- In her new docuseries, Janet Jackson reminisced about her marriage to James DeBarge in 1984.
- She spoke about how DeBarge left her alone in a hotel room for three hours.
- The pair were married when Jackson was 18 and DeBarge was 21.
In her new A&E docuseries, pop icon Janet Jackson says her first husband James DeBarge left her alone at a hotel for three hours right after they got married.
During the first episode of the documentary, which aired Friday night, the “Rhythm Nation” singer talked about how their wedding day led to her suspicions that DeBarge was using drugs.
“He said, ‘Okay, I’ll be right back,'” Jackson said. “And I’m sitting in a hotel room in Grand Rapids, Michigan, by myself, just 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 backgrounds in musical families was a connecting 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 appearance 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 both in love with each other that we just needed to block everyone else out.”
In Friday’s episodes, Jackson also finally addressed a decades-long rumor that she and DeBarge had a “secret child.” You can read her in-depth comments here.
“I could never keep a child away from James,” Jackson said. “How could I keep a child from their father? I could never do that, that’s not right.”
DeBarge and Jackson secretly got married in 1984, with Jackson getting the blessings from her sister LaToya Jackson. However, the marriage was annulled just one year later in 1985. In her “Janet Jackson” documentary, the singer says DeBarge’s drug use led to his long absences.
“I don’t know, maybe it’s this person in me that wants to help people,” she recalled. “Subconsciously, when it comes to relationships, somehow I’m attracted to people that use drugs.”
“There are a lot of nights that I would go searching the streets looking for him — eight o’clock in the morning, four o’clock 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 possessing methamphetamine.
“I remember times when I would find the pills and I would take them and try to flush them down the toilet, and we would be rolling around on the floor fighting for them, that’s not a life for anyone,” Jackson said in the documentary.