Conrad Murray called Joe Jackson "one of the worst fathers to his children in history."
Trigger warning: Contains descriptions of child abuse.
"I am scared of my father to this day," said Michael Jackson, who never stopped being terrified of his father even as an adult or a global icon who was adored and respected all over the world.
Joe Jackson, whose career as a blues musician failed, would make his children's lives a living hell by making them rehearse for long hours. Joe Jackson would sit with a belt in his hand, watching Michael Jackson and his siblings practice to perfect the Jackson 5's performance.
In 1993, Michael Jackson spoke about his father in an interview with Oprah Winfrey and described how he was determined to wrangle success out of his children at any cost.
"If you didn't do it the right way, he would tear you up, really get you," Michael Jackson told Oprah, according to Mirror. "I love my father, but I don't know him. 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. He was very hard. Just a look would scare… but I do forgive him."
Michael Jackson, who was the most talented of Joe Jackson's children, went on to become the King of Pop not only because of his unmatched singing ability but because of his father's incessant force.
The singer spoke to Rabbi Shmuley about how violent his father would get. According to NBC News, Michael said, "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."
He told the Rabbi how terrified he was of his father even as an adult, "I'm scared of my father to this day. My father walk in the room— and God knows I'm telling the truth. I've fainted in his presence many times. I'll say once, to be honest. I fainted once. I've thrown up in his presence because just when he comes in the room, ugh, this aura comes and my stomach start hurting and I know like I'm in trouble."
However, the award-winning singer added that his father did change in some ways, saying, "...He's so different now. And he wants to be a better father. I just wished he had learned that earlier."
Rabbi Shmuley, who heard Michael Jackson's accounts about his father from the singer himself, said that whether the allegations against Joe Jackson were true or false, what mattered more was how much Michael Jackson believed it was true and how it shaped so much of his life.
"What's not important, as far as Michael is concerned, is whether or not these allegations are true, they may not be true, but Michael certainly perceived them to be true," Rabbi Shmuley said.
Over the years, Michael Jackson's siblings have also talked about how strict their father was, including Jermaine Jackson who told The Guardian, “None of us can remember him holding us or cuddling us or telling us ‘I love you.'"
Singer Janet Jackson revealed how their father wouldn't allow them to call him "dad," according to People.
"One time I tried to call him dad, and he said, ‘No, I’m Joseph. You call me Joseph. I’m Joseph to you.’ He tells you one time, you don’t do it again. So I always called him Joseph," Janet Jackson said.
People also quoted Michael Jackson telling Martin Bashir in a documentary, "He didn’t want us to call him ‘Daddy,’ and I wanted to call him ‘Daddy’ so bad. He said, ‘I’m not Daddy, I’m Joseph to you.'"
Despite everything that Michael Jackson said his father put him through, the singer finally did tell Rabbi Shmuley, according to NBC News, "God bless my father because he did some wonderful things, and he was brilliant, he was a genius."
Before Joe Jackson passed away in 2018, he addressed the physical abuse he inflicted on his children in an interview with Oprah. "I don't [regret the beatings]," he said, as quoted b Mirror. "It kept them out of jail and kept them right. I don't think [Michael] was afraid of me. What he was afraid of, he may do something wrong and I'd chastise him but not beat him. I never beat him like the media tried to say."
After Michael Jackson's death in 2009, his doctor, Conrad Murray claimed that Joe Jackson did make Michael Jackson's life miserable. Conrad Murray called Joe Jackson "one of the worst fathers to his children in history," according to The Blast. And he added that Michael Jackson experienced "many sufferings at the hands of his father."