Jackson, the fearsome stage dad of Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson and their talented siblings, who took his family from poverty and launched a musical dynasty, died. He was 89. Picture: AP

As patriarch of the biggest family in showbusiness, Joe Jackson made no apologies for ruling his many children with a rod of iron.

"I don't regret it," he told Oprah Winfrey in 2010 of the merciless beatings he would hand out with a leather strap and a switch to his son, Michael, and his eight siblings. "It kept them out of jail and kept them right."

A few years later, he sounded even more defiant, telling an interviewer: "I'm glad I was tough because look what I came out with."
Jackson denied his hitting of Michael could be categorised as a beating, though. "I whipped him with a switch and a belt. I never beat him. You beat someone with a stick," he said.

"You whip them and punish them over something they did, and they will remember that . . . that's the way I was."
Jackson died at 89 from pancreatic cancer - almost nine years to the day since the death of his son Michael. His wife, Katherine, their children and grandchildren were reportedly at his bedside in Las Vegas.

It would have been a fraught family reunion after years of estrangement and ugly accusations. Michael once admitted he was so terrified of his father that just seeing him was enough to make him physically sick. Jackson Snr retorted that like Michael's mother Katherine, the superstar's problem was that he was "too easy with people".

Being "too easy" with people was never a charge that could be made of Joe. As his children's manager in their early years, he undoubtedly helped propel them to global fame - but they never forgot the merciless way he did it.

A darker story always lay behind the glittering success of the Jackson Five and the Jacksons as well as Michael and his sister Janet's solo careers. For many, Joe Jackson was at the heart of it. A failed rhythm & blues singer who struggled to provide for his large family as a crane operator in the steel town of Gary, Indiana, Jackson discovered his sons' musical talents and pushed them into showbusiness.

A domineering bully, he forced them to rehearse to the point of exhaustion and would whip them if they missed a dance step or musical note. Michael dropped his father as manager in 1983, but it took him another decade to publicly talk about the treatment that he and his brothers Jackie, Jermaine, Tito and Marlon suffered.

In 1993, he told Winfrey that his father had combined physical punishment with verbal viciousness, taunting him about supposedly having a big nose.
Some believe the mockery drove the performer to embark on his disastrous series of plastic surgery operations in later life. Others say Michael was actually trying to make sure he no longer resembled Joe.

His father "practised us with a belt in his hand", Michael told TV interviewer Martin Bashir in a 2003 documentary. "If you didn't do it the right way, he would tear you up."

The once all-powerful Jackson patriarch spent his later years shunned by his children, with insiders insisting he wasn't considered part of the family. He and Katherine never divorced, but they lived separate lives for years.

Michael completely left his father out of his will and Jackson struggled to support himself, living in a modest flat in Las Vegas and once trying to sell perfume in a local strip mall. The venture failed after the mall noticed the perfume line used Michael's image and demanded Jackson prove he had the legal right to sell it. He didn't.

No Jackson passing goes without controversy and, sure enough, the family complained in recent weeks that his minders had kept them away - apparently on his orders - as he lay on his death bed.

The same family that had shunned him were showering him with love and praise on social media. La Toya said: "I will always love you! I will never forget our moments together and how you told me how much you cared." Given she once accused him of  molesting her, it seemed a curious  tribute.

Perhaps, like her brother Michael, she may have decided to let fury give way to forgiveness.