Janet Jackson comes from a family of superstars. Both herself and her brother, Michael Jackson, went from child stars to become some of the biggest names in music history. Their father, Joe Jackson, is well-known as being the man behind the legends. Jackson served as a manager for the Jackson 5 as well as Janet Jackson at a time of their careers. However, his legacy over time has been tainted due to abusive behavior towards his children. During an interview with Anderson Cooper, Janet Jackson reflected on her upbringing with Joe Jackson, including why she, nor her siblings, called him “dad.”
Nobody can take away from the fact that Joseph Jackson produced legends. Music’s history cannot be spoken about in most cases without the mention of his children. Growing up in the 50s, Jackson attempted a career in music. He was not able to achieve the success they sought after, but a few of Jackson’s eleven children would change the scope of music for generations.
But his disciplinary actions towards his children would soon take center stage in conversations. Joseph Jackson would subject his children to long and intense rehearsals that would often include whoopings if mistakes were made. Michael Jackson has often expressed a time where he was fearful of his father and full of hatred for being subjected to Joe’s behavior. The abuse was not only physical but verbal as well. Michael Jackson once recalled in an extensive conversation with Rabbi Shmuley Boteach that he threatened to end their careers at times. “One day, I hate to repeat it, but one day he said, ‘If you guys ever stop singing I will drop you like a hot potato,’” Michael said, according to PEOPLE.
Janet also reflected on her upbringing under Joe Jackson’s wings, saying that despite the tough love, she believes “he means well.” She expressed to Piers Morgan on CNN a time when she was eight years old where she was disciplined by her father. “And I can’t remember what it was that I did,” Janet said. “I can’t remember if I truly deserved it.” Aside from that, she says, it never occurred again.
It has always been noticeable that all of Joseph Jackson’s children refer to him by his first name. This was a requirement from Joe, himself, as he did not allow his children to call him any iteration of the word “father.” When the “Rhythm Nation” singer spoke with Anderson Cooper in a 2012 interview, she shared that she never questioned his reasons.
“I just left it as it is,” she said. “When our parents tell us things, you don’t question it.” Janet also shared that she never asked her older siblings whether or not they had inquired about his reasons for not wanting to be addressed as “dad.” Then, Janet revealed that she made one attempt to address him as her father. She would only get shut down by Joseph, who told her, “My name is Joseph. You call me Joseph. I’m Joseph to you.”