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Michael Jackson’s Experience of Racism

[EXPAND KKK Paraphernalia left out for them when they arrived to perform in Mobile, Alabama, January 3rd 1971 ]

“You Are Not Alone,” by Jermaine Jackson

If there was one city that didn’t totally put out the Jackson-mania welcome mat, it was Mobile Alabama. We had looked forward to this date because it returned us to Mother’s roots, but there was no home coming. The fan reaction wasn’t the problem – that was typically raucous. It was the reception outside the arena that provided a sober lesson in the rich diversity of America. Our parents had warned us about the infamous prejudices of the Deep South and how black communities were still awakening after the Montgomery bus boycotts of the 1950s, and the civil rights and that had brought violence from the white supremacists of the Ku Klux Klan. We had seen images of grown men walking around with sheets on their heads, and we had seen them burning crosses, but our knowledge of history was scant until our first hand experience in Alabama, in January 1971.

The first difference we noted was when the white driver of our limousine was cold and abrupt, not talkative like other drivers we’d had. At our hotel, he refused to get out of the cat and open our doors, and no staff came out to help us with our bags either. This wasn’t a spoiled kid expectation, it was just an observation of a sharp difference in our treatment. It was as we pulled our bags out of the trunk that one of us noticed some KKK paraphernalia clearly intended for our eyes. We froze. It was like one of those moments in a thriller movie when you realize your driver has been the killer the whole time; it felt that sinister. We stayed quiet and kept our heads down. At the hotel reception, we faced the same old awkwardness. “We don’t seem to have got any rooms booked for you,” said the man at the front desk, all curt and stern. Suzanne de Passe, or someone, argued that this was a long standing booking; we were the Jacksons 5 and there must be a mistake.

“No mistake. We have no rooms booked,” he repeated.

We effectively begged for a room, which we were eventually given – facing an alley and trash cans. Michael was, typically, the first to question what had happened when we got to the basic quarters of our second rate room. “Why would someone treat us like that because of our skin color?” he asked. It confused him because he knew our fans were both black and white, and it was the first time we had been made to feel unwanted, let alone unpopular.

It made us more determined to kick some butt onstage, because we soon recognized the importance of being black kids performing for black fans who could now identify with us. We were carrying the torch for our forefathers, winning respect for every black kid with a dream. The screams and cheers that night felt like a lot more than just Jackson mania: they felt like defiance and victory. As Sammy Davis Junior had said in 1965: “Being a star has made it possible for me to get insulted in places where the average Negro could never hope to go and get insulted.”

[/EXPAND] [EXPAND Michael beaten in a store while repeatedly being called “nigger” after being accused of stealing, late 70s or early 80s ]

“Growing Up In The Jacksons” by LaToya Jackson

Trouble seemed to stalk him. Ironically, my brother’s most terrifying encounter was with someone who didn’t even know who he was. He and Michael were visiting her mother and stepfather in Alabama, accompanied by Bill Bray. Michael and Bill went driving one afternoon, and stopped at a gas station. While Bill used the restroom, Michael browsed in a small shop next door. When Bill came out, he was surprised to find Michael gone. “Where are you, Joker?” he called out, using his pet name for my brother.

Suddenly he heard, “Help! Help!” It was Michael, yelling from inside the store. Bursting through the door, Bill saw my brother curled up on the floor and a white man kicking him viciously in the head and stomach, screaming with blood curdling venom, “I hate all of you! I hate you!” Over and over he called Michael a nigger.

Bill, a tall, middle aged black man, subdued the attacker and helped up Michael, who was crying and bleeding from several deep cuts. “What’s going on?” he demanded.

“He tried to steal a candy bar!” the man claimed, pointing at my brother. “I saw him put something in his pocket!”

“No, I didn’t!” Michael protested.

“Yes, you did!”

“Wait a minute,” Bill said skeptically. “He doesn’t even like candy and he doesn’t steal. Why would he steal a candy bar?”

It was obvious then that Michael’s attacker had no idea who he was. As far as he was concerned, this was just another black person – another nigger – to abuse. Bill rushed Michael to a local hospital to have his cuts and bruises tended to.

Mother called us from Alabama to tell us what had happened and we all cried in anger and sadness. How could this kind of thing still happen? If Bill hadn’t been with Michael, he might have been killed. Jermaine was livid, threatening to fly to Alabama and take the law into his own hands. It took some time to persuade him that vigilantism was no way to handle the matter.

Instead, a lawsuit was filed against the store owner. Two girls standing outside had witnessed the beating and one offered to testify on Michael’s behalf. We felt very strongly that racial violence must be stopped, but unfortunately, justice did not prevail in this case. The racist harbored no regrets. In fact, discovering that the black man he’d assaulted was a celebrity only inflamed his hatred. Now he threatened to kill Michael. Bill convinced us that this person was mad, that the threat was quite serious, and that it was better for everyone to drop the action. None of us was happy about this, but there was really no choice.

[/EXPAND] [EXPAND Michael invites Tatum O’Neal to be his date to the premiere of his movie The Wiz but she turns him down because her agent didn’t want her seen at a premiere with a “nigger”, October 1978 ]

Tatum O’Neal, “A Paper Life”

Unfortunately, my friendship with Michael came to an abrupt ending. He’d played the Scarecrow in The Wiz, the urban remake of the Wizard of Oz, which starred Diana Ross as Dorothy. For the film’s premiere, Michael invited me to be his date. I asked my dad, who didn’t care one way or another if I went, but my talent agency was dead set against it. I was told, in exactly these words: ‘You can’t go to a premiere with a nigger.’ Hollywood!

[/EXPAND] [EXPAND Rejection letter from Rolling Stone in 1979 – as it stands Britney Spears has been on the cover of Rolling Stone on more occasions than Michael has ]

Michael Jackson's Experience of Racism, Rolling Stone, racist

November 27, 1979

Dear Norman [Winter]:

Michael Jackson has, in fact, been on the cover of ROLLING STONE, contrary to your statement in your recent letter to me.

We would very much like to do a major piece on Michael Jackson, but feel it is not a cover story.


Jann S. Wenner
Editor & Publisher

cc: Walter Yetnikoff

At this point in time Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough and Rock With You had both recently been released as singles from his Off The Wall album and both had charted at number one.

Joe Vogel recently spoke about Michael’s feelings about Rolling Stone’s rejection and how he had been told that black musicians had never sold well on the cover of the magazine. That opinion seems reflected in how many cover stories have featured him in total versus other white musicians of his status:

Jackson was well-aware of this history and consistently pushed against it. In 1979, Rolling Stone passed on a cover story about the singer, saying that it didn’t feel Jackson merited front cover status. “I’ve been told over and over again that black people on the covers of magazines don’t sell copies,” an exasperated Jackson told confidantes. “Just wait. Some day those magazines will come begging for an interview.”

Jackson, of course, was right (Rolling Stone editor Jann Wenner actually sent a self-deprecatory letter acknowledging the oversight in 1984). And during the 1980s, at least, Jackson’s image seemed ubiquitous. Yet over the long haul, Jackson’s initial concern seems legitimate. As shown in the breakdown below, his appearances on the front cover of Rolling Stone, the United States’ most visible music publication, are far fewer than those of white artists:

John Lennon: 30

Mick Jagger: 29

Paul McCartney: 26

Bob Dylan: 22

Bono: 22

Bruce Springsteen: 22

Madonna: 20

Britney Spears: 13

Michael Jackson: 8 (two came after he died; one featured Paul McCartney as well)

Is it really possible that Michael Jackson, arguably the most influential artist of the 20th century, merited less than half the coverage of Bono, Bruce Springsteen, and Madonna?

[/EXPAND] [EXPAND Michael was stopped and detained while driving his Rolls Royce because the police officer didn’t believe the car was his, 1981 ]

“My Family” by Katherine Jackson

Michael usually drove himself to Kingdom Hall and his field-service routes. He’d finally gotten his driver’s license in 1981, at the age of twenty-three. Initially he didn’t want to learn to drive.

“I’ll just get a chauffeur when I want to go out,” he said when I began nagging him about getting his license.

“But suppose you’re someplace and your chauffeur gets sick?” I reasoned.

Finally, he relented and took some lessons.

After he began driving, Michael decided that he enjoyed being behind the wheel, after all. The first time he took me for a ride, he ventured up to Mulholland Drive, a winding road in the Hollywood Hills. It was a hair-raising experience.

“I’ve got a crook in my neck and my feet hurt,” LaToya, who was also in the car, complained afterward. “I was putting on the brakes’ with my feet and ‘steering’ the car with my neck trying to keep it on the road. I was so scared!”

It was white-knuckle time for me, too. Michael drove fast. He also had the same habit that I have: driving right up to the car in front and stopping on a dime.

After that, Michael started going out by himself.

“You shouldn’t go out alone,” I told him. “Get Bill Bray to go with you.”

But Michael wouldn’t hear of it. “I’m tired of having security with me every time I go someplace.”

When he began driving, Michael told me that he would never go on freeways; he thought they were too dangerous. So I was shocked one day when Michael suddenly drove us onto a freeway ramp.

“Wait a minute, Michael, what are you doing?”

“I can drive the freeways now!” he said, laughing. He had changed his mind about freeways when he saw just how long it took him to get around Los Angeles without using them.

Michael’s first car was a Mercedes. Then he bought a black Rolls-Royce, which he later painted blue.

It was in the Rolls that he was stopped one day — not for fans outside the gate, but by a Van Nuys policeman.

“This looks like a stolen car,” the officer said. He didn’t recognise Michael, who wasn’t wearing a disguise that day.

Michael explained politely that he did, indeed, own the car. But the officer went ahead and ran a check on the car, and found that Michael had a ticket outstanding.

The next thing Michael knew, he was sitting in the Van Nuys jail.

Bill Bray bailed him out. I didn’t even know what had happened until he came home.

“You should have asked the officer what a stolen car looks like,” I said after he related his adventure. Perhaps the cop had felt that a young black man didn’t belong behind the wheel of a Rolls.

But Michael was not only put out by the experience, he professed to be happy.

“I got to see how it felt to be in jail!” he exclaimed.

[/EXPAND] [EXPAND After hearing that Elvis Costello had called Ray Charles and James Brown “niggers” Michael kept away from him when they met, 1982 ]

The incident where Costello said this is recounted here:

In 1979, Costello was touring America in support of his album Armed Forces, which had become his biggest hit in the States. One night that spring, the tour reached Columbus, Ohio. It was a pretty good week for rock shows in Columbus — Stephen Stills and his band were playing at another venue and staying at the same hotel as Costello. In the hotel bar, Costello and some of the Attractions got into a discussion about music with a few of Stills’ bandmates, including backup singer Bonnie Bramlett. A 1979 People magazine story describes the substance of the conversation:

“Someone asked him what he thought of the old guys, like Buddy Holly,” reports one eyewitness. Costello replied with an obscenity. “What about Elvis Presley?” Costello snapped another obscenity. “Then he said American people are second-class white people, compared to first-class English people.”

Bramlett, a longtime paladin of rhythm-and-blues whose backup bands once included heavies like Leon Russell, Duane Allman and Rita Coolidge, kept cool until, she says, Costello “called James Brown a jive-ass nigger.” Next, according to an onlooker, “Bonnie said, ‘All right, you son of a bitch, what do you think of Ray Charles?’ He said, ‘Screw Ray Charles, he’s nothing but a blind nigger.’ That did it. Bonnie backhanded him, slapped him pretty hard, because she’s a healthy chick.”

What People didn’t report, but what has been frequently noted in reports of the incident in succeeding years, is that Costello really didn’t want to talk to anybody in the hotel bar, and was trying to get rid of Bramlett and the others. In 1982, Costello told Rolling Stone that the discussion started as “joshing” and “gentle gibes,” but got nastier and nastier the more intoxicated everyone got. And finally, “I said the most outrageous thing that I could possibly say to them — that I knew, in my drunken logic, would anger them more than anything else.”

Walking away from the bar that night, Costello figured it was just another bar fight. He didn’t expect what happened next: Bramlett called reporters to tell them about it. Within days, Costello ended up facing the press himself amid accusations of racism. He apologized, but went only as far as saying he was sorry “if he had offended anyone,” without actually apologizing to either James Brown or Ray Charles. He received death threats and eventually required extra bodyguards. His American record deal was even in jeopardy for a while, as Columbia reportedly considered whether to drop him. They didn’t, but they also stopped promoting Armed Forces, releasing no more singles, not even What’s So Funny (‘Bout Peace, Love and Understanding), which might have become a breakthrough hit. The Armed Forces tour ended quietly, and it would be two years before Costello returned to the States.

For his part, Ray Charles was gracious, saying only: “Drunken talk isn’t meant to be printed in the paper.” In 2004, Costello told Rolling Stone that he never got the chance to speak to Charles about the incident. He insisted that he pays still a price for it:

I have to live with it, with every Afro-American musician I meet. Do they know? Do they think, “The guy’s being nice to me, but secretly I know he’s a racist”? I’ve heard people mutter it under their breath as they pass by, because they read it somewhere. What can I complain about? It happened. But if people don’t hear the respect by now, they’ve got their ears the wrong way around.

Even before he ever met Bonnie Bramlett at the Holiday Inn, Costello had been active in Britain’s Rock Against Racism movement. Some Costello fans blame Bramlett for using the incident to hype her own career. Costello’s track record in the 30 years since that night indicates that the incident did minimal harm to his career and reputation. And so, like most everything in life, the “Columbus Incident” was a lot more complicated than it looks.

Elvis Costello spoke about Michael’s reaction to meeting him in the September 2, 1982 edition of Rolling Stone in an article entitled “Elvis Costello Explains Himself”

I’m not saying I wasn’t responsible for my actions; that sounds like I’m trying to excuse myself. But I was not very responsible. There’s a distinct difference. I was completely irresponsible, in fact. And far from carefree – careless with everything. With everything that I really care about. And I think that inasmuch as it was said that we fed ourselves to the lions, you could say that whatever the incident was, it was symptomatic of the condition I was in, and that I deserved what happened regardless of the intentions of the remarks.

But it was only quite recently that I realized that it’s not only the man on the street, as it were, who’s never heard of me otherwise, who’s only read People – that it’s not only people like that who know only this about me. When we were recording Imperial Bedroom, Bruce Thomas was in the next studio while I was doing a vocal. Paul McCartney was there, and Michael Jackson came in to do a vocal – everything was nice until somebody introduced Bruce as my bass player. And suddenly – there was a freeze-out. Michael Jackson was – “Oh, God, I don’t dig that guy… I don’t dig that guy.”

He had heard about it third hand, from Quincy Jones. Two guys I have a tremendous amount of admiration for. It depressed me that I wouldn’t be able to go up to him – I wouldn’t be able to go up and shake his hand, because he wouldn’t want to shake my hand. Or James Brown, for that matter. But what could I say? What could I say? How could you explain such a thing? But there is nothing I’d like more.

[/EXPAND] [EXPAND In depth look in to the racial climate of MTV in the early 80s and how Billie Jean was a breakthrough for black musicians, 1981-1983 (quotes about this racial divide from MTV execs, record label execs, music journalists, Rick James, David Bowie, Keith Richards, Bob Seger, Bob Giraldi, etc) ]

“Inside MTV” By R. Serge Denisoff, published in 1988

Rick James, Michael Jackson, Versus Narrowcasting

Music publishers at the California Copyright Conference held in January 1983 repeated the controversies of the first Billboard Music Video gathering. The major issues were payment for clips and black music.

Ben Begun (Warner-Amex’s legal affairs vice president) was bombarded with questions concerning black music, especially by Jay Lowy (of Motown) and publishers with minority artists in their portfolios. Begun’s reading of a short list of urban contemporary acts rotated on the music channel only heightened the tension. The audience was unpersuaded. The heat was building on the MTV “corporate philosophy” and narrowcasting.

The MTV racism controversy that arose in the early months of 1983 was a case of economic interests wrapped in the mantle of civil rights. The rhetoric did not always point to the underlying monetary motivations pulling in some very well intentioned persons, such as David Bowie, Bob Seger and New York Times television writer John O’Connor.

A&M’s Jeff Ayeroff had told John Sykes (MTV promotions director) at the 1981 Billboard Video Music Conference, “Just try playing the [Rick] James video and see what happens,” and MTV ignored the suggestion. Bob Pittman (founder of MTV) stuck to his format philosophy: “You can’t go too far into black music or country music or you’ll alienate your target audience, which is interested in rock.” The demographically and geographically defined cable viewers of the network were white males in the suburbs and rural areas. The response was predicable, in light of radio’s fragmentation and cable’s narrowcasting structures. “Rick James is great. So is Parliament Funkadelic,” he told the writer, “but we turned down Rick James because the consumer didn’t define him as rock.” He cited the statistic that 85 percent of the targeted audience prefers rock adding, “But we do play black artists – Joan Armatrading, Gary US Bonds, Jimi Hendrix – because they fit in with rock and roll. So it has to not with race, but with sound.” He could have added the Bus Boys, and Phil Lynott, then a hard rocker from Ireland (he died in 1986). Variety got the same reply with one caveat: “We hope to find more black musicians doing rock and roll and new music.”

After MTV turned down the “Super Freak” video, “Slick” Rick James finally got into the fray. He told the Los Angeles Times that MTV was “racist.” His main objection was clear: “I figure if they played my video I could probably sell hundreds of thousands more records than I do now.” Slick Rick had a point. Black Entertainment TV in 1982 had about 2 million subscribers – 20% of that of MTV. Worse yet the RIAA estimated that the urban contemporary market accounted for about 2 percent of record and cassette purchases.

At a Los Angeles television studio James would expand views. “I’m hoping my speaking out in public about MTV’s discriminatory policy will make other acts go on record about it.” “I’m just tired of the bullshit,” he later told Rolling Stone. “I have sold over 10 million records in a four year period… and I can’t get on the channel. I watch all these fluffed up groups who don’t even sell four records on a program that I’m excluded from. Me and every one of my peers – Earth, Wind and Fire, Stevie Wonder, the Gap Band, Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson – have great videos. Why doesn’t MTV show them? It’s like taking black people back 400 years.”

Rick James was a gadfly. Pittman cordially complained to a New York Times writer, “Why doesn’t anyone talk about all the music barriers we have broken down, like the areas between punk and new wave and mainstream rock?” The rhetorical query really didn’t address the charges, but was a defense of the format.

At the same time AC Nielson brightened the MTV picture. The television polling firm found that MTV viewers spent an average of 4.6 hours per week watching the channel. The October 1982 survey also found that 85 percent of the target audience watched the network. Record buying decisions were found to be equally affected, as 63 percent of the 2,000 respondents answered that they did purchase an album after seeing an act on MTV. Eighty one percent indicated that their first exposure to some acts was via the music channel. The most significant finding was that 68 percent of the sample rated MTV as important or very important, surpassing radio’s 62 percent.

