The Jackson 5 (also spelled The Jackson Five, sometimes stylized The Jackson 5ive), later known as The Jacksons, were an American popular music family group from Gary, Indiana. Founding group members Jackie Jackson, Tito Jackson, Jermaine Jackson, Marlon Jackson and Michael Jackson formed the group after performing in an early incarnation called The Jackson Brothers, which originally consisted of a trio of the three older brothers. Active from 1964 to 1990, the Jacksons played from a repertoire of R&B, soul, pop and (in the 1970s) disco. During their six-and-a-half-year Motown tenure, The Jackson 5 was one of the biggest pop-music acts of the 1970s, and the band served as the launching pad for the solo careers of their lead singers Jermaine and Michael, the latter brother later transforming his early Motown solo fame into greater success as an adult artist. The Jackson 5/The Jacksons have sold 100 million records worldwide, making them one of the best-selling music artists of all time.
The Jackson 5 was one of few in recording history to have their first four major label singles ("I Want You Back", "ABC", "The Love You Save", and "I'll Be There") reach the top of the Billboard Hot 100. Several later singles, among them "Mama's Pearl", "Never Can Say Goodbye" and "Dancing Machine", were Top 5 pop hits and number-one hits on the R&B singles chart. Most of the early hits were written and produced by a specialized songwriting team known as "The Corporation"; later Jackson 5 hits were crafted chiefly by Hal Davis, while early Jacksons hits were compiled by the team of Gamble and Huff before The Jacksons began writing and producing themselves in the late 1970s.
Significantly, they were one of the first black teen idols to appeal equally to white audiences, thanks partially to the successful promotional relations skills of Motown Records CEO Berry Gordy. With their departure from Motown to CBS in 1976, The Jacksons were forced to change their name and Jermaine was replaced with younger brother Randy as Jermaine chose to stay at Motown. During these years, they continued to have a number of hits such as "Enjoy Yourself", "Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground)", "Show You the Way to Go", and "Blame It on the Boogie". After two years under the Philadelphia International Records label, they signed with Epic Records and asserted control of their songwriting, production, and image, and their success continued into the 1980s with hits such as "Can You Feel It", "This Place Hotel", "Lovely One", and "State of Shock". Their 1989 album 2300 Jackson Street was recorded without Michael and Marlon, although they did appear on the title track. The disappointing sales of the album led to the group being dropped by their record label at the end of the year. The group has never formally broken up, but has been dormant since then, although all six brothers performed together at two Michael Jackson tribute concerts in September 2001. After Michael's death in June 2009, the group announced a 2012 reunion tour, The Unity Tour, although Randy did not take part.
Born and raised in Gary, Indiana, the Jackson brothers were guided early in their careers by their father Joseph Jackson, a steel mill overhead crane operator in East Chicago, Indiana next to Gary and former musician, and their mother Katherine Jackson, who watched over the boys during the early years.
Tito recalled playing around with his father's guitar at home while his father was working in the steel mill. One night, Joseph discovered Tito had been playing his guitar after a string was broken. Initially upset with his son's playing behind his back, he saw their potential. Around 1964, the Jacksons' aunt, who was a successful professional musician, encouraged Jackie, Tito, and Jermaine to form a band. The Jackson Brothers originally included hometown friends Reynaud Jones and Milford Hite on guitar and drums respectively. By the end of the following year, the group's younger brothers Marlon and Michael joined the instrumental band playing tambourine and congas respectively.
Showing extraordinary talent at a very young age, young Michael began demonstrating his dance moves and singing ability at the age of five. Michael's moving rendition of "Climb Every Mountain" at his kindergarten talent show earned him a place in his brothers' group. Before his eighth birthday, Michael was allowed to perform his song-and-dance routine at a talent contest held at Jackie's Roosevelt High School in Gary in 1966, helping his brothers win the competition. It was at that point that Tito's junior high school orchestra teacher Shirley Cartman began mentoring the group. She suggested replacing Jones and Hite with talented musicians Johnny Jackson (no relation) on drums and Ronnie Rancifer on keyboards. Tito moved up to lead guitar while Jermaine played bass guitar after several years as a rhythm guitarist. The group played locally as The Jackson Five & Johnny
Evelyn Lahaie, a local talent agent, suggested to Joe to rename the group The Jackson Five when they performed in her Tiny Tots Jamboree in Gary on August 29, 1965. After the contest win, the group began playing professional gigs in Indiana, Chicago and across the U.S. Many of these performances were in a string of black clubs and venues collectively known as the "chitlin' circuit". The group also found themselves performing at strip joints to earn money. Steeltown Records owner and producer Gordon Keith from Gary, Indiana, discovered and first signed the Jackson Five to the Steeltown label, and they began making their first recordings in 1967. Their first single, "Big Boy" aka "I'm A Big Boy Now", was released on January 30, 1968 and became a regional hit. This was followed by a second single, "We Don't Have to Be Over 21".
