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La Toya Jackson

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La Toya Yvonne Jackson (born May 29, 1956) is an American singer and activist. Jackson was the fifth of ten children in the Jackson family. Jackson began to participate in musical performances conducted by her brothers in the early 1970s, and had aspirations outside of music, but intrusion from her father influenced her choice on a career. After releasing her first album, Jackson continued to try and find a way to distance herself from her family.

Jackson's music career went well into the 1980s, and continued into the 1990s. Her manager, Jack Gordon, forcibly married Jackson. Jackson has said that he was abusive towards her and threatened the lives of not only her, but also her sister Janet and brother Michael. With the help of her brother Randy Jackson, she escaped Gordon and filed for divorce.

Jackson had a special relationship with her brother Michael. After his death, La Toya made statements that he had been murdered. She made allegations against her father Joe Jackson which were denied by members of the family. Her allegations of abuse, sexually and domestic, added to growing claims against the Jackson patriarch.

La Toya has also written a number of books. Jackson has gone on to become a prime supporter of LGBT rights, and has become renowned for her work for charities.

Early life and first album

La Toya Jackson 1984

La Toya in 1984.

She was born on her sister Rebbie's sixth birthday in Gary, Indiana. Jackson joined her siblings on stage in 1972 with a tap dancing routine while their father Joe Jackson arranged for them to perform in Las Vegas, among other cities.[1] Jackson attended college but dropped out after her father insisted that she find a career in show business like her siblings. La Toya has been said to have had a close relationship with her brother Michael Jackson. The two became so inseparable that members of the family started calling them "the twins". La Toya and Michael "took it a step further" and started dressing alike commonly.[2]

She and her sisters Rebbie and Janet began a short-lived music group under their father's direction. The three never preformed live and separated after creative differences. La Toya began working on her first solo album the next year. La Toya released her first solo album in 1980 and tried to have her last name not used on the cover, in an attempt to distinguish herself from her siblings. However, her father argued against her doing it. Jackson reflected that she "wanted to see what I could do as an individual."[3]

Solo career

In 1982, Jackson released a follow up album to her self-titled one, called My Special Love. The album generated two singles, "Stay the Night" and "I Don't Want You to Go". It was her second album and was one of La Toya's most successful. It was the last album by any member of her family to be released with Polydor Records.

International success

La Toya Jackson 1984 Good Morning America

La Toya Jackson on Good Morning America in 1984.

Jackson released her critically-acclaimed album Heart Don't Lie in 1984. Jackson scored her biggest Billboard Hot 100 hit with the track "Heart Don't Lie". The song peaked at number 56. Jackson's name with her consent was capitalized on when she licensed a clothing line; "David Laurenz for La Toya." According to her three year contract with the clothing maker, Jackson agreed to only wear David Laurenz outfits during her public appearances. This included her signature leather headbands.[4]

When asked if her brother had any influence with her music in on a April 24, 1984 interview on Good Morning America, La Toya replied, "Oh yes, he's always giving me, great, great, input, all the time." She said in the interview that she had fully enjoyed her career as a musician and stated that her brother Michael was a very private person and that he liked being secluded. Jackson said her father still ran the family's music endeavors.[5] On May 29, 1987, Jackson's thirty-first birthday, she left her home for Japan. Jackson has said that she will never forget the day due to the time differences in Japan and in the United States, effectively granting her "two birthdays."[6]

Tension

Jack Gordon was hired by Jackson's father Joe to co-manage her. La Toya became the last of the Jackson children to leave her father's management.[6] Gordon would take over her image completely, and under his management, Jackson's public image became sexier. Katherine Jackson recalled the shock of seeing a sexual dance done by her daughter, having said, ""she'd been so conservative that she'd once dropped a friend who had begun wearing low-cut tops and skirts with slits in them." Katherine Jackson believed her daughter was being influenced by Gordon while he was attempting to "become the dominant influence in her life." Jackson was disfellowshipped by the Jehovah's Witnesses. Jackson deified her father when she exited the family's compound in Encino for residence in New York City.[7]

She released the album La Toya in late 1988. It featured the singles "You're Gonna Get Rocked!" and "(Ain't Nobody Loves You) Like I Do". One of the tracks was entitled "Just Say No", named for President Ronald Reagan's anti-drug campaign.[8] Jackson tried to show that her parents "couldn't dictate me any more" by posing topless on the cover of Playboy magazine. The magazine turned Jackson into an overnight sex symbol when the issue featuring her became one of the most successful issues in the magazine's history.

Abuse and exile from Jackson family

La Toya Jackson and Jack Gordon

La Toya Jackson with Jack Gordon.

