Fact Check

Joe Jackson Death Hoax

Fake news articles peddling the false claim that the Jackson family patriarch was dead followed in the wake of media reports that he is suffering from pancreatic cancer.

Published June 25, 2018

Updated June 27, 2018
 (Jaguar PS / Shutterstock.com)
Image Via Jaguar PS / Shutterstock.com
Joe Jackson — patriarch of the entertainment family that includes singers Janet Jackson and the late Michael Jackson — has died of cancer.

Update: Joe Jackson passed away on 27 June 2018, just four days after the death hoax appeared. You can read our story here.

On 23 June 2018, an article appeared on a site called The Weekly Observer (no connection to the Hemingway, South Carolina newspaper of the same name) saying that Joe Jackson, the father of Janet, Jermaine, and the late Michael Jackson, had succumbed to cancer at the age of 89:

Joe Jackson, the father of the famous family Jackson, lost the fight against cancer as he suffered from incurable illness and was in the final stage, many American media reported.

The TMZ.com website, citing family sources, reported that 89-year-old Jackson suffered from cancer at the final stage. The Variety magazine supports a source that knows its status confirmed this information while DailyMail.com, based on family members and other unspecified sources, wrote that Joe Jackson suffered from cancer in the pancreas.

Zerman Jackson, one of Joe Jackson‘s sons, confirmed on Twitter that his father died.

Despite inspiring a rash of erroneous death notices and remembrances on Twitter and Facebook, however, the claim that Jackson had passed away was a fabrication. As of 25 June 2018, no legitimate media sources had reported that Jackson was dead.

TMZ.com did report on 22 June that Jackson was hospitalized with untreatable "terminal cancer." An article on DailyMail.com offered more details about the illness, saying Jackson is suffering from stage four pancreatic cancer. It quoted Jermaine Jackson, 63, as saying his father was "very, very frail" and didn't have long to live (Jermaine later tweeted that he had confirmed details about Joe Jackson's condition to the reporter.)

False rumors of Jackson's death had circulated before in May 2016 after he was hospitalized with a high fever. In that case he responded with a notice on his web site saying "I Am 100% Alive," and that the rumors were "greatly exaggerated." He has not yet posted a reaction to the more recent false reports.

According to their "About Us" page, the Weekly Observer purports to offer "researched content that appeals to our readers," though a quick scan of their published articles reveals a backlog of shallow, poorly-vetted clickbait content aimed more at accumulating advertising revenue than providing reliable information.


Dunkan, Chris.  "Joe Jackson Died Today from Terminal Cancer."   The Weekly Observer.  23 June 2018.

D'Zurilla, Christie.  "Joe Jackson Hospitalized with Terminal Pancreatic Cancer, Reports Say."   Los Angeles Times.  22 June 2018.

Parry, Ryan.  "Joe Jackson Hospitalized with Stage Four Pancreatic Cancer as Family Fight to Visit Him on Deathbed."   DailyMail.com.  22 June 2018.

Ungerman, Alex.  "Joe Jackson Shares Health Update as Family Gathers at Hospital: 'I Am 100% Alive.'"   ET Online.  19 May 2016.

TMZ.com.  "Joe Jackson Hospitalized with Terminal Cancer."   22 June 2018.


27 June 2018, 12:26 P.M.: Updated to show that Joe Jackson has now passed away.

David Emery is a West Coast-based writer and editor with 25 years of experience fact-checking rumors, hoaxes, and contemporary legends.