A demographic profile from the same study showed that the typical viewer was around twenty three years old with an average household income of $30,000. More than 50 percent of those over eighteen in the viewership were college educated. These were the kind of numbers record companies and advertisers notice. The findings released in February underlined the import of MTV exposure – a fact that further fueled the black music polemic.

Veejay Mark Goodman, after conducting one of his usual fluff interviews with David Bowie, found the roles reversed. Bowie peppered the puzzled veejay with questions. “Why,” asked the superstar, “are there practically no blacks on the network?” Goodman, who merely introduced the clips and announced concert dates, explained: “We seem to be doing music that fits into what we want to play on MTV. The company is thinking in terms of narrowcasting.” Bowie pressed on. “There seem to be a lot of black artists making very good videos that I’m surprised aren’t being used on MTV.” Goodman placed in the uncomfortable position of defending a format totally beyond his control, echoed the company’s demographic policy: “We have to try and do what we think not only New York and Los Angeles will appreciate, but also Poughkeepsie or the Midwest. Pick some town in the Midwest which would be scared to death by… a string of other black faces, or black music.” He went on, “We have to play music we think an entire country is going to like, and certainly we’re a rock and roll station.” The exchange got hotter. Bowie asked: “Don’t you think it’s a frightening predicament to be in?” The intimidated veejay resorted to the radio analogy, “Yeah, but no less so here than in radio.” The British singer pounced on the reply: “Don’t say, ‘Well, it’s not me, it’s them.’ Is it not possible it should be a conviction of the station and of the radio stations to be fair… to make the media more integrated?” Leaving Bowie’s hotel suite Goodman may have had second thoughts about “meeting his idols” In all fairness, Goodman was in a very difficult position. Had he agreed with Bowie it would become a matter of disloyalty. Statuswise he was no match for the international superstar. Offending David Bowie was not the thing to do. Reportedly Entertainment Tonight was planning a segment on the inflammatory debate.

Looking back on the James charges, John Sykes, almost with resignation says: “Once the racial issue steps in everyone forgets everything else; it becomes a show of prejudice versus liberalism. Then everyone reads into it who is being held back.”

James’ allegations would create one of the biggest unsolved mysteries in the development of MTV. This is an industry where any significant move hits the “street” before actually occurring.

Epic Records, a subsidiary in the CBS Group, geared up to equal the success of their Off The Wall. Produced by Quincy Jones over a prolonged period of time with some of Los Angeles’ top session people, the nine cut Thriller album contained a duet with Paul McCartney (The Girl Is Mine), Eddie Van Halen picking high powered guitar solos (Beat It), and a Vincent Price narrative in the title song. Several Jackson biographers estimate the studio costs surpassed $500,000. CBS had a hefty commitment to the effort, going in.

Off The Wall had been an 8 million, multiplatinum crossover album of the year in 1980. To obtain this sales status a wide appeal to those beyond the urban contemporary market had to be established. If Thriller was to parallel or transcend this, the first Epic release had to reach the AOR and MTV audience. Neither were airing artists with Michael Jackson’s sound. Although it is widely believed that the network practiced a quota for black artists (an unproven allegation), MTV appeared an easier vehicle to promote than tackling the resistance of the myriad of nationally scattered AOR stations. There was also the question of the good will of music directors.

Michael Jackon’s Thriller, his second solo effort, bulleted up the Billboard chart to the number one slot by the last week of February. Billie Jean the single from the LP, reached the same position on the Hot One Hundred a week later on March 5th 1983. Both had been on the trade charts for at least seven weeks. A video clip of Billie Jean was commissioned to support the single and the album. Steve Barron of Limelight Productions directed the visual. The “concept” video cost considerably more than average, which at hat time was in he $8,000 o $20,000 range. Estimates are that the label spent $60,000 to $75,000 on it.

CBS Records’ aggressive promotion vice president Frank Dileo took the clip to MTV, “the music video” network. He recalls, “In the beginning they did not know what would be acceptable to their audience,” which was an understatement at best. MTV’s response was generally negative. Bob Pittman: “We chose rock because the audience was larger. The mostly white rock audience was more excited about rock than the largely black audience about contemporary rhythm and blues.” Les Garland echoes his superior’s view: “You cannot be all things to all people. You cannot play jazz and country music and funk. You lose your focus.” Privately, Pittman was labeling his critics as being “ignorant” of the format.

CBS was adamant. Dileo went back to MTV on several occasions to restate the label’s case. MTV continued to repeat: “It’s the format” and the decision had nothing to do with race.

Pittman’s argument was consistent with his past pronouncements. Originally he shunned “golden oldies” even if the clips were available, saying: “I don’t think our audience is very interested in the past.” The same applies to futuristic videos: “Musically, those songs do not fit into MTV’s format. They’re too avant garde.”

While enjoying some support from within the broadcast community, MTV was rapidly being pushed into a public relations corner. The perception was becoming, for some people, the reality. CBS Records, as many have discovered is a company that is willing to extend its clout. Epic did have an argument. Billie Jean with its chart position, was an obvious crossover hit appealing to both races. Thriller’s success only reaffirmed the contention. This view did not seem to originally persuade most of the MTV brass.

The March 2 MTV playlist had Billie Jean as an add-on. This 180 degree shift led to considerable speculation. None of the individuals reportedly involved will directly discuss the about-face.

In late February an informal meeting had been arranged at Black Rock, where some top executives met to consider their options with MTV. Persuasion was not working. One executive suggested having Michael Jackson appear on the CBS Morning News and repeat James’ charges of racism. Several participants indicated that the ploy had little effect in the Slick Rick situation. Several other strategies were discussed and dismissed. Finally, the ultimate weapon was introduced: curtail MTV’s supply of free videos – especially of name acts, such as Billy Joel. This was a step Motown never dreamed about, as their roster and market share were limited. “What could Berry Gordy do, threaten to pull the Dazz Band video?” noted Rock and Rock Confidential (RRC). The CBS Group, with almost 25 percent of the recording market, could withhold Journey, Pink Floyd, Billy Joel and many other artists aired on MTV. Allegedly Waltner Yetnikoff played this card and won. One CBS company employee cautiously noted, “All I can tell you is if that story is in fact true it was a helluva gamble. Chuzpah! MTV could have held firm. Then what?”

In light of the record companies’ experience with radio and the home taping issues, the outcome could have been quite different. Many broadcasters refused to go along with the labels’ “friendly persuasion” to halt playing entire albums without interruption. Record label executives at that time conceded that withholding product service would be counter productive. Pulling the plug on MTV, at the time, could have similar consequences. One CBS artist stated, “I was on MTV at that time. It was definitely helping record and concert sales.” The implication was that he would not have been overjoyed with an MTV boycott, especially with the state of AOR in early 1983. “Walter Yetnikoff and I never had a discussion about Billie Jean,” says Pittman. Dileo was negotiating the matter with MTV executives representing Pittman’s views. Deniability is a practice common in organizations outside the confines of the intelligence gathering community. It is doubtful Pittman or Yetnikoff would have been directly involved. Still, given the stakes even corporate vice presidents were not individually empowered to make he kind of hard decisions that situation invoked.

MTV put the best face on the turn around possible. “By the time we put that video into rotation,” John Sykes told a writer, “there was really no way for us to ignore Billie Jean. It had moved beyond being a “black music” hit; it was an across the board smash, pop, black, dance charts, you name it. It was a rock song, a pop song… it fit our format.” Veejay JJ Jackson said, “I think we all wanted to see Billie Jean on the channel.” Garlend would later deny any coercion: “No that’s absolutely untrue.”

The addition of the clip has been cited by many as the racial “breakthrough.” The debate raged on. Radio broadcasters privately and in trades had misgivings. Formats by their very nature had borders. One program director observed, “Jackson’s a universal, maybe Prince, but what happens if one of the biggies decides an urban contemporary artist should be on AOR?” Off the record another retorted, “I didn’t realize affirmative action applied to playlists.”

Jeffery Kelly, operations manager of WDMT (Cleveland), went public on the controversy. He wrote in Billboard that artists “have expressed their view that MTV should play ‘all’ contemporary music that is hot and on video. But isn’t it true that, like radio formats, this type of television programming is segmented. MTV doesn’t air Rick James’ video; it doesn’t air Neil Dimond’s video, either. MTV is a rock format… [it doesn’t] play black or soft rock or country music, because it doesn’t appeal to their segment of the audience.” Kelly went on to suggest that in the future an urban contemporary network would appear “appealing to that active, black, music loving public.” Dave Marsh in his monthly newsletter, without referring to Kelly, condemned MTV and the AOR radio fragmentation. “MTV’s racism is more dizzying in its complexity and dimensions simply because the channel is nation wide.” The cause for the writer was radio. “MTV’s programmers – Bob Pittman, Les Garland, and Lee Abrams – all learned their tricks at AOR, a true school for scandal.” Marsh’s newsletter piece would later be reprinted in the mass circulation Record magazine.

Michael Jackson's Experience of Racism, black musicians, Billie Jean, Rick James, Prince, MTV

Racism Charges Resurface

The race issue hung on. The “is” versus “ought” dialogue continued. Eddy Grant’s “Electric Avenue” appeared on MTV. Grant, an iconoclastic funk fusion artist, originally dropped by Epic in 1980 only to be resigned for the Killer album on Portrait, was sanguine about the MTV issue. He informed Record’s Anthony DeCurtis: “I’ve never bowed to format or whatever it is, because, I don’t understand it. I understand only one thing: how to make music. And I make the music, and if people like it at the radio, or the TV, or whatever, fine. If they don’t, well that’s fine too. Because I’m used to it both ways.” Some of Grant’s urban contemporary’s were no so laid back over the issue. He was on MTV, and they were not.

Prince’s Little Red Corvette continued to complement Billie Jean on the cable network. On April 23, Garland Jefferys had two songs, What Does It Take and El Salvador on the light rotation; Beat It from Thriller, directed by Bob Giraldi and costing nearly $150,000 started on the “heavy” or most repeated category.

Beat It was perceived as the Stairway To Heaven of music videos. Thriller, prior to MTV, had sold some 3 million units. With video exposure it was in the 800,000 per month category.

Prior to James’ comments in the Los Angeles Times, the “racism” debate remained in the trade magazines and specialty publications such as Video. This was “inside baseball” material, as its termed in journalistic circles. A locally sponsored music video six hour symposium in Atlanta, April 16, found Les Garland denying “racism” charges and rattling off the black artists on MTV. Consultant Dwight Douglas prematurely objected, “I’m sick of the press jumping on MTV about this ‘racism’ business, it’s not true. You have to remember that MTV has a very expensive format to protect. If they broke their narrowcasting pattern, somebody could come along and blow them out of the water.” Douglas, president of Burkhart and Abrams, was hardly an objective observer.

Manny Sanches, the marketing director for Franklin Music, retorted: “Forget this black/white thing. The issue is ‘green.’ We need to get on with the business of selling records. That’s what we’re here for.” In May the nonexistant “press coverage” would surface. Ed Levine in The New York Times Magazine would write a lengthy piece on MTV published May 8: five days later ABC TV’s Nightline addressed the same subject, music video. Casey Kasem and Rick Dobbis of Arista Records, were joined by Rick James. James, it appears, was apparently incensed by the inclusion of other black artists. According to several insiders James felt even more personal discrimination because of the addition of other black artists. He would again exclaim his displeasure. The show opened with generally high praise from industry executives and even Ted Koppel, not known for his verbal generosity, commented, “It has done wonders for the sagging record industry. It has made overnight stars out of rock groups whose records had been gathering dust.” James dissented. The Motown artist complained that MTV “has refused to play five of my videos.” After some elaboration Koppel asked, “What’s wrong – I mean we tried to get a representative of MTV to come on the show; they wouldn’t. But they’re saying in effect, ‘Hey, Bloomingdales’s has its market, Nightline has its market….’ Why not?” James responded, “Well, then they shouldn’t call themselves Music Television.” The discussion continued;

Koppel: That’s their privilege, isn’t it?
Rick James: Yeah, but why call yourself Music Television then? I mean, why not then call yourself ‘We Play Sometimes Black Music Television.’ See, number one, you have a lot of black people out there and white people – they all buy records, they mix it up. You’ve got urban contemporary music happening, which is a form – the basis of it is black music form. That’s where it comes from. The beat, the tribal beat, as they say, or whatever, you know, all that crap… This show has a very strong impact on the market. What about all the white kids out there who have a Rick James and a Michael Jackson or – excluding Michael, who’s on the show. They didn’t put him on the show until he went number one. And then I also heard that Columbia almost threatened to take off every video on MTV until Michael was put on that show. When you have a record company threatening a cable show, telling them that if you don’t play this act, we’re going to pull all our videos – that means something. It means something for us to get our music to people, and it means something for us to get our visual concepts to people.

In retrospect, Pittman and associates mishandled the Nightline show. Addressing the guests Koppel concluded, “You’ve reached a few people tonight who may never have heard anything about you before.” The ABC host was right. The Jackson episode went unanswered. Rick James’ fiery rhetoric went unchallenged. Les Garlend’s belated denial was unconvincing as it came at a time when the CBS “video boycott” story had become conventional wisdom in the industry. John Sykes, who could have appeared on the program, might have diplomatically treated the topic as in the past.

Blacks increasingly were added to the MTV playlist, such as Donna Summer’s She Works Hard For The Money. The clip did not satisfy everyone. Speaking at the American Film Institute, scriptwriter Keith Williams charged he was instructed to use a white family in the clip.

Detroit’s hard rocker Bob Seger complained to Musician, “The thing I hate about it is that there’s no black music or R&B on it unless it’s syrupy stuff.” Seger found an ally in John J O’Connor, venerated television columnist of The New York Times. After describing the network as an important presence in programming and record sales, the journalist entered the debate. He wrote that MTV appeared to be “bent on returning the black musician to the status of ‘invisible man.’ … Critics have wondered if this ‘oversight’ is intentional, a demographic ploy for making MTV more palatable to the suburbs of middle class white America. MTV executives, for their part, have insisted, not a little arrogantly, that their product is focused on rock and roll, an area of music that supposedly is not frequented by black performers. Roll over, Chuck Berry.” O’Connor outlined the broad scope of music prior to returning to the race issue. He suggested that Michael Jackson, Donna Summer, Musical Youth, and Prince were merely “promotional spots for MTV” or are being “used prominently in commercials for the format.”

The racism controversy was fueled by idealism, self interest and stubbornness. John Sykes’ original statement concerning “left out” artists had merit. Maurice White of Earth, Wind and Fire, a fusion act, complained on ABC-TV’s 202/20 that “I have trouble getting to play on it [MTV]. Even though our music has broken all barriers they consider our music R&B so they say they’re only playing rock music, which I don’t believe.”

The MTV high echelon, especially, Bob Pittman, was (or at least appeared) intransigent. Rick James was considered by most people in and outside of the industry as urban contemporary. Michael Jackson was an entirely different matter. He had clearly demonstrated a pluralistic market appeal. Pittman played directly into the hands of the critics by the original rejection of Billie Jean with the “it’s he format” rationale. The widely held belief that CBS forced the video clip on MTV only made matters worse. MTV’s arguments for the expansion of the playlist for more minorities because they were moving into rock music had a hollow ring to it. Rick James’ tactic failed. He admitted, “It hasn’t gotten any better for me… Michael Jackson was forced on MTV… [he’s] sold millions of albums… I still don’t like MTV.”

Belatedly the Rolling Stones Keith Richards joined in the fray. The “first thing I said after I watched a bit of MTV, you’re lucky to see one black every two hours, if that. Michael Jackson gets played; I heard MTV was playing the Bus Boys a few months ago, but it’s real tokenism. When you consider the contribution black people have made to American music, it’s disgraceful… it’s a little bit one sided.” MTV would remember these observations.

One year after the Billie Jean affair, Pittman would tell Variety’s Richard Gold, “Of the new artists being exposed on the service, some 25 percent are from the black music field.” Later senior research vice president Marshall Cohen would explain a ratings downturn with “we really got a huge benefit from playing the [title] clip from Michael Jackson’s Thriller at the height of Michaelmania.” He added that the ratings dropped “due to no Thriller.” Pittman concurs with Cohen’s assessment, but prior to the so-called “lull” he used Thriller’s title song for other purposes. At a roundtable discussion at Cablevision’s offices chaired by Victor Livingstone he observed:

“The record was out fifty three weeks before MTV played Thriller. Radio had the opportunity to make Thriller a single, but chose not to. CBS had the chance to push Thriller, but chose not to. Sales dropped about 250,000 a week from summertime levels of 1 million, 1.2 million. The first week MTV played it, sales jumped from 250,000 to 657,000 copies, next week to a million, and the third week in excess of a million.

You’ve got to figure that if they sold an extra 3 million albums at $2 an album, they make $6 million. Spending even 1 million on a video was a damned good investment, even if they didn’t get a penny of it back by selling the video.”

By mid-1986, Rick James remained absent from MTV’s playlist, but the tempest he had instigated smoldered.

In the fall of 1983, Robert Pittman was sick of the sniping at his format and the demands being made on MTV. The Acquisitions Committee had added Michael Jackson, Eddy Grant, Prince, Musical Youth and other black performers. This silenced some concerns but others persisted. David Marsh’s Rock & Roll Confidential, beginning with its first issue in May, urged: “If you’re as sick of this bullshit as we are, why not write MTV… and call your local cable outlet.” The same issue accused MTV of “deceptive advertising.” The next issue accused MTV of a “significant marketing failure” and continued to attack: “We billed them for a subscription to R&R, sent them the first issue, and still haven’t been paid.” Next issue contained: “Number of black performers with MTV concerts or specials in the history of the channel is still zero… MTV honchos like Bob Pittman aren’t lying… when they claim that black and white music has ‘always’ been segregated.” In the following issue David Bowie was urged to “withhold videos and interviews until the channel opens up.”

Despite the inclusion of Lionel Richie’s All Night Long, Bob Giraldi portrayed MTV as “racist bastards.” They “can say all they want,” he noted, “about over the line, across the line – they are obviously racist and there’s nothing else to say about it.”

Since the beginning of music broadcasting and record marketing segregation had been rampant. Billboard at one time labeled it “race music.” In the early years of white rock and roll, black artists were “covered” by the likes of the Crewcuts, Pat Boones, and a host of crooners. The Penguins’ Earth Angel stopped this practice when the original black version outsold the watered down release by the Crewcuts. The late Muddy Waters was an embittered man when the Rolling Stones popularized his music. Only then did he receive the attention he richly deserved.

