Famous Migraineur: Janet Jackson

Nancy Harris Bonk Health Guide
  • Janet Jackson, the youngest member of the famed Jackson family, and music icon in her own right, is a Migraine sufferer.


    Ms. Jackson is known for her exceptional singing, dancing and choreography. I've been to one of her shows and have to tell you it was truly amazing. The energy she puts in her performances is astounding. I can't imagine doing what she does on stage with any type of pain, let alone a Migraine.


    Janet Damita Jo Jackson was born in Gary, Indiana on May 16, 1966, to Joseph and Katherine Jackson. Joe was a crane operator in the steel mills at that time and was known for being a strict man.

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    Ms. Jackson and her siblings grew up in the Jehovah's Witness religion as their mother Katherine was a devout Jehovah's Witness. While Ms. Jackson was a toddler, her brothers were busy in the entertainment business creating The Jackson 5, with Joe and the boys moved to California to see if they could advance the group's career. And then in 1969, Mrs. Jackson and the remaining children (Rebbie, LaToya, Janet and Randy) moved to California to be with he rest of the family. In 1971, when Ms. Jackson was five-years-old, the family purchased a home, calling it Hayvenhurst.  


    Ms. Jackson loved horses and, for quite a while, wanted to be a jockey. But her dad quickly put an end to that notion, instead wanting her to join in the family entertainment business. In 1974, when Ms. Jackson was seven-years-old, she debuted at a nightclub in Las Vegas with most of her siblings and was the stand out star of the show. It wasn't long before the family garnered the attention of Fred Silverman of CBS, who was looking for a new variety show. "The Jackson's" started their television variety show on June 16, 1976. This was a big moment in television history because the Jackson's were the first African-American family to have a television variety show.


    The show's success was short lived, as it only stayed on the air for two seasons. However, during the variety show, Ms. Jackson caught the attention of Norman Lear, a television producer, who wanted to help the ratings of his innovative show "Good Times.” Mr. Lear thought Ms. Jackson would be perfect to play the part of Penny, a young girl who had been abused. She stayed on the cast until the show was discontinued in 1979. Ms. Jackson also had roles in "Diff'rent Strokes" and "Fame."


    Most of the Jackson children did not attend public school, though Ms. Jackson did go to one in Encino, California, before transferring to the Valley Professional School, where she graduated in 1984. During her teen years, she put out her first album, "Janet Jackson," which reached number six on the Billboard charts and spent over 40 weeks on the Top 50 list.  Her next album, "Dream Street," came out in 1984 and showed musical growth compared to her first album. This album did not perform nearly as well as her first, and critics were harsh. It was during this time Ms. Jackson met James DeBarge, member of the group DeBarge. They eloped in 1984, but the Jackson family did not approve of the marriage, and Ms. Jackson had the marriage annulled the following year.


    In 1986, Ms. Jackson released "Control," an album that was produced by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis and sold over eight million copies. "Control" showed that Ms. Jackson was taking charge of her personal and professional life, which could be heard in some of her songs. Her next release, "Rhythm Nation 1814," - one of my favorites - came out in 1989. Ms. Jackson has said that her "Control" album is about her life, but "Rhythm Nation 1814" is more about the world we live in. The songs are about education, drugs, war and prejudice. The song "Black Cat" from this album is special to me because my daughter, Sarah (as a tiny little girl not-yet-two-year-old), loved to dance around our house to it! Ms. Jackson went on to sign with Virgin Records in March 1991 with a multi-million dollar contract. It was by far the biggest recording contract to date.

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    In 1993, the movie "Poetic Justice" gave Ms. Jackson the opportunity to have a starring role. The film did not get good reviews, and she unfortunately received the 1993 Golden Raspberry Award for "Worst New Star." She did, however, win the MTV Awards for Best Female Performance and Most Desirable Female that year for the role. Her album "janet." was also released in 1993 and she secretly married Rene Elizondo to avoid press speculation. The couple divorced in 2000.


    Ms. Jackson and her brother Michael created the duet "Scream" in 1995, which was the most costly music video to be made at that time, running up a bill of about $7 million.  The video did win the siblings the "Best Short Form Music Video" Grammy. That same year, Ms. Jackson came out with the first of her greatest hits albums; "Design of A Decade 1986/1996." Jackson released "The Velvet Rope" in 1997 after spending a bit of time out of the lime-light due to depression. The only single that was released from this album was the song "Together Again," a song dedicated to AIDS as Ms. Jackson is also an avid AIDS activist.


    In 2000, Ms. Jackson co-starred with Eddie Murphy in "Nutty Professor II: The Klumps." Ms. Jackson again did not receive great acting reviews, but the movie did make money. "All For You" was her next album in 2001 and is a bit lighter than "The Velvet Rope." It sold over 600,000 copies the first week it was out. It was during this time she meet Jermaine Dupri, who is now her long-time boyfriend.


    Things started out a bit rocky for Ms. Jackson in 2004 when she had her "wardrobe malfunction" with Justin Timberlake. Over 100 million people saw the halftime show of Super Bowl XXXVIII and the exposed right breast of Ms. Jackson. There were investigations by CBS, MTV, the NFL and the Federal Communications Commission. Ms. Jackson had been invited to perform at the Grammy Awards that year, but her invitation was canceled. She was also due to play the role of Lena Horne in an upcoming movie, but that role was taken away from her after the debacle too. "Damita Jo" was released in 2004, but did not do as well as her other albums, but that didn't stop her from being nominated for an American Music Award in the Favorite R & B/Soul Artist category and two Grammy nominations.  

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    Ms. Jackson has dealt with many of life hardships: her brother Michael's allegations of child molestation and sudden death, her own depression, weight battles and now dealing with the troubles of her brother's estate. However, through difficult times she continues to be active in raising awareness and money for AIDS and is a vocal supporter of gay rights.


    While I'm sure many of you have read of Ms. Jackson's "vestibular Migraine," it really isn't a "standard diagnosis." Vestibular has to do with the inner ear and one's sense of balance and may be a more descriptive term when used with Migraine. Many Migraineurs experience vertigo, dizziness, balance issues and many more symptoms when they have an attack. To read more about Migraine associated vertigo and vertigo, continue on to these articles; Migraine and the Prevalence of Dizziness and Vertigo and Migraine and Vertigo.


    For information on other Famous Migraineurs, read:




    TruStoryBio. "Janet Jackson Biography." September 18, 2012.


    8Notes.Com. "Janet Jackson Biography." September 15, 2012.


    Thayer, Tom. "AIDS Activist - Janet Jackson." Entertainment. Aids Response Effort, Inc. April 11, 2012.


    Photo from Celebritiesonwall.com


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    © The HealthCentral Network, 2012
    Last Updated September 18, 2012.

Published On: September 18, 2012