The stories have been around for decades — sometimes disquieting ones about the strict upbringing of Joe and Katherine Jackson’s nine children in a high-pressure, showbiz family.
Joe Jackson addressed those stories and his family’s past in an interview with “Piers Morgan Tonight” that aired Wednesday night, saying that yes, he did physically discipline his children.
Why did he do it?
“I had to be like that way because during those times, it was hard, and you have a lot of gangs there, you know, in the area where we were living,” Jackson told Piers Morgan. “This was Gary, Indiana, and I had to make sure that they didn’t get in any type of trouble, and things of that sort.”
Does he have any regrets about his approach to parenting?
“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.
“You know, Michael, he was a nice guy. … The world (doesn’t) know anything too much about Michael as far as how he was brought up. But he was brought up. I made sure that he respected the older people.”
Morgan said that Janet Jackson — probably the second-most-famous sibling of the six brothers and three sisters — in particular has lamented about not being allowed to call Joe Jackson “Dad” and noted almost all of the children have said their father was a strict disciplinarian.
“You had all those kids running hollering around,” Jackson said. “They’re hollering, ‘Dad, Dad, Dad,’ you know, and it gets to be — it sounds kind of funny to me. But I didn’t care too much about what they called me, just as long as they (were) able to listen to me and what I had to tell them, you know, in order to make their lives successful. This was the main thing.”
They were brought up to respect people, he said. They never joined gangs or went to jail.
Joe and Katherine Jackson are still married.
Jackson also spoke about his relationship with his superstar son, Michael, when he was a child.
“Michael was the type of kid, you know, he was a good kid… and by him being that way, he was able to be Michael Jackson.
“He looked good on stage and when he performed, everybody loved the way he did it, because he was that good,” Jackson said.
Jackson recalled where he was when he found out his son had died on June 25, 2009:
“I was in Las Vegas. I got a call … from a fan. And he says, ‘Mr. Jackson,’ he says, ‘Something is wrong.’ He said, ‘I see an ambulance there at Michael’s place and the ambulance took off. And the fire department is following the ambulance. Something is wrong.’
Jackson said Michael had tried to reach out to him shortly before he passed away.
“The saddest part about the whole thing was Michael tried to reach me,” Jackson said. “He says, ‘Call my father.’ This was before he passed. ‘He would know how to get me out of this.’ But they didn’t get in touch with me. They said they couldn’t find me, but I was right there.”
Jackson also said there were people in Michael’s life who drove a wedge between the King of Pop and his family toward the end.
“They treated him like Howard Hughes, you know?” Jackson said. “They couldn’t — the family couldn’t get to him, you know, like they should have.”
Jackson also addressed Michael’s 2005 child sex abuse trial.
“Well, you know that there was a reason why that happened,” Jackson said. “They were trying to take control over Michael’s life. Michael has paid out a lot of money, you know, what is it? Something like $22 million, you know, to keep this thing hushed down.”
Michael Jackson was acquitted of all charges.
How did Joe Jackson feel about his son’s behavior around children — specifically his sleepovers with young boys?
Jackson defended his son as “a big old kid himself” who “had the mind of a kid.”
Morgan asked Jackson whether he regrets not doing more for Michael toward the end.
“I tried very hard,” Jackson said. “I couldn’t get to him, just like I told you earlier, that they treated him just like Howard Hughes.”
What does Jackson hope Michael’s legacy will be?
“I’d like his legacy to be what he wanted to be,” Jackson said. “I want everybody to care about him and to love him and keep doing the things that he wanted to do — and he wanted to make people happy all over the world.”