[/EXPAND] [EXPAND President of CBS Records Walter Yetnikoff has confirmed this sequence of events over Billie Jean ]


Walter Yetnikoff, the president of Jackson’s record label, CBS, approached MTV to play the “Billie Jean” video. He became enraged when MTV refused to play the video, and threatened to go public with MTV’s stance on black musicians. “I said to MTV, ‘I’m pulling everything we have off the air, all our product. I’m not going to give you any more videos. And I’m going to go public and fucking tell them about the fact you don’t want to play music by a black guy.'” MTV relented and played the “Billie Jean” video in heavy rotation.

[/EXPAND] [EXPAND Seeking to buy a llama, Michael was first asked if he was looking for work, told they didn’t sell any, told he couldn’t afford them and then challenged to produce ID, 1983 ]

michael jackson, llama, louie, michael jackson's experience of racism

“You Are Not Alone,” by Jermaine Jackson

One day, Michael decided he wanted a llama. He asked me to take him to nearby Agora and we ended up at this lot packed with hay and horse trailers. From the car, we eyed four llamas out back. I parked between two trailers, unintentionally shielding my Mercedes from view. It was the only parking spot available. When we walked into the office – two kids dressed casual but smart in T shirt and jeans – this guy, bent across a counter doing some paperwork, didn’t even look up when he said, “We’re not hiring.”

“We ain’t looking for no job,” said Michael, wearing his shades. “We’re here to buy a llama.”

The man looked up. Not a flicker of recognition on his face. It took me about two seconds to know that his musical taste ventured nowhere near the Thriller album. “We don’t have any llamas,” he said. The look on his face said it all: you can’t afford it.

“You have four of them out back,” I said, trying to keep calm.

“You know how much they cost?”

Michael smiled. “We know how much they cost.”

Then came an incredible bombardment of questions, fired by the man’s prejudices and assumptions. “Can you afford a llama? What do you boys do to afford a llama? Where will you keep it? Have you ever thought about this?”

Ever patient, Michael explained that we had a house with grounds and were serious customers. “I know how to look after all kinds of animals,” he added.

The man begrudgingly asked to see some ID. Michael handed over a bank card. I handed over my driving license. And then night became day.

“You’re those Jackson boys?” said the man, his face lighting up. He began to back-pedal about how he had to be careful and he couldn’t sell to just anyone; you understand how it is. Bu we didn’t understand: we saw right through him.

“So you’re happy to accept me because now you know who I am?” Michael asked. The biggest misconception people had about my brother was that his legendary shyness made him timid, but he was a man of principle, especially where his roots as a proud black man were concerned and he wasn’t afraid to speak up on this when riled. Michael took back his ID and came right out with it: “You are an ass, and we don’t want to spend our money in here any more.” Then we walked out to the Mercedes the man had failed to spot when we arrived.

On the drive home, Michael was exasperated. “Can you believe that? What is this area about? What are they teaching their kids?”

We had always been told by our parents that no one is born with a prejudice. It is something that is taught, ignorance passed down from generation to generation. The more Michael brooded, the more fired up he became. He told me to drive to Tito’s.

That afternoon, Tito’s acoustic guitar and our free styling lyrics captured an angry inspiration for a song we called “What’s Your Life?” That was how Michael liked to work. When a true experience inspired a song, he liked to get it down on his tape recorder or in the nearest studio. We recorded that song within an hour at Tito’s studio, also in Encino.

[/EXPAND] [EXPAND Louis Farrakhan calls on black youth to boycott the Jacksons Victory Tour because he believed Michael to be too “sissified” as a black man, April 1984 ]

[Seemingly based on the idea that men, especially black men, need to aspire to a macho ideal.]

Michael Jackson called “sissified” by Farrakhan, Gaineseville Sun, April 12 1984

Louis Farrakhan, the controversial leader of the Black Muslim sect, has called on black youths to reject the “female acting, sissified” image of award winning entertainer Michael Jackson.

Farrakhan blamed the 25 year old Jackson, recent winner of eight Grammy awards, for his style that “actually ruins your young men and makes your young women have nothing to look up to as a real man for their own lives.”

Farrakhan’s criticism of Jackson was made in a March 11 radio broadcast. The Chicago Tribute recently obtained a copy of the Farrakhan broadcast and published details about the Michael Jackson statement Wednesday.

In the broadcast, Farrakhan said: “… we have today a Michael Jackson who is winning all kinds of awards because he is a great and marvelous performer. But the image that he projects to young black men is an image that we should all reject.”

Farrakhan said, “This… Jehri-curl, female acting, sissified-acting expression is not wholesome for our young boys, nor for our young girls. Certainly the man is a great singer, certainly, he’s a powerful entertainer. We cannot and we would never try to take anything away from our brother.”

He went on to contend that Michael Jackson is setting a poor example for black youth. “This is a shame. But, of course, men like this will live to die of old age, because they threaten nothing.”

A spokesman for Michael Jackson, whose latest album, Thriller, has sold more than 25 million copies, said the singer would have no comment. The spokesman in Los Angeles described Jackson as very religious and added, “I just don’t think he would subscribe to any way of life other than a very deeply religious lifestyle.”

[/EXPAND] [EXPAND Don King told him that to the rest of the world he would only ever be treated as “another nigger”, 1984 ]

Michael Jackson's Experience of Racism, Don King, Michael Jackson

As quoted by Taraborrelli in Magic and Madness, pg 377

King’s final comments on the subject [of the Victory tour] failed to ingratiate him to Michael Jackson. He went on, “What Michael’s got to realize is that Michael’s a nigger. It doesn’t matter how great he can sing and dance, I don’t care that he can prance. He’s one of the megastars in the world, but he’s still going to be a nigger megastar. He must accept that. Not only must he understand that, he’s got to accept it and demonstrate that he wants to be a nigger. Why? To show what a nigger can do.”

Jermaine Jackson “You Are Not Alone”

Don [King] didn’t win awards for tact and diplomacy, and his giant ego was the reason he was a promoter. He was brash but effective. Had you seen him – the loudest mouth – and Michael – the quietest soul – interacting, you might have thought, There’s the kid with the embarrassing uncle that he can’t help but find funny. I’ll never forget being in a meeting when we were discussing something about the show’s direction and Michael was talking about how he wanted to pay back the fans and keep pushing higher.

“Michael!” said Don, cutting dead the monologue. “Remember this. It don’t matter whether you’re a rich nigger, a poor nigger, or just a nigger. No matter how big you get, this industry’s still gonna treat you like a nigger.” In other words, and in his opinion, you’ll always be a servant to the music industry, so don’t ever think of becoming more powerful than that.

Everyone in the room froze. If the music industry blew smoke up everyone’s ass, Don blew in an icy blast of straight talk.

It was Michael who was the first to laugh, cracking the suspended silence. He found it funny, in a shocking way, and wasn’t offended. None of us was. A black man had been addressing black men, and that kind of talk was hardly foreign to someone from Gary, Indiana.

[/EXPAND] [EXPAND Foxboro Massachusetts officials banned the Jacksons Victory tour from their stadium claiming that too much of an “unknown element” would show up, a move residents believed to be racist considering many other famous white musicians had been allowed to play, June 22nd 1984 ]

Jackson Fans Angry At Foxboro, Herald Journal, June 22nd 1984

Radio station switchboards were jammed with angry calls Thursday and a state legislator branded town officials as racists following their decision to turn away two concerts by superstar Michael Jackson and his brothers.

“We have an awful lot of people who were upset with the town of Foxboro,” said Mark Williams, a producer of Boston radio station WRKO-AM’s morning talk show. “The switchboard is overloaded with calls.”

The yelps of protests from Jackson fans came after the three selectmen in this community 30 miles south of Boston voted Wednesday night to reject permits for two concerts at Sullivan Stadium.

Residents had complained the concerts would attract vandals, disrupt business and create traffic problems.

Many callers questioned to reject the black group while permitting stars like David Bowie and the Police to play the stadium last year.

“A lot of people think it’s a racist thing,” said Charles Laquidara, the morning disc jockey at WBCNFM. “It’s unfortunate because the man cuts across all color lines. You can hear Michael Jackson on every station on the dial.”

Foxboro officials “feel the town is going to be the ‘Mecca for Minorities’ when all the evidence is directly opposite said Sen Royal Bolling, a black legislator who traveled to Los Angeles earlier this year to persuade the Jacksons to come to Sullivan Stadium, the largest arena in the Boston area.

Bolling proposed legislation to limit the power of Foxboro selectmen to turn down concerts and said he would lead a multicultural march of thousands of Jackson fans to the concert site if Foxboro officials don’t change their minds.

The selectmen declined to comment, but town counsel Richard Gelermen called the charge of racism a “scurilous thing to say.”

“That was absolutely not a consideration and it reflects very poorly on the town of Foxboro,” he said. “The truth is that at the last two major  concerts there was disruptive behavior in the neighborhood and Michael Jackson has the capacity of drawing many unticketed people into the area.”

Stadium owner Charles Sullivan executive vice president of the National Football League New England Patriots wanted to bring Jackson and his five brothers to the 61,000 seat stadium on August 11 and 12.

Sullivan reportedly has guaranteed the Jacksons $40 million in exchange for the right to promote their summer tour across the country, winning the job through efforts to get the group to play at the Foxboro stadium.

“Naturally we’re quite disappointed,” said Michael Chamberlain, president of Stadium Management Corp. which is handling the tour. “The ironic thing is he wound up getting the whole tour and the first and only city that has turned down is Foxboro.”

Chamberlain said there would be no attempt to challenge the decision.

The Jacksons Victory Tour opens in Kansas City on July 6th and will include 39 concert dates in 11 cities. The main attraction will be Michael Jackson, whose hits like Beat It and Billie Jean made his Thriller album the biggest seller in history.

Chamberlain said Stadium Management offered to provide round the clock security to businesses near the stadium to win over the selectmen Sullivan even promised a black of the $30 tickets for Foxboro residents. But the selectmen turned down the concert despite the $50,000 the town would receive from the concerts.

Selectman Stephen Hickox told the 150 people who attended the meeting he shows would attract and “unknown element”to the town of 14,5000. Chairman Richard Thompson said safety officials feared traffic jams could black fire tracks and ambulances.

“I do not think that any security plan would be able to handle the large number of non ticket holders that may show up,” he said.

A caller to the radio station complained that Western Union refused a telegram to the selectmen calling them “low life scum.” Another radio station hired a limousine to transport live chickens to the selectmen.

[/EXPAND] [EXPAND Co-Star of Michael’s video The Way You Make Me Feel, Tatiana Thumbtzen, says she was told that MTV thought their music video was “too ethnic”, 1987 ]

Michael Jackson's Experience of Racism, The Way You Make Me Feel, ethnic, Tatiana Thumbtzen


David Banks, the co-writer of The Way You Make Me Feel, was a relative of Eddie Griffin. David had shared with me how MTV had complained about our video, saying that it was too “ethnic”. David had said to me, “He’s Black. What do they expect?”

[/EXPAND] [EXPAND Michael penned a letter to his videographer for the Bad Tour, William Pecchi Jr, sharing how hurt he had been on hearing how “Pecky” had been racist as he’d grown up in Texas, 1988 ]

From the Julien’s Auction website:

Three-page handwritten letter from Michael Jackson to William Pecchi Jr., written on Capitol Tokyu Hotel stationary c. 1988. The letter is affectionately addressed to “Pecky.” Pecchi was a camera operator on Jackson’s film Moonwalker (Ultimate Productions, 1988). After Moonwalker, Pecchi was asked to travel abroad with Jackson during the Bad tour. Pecchi rode to and from venues to capture the crowd’s reaction to Jackson. It was during these rides that Pecchi and Jackson talked at length and one such conversation in Tokyo provoked this correspondence. The letter discusses Michael’s goals for the film, encouragement to Pecchi, reactions to conversations about racism and Jackson’s vision of the world, signed, “love M.J.”


I very, very seldom write letters, but in this moving occasion I couldn’t help myself. I want to thank you for putting the effort forward to capture the magic and excitement of the people of the world. What you do is a very personal and powerful medium to me. It is the art of stopping time, to perserve a moment that the naked eye cannot hold, to capture truth spontaneous truth, the depths of excitement in human spirt. All else will be forgotten, but not the films. Generations from now will experience the excitement you’ve captured; it truly is a time capsule.

I will not be totally satisfied until I know you’re at the right angle at the right time, to capture a crescendo of emotion that happens so quickly, so spontaeously. What you have done was good, but I want the best, the whole picture, cause and effect. I want crowd reaction wide lens shots – depths of emotions, timing. I know we can do it. It is my dream and goal to capture TRUTH. We should dedicate ourselves to this. The person who makes a success of living is the one who sees his goal steadily and aims for it unswervingly. That is dedication. There is no other way to perfection than dedication, perseverance. Just tell us what you need to make it happen. Take the leadership to direct the other cameramen.

I enjoy working with you that is why I asked you to come, you have a gentle spirit that’s very likable. Maybe I look at the world through rose colored glasses, but I love people all over the world. That is why stories of racism really disturb me. You hurt my heart and soul when you told me of your boyhood in Texas. Because in truth I believe all men are created equal. I was taught that and will always believe it. I just can’t conceive of how a person could hate another because of skin color. I love every race on the planet earth. Prejudice is the child of ignorance.

Naked we came into the world and naked we shall go out. And a very good thing too, for it reminds me that I am naked under my shirt, whatever its color. I’m sorry to bring up such past news, but in the car I was hurt by what you said. I’m so happy that you have managed to overcome your childhood past. Thank God that you’ve graduated from such beliefs of ignorance. I’m glad I’ve never experienced such things. Teach your kids to love all people equally. I know you will.

I speak from my heart saying I love you and all people, especially the children. I’m glad God chose me and you.

Love M.J.

[/EXPAND] [EXPAND Michael’s speech against racism, Sharpton’s National Action Network headquarters in the Harlem neighborhood of New York, July 9, 2002 ] [youtube]5OBUgE6EDFo[/youtube]

“I remember a long time ago in Indiana, [when I was] like 6 or 7 years old, and I had a dream that I wanted to be a performer, you know, an entertainer and whenever I’d be asleep at night, and my mother would wake me up and say, ‘Michael, Michael, James Brown is on TV!’ I would jump out of bed and I’d just stare at the screen and I’d do every twist, every turn, every bump, every grind. And it was Jackie Wilson; the list goes on and on you know, just phenomenal, unlimited, great talent. It’s very sad to see that these artists really are penniless because they created so much joy for the world and the system, beginning with the record companies, totally took advantage of them. And it’s not like they always say: ‘they built a big house,’ ‘they spent a lot of money,’ ‘they bought a lot of cars’–that’s stupid, it’s an excuse. That’s nothing compared to what artists make. And I just need you to know that this is very important, what we’re fighting for because I’m tired. I’m really, really tired of the manipulation. I’m tired of how the press is manipulating everything that’s been happening in this situation. They do not tell the truth, they’re liars. And they manipulate our history books. Our history books are not true, it’s a lie. The history books are lies, you need to know that. You must know that. All the forms of popular music from jazz, to Hip Hop to Bebop to Soul, you know, to talking about the different dances from the Cake Walk to the Jitter Bug to the Charleston to Break Dancing—all these are forms of Black dancing! What’s more important than giving people a sense of escapism, and escapism meaning entertainment? What would we be like without a song? What would we be like without a dance, joy and laughter and music? These things are very important, but if we go to the bookstore down on the corner, you won’t see one Black person on the cover. You’ll see Elvis Presley. You’ll see the Rolling Stones. But where are the real pioneers who started it? Otis Blackwell was a prolific phenomenal writer. He wrote some of the greatest Elvis Presley songs ever. And this was a Black man. He died penniless and no one knows about this man, that is, they didn’t write one book about him that I know of because I’ve search all over the world. And I met his daughter today, and I was to honored. To me it was on the same level of meeting the Queen of England when I met her.

But I’m here to speak for all injustice. You gotta remember something, the minute I started breaking the all-time record in record sales—I broke Elvis’s records, I broke the Beatles’ records—the minute [they] became the all-time best selling albums in the history of the Guinness Book of World Records, overnight they called me a freak, they called me a homosexual, they called me a child molester, they said I tried to bleach my skin. They did everything to try to turn the public against me. This is all a complete conspiracy, you have to know that. I know my race. I just look in the mirror, I know I’m Black. It’s time for a change. And let’s not leave this building and forget what has been said. Put it into your heart, put it into your conscious mind, and let’s do something about it. We have to! It’s been a long, long time coming and a change has got to come. So let’s hold our torches high and get the respect that we deserve. I love you. I love you. Please don’t put this in your heart today and forget it tomorrow. We will have not accomplished our purpose if that happens. This has got to stop! It’s got to stop, that’s why I’m here with the best to make sure that it stops. I love you folks. And remember: we’re all brothers and sisters, no matter what color we are.”

Comments { 2 }

Joe Jackson And Abuse: Michael Jackson’s Childhood

[EXPAND Stories From The Other Jackson Family Members ] [EXPAND LaToya Jackson ]

September 1987, Japan, Todd Gold’s book

Katherine Jackson and LaToya visited and compared shopping tips; Michael preferred that his father, also in town, stay away. ”That’s a touchy situation,” said Latoya from her suite at the Akasaka Prince Hotel.

“Growing Up In The Jackson Family,” LaToya autobio, February 7th 1991

What began as a hobby quickly turned into work. Each day after school the guys rehearsed rigorously, first under Mother’s direction, then, after dinner, with Joseph. My father demanded absolute perfection, rarely praising, constantly criticizing, and often hitting. Long before the guys became a national sensation as the Jackson 5, their calling card was precise choreography inspired by their idols, Jackie Wilson and James Brown. I can still see my father standing in the living room, whip in hand. If someone missed a dance step, crack! Sometimes after Joseph had attacked one of the guys, leaving him gasping for breath and doubled over in pain, Mother cried, “It’s not worth it, Joe! Just forget it. The boys don’t have to be singers.”

But Joseph never answered. Even with school the next morning, he rehearsed the quintet to exhaustion. For up to eight hours straight, the same notes, the same words, the same moves, repeated until everyone memorized them. Step, dip, and spin. Step, dip and spin. Step, dip, and spin…

Because eight year old Marlon had a hard time learning the choreography, he suffered many beatings. Joseph hadn’t wanted him in the group at first, but Mother insisted, even though she would concede privately, “He doesn’t know his left foot from his right.” Marlon refused to quit though and practiced constantly. Today, of course, he’s a brilliant dancer.

