Even Stranger Than Lou Reed….. Joe Jackson

We had two in-store signings on the same day right when Joe Jackson was at the peak of his popularity (Steppin’ Out). We never did that before and never did that again. The first one was at J&R Music in NYC and it went relatively smooth. Except for Joe’s outfit. He wore a maroon suit with a gray and blue raglan type shirt. You know the type like baseball players used to wear under their jerseys with the ¾ sleeves. Add to that his pasty skin and slicked back hair and he looked….well….odd!

The limo picks him up to take him to Record World at the Hicksville Mall on Long Island later that day and the rest of us take off in our cars. At the store we’re waiting for Joe and already there is a pretty long line for him. That was always a concern because they would only sign autographs for a set time period and people would always get turned away and that could lead to trouble. This crowd was getting big. We were told whatever you do, keep an eye on Joe. Keep an eye on Joe? 

Why? What is going to happen? I had heard the stories about him spitting at fans from on stage and other generally weird stuff but what could possibly happen?

He arrives through the back of the store and they’re going over everything with him. We couldn’t have turned away for more than a few minutes and he was gone! WTF did Joe go???? Now we’re in a panic. We lost our celebrity after being told to keep an eye on him. We go rushing out into the mall and the line is pretty big. We fan out across the mall looking for him.

With God as my witness I found him window shopping at the other end of the mall slurping an ice cream cone (wearing that ridiculous outfit!) 

I go and grab him and say “Joe, you can’t be out here.” He says, “Why not?” I tell him “You’ll cause a riot you dumbass!” (Okay I didn’t say the dumbass part but I wanted to!) He looks at me like I have ten heads. Now we have to get him out the front of the mall and bring him out around the back to get him in the store. And all the while he is looking at us like we’re the crazy ones and still eating that damn ice cream cone!

Near as I can tell he must have walked right out the front of the store and the combination of the odd outfit and the fact he was all alone didn’t get anyone’s attention so no one noticed him.

Then as we are taking him out back as it was all over he grabs a pen and writes in real big letters on the stockroom wall, “Joe Jackson was here.”

For those of you too young to remember him here he is:

Great musician. Totally weird individual. (That second picture might even be the same maroon suit!)