The Jackson Five had a number of admirers in their early days, including Sam & Dave, who helped the group secure a spot in the famous Amateur Night competition at the Apollo Theater in Harlem. The group won the August 13, 1967, competition during the Amateur Night showdown at the Apollo, impressing Motown Records artist Gladys Knight. Knight recommended the group to Motown chief Berry Gordy, but Gordy, who already had teenager Stevie Wonder on his roster, was hesitant to take on another child act because of the child labor laws and other problems involved. The Jackson Five's sound was influenced by many of the biggest stars of the 1960s, including the self-contained funk bands Sly & the Family Stone and The Isley Brothers, Motown group The Temptations, soul legend Marvin Gaye, rock 'n' roll kid group The Teenagers and soul shouters like Wilson Pickett, Jackie Wilson, Stevie Wonder, Joe Tex and James Brown. At the time of their early success, R&B stars, especially coming from Motown Records, were among the most popular musicians; Motown had launched the careers of dozens of the decade's biggest stars, most notably The Supremes, The Miracles, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, the Four Tops and the Temptations.
By 1968, the Jackson Five were a headlining act for the All Star Floor Show at Chicago's The Guys' and Gals' Cocktail Lounge and Restaurant. From July 12–27, 1968, the Jackson Five opened for Motown act Bobby Taylor & the Vancouvers at Chicago's Regal Theater. Like Gladys Knight before him, Bobby Taylor was also very impressed with the boys, and he decided to make the commitment to bring them to Detroit and Motown. Joseph and The Jackson Five stayed on the floor of Bobby Taylor's Detroit apartment the night of July 22, while Tayler and Motown executive Suzanne de Passe arranged for the Jackson Five to audition for the label.
On July 23, the Jackson Five had their Motown audition, for which they performed James Brown’s then current hit "I Got the Feelin'". Berry Gordy was not in attendance, but the audition was videotaped and sent to him in Los Angeles. Gordy's initial reluctance to sign the group disappeared when he finally saw the boys perform. Gordy decided to sign the Jackson Five to Motown, and hosted a party at his Detroit mansion on November 25, 1968, to introduce them to the Motown staff and stars. Motown began negotiations to buy out the Jackson Five's Steeltown contract, completing the deal in March 1969. By the summer, Bobby Taylor began producing the group's first recordings at Motown's Hitsville U.S.A. recording studio in Detroit. The early Taylor-produced Jackson Five records were all covers of both contemporary hits and Motown-standards, including Sly & the Family Stone's "Stand!" and their famous rendition of The Miracles' "Who's Lovin' You", written by Smokey Robinson.
Gordy moved the Jackson Five and Joseph to California, and he and Suzanne de Passe began the process of grooming them as the label's next big act, while the rest of the family remained in Gary. While looking for a house in California, Joseph, Jermaine, Tito, and Jackie lived with Berry Gordy, Marlon and Michael lived with Diana Ross in her California home.
Motown's marketing team prepared press kits and other promotional material to begin the Jackson Five's entrance into the mainstream music industry. Motown publicity significantly altered the group's history, publicizing the ages of most of its band mates as younger than they were — Michael's age changed from eleven to nine to make him appear cuter — and identifying unrelated band musicians Johnny Jackson and Ronnie Rancifer as cousins of the Jacksons. In a major marketing coup, Gordy and Motown decided to attach the group to an established star to increase public curiosity. Thus, it was decided that Motown star Diana Ross would "discover" the group as was explained in all early press kits. According to their official Motown biography, referenced in several early interviews and liner notes, Diana Ross (and, in some versions of the story, Berry Gordy alongside her) was introduced to the Jackson Five by Gary, Indiana's mayor, Richard G. Hatcher, at a benefit concert that the Jackson Five were described as having played for the mayor in 1969. Impressed, Ross (and Gordy) had the act signed.