For no reason I could understand, our father singled out his first born son for the most punishment. I used to ask Mother why Joseph treated Jackie so badly. All she’d say was, “I don’t know… he just never liked him.” As if that made it all right. One of the most talented Jacksons, my brother won many dance competitions as a child. As a young man, he had a warm smile and intelligent brown eyes that made women sigh. I truly believe that Jackie had the same potential to become a star in his own right. But endless psychological and physical battering wore him down.

As if my brothers didn’t suffer enough at their fathers hands, he forced them to don boxing gloves and fight one another while he watched. “Okay, Jackie,” he’d sneer, “let’s see what you and Tito can do.” The two selected halfheartedly punched each other right there in the living room, just to get it over with, while Joseph egged them on.

Another of his pastimes was frightening us. For as long as I can remember, he got the biggest kick out of lurking around our windows at night and tapping on the glass, or pretending to break in. When one of us tiptoed to the window to investigate, my father, wearing a gruesome latex mask, leaped up and growled like a beast. We screamed in terror, and Joseph laughed. It wasn’t done playfully or as part of a game. Why a grown man would deliberately scare his children out of their wits is beyond me.

Even worse was being startled awake by a hideous monster hovering just inches above our faces. While we shrieked, Joseph ripped off his mask and fell out laughing, as if this was the funniest thing he’d ever seen. It got so where every night I pulled the covers tightly over my head and gently rocked myself until drifting off. Even now, that is the only way I can get to sleep.


Adolescence proved awkward for Michael too. He sprouted from just over five feet to five feet ten. Overnight, it seemed, he went from a cute little boy to a gangly teenager. Certain body parts outgrew others, and now Michael was the object of merciless ribbing, especially from his father. “Look at that big nose on your face,” Joseph used to taunt. “I don’t know where you got that from… Bignose.”

LaToya Jackson, Aug 31, 1991

“My father was deplorably violent, whipping smacking, and punching his children.” [/EXPAND] [EXPAND Marlon Jackson ]

National Enquirer interview, 1988

In one altercation recalled by Marlon, Joseph held Michael upside down by one leg at the age of three and “pummeled him over and over again with his hand, hitting him on his back and buttocks.”

Marlon also said he himself would “get lit up like a Christmas tree,” by Joseph.

The Mirror, 29th August 2009

Michael loathed their dad Joe, accusing him of beating him as a child, which Joe, who lives apart from Katherine, has always denied.

But Marlon insisted: “My father beat us a lot of times. I felt resentful. That sort of discipline wasn’t abnormal in our neighborhood but it doesn’t mean it was right.”

And Marlon believes the beatings may have fatally damaged Jackson’s self-esteem and ability to fend for himself.

“It does a couple of things to you – it forms you into this person who is not able to confront people when they’re not satisfied with things. It also makes people able to take advantage of you. I found a lot of my siblings were that way.” [/EXPAND] [EXPAND Jackie Jackson ]

“Jackson Family Values” biography by Margaret Maldonado (Jermaine’s ex-girlfriend and the mother to two of his children), November 1995

The interview that still haunts me was one that came from Jackie. While all the brothers made references to Joseph’s temper and the beatings they would receive at his hand, Jackie as the oldest boy, saw and felt more than any of the others.

“My father used to hurt,” Jackie told Joyce. “I mean, if you knew you had a beating the next morning, you couldn’t sleep at night. We were scared of him – all of us. Especially when I was little. We would all try hard in school and if we got bad grades, he would line us up on our knees and hit us. I remember we studied the time tables on Saturdays and we’d be shaking. Even if we knew them, we’d be shaking ’cause you’re thinking about the beating if you miss one. And if you did, he’d get a switch off a tree and pull down your pants.

“He was hard on us, all right. Too hard. I always thought maybe he was upset ’cause he worked so hard and he was taking it out on us a little bit. My father was the type of guy, he never showed us love. He loved us, but he never showed it.”

“He never put his arms around us and said, ‘Son, I love you.’ My father never said, ‘I love you,’ ever, to any of us. I never got that from him.”

“My son knows that I love him. When I think about it, it brings tears to my eyes all the time ’cause my father just couldn’t say it. I know that he really wanted to, but he could never say those words, ‘I love you, son.’”

Jackie, the athletic talent of the family, became emotional when watching scenes in which he was depicted playing baseball with his school team. I watched as tears came to his eyes and he began to sob. “Do you know that my father never came to watch me play ball?” he said. “My father never believed in me.” His pain was hard to watch. I had hoped this miniseries would bring everyone together as a family. Instead it just seemed to be evoking painful memories.

With the memory of that interview and others in my mind, I watched as Joseph would repeatedly look the press straight in the eye and swear: “We never beat LaToya or any of the other kids.” He’d then retreat behind the gates of his home and watch all his children walk the opposite way. [/EXPAND] [EXPAND Tito Jackson ]

“Jackson Family Values” biography by Margaret Maldonado (Jermaine’s ex-girlfriend and mother to two of his children), November 1995

Each of the brothers had his or her own story of life with Joseph – some sad, some angry. They would come to me, one by one, and share something they had hidden from the scriptwriter. Of all of them, Tito’s was the most bitter. After watching some dailies, Tito came up with me an uncharacteristic steely look in his eyes.

“You were very kind, Margaret,” he told me. “The beatings, I mean. Joseph used to whip me with an ironing cord and then pour salt into the wounds.” Tito seemed to have neither tears nor forgiveness, just memories that didn’t go away. [/EXPAND] [EXPAND Katherine ]

“Jackson Family Values” biography by Margaret Maldonado (Jermaine’s ex-girlfriend and mother to two of his children), November 1995

It was quite a paradox to watch Katherine deny in the press that Joseph had ever struck their children, then read transcripts of interviews with Joyce in which Katherine had spoken of such incidents.

Again, she told me a story of her own. She said one time Joseph had come after her, intent on hitting her. She said she picked up a glass ashtray and threw it directly at her husband. The edge of the ashtray slashed his arm. “Joseph took one look at the blood and from that point on, he never ever messed with me,” Katherine said.

Katherine Jackson and Shmuley, 2000/1

SB: I can turn this [tape recorder] off, or not. But Michael has a tortured, he’s had a tortured relationship with his father. I’m not saying anything new. I mean, this has come out, as you know, in interviews and things like that.
Katherine: Aha.
SB: You probably know that there’s uh… I don’t know how much he spoke about his father in public but one of the famous things that he said publicly was that once his father walked into the room, he felt like throwing up ’cause he was so afraid of him. Do you remember that?
KJ: I know! Yeah, I remember him saying that. He used to tell me and when I used to go on the road he always said, “Don’t bring Joseph.” I’d say, “Why?” and he said, “I literally…”
SB: I could turn this off if you want me to.
KJ: Yes. Could you, please?
SB: Of course. [/EXPAND] [EXPAND Janet Jackson ]

Janet Jackson, Dateline, February 2011

MEREDITH VIEIRA: I think you open up about your dad a lot in this book.
JANET JACKSON: My father and I, we’ve gone through our moments, we’ve had a different kind of relationship… My father was never there the way I really wanted a father to be… I would see my friends interact with their dad and I would say to myself, “That’s what I want to do. I want to be able to sit on his lap. I want to be able to call him, ‘Dad’.”
MEREDITH VIEIRA: You called him Joseph, right?
JANET JACKSON: Yeah, he said, “That my name to you. You call me Joseph. You don’t call me Da—” I tried it once.
MEREDITH VIEIRA: To call him dad?
MEREDITH VIEIRA: And what happened?
JANET JACKSON: He said, “I’m Joseph to you. You do not call me dad.” See, you’re gonna start me to going here. That affects you as a kid… I know my father loves me. He just has a very, very different way of showing it.
MEREDITH VIEIRA: You give your dad credit for activating your career. You’re also blunt, Janet, you — and Michael said this too, that you were scared —
MEREDITH VIEIRA: — of your dad and there was a time when you were, I guess, in the bath and he struck you with a belt when you came out?
JANET JACKSON: That was the only time my father ever whupped me.
MEREDITH VIEIRA: How old were you then?
JANET JACKSON: I was very young, very young. And I can’t even remember what I did, but I remember it happening. And I don’t think I deserved it. I don’t think it should have ever happened. A lot of times I felt that my father would take things out on us because of — I don’t know, issues outside of the home. But we were, we were afraid of my father, growing up.

Janet Jackson, “True You,” autobiography, May 2011

It was always difficult talking to my father, who made us call him Joseph, not Dad. He was a man of action, not words. And the truth is that we feared him. I was the last of nine children, and I believe that by the time I was born my parents had grown tired of disciplining. They were more lenient with me and Randy, the next to youngest, than with our older siblings. There was one time, however, when my father hit me. I can’t remember what rule I had disobeyed, but I had just stepped out of the bathtub when he struck me with his belt. It left marks on my skin. It’s interesting that I don’t recall the lesson my father was trying to teach, only the violence he used to make his point.

Violence has a way of overwhelming everything. I think my father is misunderstood. It’s important for you to know that my father loves all of his children and that his way of communicating his love was a result of his upbringing. I tell this story not to judge him, but to be open and to break the cycle. Fear can also be overwhelming.

Many nights my siblings and I would put on our pajamas and go to Mother’s room. We would tell jokes, read stories, and watch TV. We felt safe there.

In between our laughter, we’d sometimes hear the crunching sound of tires rolling up the gravel driveway. It was Joseph in his car, headlights turned off, windows rolled down, trying to sneak up on us to hear what we were talking about. The sound of his car stopped us cold. We’d scatter like roaches, off to our rooms, ducking down low so not to be visible through the windows. We didn’t know what mood Joseph was bringing home.

I know that my kind of story is not uncommon, and I know many have endured far worse. Through it all we always had Mother’s love as a constant, and so many people don’t even have that .

But it is important to remember that with an unstable foundation, you can’t find your own true you.

I’m certain I received less of his wrath than my other siblings did, but there were times when Joseph began screaming at me for reasons I didn’t comprehend. I now understand that he has an issue with anger management.

My father’s love for us, his passion for us to succeed, his burning desire to provide for his children, were sometimes communicated in anger. I wish I had understood then what I understand today. But as children, when we face anger— anger that strikes us unexpectedly, like a lightning bolt—we have no no real protection. We presume either that we did wrong or simply are wrong, through and through. [/EXPAND] [/EXPAND] [EXPAND Others Who Witnessed It ]

Johnny Jackson (no relation), original drummer in the Jackson 5, 1968

Once, Joe tried to convince Michael to execute a dance step a certain way. Michael refused to listen. According to Johnny Jackson, Joe smacked Michael across the face. Michael fell backwards and hit the floor with a thud.

“Now, you do it the way I told you to! You hear me?” Joe hollered at the nine year old.

“I once heard that Michael was late coming to rehearsal and when he walked in, Joe came up behind him and shoved him into some musical instruments. Michael fell into the drums and got banged up pretty bad. Maybe Joe didn’t mean to shove him so hard, I don’t know. But Michael was affected. I know for a fact that Michael began to dislike his father at an early age.”

Sam Moore of Sam and Dave, Late 1960s

Sam Moore, of Sam and Dave, recalled Joe locking Michael – who was maybe 10 years old – in a dressing room while Joe went off on his own adventures. Michael sat alone for hours. He also later recalled having to go onstage even if he’d been sick in bed that day.

Anna Perez, flight attendant, late July 1973

Memory of Micheal: In the early ’70’s, the Jackson 5 was at the height of their popularity and on tour. I was a flight attendant and the group, their roadies and their father filled my first class cabin on a short hop from NYC to Rhode Island for a concert. We had some pretty bad turbulence and were trying to land. I was in the galley, closing out the liquor when the very shy, beautiful teenaged Micheal walked in and said “My father would like two more double Johnny Walker’s– and your phone number.” So, his married father sent his young son to solicit for him. Whatever problems Micheal had later in his life, I place at least some of the responsibility at his father’s feet.

Michael at Montclair Prep Highschool, 1972-1974

“His father Joe Jackson was very strict — he didn’t give him any leeway,” Simpson noted. “One day, Michael got in trouble, not a big thing, but Joe Jackson came to the office furious and started yelling at him. You could see that Michael was very intimidated by his father. My uncle (who was the principal then) had to intervene to calm things down.”

At a Party For LaToya Jackson, Sepia, 1980

And speaking of Polydor Records, the company staged a giant get-acquainted party in Hollywood at Jackie-O’s one recent night for LaToya Jackson, attractive singing sister in the singing Jackson family. LaToya now records for Polydor.

After the hilarity had subsided, and the many press photographers had departed, invited guest Richard Pryor arrived, dressed in a T-shirt imprinted: “Up In Smoke.” Pryor was with his actor friend Stan Shaw, both having arrived in Pryor’s sleek Rolls-Royce Corni- che convertible.

Another late arrival was LaToya’s famous singer-brother, Michael, whose tardiness so enraged their father, Joe (who was observing his own birthday), that the elder whisked off his belt as if to give his 21 -year-old son a few birthday licks.

Filming of Thriller, Vanity Fair, October 11-20 1983

Still living at home at the age of 25, Jackson’s problems with his family were painfully apparent during the shoot. Landis and other crew members witnessed the frequent clashes between father and son, which would become public knowledge in the coming years, when Jackson would publicly refer to Joe Jackson’s abuse.

More than once Landis found himself caught up in the twisted dynamics of the Jackson family. One night when Joseph and Katherine Jackson visited the set, the director recalls, “Michael asked me to have Joe removed. He said, ‘Would you please ask my father to leave?’ So I go over to Mr. Jackson. ‘Mr. Jackson, I’m sorry, but can you please … ?’ ‘Who are you?’ ‘I’m John Landis. I’m directing this.’ ‘Well, I’m Joe Jackson. I do what I please, and I want to be here.’ I said, ‘I’ll have to ask security to remove you if you don’t leave now.’” Landis had a policeman escort Joe Jackson off the set.

“Michael was scared to death of Joseph,” says Larry Stessel, who vividly recalls and evening where Joe walked into the room at the Encino house and Michael literally moved behind Stessel to hide, cowering.

“Michael would lock his bedroom door,” remembers Branca, “and Joe would threaten to bang it in.” (Joe Jackson, through his lawyer, denies this account.)

LaToya Jackson and Ronnie Rancifer on “Night Talk with Jane Whitney,” 1992

Jane: Ronnie you were keyboardist with the Jackson 5 for what, a good number of years.
Ronnie: Yeah. for about 10 years, 8-10 years.
Jane: And at one point you lived with the family?
Ronnie: Yeah, in California.
Jane: Now, [LaToya’s allegations] are a terrible thing.
Ronnie: It is.
Jane: Does that surprise you?
Ronnie: Not really, ’cause I don’t really put anything past Joseph.
Jane: What does that mean?
Ronnie: Well, I’ve seen him in occasions like, I mean one time in Gary, while we were rehearsing and his mother fixed him a nice dinner and the brothers were sitting down commiserating and having fun and talking about going to the Appollo theater and doing a gig there and it was zero degrees outside and Joe said, “I want some Kool-Aid.” He said, “Jermaine, go out to the store and get me some Kool Aid,” and Jermaine said, “It’s cold outside!” Joe picked up a harvest spoon and – BAM! hit him across the head, sending him out to go in the cold.
Jane: So you say he was physically abusive to his children. You saw that happen.
Ronnie: With a harvest spoon. Big harvest spoon.
Jane: That aside, how did he treated Latoya? From What you saw.
Ronnie: From what I saw, like Latoya said, she tried to stay to herself, okay, she was real quiet, she was like a shadow. Whenever a guy would come around to Latoya and take on a date, Joseph would hit the ceiling. I was like, wow. Even one time I had, personally, I was teaching her how to swim and he went off. More like, “This is my girl, man.”
Jane: Sounds like a jealous boyfriend more than…
Ronnie: A boyfriend moreso than a father.
Jane: Was he like that when you started to have attention from other men? Was he jealous?
LaToya: Well he didn’t allow me to do anything. I don’t recall a thing, I don’t know if I should phrased it as jealousy or not because you don’t see it that way, but I do recall him not wanting me to do anything with anyone. He just basically wanted me to himself.
Jane: That’s sort of a reclusive life. You didn’t have a normal life where you could go out like other people.
LaToya: No, it wasn’t normal
Jane: Now why did you wait so long to get out of the house, Latoya?
LaToya: Sometimes it takes a lifetime. I tried to leave several times actually and my parents are very good at playing these guilt tricks on you, “You can’t leave the house, you’re a Jackson, somebody’s gonna follow you, they’ll kidnap you,” and my father, he took my luggage and he threw it back in the room, and he threw me in the room and he closed door saying, “You’re not going anywhere,” and this went on continuously when I tried to leave. Now, I look back on it and say, “How silly, why didn’t you just get up in the night and just go.” They always say, “If you left I’ll find you right away and bring you right back home.”

Roger Friedman, Larry King Live, 21st July 2009

MORET: It is not the media that’s accusing him. Michael Jackson said to ’93 to Oprah Winfrey in a huge interview, and again ten years later, in another huge interview, my father beat me. He abused me. This has been out there in the public. Michael Jackson isn’t here anymore to refute Joe Jackson’s claims. It has been out there in the public. Joe Jackson had his opportunity to refute it. He didn’t.

KING: Roger, wasn’t the age, though — he’s 80 years old — of spare the rod and spoil the child?

FRIEDMAN: Not exactly. I have people who worked for the Jacksons in the ’70s, who talk about how when the kids were rehearsing for the Jackson 5, if Joe didn’t like what Michael was doing, and Michael was his star, he would lock him in a dark closet until he was ready to take him out. Not only he harassed, he tortured this kid.

You wonder why Michael Jackson says he couldn’t sleep. If he did die of Diprivan or something where he couldn’t sleep and needed extreme medicines to make him sleep, this is why; he had nightmares about Joseph Jackson. This is why Joseph Jackson is not in Michael’s will. That should tell us everything right there.

FRIEDMAN: All right, these two guys, they’re the only ones that anyone was trying to keep away from Michael Jackson. They’re the only two that were kept away. Leonard Rowe and Joseph Jackson actually called me on March 18th — I just looked it up on my cell phone bill. They called me to say, right after the AEG Concerts were announced, that they wanted to get involved and take over the concerts.

Joe Jackson said to me, I have to get in there and fix this, because it is no good. Why was it no good? Because he and Leonard Rowe were not getting a cut of it. Last year, Leonard Rowe was sued successfully by R-Kelly, the singer, for 3.4 million dollars for setting up a fraudulent concert tour.

He also had to paid Nio, another R & B singer, 700,000 dollars. The guy has an awful reputation. He’s not even a concert promoter. He’s just a bad guy.

Frank Dileo, Hits Daily Double, 31st July 2009

What was Michael’s relationship like with his father?
Joe was his father, and that’s what Michael wanted. He didn’t want to know about any business. He just wanted him to be his father. He wanted to be loved as a son, not a commodity.

