Michael – The Early Years
Our KOOL Artist of the Week is Michael Jackson. This Friday marks the one year anniversary of his death.
This is a picture of Michael’s childhood home in Gary, Indiana.
Michael Jackson was born on August 29, 1958, the eighth of ten children to an African American working-class family, in Gary, Indiana, an industrial suburb of Chicago. His mother, Katherine Esther Scruse, was a devout Jehovah’s Witness, and his father, Joseph Walter “Joe” Jackson, a steel mill worker who performed with an R&B band called The Falcons. Jackson had three sisters: Rebbie, La Toya, and Janet, and six brothers: Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, Marlon, Brandon (Marlon’s twin brother, who died shortly after birth and Randy.
Jackson had a troubled relationship with his father, Joe. He stated that he was physically and emotionally abused during incessant rehearsals, with whippings and name-calling, though also crediting his father’s strict discipline with playing a large role in his success.In one altercation recalled by Marlon, Joseph held Michael upside down by one leg and “pummeled him over and over again with his hand, hitting him on his back and buttocks”.Joseph would also grab his sons and push them with great force against the wall. One night while Michael was asleep, Joseph climbed into his room through the bedroom window, wearing a fright mask and screamed, in hopes to scare him. He said he wanted to teach the children not to leave the window open when they went to sleep. For years afterward, Jackson said he suffered nightmares about being kidnapped from his bedroom.Joseph acknowledged in 2003 that he regularly whipped Jackson as a child.
Jackson first spoke openly about his childhood abuse in an interview with Oprah Winfrey broadcast on February 10, 1993 live around the world. He admitted that he had often cried from loneliness and he would vomit on the sight of his father. Jackson’s father was also said to have verbally abused Jackson, saying that he had a fat nose on numerous occasions.In fact, Michael Jackson’s deep dissatisfaction with his appearance, his nightmares and chronic sleep problems, his tendency to remain hyper-compliant especially with his father, and to remain child-like throughout his adult life are in many ways consistent with the effects of this chronic maltreatment he endured as a young child. In an interview with Martin Bashir, later included in the 2003 broadcast of Living with Michael Jackson, Jackson acknowledged that his father hurt him when he was a child, but was nonetheless a “genius,” as he admitted his father’s strict discipline played a huge role in his success. When Bashir dismissed the positive remark and continued asking about beatings, Jackson put his hand over his face and objected to the questions. He recalled that Joseph sat in a chair with a belt in his hand as he and his siblings rehearsed, and that “if you didn’t do it the right way, he would tear you up, really get you”.