Jacksons fly home for funeral

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[b]Jacksons fly home for funeral[/b] GARY — The city’s most famous family gathered Saturday to bury a man who was once part of the worldwide pop phenomenon known as the Jackson 5. But while Janet Jackson sent a check to help bury Johnny Jackson Jr., neither she nor her pop-star brother Michael returned to their Indiana home for the farewell. But that didn’t stop Jackson brothers Tito, Marlon, Jermaine, Jackie and Randy from joining other friends and relatives at Smith, Bizzell and Warner Funeral Home on Saturday morning to remember Johnny, who was stabbed to death March 1 in Gary. Mourners arrived at the funeral home to little fanfare, but they brought plenty of memories of the band’s former drummer. The last time the Jacksons saw Johnny was at a family reunion in California a year or two ago, Tito said, and he was the same Johnny he was when he joined the family all those years ago. “Johnny was so full of spirit, and he made a lot of people laugh,” Tito said. “Seeing him at the reunion brought back a lot of memories.” Johnny Jackson was not related to other members of the Jackson 5, though patriarch Joseph Jackson did become the teenage drummer’s legal guardian when the family moved to Los Angeles in 1969. “They were family to him,” said Keith Jackson, Johnny’s cousin and occasional bandmate, who was not part of the more famous band. Randy, the youngest of the Jackson 5 brothers, said he learned how to play drums from Johnny. “He had a lively way of living and enjoyed every moment,” Randy said. “He made touring fun. There was never a dull moment, with jokes and a lot of laughs.” Johnny backed the Jackson 5 for 15 years and lived with the family after their move from Gary to Los Angeles. The 55-year-old drummer lived modestly after returning to Gary more than 20 years ago Keith Jackson and his older cousin were the rhythm section for local band Triple Threat until Johnny began playing with Gary-based reggae and R & B group White Dove. Johnny’s stormy relationship with Yolanda R. Davis, who was charged with the drummer’s death last week, concerned his may friends and relatives in Gary, Keith Jackson said, declining to comment further. “It’s just tragic,” he said. “Johnny was just a great person and an incredibly talented person.” A Jackson family spokesman earlier this week said that youngest sister and pop star Janet Jackson was paying for Johnny’s funeral. Neither she nor brother Michael nor sisters LaToya or Maureen nor parents Kathleen and Joe Jackson attended the service Saturday. Andrea Blaylock of Gary, a member of the city’s Cornerstone Church, where Johnny was a member, said she was glad the Jackson brothers attended the funeral but was deeply saddened over the death of Johnny, whom she described as “talented” and “good-hearted.” Source: http://www.post-trib.com/cgi-bin/pto-story/news/z1/03-12-06_z1_news_3.html

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