boxing or in his own short musical stint in the 1950s with the band The Falcons, he saw the talent in his children, starting with Tito and Tito's ability to play the guitar.
Soon enough Joe Jackson formed a band of his sons Tito, Jermaine, and Jackie called The Jackson Brothers in 1964 and became their manager. After several years of doing local talent shows, Joseph enlarged the band to include Marlon and Michael, two of his younger sons, and then changed the name of the band to The Jackson Five by 1966, remaining the group's manager. As their father he was a very strict disciplinarian and had an abusive nature which, at the time, seemed like the normal actions of a father; as their manager he enforced long practice sessions of singing and dancing in hopes of preparing them to make it big one day. In August 1967, the group made a debut at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, New York where they won the Amateur Night contest. Gordon Keith the owner and producer at Steeltown Records in Gary, Indiana, discovered the Jackson Five and signed them to their first contract in November 1967. Big Boy, the boys' first record which was produced by Keith, was released on January 30, 1968. It became a local hit. In March 1969, they signed a Motown record contract and became known as the Jackson 5. The group enjoyed the fame Joseph Jackson had been longing for in his life. He continued to manage The Jackson 5 into stardom and after the band they had many No. 1 hits on the Billboard hot singles charts; Joseph moved them to a mansion in Encino, California with his own hefty salary he had obtained as their full-time manager. After many years as a band and with Michael as lead singer, the group continued to churn out even more hits and wealth, but tensions grew and in 1979, Michael severed ties with his father/manager and went on to pursue a solo musical entertainment career. Four years later, in 1983, Michael's siblings fired Joseph Jackson as their manager. In 1993, Michael Jackson accused his father of physical and mental abuse; a few of the other siblings confirmed this claim, but others denied it.
Katherine Jackson (née Kattie B. Screws) was born on May 4, 1930 in Barbour County, Alabama, the child of Prince Albert Screws (1907-1997) and Martha Mattie Upshaw (1907-1990). Unfortunately, Katherine Jackson was left with a permanent limp after acquiring polio syndrome in her childhood. She later recovered from her illness after moving with her family to East Chicago, Indiana, where she would remain until meeting her husband Joseph Jackson. The couple moved and bought a small home in Gary, Indiana, where they birthed and raised nine children and she was a stay-at-home mother. Throughout her life, Katherine remained a pious Jehovah's Witness church member and raised her children strictly, under the same church indoctrinations she received. Also, as a talented pianist and vocalist who shared her talents with her children, she was later credited for being the foundation of her children's success. After her sons' rise to fame as The Jackson 5, she strongly supported her children and became the costume designer for their shows and performances. Some of the memorable moments of her unconditional support were seen when her son Michael was tried for molestation charges in 1993 and 2005. Katherine now lives in Calabasas, California where she cares for the children of her late son, Michael.
Together, Joseph and Katherine Jackson had ten children. Their son Brandon died at birth. The other nine grew up to become professional musicians.
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