In her new docuseries, Janet Jackson reminisces about her 1984 marriage to James DeBarge.
She shared how DeBarge left her alone in a hotel room for three hours.
The couple married when Jackson was 18 and DeBarge 21.
In her new A&E docuseries, pop icon Janet Jackson says her first husband James DeBarge left her alone in a hotel for three hours right after they got married.
During the documentary’s first episode, which aired Friday night, the “Rhythm Nation” singer shared how their wedding day had sparked her suspicions that DeBarge was taking drugs.
“He said, ‘Okay, I’ll be right back,'” Jackson said. “And I’m in a hotel room in Grand Rapids, Michigan, alone, just turned 18. And for three hours he never came back.”
The pair began dating in the early ’80s, when Jackson was 16 and DeBarge was in his late teens, gaining his own fame with music hits like “Rhythm of the Night.” Jackson says their similar background in musical families was a connection point between herself and DeBarge, who she describes as a “nice guy.”
“I don’t know why anyone would trust me,” DeBarge joked during his performance in the docuseries. But DeBarge described their history as a young love story. “I just had to be with her all the time,” he said. “I think we were just so in love with each other that we had to shut everyone else out.”
On Friday’s episodes, Jackson finally addressed a decades-old rumor that she and DeBarge were having a “secret child.” You can read her detailed comments here.
“I could never keep a kid away from James,” Jackson said. ‘How could I keep a child away from their father? I could never do that, that’s not right.’
DeBarge and Jackson were secretly married in 1984, with Jackson receiving the blessings of her sister LaToya Jackson. However, the marriage was dissolved just a year later, in 1985. In her documentary “Janet Jackson,” the singer says that DeBarge’s drug use led to his long absence.
“I don’t know, maybe it’s this person in me who wants to help people,” she recalls. “Subconsciously, when it comes to relationships, I’m somehow attracted to people who use drugs.”
“There are many nights when I roam the streets looking for him — eight in the morning, four in the morning,” Jackson said.
DeBarge was convicted decades later, in 2011, of possession of a controlled substance. In 2014, DeBarge was arrested on suspicion of possession of methamphetamine.
“I remember times when I found the pills and I’d take them and try to flush them down the toilet, and we’d roll on the floor fighting for them. That’s not a life for anyone,” Jackson said in the documentary.
She continued: “I cared about him so much and I saw the good in him too, and I just wanted that to take precedence over this ugliness because I knew he needed help. But I wasn’t the help he needed had.”
The documentary “Janet Jackson” will premiere as a two-night event beginning Friday, January 28 on Lifetime and A&E.
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