Did he ever get that?
I don’t know. Watch the Larry King interview with Joe Jackson and you make that determination. It was a train wreck.[/EXPAND] [EXPAND Joseph and Guns ]

“Growing Up In The Jackson Family,” LaToya autobio, February 7th 1991

An avid gun collector, Joseph kept a cache of loaded weapons under his bed and in his closets. Mother objected strongly, especially since he’d once accidentally shot out his brother in law’s eye during a hunting trip. “Joseph,” she used to say, “aren’t you tired of those guns? Haven’t you had enough?” He ignored her, taking perverse pleasure in aiming at one of us and squeezing the trigger. Click. What if he’d forgotten to empty the chamber?

“Joseph,” Mother would scold, “suppose something’s in it?”

“Katie, I checked; nothing’s in it,” he’d reply, then laugh out loud.

“Magic and Madness,” Taraborrelli, May 1991

“Joe has a whole stash of guns in his house,” said his former business manager Jerome Howard. “Under his bed, he’s got machine guns.”

Steve Howell, “I tried to explain that Michael had cleared it for me to be there but [Joe] got upset and told me to stay away or, he said, “I’ll make sure you stay away.” So I left. On my way out I talked it over with one of the guards. “You’d better do what he says,” the guard told me. “You know he has an Uzi he keeps.”

Margaret Maldonado, Jermaine’s ex-girlfriend and mother of two of his children in her biography “Jackson Family Values”, November 1995

Away from work, life at Hayvenhurst had turned into a nasty TV soap opera, with much of the hostility directed at Joseph during his then infrequent visits to California. Despite his age and deteriorating physical condition, his children still lived in fear of their father because of his explosive temper and the collection of guns he kept upstairs underneath his bed and in his closet.

When Joseph got angry, his eyes would start to glaze over and his forehead would wrinkle. The transition was immediate and so identifiable that everyone who was able would run for cover. He would charge up the stairs, and we never knew when he might be bringing down a loaded gun and start firing. It never seemed to matter how the argument started. It only mattered to Joseph that he won.

One afternoon Jackie and Joseph got into a shoving match. They fought quite a bit over women since Jackie, as the handsomest brother, always had his pick of the lot and Joseph found that hard to deal with. Joseph wanted to have sex with everyone else’s girlfriend or wife. This was hardly something new. Katherine told me she thought Joseph had slept with the wife of one of his brothers. Katherine’s personal assistant, Amelia Paterson, physically stepped in between father and son to keep them from hurting each other. She knew better than anyone that a fight between Joseph and Jackie could easily turn deadly, just as it had for Marvin Gaye and his father. Amelia was a long time friend of Katherine’s and they loved each other like sisters. Because of that, she tolerated more from Joseph than any woman should ever have.

Amelia’s office was in the back of the house, and frequently Jermaine, Jackie an Randy would also use it to conduct business. One day it became the site of yet another family melodrama. Jackie and Randy were in a heated discussion with Jermaine over the way he was conducting family business. In the Jackson household, nothing stays quiet for long and, true to form, this discussion escalated into a fight at warp speed.

Hearing the argument, Joseph joined in, shouting his own insults. Then he got that familiar glazed look on his face and turned to leave. Amelia jumped up to her feet to try and stop him, asking him where he was doing. “I’m gonna get my tear gas gun and gas those boys outta here,” the old man yelled. It was only because of Amelia’s patience and abilities as a negotiator that Joseph didn’t carry out his plan.


When Randy discovered that Eliza was at the front gate with their daughter Stevanna, he confronted Joseph and the two of them got into a scuffle. Then Joseph headed toward his bedroom. Fearing Joseph was going for his guns, Randy grabbed onto his father’s shirt, ripping the material and pulling the elder Jackson down a flight of stairs.

By the time I arrived on the scene, a security guard was pointing a gun at Randy, attempting to follow Joseph’s instructions to throw him off the property. What I hadn’t realized was that Joseph had told the security guard that Randy was drunk as an excuse to give him the boot. [/EXPAND] [EXPAND Joe Jackson’s Own Words ]

People magazine, Susan Schindehette & Todd Gold, August 8 1988

Twenty-nine-year-old Michael, for example, has become a virtual stranger to the family; he lives in isolated splendor 100 miles northwest of L.A. in Santa Ynez, Calif., and last saw his parents in February.

“A father will always feel he knows more than his kids,” says Marlon. “It just got to the point where we were grown men, and we had our own lives. We couldn’t always do what he wanted.”

Now, there is de facto estrangement: Phone calls are rare, and Katherine sees him only when she flies out to visit him on the road. For his part, Michael alluded to earlier problems in Moonwalk, his new book, charging that Joe beat him as a child (an allegation Joe denies). And although Michael has been conspicuously generous with his parents (more than a million in cash and jewels for both Mom and Dad), Joe is miffed. “We wonder why things have changed like they have, why he doesn’t seem to care about his family,” he says. “The few times we’ve spoken to him, he seems glad to hear from us. But when you talk to other people, they say Michael doesn’t want to be involved with his family.”

Even Joe still expects Michael to one day return to the fold. “But I may have to go get him and let him know that he has a family still,” he says. “I can always go drag him out of there. He ain’t never going to get too big for me to go get him. And he knows I’ll come get him, too.”

“Bill Bray is so secretive about Michael,” says Joe. “The one thing I do know is that [Michael’s managers] don’t want me anywhere around. I’d love to know if Michael is aware of what his people are doing, which I don’t think he is. We’re talking about millions and millions of dollars.”

Joe Jackson interview, Kitty Kelley, Nov 16, 1991

Interviewed by Kitty Kelley for her forth coming MCA TV talk show, Joe asserts: “Maybe I should’ve punched La Toya, like any other normal parent would do, but I never laid a hand on La Toya. My wife whipped her once. La Toya was always afraid of whippings, you know, and she stayed and she never did get into any trouble or nothing. Lately La Toya hasn’t been herself, he said. “I think she’s being brainwashed… been given some kind of mind- altering drugs or something.”

Joe Jackson interview, Roger Friedman, Fox News, 10th Sept 2001

I did ask him though about his parental philosophy. “You have to be strict with kids,” he said. “There’s nothing wrong with punishment as long as you know how to punish.”

What would be a typical punishment? “Beat his back,” Joe Jackson replied before I could even get the question out.

Joe Jackson interview with Theroux, 13th November 2003

Joe: “I whipped him with a switch and a belt. I never beat him. You beat someone with a stick.”

Theroux told Joe Jackson that his son was so nervous when he saw his father that he “regurgitates”, and Joe responds by saying: “He regurgitates all the way to the bank. That’s right.”

On Joe Jackson, Roger Friedman, 7th July 2009

No one can stop the avaricious, evil father of Michael Jackson.

In the 18 days since Michael’s tragic death, Joseph Jackson has made at least a half million dollars off his late, famous son.

This week, according to sources, “Good Morning America” paid Jackson around $200,000 for a series of interviews that commence tomorrow morning.

ABC says it’s done this as part of a deal for a one-hour documentary on the Jackson family.

At the same time, Jackson is said to be arriving in London tomorrow, the day that Michael was set to start his shows at the O2 Arena. Sources tell me that the British tabloids are paying Jackson at least $250,000 plus expenses to exploit Michael’s memory.

Meanwhile, Michael—remember him? – is lying in a borrowed vault in Forest Lawn Cemetery in Los Angeles, still not permanently buried or interred because the Jackson family hasn’t figured out which location would maximize their profits best.

The horror of Joseph Jackson is only more heightened by the fact that he’s told reporters this week that he somehow foresees exploiting Michael’s children as performers in a bid to regain his glory days of the Jackson 5.

If Michael had a grave, he’d be rolling in it.

Michael Jackson told interviewers many times how his father abused and beat him when he was a child. He said it through tears to Oprah Winfrey.

There is abundant evidence that Michael hated his father. One insider working on Jackson’s business affairs since his death, a person who hadn’t known Joseph Jackson previously, said to me last week, “He killed Michael. Everything he did to to him led up to this. I’ve never met a more awful person.”

Indeed, Joseph Jackson has never hesitated to try and cash in on Michael’s success after his superstar son finally broke free of him in the late 1970s with the “Off the Wall” album. Joseph is famous for coming up with schemes behind Michael’s back.

To wit: On the day of Michael’s famous 30th anniversary solo show, Joe Jackson called a news conference and invited select journalists. I was one of them. It was obvious Michael had no idea this was going on. Mr. Jackson told us he was going to start selling footage of the Jackson 5 for profit. He was eager to be a star himself, clearly.

I asked him about his parental philosophy. “You have to be strict with kids,” he said. “There’s nothing wrong with punishment as long as you know how to punish.” What would be a typical punishment? “Beat his back,” Joe Jackson replied before I could even get the question out.

In 2004, before Michael’s child molestation trial began, I received a call from vulture journalist Daphne Barak. She said, “I have Joseph Jackson here and we want to talk to you about a project.” I hung up.

This year, on March 26th, Jackson himself called me to say he wanted to take over the just announced concerts at the O2 Arena because only he and his partner Leonard Rowe would know how to run them. Shortly after that, Jackson and Rowe threw in with another concert promoter. The latter man filed suit against Michael to get a cut of his AEG Live contract.

And still: three days after Michael died, Joseph Jackson turned up at the BET Awards in Los Angeles with a Michael Jackson impersonator in tow. He announced that he was starting a record company on national TV.

It’s not the first time that Joseph Jackson has tried to claw his way back into the music business. A few years ago he tried in vain to launch a young female singer out of Las Vegas. The project didn’t go anywhere.

Meantime, the judge in the custody hearing next Monday July 20th deciding the fate of Prince, Paris and Blanket Jackson should be aware of some things in the Jackson family history. Joe Jackson has an illegitimate daughter named JohVonnie by a woman named Cheryl Terrell. Janet actually mentioned this in an interview with Parade Magazine in 2008.

He also had at least one other extramarital relationship, with a woman named Gina Sprague. All of this has been documented in various Jackson books, including one by LaToya.

Also, Katherine Jackson filed for divorce twice during her marriage, once in 1973 and again in 1979. In each case she was persuaded not to go through with it rather than hurt the family’s reputation.”

Joe Jackson, Piers Morgan, 31 January 2013

MORGAN: Everyone says the same thing about you. Very tough, but you had to be. That you wanted the best for your family and you decided right from the start you were going to be firm, tough when you had to be disciplined and do what it took to give them the lives that many of them have since enjoyed. How do you respond to that?

JACKSON: Well, I had to be like that way because during those times it’s hard and you had a lot of games there, you know, in the area where we were living.

MORGAN: This is Gary, Indiana.

JACKSON: Gary, Indiana, and I had to make sure that they didn’t get into any type of trouble and things of that sort.

MORGAN: What your children have told me, almost all of them, is that you found it hard, because you were tough with them and disciplined, and wanted to me, you found it hard to be too demonstrative, to tell them too much that you love them. And some of them found that quite difficult to deal with.


MORGAN: Let me play you an example. I interviewed Janet and she said this. Watch this clip.


JANET JACKSON, SINGER: One time I tried to call him dad.

MORGAN: What happened. J. JACKSON: He said no, I’m Joseph. You call me Joseph. I’m Joseph to you. When your father tells you one time, you don’t do it again. I always called him Joseph.

MORGAN: Sad, isn’t it?

J. JACKSON: Yeah, it is. I wish our relationship was different but I know that he loves me.


MORGAN: So come on, why wouldn’t you let your daughter call you dad?

JACKSON: Well you had all those kids running around hollering around and 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 as long as they were able to listen to me and what I had to tell them, you know, in order to make their life successful. This was the main thing.

My kids was brought up in a way so they respect people, and they never was on drugs. They never went to jail, wasn’t in no gangs or nothing. They were brought up professionally. And it was nice, yes.

MORGAN: But do you have any regrets that you may have been a little bit too tough on some of them?

JACKSON: Well, 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. But the world don’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, yes.

MORGAN: Tell me about the young Michael and your relationship with him.

JACKSON: Michael was the type of kid — you know, he was a good kid and very easy to learn. One thing once and he could really do it just like the person that he listened to doing it. By him being that way, he was able to be Michael Jackson, because he looked good on stage. When he performed, everybody loved the way that he did it because he was that good.

MORGAN: You physically disciplined your kids. Do you parents today are too soft on their children? Do you think there is a lack of respect because of that.

JACKSON: Yes, they are too soft. One of the reasons I say that is because kids now a days are killing their parents, in some cases. And the parents say let’s get into this beating thing. There is no such thing as beating a kid. You hit them or punch them for something they did, and they will remember that. They remember it in such a way they won’t do it again. That’s the way I was.

MORGAN: It is not like that anymore. You know, many people say, well, you know, you can’t hit a child. I interviewed your wife Katherine and she said this about you.


KATHERINE JACKSON, WIFE OF JOE JACKSON: I didn’t think he was too tough. But back in those days, everybody raises their children the same. If you did something wrong, that was terribly wrong, you got a scolding for it and you also got a licking, as they called it.

But today you can’t do that. So Michael looked back at those times and he said he was abused.


JACKSON: In those days, kids was real bad. And the parents should have made sure what I did, made sure that my kids was good kids, made sure that they understand what I was trying to do. Since Michael got grown and has kids of his own, he understands what I was going through with it.

[/EXPAND] [EXPAND Michael Jackson’s Accounts ] [EXPAND Jackson 5 interview, Soul Magazine, August 19th 1970 ]

But the two oldest boys often tease their younger brothers.

“When Tito and Jackie really want us mad,” Michael laughs, “they call Jermaine ‘Big Head,’ Marlon ‘Liver lips’ and they call me ‘Big Nose.'” [/EXPAND] [EXPAND Moonwalk Tapes, Steven Davis, first editor (not intended for release), taped 1984-1985 ]

(Audio here)

MJ: “The natural instinct of show business was inside of us anyway, ’cause it was something that God gives you. But [Joe] taught us how to cultivate it. He’d sit there everyday, it was like after school we’d come home and we’d rehearse and he’d sit in a chair like this, usually with a belt in his hand or a switch.”
SD: “Jeeze, wow.”
MJ: “He would. He’d be sitting there and we’d do our performance and if you messed up you’d get hit. The person who got it all the time was Marlon. Ugh. See, I got it outside from show business, I was beat more than any of the children.”
SD: “You mean for pranks and stuff?”
MJ: “No… just… probably just for being… I used to throw back at him, hit back at him. When he’d get me… I would get beat bad. To the point where I would say abused… Please don’t write that.” [/EXPAND] [EXPAND Michael Jackson, Moonwalk autobiography, 1988  ]

Link to book

My father has always been something of a mystery to me and he knows it. One of the few things I regret most is never being able to have a real closeness with him. He built a shell around himself over the years and, once he stopped talking about our family business, he found it hard to relate to us. We’d all be together and he’d just leave the room. Even today it’s hard for him to touch on father and son stuff because he’s too embarrassed. When I see that he is, I become embarrassed, too.

My father never did anything like that. But I still don’t know him, and that’s sad for a son who hungers to understand his own father. He’s still a mystery man to me and he may always be one.


We loved to perform and we put everything we had into it. He’d sit at home with us every day after school and rehearse us. We’d perform for him and he’d critique us. If you messed up, you got hit, sometimes with a belt, sometimes with a switch. My father was real strict with us – real strict. Marlon was the one who got in trouble all the time. On the other hand, I’d get beaten for things that happened mostly outside rehearsal. Dad would make me so mad and hurt that I’d try to get back at him and get beaten all the more. I’d take a shoe and throw it at him, or I’d just fight back, swinging my fists. That’s why I got it more than all my brothers combined. I would fight back and my father would kill me, just tear me up. Mother told me I’d fight back even when I was very little, but I don’t remember that. I do remember running under tables to get away from him, and making him angrier. We had a turbulent relationship


In those days, touring with the Jackson 5, I always shared a room with Jermaine. He and I were close, both onstage and off, and shared a lot of the same interests. Since Jermaine was also the brother most intrigued by the girls who wanted to get at him, he and I would get into mischief on the road.

I think our father decided early on that he had to keep a more watchful eye on us than on our other brothers. He would usually take the room next to ours, which meant he could come in to check on us anytime through the connecting doors. I really despised this arrangement, not only because he could monitor our misbehavior, but also because he used to do the meanest things to us. Jermaine and I would be sleeping, exhausted after a show, and my father would bring a bunch of girls into the room; we’d wake up and they’d be standing there, looking at us, giggling. [/EXPAND] [EXPAND Michael Jackson, “Glenda Tapes”, Phonecalls To A Friend Taped Without His Knowledge, 1991 ]

Transcript 3:2, around February 1991

MJ: I’m torn between mother and LaToya.
Sam: That must be hard on you.
MJ: When you’re brought up… We used to play at the club circuits and stuff like that, you know, with all the black groups and it’s like, you’re brought up and then we finally went with Motown and stuff. You’re brought up… You’re taught to be a certain way because you’re in the public eye. The close-knit, the close-knit family, the tight-knit family, whatever, and “Papa Joe this,” and “Papa Joe was wonderful,” and “Papa Joe helped do this and that.” When things start falling apart, then you gotta cover for it, you know, because you’re out there and you gotta cover for it. I would come home. We would come home from sessions and if we didn’t do something right, we’d get beat with a sock full of wet sand because it didn’t leave bruises. We’d go to the studios the next day and, and, you know, people in the business, people in the Motown family, they knew what was going on. I mean if you did something wrong and Joseph was there, he’d slap the mess out of us. They knew what was going on but it was like, you have to portray this certain image. You have to smile and everything. And everything like “y’all so tight.” “The Jackson family came from poverty, you know, from being nobody” and (I)
Sam: ?
MJ: Joseph is dangerous.

