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James DeBarge: 5 Things To Know About Janet Jackson’s First Husband

James DeBarge was famously married to Janet Jackson in 1985 before the they had an annulment.

James DeBarge has been a controversial figure in Jackson family history. The 58-year-old was married to Janet Jackson, 55, in the mid 1980s. The relationship has continued to make headlines three decades later, as rumors have perpetuated that the pair have a secret child together. Learn more about the R&B singer here ahead of the new Lifetime and A&E documentary about Janet’s life.

He had a relationship with Janet Jackson

James made headlines after he married Janet Jackson in 1984, when he was 21 and she was just 18. The couple dated for two years prior to marrying. At the time, Janet had just released her second solo album Dream Street, which followed her self titled debut in 1982. The marriage was considered an act of rebellion by a teenage Janet against her controlling father, the late Joe Jackson. The relationship was annulled in 1985 due to his alleged drug addiction.

Rumors have persisted over the years that the pair had a secret child together, which James discussed on the series Growing Up Hip-Hop back in 2016. “I’m tired of the secrecy,” he said to his daughter on a clip from the show. “I’m tired of the truth not coming forward, and people being a coward when it comes to it. And I thought it was wise for me to speak out now because it needs to be addressed.”

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Janet Jackson is seen with ex-husband James DeBarge. (Bei/Shutterstock)

He is a singer 

Outside of his marriage to Janet, James is best known for his musical career best known for singing alongside his famous family, who went by group name DeBarge. The group originally included his brothers El, Mark, Randy, and Bunny, as well as Bobby and Chico at different times. DeBarge had some huge hits in the mid-80s, such as “Rhythm of the Night,” “Who’s Holding Donna Now,” “All This Love” and “Love Me in a Special Way.”

He’s from Detroit

James was born on August 22, 1963 as the seventh child to Robert DeBarge Sr. and Etterlene Abney DeBarge. He was raised in Detroit, Michigan, until he relocated to California for his career.

Janet Jackson performs at the Glastonbury Festival in 2019. (Richard Isaac/Shutterstock)

He has children

James is the father of three children, including daughter Kristina, now 31, born in March 1990, with Christine Mcdonald. He is also father to son James, Jr., who was born in 1998, and daughter Tori. Kristina also followed in her fathers’ footsteps and competed on series American Jr. 

He was in prison

James was arrested in 2012 for drug charges, as well as assault with a deadly weapon. He spent three years behind bars before being released in 2015.

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