The Jackson Five practiced and rehearsed continuously during the late summer and early fall of 1969. Diana Ross formally introduced The Jackson Five to the public on August 11, 1969, at a Beverly Hills, California club called "The Daisy". Towards the end of August, the Jackson Five made their first television appearance, singing The Isley Brothers' "It's Your Thing" at the Miss Black America Pageant in Madison Square Garden, New York City.
The Jackson Five's first Motown single, "I Want You Back" was written and produced by four Motown songwriters and producers — Berry Gordy, Alphonzo Mizell, Deke Richards, and Freddie Perren — who were collectively billed as "The Corporation". "I Want You Back" was released as a single as Motown decided to officially bill the group, on October 7. The group performed "I Want You Back", Sly & the Family Stone's "Sing a Simple Song", The Delfonics' "Can You Remember", and James Brown's "There Was a Time" as part of their appearance on The Hollywood Palace as special guests of Diana Ross & the Supremes.
"I Want You Back" was the only single from the Jackson 5's first album, Diana Ross Presents The Jackson 5, which was released on December 18, 1969. The song reached number one in January, 1970. When it did, Michael became the first person born during the "Hot 100" era, established by Billboard Magazine, to reach the number one position on the Billboard Hot 100 pop singles chart.
Most of the early Jackson 5 singles were written and produced by The Corporation, who crafted for The Jackson 5 a sound that mixed the traditional "Motown Sound" with teenage-honed lyrics that they termed "bubblegum soul". The Jackson 5 became an instant sensation, with "I Want You Back" and its 1970 followups "ABC", "The Love You Save," and "I'll Be There" all going to number one on both the Billboard Hot 100 and the Billboard Best Selling Soul Singles chart. "The Love You Save" charted atop the Billboard Hot 100 for two weeks and "I'll Be There" remained at the top position of the chart for four weeks, which is tied with "I Want You Back" for the most successful single for the band in the United States. The three singles were commercially successful internationally, mainly peaking within the top ten on music charts. Other early Top 5 hits included "Mama's Pearl" and "Never Can Say Goodbye." Now successful, Joseph was finally able to arrange to move Katherine and the rest of the family out to California in 1970. First moving into a two-story residence at 1616 Queens Road in Los Angeles, the Jackson family moved to a gated mansion they called "Hayvenhurst", which was purchased by Joseph in March 1971.
"Jacksonmania" swept the nation, and within a year of their debut The Jackson 5 were among the biggest names in popular music. The group essentially replaced The Supremes as Motown's main marketing focus, and, capitalizing upon the youth-oriented appeal of the Jackson brothers, Motown licensed dozens of Jackson 5-related juvenile products, including the now famous J5 Heart logo which appears on Johnny Jacksons drum kit and many of The Jackson 5's album covers, stickers, sewable patches, posters, and coloring books. A new teen magazine aimed at African-American youth, Right On!, began publication in 1971, and focused heavily on The Jackson 5; at least one Jackson adorned the cover of every issue published between January 1972 and April 1974. Animation producers Rankin/Bass produced The Jackson 5ive, a Saturday morning cartoon that debuted on September 11, 1971 and ran for two seasons on ABC. The Jackson 5 starred in two of their own television specials, Goin' Back to Indiana (aired September 16, 1971) and The Jackson 5 Show (aired November 5, 1972).
In 1971, Motown began a spin-off solo career for Michael, whose first single, "Got to Be There" became a Top 5 hit. Michael also sang the title track for the 1972 motion picture "Ben". His other successful solo singles included "Rockin' Robin" and "I Wanna Be Where You Are" (both 1972). Jermaine started a solo career of his own in 1972, and had a Top Ten hit with his Shep and the Limelites cover "Daddy's Home". Jackie also recorded a solo album in 1973, but his releases failed to chart. Despite fan rumors that all three Jacksons might leave the group as they released solo work, the solo careers of Michael, Jermaine, and Jackie co-existed alongside that of the group as a whole, allowing Motown to expand the success and sales of Jackson 5-related releases.
During the 1970s Vietnam War era, the group frequently joined U.S. comedian Bob Hope on USO (United Service Organizations) domestic tours, to support the military troops.