Transcript 3:3, 23rd June 1991

Glenda: Hello! You’re in rare form!
Michael: (chuckle)
Glenda: What have you been doin’ all day?
Michael: Nothin’, rehearsin’ and stuff. My father called and asked me for half a million dollars (laugh).
Glenda: What??
Michael: (laugh) Hooo (laugh).
Glenda: What?
Michael: Yeah.
Glenda: Are you serious?
Michael: And on Father’s Day.
Glenda: (laugh)
Michael: Joseph called me-
Glenda: Huh?
Michael: Joseph called me with this sob story, and he said (imitating Joe) “I been tryin’ to get a hold of you for three weeks.”
Glenda: (gasp)
Michael: I’m like, “Yeah, well what do you want?” And he’s like, “Your number’s changed.” I said, “Yeah. Anyway, what do you want?” (The way he said that, by the way, was funny.) ‘Cause he had to go through, he had to go through four different people to get a hold of me. So I said, “Okay. Fine.” Put his call through.” He wanted to borrow half a million dollars. I’m like, “Oh. Why are you in debt- What did you do now? Why are you in debt this time, Joseph?”
Glenda: (gasps)
Michael: You know, he played this crap on me about (imitating Joseph’s voice), “Oh, well, you know, you my son, you know.”
Glenda: (laughs)
Michael: Like, yeah. (Joe’s voice again) “Aww, you know, I pay it back and, you know, we can come up with a contract.”
Glenda: Has he done this before?
Michael: Yeah! All the time. And you know, when his business, when he had Joe Jackson Productions. He was real good in the beginning, back, you know, with us, when we were little, but… he’s not a very good businessman.
Glenda: Well, what does he do now, though, since (I – managing your sisters?)
Michael: He does what he does. Well, you know, it’s like, he wanted to borrow money before and then he had to go through mother to get it. [He would go on forever] you know.
Glenda: (i). But I don’t remember when [whispers inaudible] Michael: And then… they want me to give Joseph money and stuff like that. So I say, “Okay, well I’m not gonna give it to Joseph. I’ll give it mother, so he doesn’t just throw all the money away and stuff like that, she’s in charge of it.” So now he called me again. “I been tryin’ to get a hold of you for three weeks and this and that.” Blah blah llaaalllaa, whatever. (i). He always in debt.
Glenda: Oh my god. On Father’s Day?
Michael: Yeah.
Glenda: How appropriate!
Michael: Yeah.
Glenda: (laughs) And what did you tell him?
Michael: I tell him, “I don’t know,” I said, “I’ll think about. I’ll get back to you.”
Glenda: Are you gonna do it?
Michael: No, I’m not gonna do it!
Glenda: Ungrateful chiiiild! (laughs)
Michael: I know.
Glenda: (laughs)
Michael: He like (Joe’s voice again), “If it weren’t for me, you wouldn’t be where you are today.” And stuff.
Glenda: Is that what he says? Did he say that today?
Michael: Hell yeah, he says that to me.
Glenda: (laugh) Oh my god!
Michael: He’d always tell us that. When we were little. “Well, you know, if it wasn’t for me, you wouldn’t be where you are. If it wasn’t for me, you wouldn’t be Michael Jackson Sperstar,” and stuff, you know. And I told him before, ’cause we got into a big fight, I says, “That’s halfway true.” I said, “But you know what I said, I grew up in this business and I learned a lot. You had a lot to do with it in the beginning and I thank you for that, but I can’t pay you back for the rest of my life.” I said, “I know the business.” You know, I told him before, I said, “I know the business better than you do.” And I said, “You can’t keep throwing that in my face.” I said, “Because it took you to get me started.” I said, “But then after that, I was my own business man.” ‘Cause he was screwin’ up deals right and left.
Glenda: What was the last thing [that you got involved in with] him, was it the Victory Tour?
Michael: Well, yeah, that’s one of the last things he dabbled in, he screwed it up. I said, “Don’t use Don King.” And all this and that. (Joe’s voice) “Oh, but Don, well, you know, he’s a good businessman.” I said, “No, he’s not, he’s a crook.”
Glenda: (i) [That was a funny one? Tell us the funny part?] Michael: He can suck my socks.
Glenda: (laughs) I love that one part where he made this speech about bringing him back and everything. (i)
Michael: Say what?
Glenda: You know that thing that he said, that thing and he was going on and on about- [and I was like]will you shut up?
Michael: Yeah.
Glenda: (i) shut up. (laughs) That was so funny!
Michael: That was funny, yeah.
Glenda: Uh huh. That was funny.

Transcript 2:3, Sometime September 1991-September 1992

M: It’s was like… you know, girl, it was like… my brothers and (I)
G: All of them? I guess they’re not as sensitive as you are
M: Randy grew up in it because Randy, Randy’s been really through a lot, okay? And Randy grew up with Joseph telling him – ‘cause Randy was the youngest boy and you know I been performing since I was five and Randy had to stay home with the girls. Be with Rebbie, Latoya, Janet as a baby, and had to be with mother. Joseph always told Randy, “you’re not good enough, you don’t have talent.”
G: He told him that?
M: Yeah
G: But he was so little!
M: Yeah. And then we, y’know, tried to bring Randy into the group and he felt like he was like, when Jermaine left, when Jermaine decided to stay with Motown and we went on to Epic and stuff – and Randy was always told he was a filler. I remember we did this show. It was called the Jacksons, The Jacksons Five or something like that Show. And I will never forget this. Randy was like nine years old. He was on the congos. This was his first appearance on television. So we had a live audience and stuff. It was on ABC. It was a live audience and stuff like that and we were doing, I don’t remember which number it was, but Randall was, he was on the congos and stuff. Joseph was like the tyrant.
G: And how old were you?
M: Well, let’s see. Randy’s 30 now and I’m like 33.
G: So you were…
M:I was like 12. Then Joseph got on, “What the fuck happened to you?”
G: Really?
M: Yeah, like when I got close to Mr B and stuff (Berry Gordy) Mr B would kiss me and hug me and stuff like that. He’s like, “What’s up wid you, man?” You know he [Joseph] wouldn’t say anything to Mr B really, but Mr B would have gone off.
G: Tell him that he was (I)
M: Yes, Joseph never used to hug us! Mother did.
G: What about that other child that he has?
M: (long pause), Jon Vonnie?
G: Yeah
M: Oh yeah, he doesn’t have any problem, he never had any problem showing– He hugged her and stuff, I never could understand that.
G: That is bizarre. That’s really bizarre
M: Why is that, girl?
G: I don’t know!
M: Jackie, I mean, Jackie got it the worse because Jackie was the oldest boy, and Rebbie I think got it. And—
G: You mean “got it,” you mean like the beatings or?
M: yeah and…
G: What?
M: But Jackie used to get it the worse
G: That’s terrible. But weren’t you kind of the spunky one? I mean, didn’t I read where you threw a shoe at his head or something?
M: Yeah, I was the one who would fight back when I was little. He’d try to beat me and stuff like that. You know, if I sang the wrong – I didn’t do something right or I did the wrong dance step, you know the wrong move. And I would argue back and I would fight back.
G: And all of your big brothers just sit there and watch?
M: Yeah, they were scared of him. And I threw a show at him and stuff.
G: laughs
M: And I’d run like HELL! And he couldn’t catch me, you know?
G: laughs
M: And then when I went to sleep and stuff ‘cause, we you know, we were (I)
G: (something bangs, muffling noises) Hold on, I was trying to take these jeans off and I dropped the phone, I’m sorry, laughs
M: (Can I get into them?)
G: laughs, No wait a minute, I’m going to pick them up off the floor. Hold on, okay, go ahead.
M: Okay, my brothers used to say I was crazy. And I was little. And I would always fight Joseph back, and oh my god, I would get my ass beat. And then I used to run and I threw a show at him and run like hell.
G: laughs
M: And he knocked me down on the floor one time ‘cause we were rehearsing in our living room. I did somethin’ wrong. He knocked the MESS out of me. And we were supposed to perform somewhere the next day. And he knocked me down so hard, I lost the wind, I lost my wind, right? And I was just little
G: Mhm
M: So I got up, I was so serious. They talk about me being conceited now, you know?
G: Mhm.
M: I got up and I was crying and stuff. And I said, “Joseph, if you hit me again. I’m not performing!”
G: laughs
M: He’s like, “what the fuck did you say?”
G: (gasps)
M: I’m like, “You hit me again, Joseph” – and I couldn’t, I wasn’t even nine years old, I was probably just about seven. I said, “Joseph, if you hit me again-” and I was crying my eyes out, I said, “- If you hit me again I am NOT performing.”
G: sympathetic sigh
M: And he left me alone. I said, “I’m not doing the show!” He said, “don’t you know I will kick your MF ass!” And all this and that and I got up, the wind was knocked out of me. And I said, “You hit me again and I won’t perform.” And he knew I was the star performer. laughs
G: haha, Yeah really!
M: And he didn’t hit me
G: Well, you had some leverage there (laughs)
M: My brothers used to say, “Mike you crazy man, you crazy.” And then when I would go to sleep at night he would see that I was scared. He would be banging on our windows and stuff and open the windows like he was going to break in and stuff
G: That’s horrible, that’s an awful thing for-
M: You read about that in the book, you read it.
G: oh, Michael it’s been a while since I’ve read that book, I don’t remember everything.
M: He used to scare us when we was little. When we were asleep and we had to get up early in the mornings. We had to have rehearsals before we went to school. God, and he banged on the windows and we looked out the windows and he had a monster mask on (G gasps) and “Mother, mother, mother, there’s a monster!”
G: How horrible
M: And we’d get in trouble for crying
G: That’s awful. That’s really sick and twisted. I can’t even relate to somebody that does stuff like that. But it didn’t affect your brother’s the same way it did you, huh?
M:Wellll… (silence) I seen my brothers, you know, when we were traveling and stuff and doing the circuit and all that. Joseph would be in another room messing with a girl and it was obvious they were having sex
M: I know… but I didn’t wanna tell mother, and Marlon and I didn’t wanna tell them but.. all my brothers kind of just… did the same thing, so, Joseph…
G: Are any of your brothers still married? Or isn’t everybody married right now?
M: well, they broke up but, Marlon and Carol have been, they’re trying to work it out. I admire Carol because Marlon was gonna divorce her but she still wanted to make it work
G: And Jermaine, what is he doing?
M: Oh GOD…
G: laughs
M: I remember, like I told you before, when Marlon and I had to share a room with Jermaine and Bill was asleep. Jermaine would have girls up there all the time screwing and stuff. I always said I’d never and Marlon said the same thing… I felt so guilty when we used to home from the circuit and stuff before we made it, y’know we used to do the club circuits and stuff. I felt so guilty, and I just cried and Joseph choked me, almost broke my arm one day. But he was proud of it. It’s like, (Joseph’s voice) “Oh, this is what you should do, boy.” I mean, he didn’t say that but he was screwin’ women in the other room and stuff.
G: What an awful thing to witness. From your father, your role model. (sighs) Especially doing stuff to your mom. What an awful thing.
M: Mother would say when we came home, she and the girls would be in there you know, waitin’ back at the house and all happy, Joseph’s back!. Joseph would come home, so glad to see mother. It’d just make me sick. And then Jackie and everyone, they started doing that. I told this girl – Jackie saw her when we were on stage (I). I told this girl, I said, “Don’t go with Jackie.” He found out and he went backstage and stuff and I said, “Don’t go with him, please don’t go with him.” She’s like, “Why?” I said, “Please don’t go with him, he’s gonna hurt you.” So, she went. She met him. She was a virgin. And he had sex with her and stuff like that. And in the limo, we were in the limo. And they were gonna take this girl home. Like, I said, “Why did you do that? Why you didn’t just listen to me? Why did you do that? Why did you go with him?” And she was just crying. I said, “Did he hurt you?” and she said, “No. But he told me after we had sex that he never wanted to see me again.” I said, “why did you go with him? I told you backstage don’t go with him.” [/EXPAND] [EXPAND Michael Jackson on Oprah, February 1993 ]

Oprah : So I’m wondering for you, being this cute little boy who everybody adored and everybody who comes up to you they’re pulling your cheeks and how cute, how adolescence going through that duck stage where everything’s awkward, and I’m wondering when you started to go through adolescence having been this child superstar, was that a particularly difficult time for you?
Michael : Very. Very, very difficult, yes. Because I think every child star suffers through this period because you’re not the cute and charming child that you were. You start to grow, and they want to keep you little forever.
Oprah : Who’s they?
Michael : The public. And um, nature takes its course.
Oprah : It does?
Michael : Yes, and I had pimples so badly it used to make me so shy, I used not to look at myself, I’d hide my face in the dark, I wouldn’t want to look in the mirror and my father teased me and I just hated it and I cried every day.
Oprah : Your father teased you about your pimples?
Michael : Yes and tell me I’m ugly.
Oprah : Your father would say that?
Michael : Yes he would. Sorry Joseph.
Oprah : What’s your relationship like with him?
Michael : I love my father but I don’t know him.
Oprah : Are you angry with him for doing that? I think that’s pretty cruel actually.
Michael : Am I angry with him?
Oprah : Because adolescence is hard enough without a parent telling you that you’re ugly.
Michael : Am I angry with him? Sometimes I do get angry. I don’t know him the way I’d like to know him. My mother’s wonderful. To me she’s perfection. I just wish I could understand my father.
Oprah : And so let’s talk about those teen years. Is that when you started to go inside yourself? Because obviously you haven’t spoken to the world for 14 years. So you went inside, you became a recluse. Was it to protect yourself?
Michael : I felt there wasn’t anything important for me to say and those were very sad, sad years for me.
Oprah : Why so sad? Because on stage you were performing, you were getting your Grammies. Why so sad?
Michael : Oh, there’s a lot of sadness about my past and adolescence, about my father and all of those things.
Oprah : So he would tease you, make fun of you.
Michael : Yes.
Oprah : Would he … did he ever beat you?
Michael : Yes.
Oprah : And why would he beat you?
Michael : He saw me, he wanted me … I guess I don’t know if I was his golden child or whatever it was, some may call it a strict disciplinarian or whatever, but he was very strict, very hard, very stern. Just a look would scare you, you know.
Oprah : And were you scared of him?
Michael : Very. Like there’s been times when he’d come to see me, I’d get sick, I’d start to regurgitate.
Oprah : As a child or as an adult?
Michael : Both. He’s never heard me say this. I’m sorry, please don’t be mad at me.
Oprah : Well, I mean, I suppose everybody has to take responsibility for what they’ve done in life. And your father is one of those people who also have to take responsibility.
Michael : But I do love him.
Oprah : Yes, I understand this.
Michael : And I am forgiving. [/EXPAND] [EXPAND Michael Jackson, Oxford Union Speech, March 2001 ]

All of us are products of our childhood. But I am the product of a lack of a childhood, an absence of that precious and wondrous age when we frolic playfully without a care in the world, basking in the adoration of parents and relatives, where our biggest concern is studying for that big spelling test come Monday morning.

Those of you who are familiar with the Jackson Five know that I began performing at the tender age of five and that ever since then, I haven’t stopped dancing or singing. But while performing and making music undoubtedly remain as some of my greatest joys, when I was young I wanted more than anything else to be a typical little boy. I wanted to build tree houses, have water balloon fights, and play hide and seek with my friends. But fate had it otherwise and all I could do was envy the laughter and playtime that seemed to be going on all around me.

You probably weren’t surprised to hear that I did not have an idyllic childhood. The strain and tension that exists in my relationship with my own father is well documented. My father is a tough man and he pushed my brothers and me hard, from the earliest age, to be the best performers we could be.

He had great difficulty showing affection. He never really told me he loved me. And he never really complimented me either. If I did a great show, he would tell me it was a good show. And if I did an OK show, he told me it was a lousy show.

He seemed intent, above all else, on making us a commercial success. And at that he was more than adept. My father was a managerial genius and my brothers and I owe our professional success, in no small measure, to the forceful way that he pushed us. He trained me as a showman and under his guidance I couldn’t miss a step.

But what I really wanted was a Dad. I wanted a father who showed me love. And my father never did that. He never said I love you while looking me straight in the eye, he never played a game with me. He never gave me a piggyback ride, he never threw a pillow at me, or a water balloon.

But I remember once when I was about four years old, there was a little carnival and he picked me up and put me on a pony. It was a tiny gesture, probably something he forgot five minutes later. But because of that moment I have this special place in my heart for him. Because that’s how kids are, the little things mean so much to them and for me, that one moment meant everything. I only experienced it that one time, but it made me feel really good, about him and the world.

But now I am a father myself, and one day I was thinking about my own children, Prince and Paris and how I wanted them to think of me when they grow up. To be sure, I would like them to remember how I always wanted them with me wherever I went, how I always tried to put them before everything else. But there are also challenges in their lives. Because my kids are stalked by paparazzi, they can’t always go to a park or a movie with me.

So what if they grow older and resent me, and how my choices impacted their youth? Why weren’t we given an average childhood like all the other kids, they might ask? And at that moment I pray that my children will give me the benefit of the doubt. That they will say to themselves: “Our daddy did the best he could, given the unique circumstances that he faced. He may not have been perfect, but he was a warm and decent man, who tried to give us all the love in the world.”

I hope that they will always focus on the positive things, on the sacrifices I willingly made for them, and not criticise the things they had to give up, or the errors I’ve made, and will certainly continue to make, in raising them. For we have all been someone’s child, and we know that despite the very best of plans and efforts, mistakes will always occur. That’s just being human.

And when I think about this, of how I hope that my children will not judge me unkindly, and will forgive my shortcomings, I am forced to think of my own father and despite my earlier denials, I am forced to admit that me must have loved me. He did love me, and I know that.

There were little things that showed it. When I was a kid I had a real sweet tooth – we all did. My favourite food was glazed doughnuts and my father knew that. So every few weeks I would come downstairs in the morning and there on the kitchen counter was a bag of glazed doughnuts – no note, no explanation – just the doughnuts. It was like Santa Claus.

Sometimes I would think about staying up late at night, so I could see him leave them there, but just like with Santa Claus, I didn’t want to ruin the magic for fear that he would never do it again. My father had to leave them secretly at night, so as no one might catch him with his guard down. He was scared of human emotion, he didn’t understand it or know how to deal with it. But he did know doughnuts.

And when I allow the floodgates to open up, there are other memories that come rushing back, memories of other tiny gestures, however imperfect, that showed that he did what he could. So tonight, rather than focusing on what my father didn’t do, I want to focus on all the things he did do and on his own personal challenges. I want to stop judging him.

I have started reflecting on the fact that my father grew up in the South, in a very poor family. He came of age during the Depression and his own father, who struggled to feed his children, showed little affection towards his family and raised my father and his siblings with an iron fist. Who could have imagined what it was like to grow up a poor black man in the South, robbed of dignity, bereft of hope, struggling to become a man in a world that saw my father as subordinate. I was the first black artist to be played on MTV and I remember how big a deal it was even then. And that was in the 80s!

My father moved to Indiana and had a large family of his own, working long hours in the steel mills, work that kills the lungs and humbles the spirit, all to support his family. Is it any wonder that he found it difficult to expose his feelings? Is it any mystery that he hardened his heart, that he raised the emotional ramparts? And most of all, is it any wonder why he pushed his sons so hard to succeed as performers, so that they could be saved from what he knew to be a life of indignity and poverty?

I have begun to see that even my father’s harshness was a kind of love, an imperfect love, to be sure, but love nonetheless. He pushed me because he loved me. Because he wanted no man ever to look down at his offspring.

