Michael Jackson will for ever be remembered for the musical masterpieces and dazzling footwork that led to him being crowned the King of Pop.
But the tortured, tragic star will also be remembered for his harrowing claims about childhood abuse suffered at the hands of domineering father Joe.
Over the years, the Jackson family patriarch was rocked by claims he drove his children to pop stardom with a brutal regime of beatings and emotional cruelty.
Now, speaking in the first family interview since Joe’s death two weeks ago, Michael’s brother Tito admits their dad whipped them with his belt.
But he insists he was “the best father in the world” and did a “terrific job”, crediting his tough love approach with saving him and his brothers from lives of crime.
He also says that contrary to what Michael claimed, Joe never subjected his little brother to severe punishment and there was no bad blood.
In fact, Tito is adamant Michael and Joe will be getting on like a house on fire now they are back together in heaven.
Wiping away tears, the 64-year-old says: “My dad will be so happy to be reunited with Michael in heaven. They are having fun right now.
“He will probably be trying to get new music from Michael.”
Joe died aged 89 after a battle with cancer and had chosen to be buried next to Michael at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California.
“That’s what he wanted,” says Tito. “Michael made peace with my dad. There has always been peace.”
Joe’s success as an entertainment manager is undeniable, having developed and guided the Jackson 5 and then the solo careers of Janet and Michael.
But in a 1993 interview with Oprah Winfrey, Michael had claimed he lived in fear of his father his whole life. Some 90 million people saw him explain how afraid he was of him, stating: “There’s been times when he’d come to see me, I’d get sick, I’d start to regurgitate.”
He said Joe beat him, adding: “He saw me, he wanted me … I guess I don’t know if I was his golden child or whatever, some may call it a strict disciplinarian, but he was very strict, very hard, very stern. Just a look would scare you.”
Joe’s cruel teasing included calling Michael “Big Nose”, sparking his lifelong obsession with plastic surgery.
But Tito insists Michael never got the worst of it, saying: “Are you guys kidding me? I don’t think Michael got it. Michael was so quick, my father couldn’t even catch him.
“My father would swing his belt and the next thing Michael is under the bed.
“He was really quick. My father tried to catch him so much he couldn’t do nothing to stop and start laughing.
“Myself, Jackie and Jermaine, we were the older guys and we were responsible for a lot.
“He lashed us more than anybody because we were in Gary, Indiana. There is nothing but gangs and no jobs, there are shootings on a daily basis. My father kept a grip on his older sons more than anything.”
Tito’s sister La Toya, 62, has also claimed she was sexually abused by Joe. But Tito sighs: “To be honest, I really don’t care. My father is not here and he was loved by the entire family. So let it be. I don’t talk to my siblings about that because whatever they experienced or they think they experienced, that is their story.”
Tito believes Joe’s tough love philosophy is what kept Michael and his brothers on the straight and narrow. He says: “I wasn’t a bad kid but I was one of them that would follow. I was 11 or 12 and hanging with gangsters.
“My father recognised the people I was with and told me to go home. I knew I was in trouble. He said, ‘If I see my son hanging out with you guys again you are going to have to answer to me’. You can call it tough love but it was definitely love.”
Many of Tito’s friends are dead now because they went down the wrong path.
He says: “I have a lot of friends I grew up with and they are not here. They died in Gary from drugs and gangs, got shot, got stabbed.
“My father actually did a great job. And people don’t understand that because people don’t want to understand it. My father did a terrific job.”
Tito reckons the US would benefit from having more strict parents like Joe following a spate of shootings.
He says: “If there was more parents like my father you wouldn’t have these kids running round with AK-47s and shooting up the classroom. But people don’t think about things like that.”
Joe was laid to rest in a small family funeral last week. There were rumours Michael’s daughter, Paris, refused to talk to her aunt Janet. But Tito says: “All of the family kissed my dad’s head. It was very loving. People said lovely things. My cousin is a minister and we all prayed together. The saddest moment was when my mum walked over to my dad and held his hand. That broke my heart.”
Katherine, 88, stuck by Joe despite his 25-year affair with Cheryl Terrell – which resulted in daughter Joh’Vonnie, 43. She tried to divorce him twice, in 1973 and 1982, but both times was persuaded to change her mind.
Tito believes his long-suffering mum – who had 10 kids with Joe – will love him for the rest of her life. He says: “My father never talked about regret. My mum and dad have been together since high school. She asked him if he was in pain and he said, ‘Uh em’. And then he passed away the next day.
“She will love him until the day she dies.
“It was a true love story. I feel the most sorrow for my mum because she is without her partner.”
Tito says he visited Joe the day before he died and thanked him. Katherine was by his side when he passed. He says: “He couldn’t speak but I thanked him for everything that he has done and the world he had led me to, I thanked him for all the things I learnt from him. He recognised I was there and I was speaking to him. He understood what I was saying but he wasn’t able to reply.”
Tito admits he looks up to his father more than anyone else in the family.
He says: “Out of all the kids, I’m probably the one who wanted to be him. I do a lot of things in my life that he did, things like mechanics and carpentry.
“He played guitar, I played guitar. I smoked the same cigarettes as him. I want him to be remembered as one of the greatest dads around. The thing I really liked about my father is he was a man of his word, he told the truth when he talked, whether you liked it or not.
“He didn’t mean to hurt your feelings but he would just let you know. If he didn’t like it, he would let you know, if he loved it he would let you know. He was straightforward like that.”
The Jacksons have sold 75 million records worldwide but when Michael died aged 50 in 2009, his estate went bankrupt. Then in the years that followed, it generated billions of album sales, the film Michael Jackson’s This Is It and the Cirque du Soleil show Michael Jackson: One.
In 2016, Michael’s estate made another $750million when it sold its remaining stake in a music catalogue to Sony. The deal gave Sony sole ownership of works recorded by The Beatles, Bob Dylan and other best-selling artists.
And in 2017, Michael topped Forbes’ list of top-earning dead celebrities for the fifth year in a row, after raking in $75million for the year.
Tito stresses that his dad was the driving force for all of this, saying: “He was tough in business.
“My dad was softer as he got older. He was soft with his family. He was tough in business. He didn’t want people to take advantage of his children.”
The Jacksons will perform in Edinburgh tonight and Tito knows Michael and his father will be with them.
Before he is whisked off for a rehearsal, he says: “It’s hard to let that go.”
Source: Read Full Article