After 1972, The Jackson 5's releases were not as successful, but they still did very well. Later top-20 hits, mostly written and produced by Hal Davis included "Lookin' Through the Windows" (1972) and the disco-styled "Dancing Machine" (1974), which popularized the "Robot" dance routine. Jackson 5 albums declined somewhat in critical acclaim and financial success during the latter part of their Motown tenure, although LPs such as Lookin' Through the Windows (1972) and G.I.T.: Get It Together (1973) frequently included successful album tracks, including their version of "Hum Along and Dance", a popular number in their live act.
The Jackson 5 provided background vocals on Stevie Wonder's "You Haven't Done Nothin'" from his 1974 album Fulfillingness' First Finale.
Critics, The Jackson 5, and Joseph Jackson agreed that the main reason for the group's declining success was Motown's refusal to update their image. Although they played their own instruments on stage and had begun writing and producing songs in their own home recording studio, The Jackson 5 later said that Motown wouldn't allow them to record their own compositions or play instruments in their studio recordings. The group's studio recordings were first handled by Motown's famed in-house studio band The Funk Brothers during their brief recording tenure at Hitsville and later instrumentation was played by many of the members of The Wrecking Crew, which formed Motown's Hitsville West studio band. Feeling that The Jackson 5 could be more of a success without Motown, which was by this time declining in success and popularity, Joseph began shopping for a new record deal for his sons.
In 1975, Joseph negotiated a new recording contract with CBS Records, who offered a royalty rate of 20% per record, compared to Motown's standard 2.8%; and would allow the Jackson brothers to write and produce their own records and play their own instruments. After unsuccessfully attempting to talk the group into staying on the label, Motown sued for breach of contract. Although Motown eventually let the group go, The Jackson 5 were forced to change their name to The Jacksons, because Motown retained the "Jackson 5" trademark during the settlement of the lawsuit. The Jacksons also replaced Jermaine with their brother, 14-year-old Randy, since Jermaine chose to stay with Motown after he married Berry Gordy's daughter, Hazel. Randy had been an unofficial member of The Jackson 5 since 1972, playing congas onstage as part of their live act.
After losing The Jacksons, Motown would not have another success of their caliber for the duration of Berry Gordy's ownership of the label. Gordy often said of The Jackson 5 that they were, coming after the label's most famous acts, "the last big stars to come rolling off the assembly line." In summer 1976, CBS television signed the Jackson family (including Michael, Marlon, Tito, Jackie, Randy, Rebbie, La Toya, and Janet) to appear in their own variety show, The Jacksons, to compete with ABC's Donny & Marie. The Jacksons debuted on June 16, 1976, and ran on CBS until its cancellation the following March 1977. The show was the first variety show hosted by an African American family.
First as part of CBS's Philadelphia International Records division, and later moving over to Epic Records, The Jacksons continued releasing popular singles such as "Enjoy Yourself", "Show You the Way to Go", and "Goin' Places", produced by Philadelphia International's Kenneth Gamble & Leon Huff. After two LPs produced by Gamble and Huff, The Jacksons wanted artistic control, and produced their next LP, 1978's Destiny, on their own. The album included The Jacksons' biggest post-Motown single, "Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground)", which charted at number seven on the Billboard Hot 100 and at number three on the Billboard R&B Singles chart. "Shake Your Body", written by Michael and Randy, sold over two million copies, attaining double-platinum status. Destiny also included "Blame It on the Boogie", and "Things I Do For You". Destiny also went platinum, and peaked at number 11 on the Billboard 200 album chart and number three on the R&B album charts. In 1979, The Jacksons received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 1978, Michael starred alongside Diana Ross in the Motown/Universal Pictures motion picture The Wiz, an adaptation of the Broadway musical based upon L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Quincy Jones was the producer of the film's songs, and he and Michael began work on Michael’s first Epic solo album, Off the Wall, the next year. Off the Wall, released in 1979, sold 20 million copies worldwide and featured four Top 10 hit singles and two number-one singles, causing some speculation about whether Michael would leave The Jacksons, though Michael told several reporters at the time that such speculation was unfounded.
In 1980 the group released the Triumph album, which featured the hits "Lovely One", "Heartbreak Hotel", and "Can You Feel It", as well as the dance club hit "Walk Right Now". The following year's The Jacksons Live! used recordings from the group's Triumph Tour, which in 1988 was described by Rolling Stone magazine as one of the best 25 tours from 1967 to 1987. The group's success was outperformed, however, by Michael's 1982 LP Thriller. Thriller went on to become the most successful album ever in the United States, and to date stands as the world's best-selling album of all time. The Motown 25 television special, broadcast on NBC on May 16, 1983, featured a reunion performance between Jermaine and the other brothers. Outside of one 1979 appearance on the TV show Midnight Special this was the original Jackson 5's first performance in nearly seven years. The Motown 25 Jackson 5 reunion was overshadowed, however, by Michael's performance of "Billie Jean" on the same program, which introduced his trademark black sequin jacket, single decorated glove and "moonwalk" dance.