And now with time, rather than bitterness, I feel blessing. In the place of anger, I have found absolution. And in the place of revenge I have found reconciliation. And my initial fury has slowly given way to forgiveness.

– Aside: Michael speaks about how much his father giving him doughnuts meant to him as a child, in his demo for the song “Give Into Me” recorded sometime around 1990-1991, he sings the line, “Love is a doughnut.” [/EXPAND] [EXPAND Michael Jackson and Rabbi Shmuley, 2000/1 ]

Text for the book

SB: Michael, some people have written that your father used to say that you were ugly. Is that true?
MJ: Uh-huh. He used to make fun of… I remember we were on a plane one time, ready to take off, and I was going through an awkward puberty when your features start to change. And he went, “Ugh, you have a big nose. You didn’t get it from me.” He didn’t realize how much that hurt me. It hurt me so bad, I wanted to die.
SB: Was that a hostile remark aimed at your mother, “You didn’t get it from me?”
MJ: I don’t know what he was trying to say.
SB: Don’t you think your father instilled in you a belief that you are not handsome? So you tried to change your appearance a bit, and you are still not happy. So really you have to begin to love your appearance and yourself and all of that.
MJ: I know. I wish I could.
SB: We all have problems with our appearance… The other night, Thursday night, you looked fantastic [Michael had gotten all dressed up for Denise Rich’s Angel Ball cancer fundraiser]. You were the best looking guy there. So you don’t like being photographed?
MJ: I wish I could never be photographed and I wish I could never be seen. Just for entertainment so I design the dance the way I want it to look, and film the way I want it to look.
SB: Now you want to do movies?
MJ: I love movies, but I can control it, you see. I can’t control how those pictures come out with the lighting and my expression at the time. Arggh.
SB: If a child said that to you, “I hate being photographed,” what would you say to that child?
MJ: I would say, “You don’t know how beautiful you are. It’s your spirit that’s…”
SB: So why are you prepared to say that to everybody except yourself?
MJ: I don’t know. [He said this in a voice of confusion and resignation]

MJ: I have thrown up in his presence because when he comes in the room and this aura comes and my stomach starts hurting and I know I am in trouble. He is so different now. Time and age has changed him and he sees his grandchildren and he wants to be a better father. It is almost like the ship has sailed its course, and it is so hard for me to accept this other guy that is not the guy I was raised with. I just wished he had learned that earlier.
SB: So why are you still scared?
MJ: Because the scar is still there, the wound.
SB: So you still see him as the first man. It is hard for you to see him as this new man?
MJ: I can’t see him as the new man. I am like an angel in front of him, like scared. One day he said to me, “Why are you scared of me?” I couldn’t answer him. I felt like saying, “Do you know what you have done?” [voice breaks] “Do you know what you have done to me?”

Rabbi Shmuley: There was no one on Michael’s mind more than his father Joseph, no one. His father came up constantly, usually in painful, negative stories.

Jackson told Shmuley that growing up, he and his siblings would dread the moment their father came home.
Michael Jackson: We’d hear his car comin’ the driveway. He always drove a big Mercedes and he drives real slow. “Joseph’s home, Joseph’s home, quick!” Doors slam, everybody runs to their room.

Like there’s sometimes I’d be in bed at night sleeping, it’s 12 at night. The door is locked. He said, “I’m giving you five seconds, you don’t open, I’m going to kick it down.” And he starts kicking it, boom! Like breaking the door down. Why didn’t you sign that contract today? I go, “I don’t know.” He goes, “Well, sign it. If you don’t sign it, you are in trouble.”
Rabbi Shmuley: So you would sign?

Michael Jackson: I had to! He would, he was very physical. He’d throw you and hit you as hard as he can.
Michael Jackson: He was rough. The way he would beat you, you know, was hard, you know. Sometime he take, um, he would make you strip nude first. He would oil you down. It would be a whole ritual. He would oil you down so when the flip of the ironing cord hit you, you know. And it would just like be dying and you had whips all over your face, your back, everywhere. And I always hear my mother, “No, Joe! You’re gonna kill ‘em. You’re gonna kill ‘em, no!” I would just give up, like there was nothing I could do, you know? And I, and I hated him for it, hated him.
Rabbi Shmuley: Did you begin to feel that you were like a moneymaking machine for him?
Michael Jackson: Yes. I’ll never forget it, one day he said, “If you guys ever stop singing, I’ll drop you like a hot potato.” That’s what he said. It hurt me. You don’t say that to children and I never forgot it. You would think he would think, ‘These kids have a heart and feelings.’ Wouldn’t he think that would hurt us? If I said something like that to Prince and Paris, that would hurt. You don’t say something like that to children and I never forgot it. It affects my relationship with him today.”

Michael Jackson: I never felt love from him. And he would never hold me or touch me.

That’s the real truth. I wanted people to love me, truly love me, because I never really felt loved. I said I know I have an ability. Maybe if I sharpened my craft, maybe people will love me more. I just wanted to be loved because I think it is very important to be loved and to tell people that you love them and to look in their eyes and say it.

Rabbi Shmuley: He only has one memory of his father ever doing anything loving for him as a child. He was about 5 years old. He was at a carnival. And his father picked him up and put him on a horse. And he said he has relived that moment almost every day of his life. Michael learned the devastating effects of neglecting a child.Jackson told Shmuley his sadness created a torment so wrenching that he and his siblings even fantasized about their father being dead.
Michael Jackson: We used to say to our mother, we used to say to each other, and I’ll never forget this. Janet and myself, we say, I would say, “Janet, shut your eyes.” She’d go, “Okay, they’re shut.” I’d say, “Picture Joseph in a coffin. He’s dead. Did you feel sorry?” She’d go, “No.” That’s what we used to do to each other as kids. We’d like play games like that. She’d go, she’d go, “Nope.” Just like that. And that’s how hateful we were.

Jackson told Boteach he was still “scared of my father to this day.”
“My father walked in the room — and God knows I am telling the truth — I have fainted in his presence many times. I have fainted once to be honest. I have thrown up in his presence because when he comes in the room and this aura comes and my stomach starts hurting and I know I am in trouble. He is so different now. Time and age has changed him and he sees his grandchildren and he wants to be a better father. It is almost like the ship has sailed its course, and it is so hard for me to accept this other guy that is not the guy I was raised with. I just wished he had learned that earlier.” [/EXPAND] [EXPAND Michael Jackson, Bashir, February 2003 ]

MJ: I didn’t… have it that hard, because he used me as the example. It was like, “do it like Michael.” And he practiced us with a belt in his hand. And if you missed a step… expect to be, uh, (Michael mimics whip noises).
Bashir: Just let me go back… you just said that you practiced the dance steps and your father would be holding a belt in his hand, is that what you just said?
MJ: Yes. He would tear you up if you missed. So not only were we practicing, we were nervous rehearsing, because he sat in the chair, and he had this belt in his hand and if you didn’t do it the right way he would tear you up. We would get hit. I got it a lot of times, but I think my brother Marlon got it the most, because he had a hard time at first, he tried so hard. It was always, “do it like, Michael! Do it like Michael!” You know? But the others were very nervous and I was nervous too, you know, ’cause he was… he was tough.
Bashir: How often would he beat you?
MJ: Too much.
Bashir: Would he only use a belt?
MJ: (starts crying) Why do you do this to me? No, more than a belt.
Bashir: What else would he use to hit you with?
MJ: Ironing cords, whatever’s around. Throw you up against a wall as hard as he could. See, it’s one thing to…
Bashir: But you were only a child.
MJ: I know.
Bashir: You were a baby.
MJ: I know. It’s one thing to discipline a child but…
Bashir: You were producing successful records.
MJ: I know. He would lose his temper. I just remember hearing my mother scream, “Joe, you’re gonna kill him. You’re gonna kill him. Stop it, you’re gonna kill him.” And I was so fast, he couldn’t catch me half the time, but when he would catch me, “Oh my god.” It was bad. It was really bad. We were terrified, you know, terrified. I can’t tell you. I don’t think he realized to this day, how scared, scared… I was scared. So scared I would regurgitate.
Bashir: You would vomit?
MJ: Mhmm.
Bashir: When would you vomit? What would produce that sort of reaction in you?
MJ: His presence.

Bashir: Did your father and your brothers tease you about your appearance, as an adolescent?
MJ: My father did. And some cousins did.
Bashir: What did your father say?
MJ: Oh God. It was pretty embarrassing. They used to tease me real bad about it.
Bashir: It’s cruel, isn’t it?
MJ: Yeah. It used to hurt me. I don’t think he realized how much he would hurt me.
Bashir: What sort of thing would he say?
MJ: He would tease me about how I looked and he would say, “Well, you didn’t get it from my side of the family. Must’ve been from Kate-” Kate, he would always say, meaning my mother. “You didn’t get that from me, you must’ve got that from her.“ [/EXPAND] [/EXPAND] [EXPAND How The Abuse Affected The Others: Siblings Involvement In Domestic Violence ]

Jackie Jackson

Montreal Gazette, 10 Jan 1986

Enid filed for divorce, charging her husband struck her once and threatened her with violence on other occasions.

Enid Jackson won a court order Wednesday barring Jackson, 34, from their home. She said he hit her Nov 25th bruising her.

Montreal Gazette, May 1986

The estranged wife of Jackie Jackson says the singer – Michael Jackson’s oldest brother – spent money from the family’s corporate funds on girlfriends and extravagant trips. Enid Jackson has filed court papers saying Jackson spent $16,000 on a car for a woman who is a cheerleader for the LA Lakers and another $10,000 on trips to the Super Bowl and the NBA all star game. Spokesmen and attorneys for the singer could not be reached for comment. Mrs Jackson filed for divorce in January and won a court order throwing the singer out of their Encino home because he allegedly beat her.

Randy Jackson

Randy Jackson getting shot at by Tina Turner because of his abusive relationship with Bernadette Swann, from the book “The Real T: My 22 years with Tina Turner” written by her assistant Eddy Hampton Armani

‘I’ve been dating Michael Jackson’s brother Randy,” Bernadette said.

Tina cut her off by saying, ‘Bernadette, why do you keep messing with Randy Jackson? And why didn’t you phone me and tell me all this stuff before?’

“I haven’t called you because Randy is insanely jealous. I mean crazy.
Because you and me are so close, he kept accusing me of having an affair with you and said he’d kill me if he found out I saw or spoke to you. I told him you and me are like family and that his accusations were totally untrue. I dunno, he just has thing in his head.”

Bernadette sipped some water and continued, “As long as he was still living with his girlfriend things were fine, but as soon as his girlfriend left him and moved out, Randy became more possessive than ever. Once we started being together on a full-time basis, I saw the other side of him. He started grabbing me by the arm and shaking me.”

“He never beat me, but I sensed it might happen soon and he really scared me. Anyway, we got into a big argument today and he went all wild-eyed. He walked towards me, looking like he was going to kill me. I got shit scared and ran for my life. And… uhm… here I am.”

Bernadette’s eyes were now red from crying, and she asked Tina if she could use the phone.

Tina replied, “Don’t call him! Don’t! You poor girl. All I see is me. This is the way I used to be. Why do you want the phone, to ring Randy?”

”Nooo. I won’t call him.” She fidgeted for a moment and asked,”Tina,can I go to the kitchen and get something to eat?”

”Sure, Bernadette, you know where everything is. Make yourself at home.”

As soon as Bernadette stepped out of the room, Tina whispered to Lejeune and me, ”She’s not getting anything from the kitchen, she’s going to phone Randy. Mark my words. I know… I know because I used to do the same thing with Ike.”

”Just watch the phone, you’ll see. The light will go on.” We all stared at the phone and five seconds later, the button illuminated. Tina slapped her thigh, exclaiming ”What did I tell you? I knew she’d phone him. I knew it. Poor girl, I used to do the same thing with Ike.”

When the light went off, we scampered back to what we were doing so Bernadette wouldn’t know we were any the wiser. She walked into the bedroom and everyone started talking, with Tina proudly telling Lejeune and Bernadette about Craig’s Naval graduation ceremony the day before. Bernadette, who was still very fond of Craig, held on to Tina’s every word of the event.

Finally, a little shamedfaced, Bernadette looked down at her slim fingers and admitted, ”I… I phoned Randy when I went to the kitchen.”

None of us said a word and her eyes darted at each one of us before she continued, ”Randy’s got a lot of emotional problems. His family is crumbling fast. They’re all at each others throats since Michael split from the family.”

“And there’s some things about Randy that are weird. He’s uhm, a little sick… sexually.”‘ I fled out of the bathroom with a towel under some dripping strands of hair and Lejeune froze mid-braid while Tina’s eyes widened.

Bernadette had our undivided attention as she told us of her sex life with Randy. When she told us what he made her do, sexually, we all paled. I actually had to sit down for a moment because the details made me feel ill. I could practically see Tina’s skin crawling. Her voice hoarse with distress, she said to Bernadette, ”Why? Girl, why do you do it?” Tina took a few moments to recompose herself but she still sounded a little shocked as she added, ”Bernadette, you have to get rid of that man. You’ve just got to.”

We were all snapped out of our state of shock by the ringing of the

I answered the call to find Randy Jackson on the line and Tina flipped. ”Damn it, Bernadette,why did you give that sick bastard my phone number?” Bernadette ran to the kitchen to take the call in privacy while Tina twitched with anger and nerves.

Suddenly we could hear Bernadette screaming, ”Randy, I’m not coming back. You lied and lied and lied to me…” Tina, Lejeune and I tiptoed towards the kitchen, hiding around a corner so we could eavesdrop on every word. Bernadette ranted on then slammed the phone down, leaving us scampering back to the bedroom to retake our positions as if we had been there all along

Bernadette returned to the bedroom shaking, her face twitching with fear. Her voice shaking, she said, ”I can’t go back to him. He knows my every movement, he follows and stalks me. I mean, I can come out of a food store or the gym and he’ll be there, hiding behind something just watching. ”

She rubbed the goosebumps on her arms and said, “He phones around and checks up on me to see if I’m where I said I was going… and he picks and choose who I’m allowed to see…”

The phone rang again and Tina grabbed it, calmly but firmly stating, ”Do not phone my house again. She does not want to speak to you tonight and I’m sure you two can sort things out tomorrow. Meantime you are not welcome to phone my home.”

She slammed the receiver down. An hour and half passed. Suddenly the doorbell rang.

We all glanced at each other, I pressed the buzzer, asking who was there. The uninvited visitor replied, “This is Randy Jackson. Is Bernadette there?” I replied, “She’s left.” Randy frantically replied, “I know she’s there. I know she is! I’ve got to see her. I’ve got to come in.”

She pounced on the intercom button and barked, ”You ring my buzzer one more time and I call the police. You are to leave my property immediately.” Tina slowly paced her bedroom with her arms folded across her chest. I knew she was silently chanting to herself to calm her anger.

She let out a few deep breaths and paused in front of the vast sliding glass doors, the light from her bedroom casting her shadow onto the garden of her dream home. She paused for a moment, enjoying the stunning moonlit view of the tree- filled terracotta pot garden in bloom.

Tina glared disapprovingly at Bernadette, chastising her with her angry eyes as she repositioned herself in front of her large make-up mirror. She was fed up with Bernadette and made no effort to hide her disappointment while making her feelings clear to the girl who was once her son’s fiancée.

To make her point, Tina lifted her index finger and wagged it furiously her trademark red nails glistening as she spoke.

”Bernadette, I don’t know why you keep messing with these guys. And after all the things you’ve seen and all the things I’ve told you.” As soon as we saw Tina wag her finger, we knew she meant business and knew to stay silent. Bernadette quietly wept and mopped the tears from the corners of her eyes while Tina delivered a stern lecture.

”So why did you bother with him in the first place? Because he’s Michael Jackson’s brother? That doesn’t mean anything. That Randy Jackson’s no good! He’s like any other man getting their kicks scaring their women. And you put up with him running his mouth all over town saying you and me are lesbian lovers. Who does he think he is?”

Tina’s hand reached for a glass of white wine. She took a large sip and pursed her angry lips. ”And you gave him my phone number and address. How dare he keep pressing my intercom. If he presses that intercom one more time, I’ll call the police. He’d better get off my property.”

Alone, I listened to Tina as she continued delivering the motherly lecture to Bernadette, nodding my head in agreement. ‘Bernadette, let me tell you something, you’ve got yourself an Ike Turner, You better get rid of him. I know you’re scared. Aaagh!” Tina was furious, and she threw her hands up in disgust. ”I know what it’s like, Bernadette, It’s best for you if you stay here tonight. Just make sure you get rid of that Randy Jackson first thing tomorrow.”

But no sooner had Tina spoken, than the noisy shuffling of footsteps could be heard outside. I paused and watched her from across the bedroom. The worry on her face was unmistakable. Bernadette had already scared the daylights out of us with horrifying stories of Randy’s violence. Lejeune and Tina remained still and silent as the intrusive sounds outside continued. There was a momentary eeriness, and then, without warning, one of Tina’s huge, treasured terracotta pots burst through the glass doors, exploding on impact.

Shards of razor-sharp glass sprayed like darts throughout the bedroom. There was soil and terra cotta everywhere. Everything else that followed seemed to happen so quickly.

Randy Jackson leapt through the broken window and paused for a moment breathing and sweating heavily. Then, as he moved, glass fragments on Tina’s plush cream carpet could be heard crunching beneath his hard determined steps. He seemed possessed, and his wild eyes rapidly scanned the bedroom. It only took a split second to focus on what he had come for. Like an animal stalking prey, he walked towards Bernadette muttering like a crazy man about how much he loved and needed her.

In all the years I had spent with Tina, she had drilled me over and over on certain safety procedures should an intruder gain entry into her home. We always thought if it happened, it would be her ex-husband Ike. On this particular day, we were wrong. Worse still, everyone froze in shock, forgetting Tina’s meticulous safety drill.

The only one to spring to action was Tina herself.

She calmly and purposefully walked into the bedroom, where her eyes immediately darted to the framed pictures on her bedside table where she hid her loaded handgun. Without looking away from the table, her hand whipped out with shocking speed and grabbed a second gun-a shotgun- from behind the freestanding oval antique mirror just next to her.

She cocked the weapon, then turned and aimed the loaded barrel at Randy Jackson’s head. Her body stiff and her aim steady, she said with true determination, “Freeze or I’ll blow your brains out.”

Randy did stop, but only for a split second. Locking eyes with Tina, he ignored her warning, and lunged for Bernadette.

Tina, still several feet away from Randy, raised the gun a blew a hole in the ceiling. Randy, his face a mask of brutality, charged straight at Tina like a raging bull.

Still in total control, Tina moved the barrel slightly to the side and fired towards the doorway.