Jackson forcibly was married to James Gordon on September 5, 1989, after a concert in Nevada. Gordon claimed that she was wedding him for protection from her family. La Toya tried to run out of the chapel they wed in three times but kept getting grabbed by bodyguard Antonio Rossi. Six months into their marriage, she asked her then-husband for an annulment while in Rome, Italy. Gordon bashed her head against the corner of the hotel room table in response, declaring he would never let her go. She was photographed by paparazzi with black eyes, which Gordon said at the time were caused by an intruder. Jackson lost all contact with her family at that time, and wrote an autobiography accusing her father of physical abuse. Gordon controlled Jackson with threats, lies and routine violence. Joe Jackson believed that his daughter was brainwashed by Gordon to become fearful of her family.

Jackson reflected that on the day of their marriage, she had noticed Gordon was "up to something."[9] Gordon would dominate Jackson in the littlest of things, such as when he ordered her to answer ringing phones. While she spoke on the phone after answering it, Gordon would take her free hand and twist it. La Toya did not want to ever answer the phone again after encounters such as those, but changed her position out of her fear for him. The incident was followed by a long list of restrictions for La Toya, including her not being able to leave their home without his consent and to have no contact with her family.[10]

What La Toya feared the most, was having her abuse be downplayed by individuals who believed her family and her relations were enough to keep her happy, with the belief that she could not have any problems.[11] After Gordon had her "mentally trained", he refrained from beating her "black-and-blue" and settling on smacks across the face and lesser beatings that would not seriously harm her.[12] After the couple returned to Europe, La Toya was ready to release her album La Toya. With Gordon's dictation, the two moved to New York City for much of 1987 so she could record with produces full force.[13]

Jackson claimed in 1989 that her father abused her and her siblings. She claimed that he would sexually assault her and her sister Rebbie, and whenever she considered leaving their home, her sister Janet would try to stop her from leaving. Her mother once told her father, according to Jackson, to allow La Toya to rest instead of molesting her.

She posed again in Playboy magazine in November 1991 to promote her autobiography. After beating her, Gordon would often ask Jackson why she was crying and say she was going insane. Jackson would later say she was most affected by this because she did not have someone telling her that she was not crazy.[14] During the couple's time in Paris, Jackson was locked inside their home by Gordon with the use of doors that locked from the outside. She noted that he did not need to keep her from leaving "because his threats were enough to keep me from disobeying him."[14]

Her brother Michael performed in Hannover, Germany in the summer of 1992. She was "overjoyed" and hoped to meet with her family, but at the same time was fearing that Gordon would try to harm them. La Toya asked her mother to come and see her while they were in Germany. When she couldn't make it, Gordon reluctantly allowed her to go the short distance needed to meet with her mother. Not trusting her, the two drove together. La Toya has expressed belief that Gordon only allowed her to see her family since he himself had arrangements to fulfill.[15] While taping an Exotic Club Tour in Minnepolis in October 1992, Jackson approached her sister Janet to ask for her help in escaping Gordon. Janet struck La Toya, accusing her of recording their conversation.

Escape

Jackson decided that she needed to get away from Gordon upon learning that he was planning to use her in a pornographic film. She telephoned her brother Randy. He flew to New York, and helped her escape during Gordon's absence. Days later, La Toya filed for divorce while in Las Vegas and sued Gordon in civil court. The lawsuit was for the years of abuse, which she backed up with the Violence Against Women Act. It was at that time that La Toya ended her estrangement from her family and returned to Hayvenhurst. Jackson forgave her parents for her upbringing, stating that they had raised as they best knew how. La Toya would say that her brother Michael forgave her knowing that she had been forced to attack him in the press.

Jackson released her last single of the decade, "Don't Break My Heart". La Toya lived alone for the first time after leaving Gordon, and stayed in the house for the first six months due to fear of being seen by her former husband. La Toya did not know what to do with her life and was afraid to perform again, after years of a tainted public image. Jackson would recall all of the different attacks and criticisms on her different talents, which were regarded as anything but by many forms of the media. Jackson released "Free the World" in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center. Jackson performed the song to friends, receiving a positive reception. She was inspired by the reception to write more songs and eventually lead to a full album, Startin' Over.

Return to music

On March 9, 2003, La Toya re-emerged with an appearance on Larry King Live. The appearance was met with much attention, as CNN's phone lines were busy for hours and it went on to become the highest-rated show in three years. Jackson officially announced Startin' Over.