She pointed the gun at Randy.

Randy, suddenly terrified, leapt through the broken windows, fleeing for his life.

There was a silence as we all stood, shocked by the scene we had just witnessed. Then Bernadette snapped out of her trance and raced in hot pursuit of her lover.

Tina, Lejeune and I stood in stark amazement listening to the voices in the distance. Bernadette’s voice was breathless and tearful as she professed her love and loyalty to Randy. Only then did Tina’s body start shaking, and although in shock, she had the presence of mind to press the panic button beside her bed. Like a robot, I handed Tina a white towel which she numbly wrapped her half-finished head of hair. Lejeune, whom I had rarely seen touch any form of alcohol over the many years I had known her uncharacteristically swigged straight from the bottle of wine.

Over the next few minutes none of our eyes met. We couldn’t believe what had just happened. Like zombies, we stepped over the debris of the elegant bedroom which now looked as if a bomb had hit it.

Barely able to breathe, we all sat on the bed, completely stunned. It wasn’t until we heard the police sirens in the distance that we snapped back to reality. Tina, still slightly dazed, nervously ran her sweating palms down her thighs, smoothing the fabric of her designer knit sweat suit. She glanced at herself in the mirror and took several deep breaths, calming herself. Then she held her head high and adjusted the towel tightly wrapped over her hair in readiness to deal with uniformed officers.

After the police took their report and asked Tina if she would press charges, they left us to get on with the task of clearing away debris not to mention the fact that we still had a long way to go in finishing Tina’s hair.

Randy phoned to apologise to Tina but she said, ”I have nothing to say to you. Don’t ever use my number again. I have given the police all the details they need to contact you.” Then she put the phone down.

Bernadette phoned too, and apologized over and over, begging Tina not to press charges on Randy. While an emergency service busied themselves boarding up and temporarily making safe the door area of Tina’s bedroom, Tina coldly told Bernadette on the phone, ”Bernadette, I can no longer have you around me.”


The following day, a man arrived with an envelope with several thousand dollars sent from Randy Jackson to cover expenses due to the damage caused by his breaking and entering. Tina refused the cash, firmly saying, “I don’t do things this way.”

Tina, after discussing things with Roger, decided not to press charges. Roger very rightly felt that Tina’s reputation would be damaged and people might think she was like Ike Turner. By not pressing charges, it did not make the newspapers and the incident became a matter of police record.

Randy Jackson confirmed it on twitter, 2nd of July 2011

randyjackson8 Randy Jackson
This is something many of u probably don’t know…

Yes, Tina Turner shot me. I have the scar to prove it.

Having said that, there was no violence on my part, nor have I ever owned or carried a weapon.

I went to Tina’s house to see my girlfriend. I guess I caught them off guard. Hmmm…. Next question.

It was in the Eighties. And I don’t hold a grudge against Tina, she’s a great artist an asset to our industry.

Arrested for domestic abuse on his wife and daughter, New Straits Times, November 1991

Stephen Randall “Randy” Jackson was sentenced Thursday to 30 days in jail for beating his wife and infant daughter. The same day, his defense attorney.

“Mrs Jackson phoned authorities to report that her husband was pushing and punching her and the baby.”

Jermaine Jackson

“Jackson Family Values” biography by Margaret Maldonado (Jermaine’s ex-girlfriend and mother to two of his children), November 1995

Given the way the Jackson children were raised, I should not have been surprised when Jermaine started to spank Jeremy and Jourdynn with increased frequency and force. I begged him to stop, telling him that we weren’t in Gary Indiana and that he wasn’t his father.

To my surprise, Katherine didn’t back me up. She sided with Jermaine, reciting the old chestnut, “spare the reed, spoil the child.”

LaToya Jackson

In 1987 Joe Jackson introduced LaToya to Jack Gordon.

On September 5, 1989, after her Sizzling Spectacular concert in Nevada, Gordon forcibly married Jackson, claiming it was for her own protection against kidnapping by her family. La Toya Jackson states that this was both unplanned and against her wishes. According to Jackson; “I told him, ‘No way, Jack! I can’t marry you. You know what marriage means to me. I’ve never been in love; I don’t even date…. It’s not right. I don’t love you. I don’t have feelings for you.'” Jackson tried to run out of the chapel three times but bodyguard Antonio Rossi grabbed her saying, “There’s some things you have to do. Even if you don’t want to.” Jackson told Ebony magazine the marriage was “strictly in name only. It has never been consummated.” Six months into the marriage, Jackson asked Gordon for an annulment when in Rome, Italy. In response, Gordon repeatedly bashed her head against the corner of the hotel room table saying that he would never let her go. Paparazzi subsequently photographed Jackson with black eyes, which Gordon claimed was caused by an intruder.

For roughly the next decade Gordon controlled Jackson with threats, lies, and routine violence. According to Jackson, “When he hit me, the first time I was in shock, I just recalled my ear ringing, just ringing so hard.” Gordon confiscated Jackson’s passport, transferred her bank accounts into his name, hired bodyguards to watch La Toya constantly and banned her from speaking to or seeing her family, monitoring her every phone call. La Toya’s father Joseph stated in his book The Jacksons that he believed Gordon brainwashed La Toya and made her fearful of her own family. Katherine also believed that La Toya had been brainwashed while Gordon claimed that Katherine had tried to kill her daughter. Sister Janet concurred with her parents saying at the time, “I think this guy who is with her has brainwashed her and made her like this… He keeps her away from the family, and now he’s brainwashed her so much she keeps herself away from us.”

In 1993 in their New York home, Gordon beat Jackson repeatedly with a heavy brass dining room chair, leaving Jackson with black eyes, swollen lip and chin “the size of a clenched fist,” cuts requiring 12 mouth stitches and contusions on her face, arms, legs and back. Jackson lost consciousness during the beating, leading Gordon to believe she was dead. She recalled, “He called his friends and said, ‘She’s dead. I killed her,’ because I was lying in a puddle of blood and I was out.” Gordon was arrested but then released, claiming he beat Jackson in self defense.

In December 1993 Gordon hastily arranged a press conference in Tel Aviv, where he had Jackson read a statement claiming to believe the sensational sex abuse allegation against her younger brother Michael might be true. This was an abrupt reversal of her previous defense of Michael against the charges. Gordon claimed La Toya had proof which she was prepared to disclose for a fee of $500,000. A bidding war between US and UK tabloids began, but fell through when they realized that her revelations were not what she had claimed them to be. According to La Toya, Gordon threatened to have siblings Michael and Janet killed if she didn’t follow his orders.

In 1996, Gordon attempted to force Jackson to dance at a Cleveland, Ohio, strip club. She refused to do so and in return, was booed and heckled by the predominantly male crowd. When Jackson became aware that Gordon was planning to feature her in a pornographic film she decided she’d had enough. Jackson phoned brother Randy who flew to New York to help her escape while Gordon was out. Only days later, La Toya filed for divorce from Las Vegas and sued Gordon in civil court for years of abuse under the Violence Against Women Act.

According to La Toya, Michael knew that she was forced to attack him in the press against her will and he did not blame her. “He never held any of that against me, I remember when I’d got away from this total hell I’d been through where I’d been beaten, abused, controlled and forced to say those terrible things about Michael, which I didn’t for a moment believe, he held out his arms and just hugged me. I was crying saying: ‘I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry.’ He just held me tight and said: ‘I am your brother, I always knew it wasn’t you saying those words. [/EXPAND] [EXPAND Michael Jackson’s Friendships With Other People Who Had Experienced Childhood Abuse ]

Tatum O’Neal; child star, abusive father, he once punched her in the face after she was nominated for an Oscar for Paper Hearts, punched his son in the face so hard he lost a tooth, absent drug addict mother

Synopsis of her autobiography, “A Paper Life”

Although Tatum at times shares a magical relationship with her father, his chaotic and temperamental moods turn ugly. When Tatum is given the role of Addie in Paper Moon (co-starring dear old dad) Ryan can barely contain his jealousy when Tatum wins accolades and an Oscar nomination. According to Tatum her father punched her in the face when he heard of her nomination. On Oscar night when Tatum was the youngest winner in history neither of her parents attended the ceremony.

Through the years living with her father Tatum recounts incidents in which she is molested, her father sleeps with her best friend, her father sleeps with numerous women and serious drug use/abuse occurs. Tatum recounts her low self esteem as a adolescent and her growing alienation from her father. She details her father’s relationship with Farrah Fawcett and the major rift that began to develop with her father during that period. Tatum writes about meeting John McEnroe and about their tempestuous relationship which yielded three children. The author paints a chilling portrayal of her own addication, the destruction of her marriage, the loss of her children and the way in which she rebuilt her life.

Brooke Shields; child star, alcoholic mother who allowed her pre-teen daughter to pose nude and semi-nude in photos and movies

Life Magazine, March 2007

Brooke: “I left abruptly when I was 28. Growing independently of her (Teri) really changed my perspective. I have more empathy. I appreciate her more because she did shelter me from a lot, and she took the rap for it. But she’s an alcoholic, and that affects everything. And she’s very sad. We talk every day, but I have to draw a line. Or I get pulled back in.”

Brooke, Love Magazine, UK, Autumn/Winter 2010

In the remarkably candid interview, Shields also discusses her relationship with Michael Jackson and described the King of Pop’s father, Joe Jackson, as the “devil incarnate.”

Elizabeth Taylor; child star, abusive father lead to her getting an early marriage to an abusive husband.


Says his most famous ally, Elizabeth Taylor: “I know some of the pain Michael goes through. I’ve been there. It takes, I think a fellow sufferer, a fellow survivor, to understand.”

On Oprah, February 1993

Oprah: And why do you think you all are such good friends? What has brought about this kind of bond? Because people try to make this weird.
Elizabeth: Well it’s not. I mean our childhoods are very similar, and we had that from the very beginning in common. Um, I was a child star at nine, had an abusive father, um, and that kind of brought us together in the very beginning.

Joint interview with Theroux, 1999

We talked about the famous Neverland wedding, about Larry Fortensky, whom Michael said he liked. About Elizabeth as an inspiration, and about how she supported her family from the age of nine.

“I did that too. My father took the money.”

“But there’s some moment in childhood when one feels particularly vulnerable. Did you feel that? Elizabeth said that she felt she was owned by the studio.”

“Sometimes really late at night we’d have to go out – it might be three in the morning – to do a show. My father made us. I was seven or eight. Some of these were clubs or private parties at people’s houses. We’d have to perform.” This was in Chicago, New York, Indiana, Philadelphia, all over the country. “I’d be sleeping and I’d hear my father. ‘Get up! There’s a show!”‘

MJ about Elizabeth, Shmuley Tapes, 2000/1

“Our fathers were very much alike, tough, hard, brutal.”

Elizabeth, New York Times, Sept 29 2002

Ms. Taylor said that she and Mr. Jackson share more than just the experience of child stardom.

”I can tell him things that I wouldn’t tell anybody else,” she said. ”He had one of the worst childhoods. I think I had the second.”

She had no playmates and was isolated, she said, educated by tutors. Her father, increasingly irrelevant in the shadow of her fame, was abusive, she said. ”That’s why I married so early,” she said. ”To get out of the house.”

That first marriage, to the hotel heir Nicky Hilton when she was 18, ended in months. He beat her so violently, she said, that she had a miscarriage.

”I couldn’t take his physical abuse or his mental abuse longer,” she said. (Ms. Taylor testified during her divorce proceedings from Hilton that he had been physically violent. It is not clear if Hilton, who died at 42, ever refuted her testimony.)

Macaulay Culkin; child star, emancipated himself from his parents at the age of 14

Culkin is the third of seven children. And while in the Home Alone films he has a loving family —, albeit occasionally absent — in real life, he says his father, Kit Culkin, was a constant and controlling presence. His mother stayed home with his brothers and sisters, his father traveled with him from one movie set to the next. Culkin’s father managed his son’s career and is said to have alienated most of Hollywood with his rages and excessive demands.

Culkin says his father’s treatment of him and his family mirrored the way he dealt with people in Hollywood. “He was very hard on me, and he would deny me certain things in my life.”

He says his father would not let him have his own room, forcing him and his brother to sleep on the couch.

“We didn’t even have our own bedroom,” he told Walters. “I mean, I was — I was making — forget about how much money I was making — but I was sleeping on the couch.

“I think it was just a way of him wanting to break my spirit,” he says. “He wanted me to know and my brother to know that he was in charge and if he didn’t want us to sleep on a bed, we weren’t gonna sleep on a bed.”

Culkin asserts his father established the hectic filming schedule he kept from 1990 to 1994. “I’ve done 14 films and I’ve never read one of the scripts,” he says. During the movie shoots, Culkin says he and his father would stay up every night, studying the lines the young actor would have to say the next day. It was, he says, all work and no play — a situation that discouraged the young star.

Although the young actor says his father promised to give his son a break from production, Kit Culkin continued to cast him in movies that were bombing at the box office. “I was actually very happy that they [Mac’s films] were not being as successful,” Culkin told Walters in the 2001 interview. “I was hoping — literally, I was hoping to disappear off the face of the Earth.”

Shortly after Kit Culkin decided to drop the custody battle, he disappeared. Culkin says he had not heard from his father in years, until the opening of Madame Melville when he received a telegram from him. He says he remains unsure if he would like to see him again.

“I think we understand each other in a way that most people can’t understand either of us,” Culkin said of Michael Jackson.

“Michael and I had an understanding about my father,” he told the British newspaper, The Guardian. “He knew what that was all about. He’d lived it.”

Culkin said he regretted not defending Jackson when the singer was accused of child molestation in 1993, a case in which no charges were ever filed. Santa Barbara prosecutors decided not to pursue the 1993 case after they said the alleged victim refused to testify.

The actor said he didn’t speak up for his friend because his father wouldn’t allow it.

“I would have liked to say something in his defense,” Culkin told the British paper. “I still wish I had.”

Michael Jackson and Rabbi Shmuley, 2000/1

MJ: Macaulay Culkin, who is wondering, “How did I get caught up in all of this? I never asked to be an actor.” He always wanted out. You gotta watch that energy when he gets heavy on his father, man, it tears into him and that’s what happens, you know. Oh, but I saw it myself with him. [Michael screams, imitating Macaulay’s father] “Mac get in here!” the screaming…

Jordie Chandler; came up with the idea for the movie “Robin Hood: Men In Tights” aged 11, emancipated himself from his parents at the age of about 14 after his father Evan set up the allegations against Michael, attacked from behind with 12lb weight, maced and choked by his father after Michael’s acquittal

Mel Brooks, LA Times, June 13 1993

The idea [for the movie] actually came from Chandler’s then 11-year-old son, Jordie.

Full transcript of Evan Chandler’s telephone conversation, takes place June 1993

EVAN: “And if I go through with this, I win big-time. There’s no way I lose. I’ve checked that inside out. I will get everything I want, and they will be destroyed forever. June will lose [custody of the son]…and Michael’s career will be over.”

SCHWARTZ: “Does that help [the boy]?”

EVAN: “That’s irrelevant to me. It’s going to be bigger than all of us put together. The whole thing is going to crash down on everybody and destroy everybody in sight. It will be a massacre if I don’t get what I want.”

Thomas Mesereau had witnesses lined up to testify that Jordie Chandler had told them that Michael had never molested him

“Now, the one you’re talking about never showed up. He’s the one who got a settlement in the early 90s. Now my understanding is that prosecutors tried to get him to show up and he wouldn’t. If he had, I had witnesses who were gonna come in and say he told them it never happened and that he would never talk to his parents again for what they made him say. It turned out he had gone to court and had legal emancipation from his parents. His mother testified and said she hadn’t talked to him in 11 years. So, you know, there was a problem there as well.”

Less than 2 months after Michael had been acquitted on all counts, on August 5th 2005 Jordie Chandler issued a restraining order against his father Evan Chandler after Evan attempted to kill him

“The judge found that plaintiff had proved that he and his father, the defendant, were members of the same household when defendant struck him on the head from behind with a twelve and one-half pound weight and then sprayed his eyes with mace or pepper spray and tried to choke him. The judge also found that the weight could cause serious bodily injury or death.”

When Evan Chandler committed suicide in November 2009, 5 months after MJ’s passing, nobody attended his funeral. None of his children, ex-wives and family had been interested in attending.

He also seems to have been friendless, and so totally estranged from his family that, when I spoke to Raymond Chandler on Wednesday, he was waiting to hear about the funeral arrangements – unaware that his brother had already been cremated.

‘Actually, there was no one there,’ said a member of staff at the Jersey City funeral home which organised the service.

‘We were instructed that no one would want to go. It was very sad. They still haven’t decided what to do with the ashes.’ [/EXPAND] [EXPAND Violence Can Affect Children’s Brains The Same Way As Soldiers At War – The Long Term Effects Of Abuse ]


The brains of children raised in violent families resemble the brains of soldiers exposed to combat, psychologists say.

They’re primed to perceive threat and anticipate pain, adaptations that may be helpful in abusive environments but produce long-term problems with stress and anxiety.

“For them to detect early cues that might signal danger is adaptive. It allows them to react, to try and avoid the danger,” said psychologist Eamon McCrory of University College London. However, “a very similar neural signature characterizes quite a few anxiety disorders.”

In a study published Dec. 5 in Current Biology, McCrory’s team used functional magnetic resonance imaging, or fMRI, to measure blood flows in the brains of 43 children exposed to violence at home as they looked at pictures of sad or angry faces.

Previous studies have shown that abuse affects kids’ brains; as they grow up, abused children become adults with high levels of aggression, anxiety, depression and other behavioral problems. But according to McCrory, the new study is the first to use fMRI to study the form of those changes.

“Understanding the neural mechanisms might give us clues as to how someone’s future might be shaped by their experience,” McCrory said.

His team compared fMRIs from abused children to those of 23 non-abused but demographically similar children from a control group. In the abused children, angry faces provoked distinct activation patterns in their anterior insula and right amygdala, parts of the brain involved in processing threat and pain. Similar patterns have been measured in soldiers who’ve seen combat.

Another recent study found that depression in people who were abused as children is especially difficult to treat. McCrory hopes future work will give a more complete picture of abuse’s neurological effects — and, perhaps, the effects of interventions that help children heal.

“Can children change in response to an act of intervention? To a better home environment? We’re quite optimistic that’s the case, that this is reversible. But that’s something we need to test,” McCrory said.

Citation: “Heightened neural reactivity to threat in child victims of family violence.” By Eamon J. McCrory, Stéphane A. De Brito, Catherine L. Sebastian, Andrea Mechelli, Geoffrey Bird, Phillip A. Kelly, and Essi Viding. Current Biology, Vol. 21 No. 23, Dec. 6, 2011.

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