Reality television

On January 10, 2007, La Toya was featured amongst other celebrities on the reality TV show Armed & Famous. La Toya's training and service as a reserve police officer with the Muncie Police Department was documented. Jackson maintains her badge by continuing to volunteer as a deputy. The show was removed from CBS due to its inability to compete with American Idol. Subsequent episodes of the series were aired by VH1. La Toya demonstrated her phobia of cats on the series, and notably began screaming and locked herself in a squad car. Jackson revealed the fear to have begun during her childhood, during which a relative was attacked by a cat. To relieve herself of the fear, she underwent screen therapy. A single came into commission, called "Armed and Furious". However, it was changed to "I Don't Play That" before going to radio stations, and failed to take off due to the series being cancelled.

Brother's death

Janet, La Toya and Rebbie Jackson 2009

La Toya Jackson (middle) with sisters Janet (left) and Rebbie (right) at their brother Michael's funeral.

In the spring of 2009, La Toya became increasingly concerned for her brother Michael's life. On June 23, 2009, her heart raced when watching CNN when hearing of a death, believing it was her brother. She calmed down when realizing it was the death of television announcer Ed McMahon. Then two days later, on June 25, 2009, CNN again announced a death in breaking news, causing La Toya to go through the same emotions as she did before. She calmed down once again, learning it was actress Farrah Fawcett. She spent the rest of the morning watching about her, before being contacted by her father. Joe ordered her to get over to her brother's home, having received a call from a fan reporting that he was sick.[16] That day, Michael Jackson passed away at the age of 50.

Jackson was among the earliest of her brother's siblings to show up at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center after he was pronounced dead following suffering cardiac arrest. Jackson was named the informant on her brother's death certificate and requested a second autopsy of her deceased sibling. Jackson made the request after pointing out suspicious medical paraphernalia in Michael's rented house, evasive behavior by his doctors, and discovering that $2 million in cash and jewels had gone missing. On July 13, 2009, Jackson went public with her conclusion that her brother was killed when an interview containing her opinion was published in News of the World and the Daily Mail.[17] The Los Angeles County Corner ruled Michael Jackson's death a homicide weeks later.[18] La Toya had a new single planned for a summer release that year, entitled "Love, Honor, and Obey". After Michael's death, it was put on hold while "Home" was released on July 28, 2009 in honor of her brother. All proceeds went to AIDS Project Los Angeles, one of La Toya's favorite charities.[19]

Life after brother's death

She launched Dream Cream in 2010, a hand cream for German cosmetics firm Alessandro International. She named Teddy Riley head of the Ja-Tail Records' music division. Jackson was involved in NBC's Celebrity Apprentice, which aired from March to May 2011. It raised $65,000 for AIDS Project Los Angeles. She was fired from the series in the eighth episode of season eleven and was rehired the following episode. She was fired again the next month and became the first person in the show's history to be fired twice in the same season.

Jackson's memoir, Starting Over, was released on June 21, 2001. She said that 85 percent of the book was about her encouraging woman and that the other percentage was about Michael, in a statement meant to address her as not focusing the book on her brother.

Jackson began a reality series in 2013, entitled Life With La Toya. The series premiered on Oprah Winfrey's OWN. The series was confirmed for a second season on June 10, 2013. A reported December 6, 2013 marriage between Jackson and her business partner Jeffre Phillips in Los Angeles was refuted by the two, according to TMZ.

Influences

Jackson, as many of her siblings have, attributed James Brown as a "major influence."[20]

Discography

Main article: La Toya Jackson discography

Studio albums

Compilations Albums

Extended plays

Stage recordings

References

  1. [Jackson, La Toya; Patricia Romanowski (1991). La Toya: Growing Up in the Jackson Family. Dutton Publishing. p. 65.]
  2. Starting Over, p. 39.
  3. Waiting for the day when she's not just 'his sister'
  4. David Laurenz, Latoya Jackson sign 3-year pact.
  5. [1]
  6. 6.0 6.1 Starting Over, p. 31.
  7. La Toya off on her own
  8. [Jackson, La Toya; Patricia Romanowski (1991). La Toya: Growing Up in the Jackson Family. Dutton Publishing. pp. 205–206.]
  9. Starting Over, p. 91.
  10. Starting Over, p. 38.
  11. Starting Over, p. 45.
  12. Starting Over, p. 47.
  13. Starting Over, p. 70.
  14. 14.0 14.1 Starting Over, p. 40.
  15. Starting Over, p. 75.
  16. Starting Over, pp. 356-357.
  17. La Toya Jackson: Michael was murdered... I felt it from the start
  18. Coroner rules Jackson’s death a homicide
  19. Bungalo Records
  20. Interview: La Toya Jackson

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