In 1984, all six Jackson brothers reunited to make the album Victory. The album was only modestly successful. Three singles were released from the album; "State of Shock", which features Mick Jagger, "Torture" and "Body". "Torture" peaked at No. 17 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 26 on the United Kingdom charts. However, the subsequent Victory Tour of North America in the summer and fall of 1984 proved to be one of the biggest concert tours of the 1980s. Aside from a few scattered TV and concert appearances in the 1970s, the Victory Tour period was the only time all six brothers performed together as full members of the band.
Michael left the band to continue his solo career after the tour, and after his album Thriller became the best selling album of all time winning eight Grammy Awards in 1984. Marlon left around the same time to pursue a business career outside music. The other brothers took on solo projects. Most of them would appear with Michael on the U.S.A. For Africa single "We Are the World" in 1985.
The last Jacksons album was 2300 Jackson Street in 1989. The first single from the project, "Nothin' (That Compares 2 U)" reached No. 4 on the US Billboard R&B Singles chart. Every Jackson sibling except for LaToya appeared on the title track, a No. 9 R&B hit single. The rest of the album featured Jermaine, Jackie, Tito, and Randy only.
In 1992, a miniseries depicting the rise of the group titled The Jacksons: An American Dream, aired on ABC and was hugely successful.
In September 2001, The Jacksons reunited to perform at a concert special at Madison Square Garden to celebrate 30 years of Michael Jackson's career as a solo artist. The concerts were filmed and the footage was shown in the special, 30th Anniversary celebration, which aired on CBS in November 2001 as a two-hour television special. The on-stage performance was for the first time since The Jacksons Victory Tour seventeen years prior. A CD compilation of hits from the CBS/Epic years, The Essential Jacksons, was released in 2004, as was a separate compilation assembled by Universal/Hip-O, The Jacksons Story.
Beginning in early 2009, the four oldest brothers (Jackie, Tito, Jermaine and Marlon) filmed a reality television show, documenting their attempts to get the family band back together. In December 2009, the show debuted on the A&E Network under the title The Jacksons: A Family Dynasty. Michael Jackson's attempted comeback and his sudden death happened in the middle of the project. Those events dominated the reality TV show, even though he was never seen on-camera (except in old music videos).
In June 2009, following the death of brother Michael, the surviving Jacksons recorded background vocals for a previously unreleased song, "This Is It" (the theme for the movie of the same name), which had originally been a demo. The radio-only single was released in October of that same year. The song did not chart on the Billboard Hot 100, but charted at number nineteen on Billboards Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks. "This Is It" returned The Jacksons to the chart for the first time since 1970, when, billed as the Jackson 5, the group marked its sole previous entry, "I'll Be There", which went on to peak on the chart at number twenty-four. The surviving members of the Jacksons were in talks of planning a reunion concert tour (which was to be served as a tribute to Michael) for 2010, and were in talks in working on their first new studio album in over 20 years. However, neither plan was put into action.
In September 2010, Jermaine Jackson held his own "tribute" concert to Michael in Las Vegas. While his brothers and sister Janet attended, none of them joined their brother onstage. As of August 2011, the future of the Jacksons remains uncertain as Jackie Jackson released a solo single to iTunes and both Jermaine and Tito Jackson were planning new solo studio albums, which haven't been released yet. Marlon Jackson retired from the music business in 1989. Randy Jackson hasn't been active in music since the disbanding of Randy & The Gypsys in 1991.
In August 2011, there appeared to be a discord between the brothers concerning a tribute concert dedicated to Michael. While Jackie, Tito and Marlon were present alongside mother Katherine and sister La Toya for a tribute concert that is currently in planning for Cardiff at the Millennium Stadium for a press conference concerning the tour, a couple days after the press conference, both Randy and Jermaine issued a statement denouncing the tribute tour as the date of it occurs around the same time of Conrad Murray's manslaughter trial in relation to Michael's death.
In April 2012, Jackie, Tito, Jermaine and Marlon announced that they would reunite for several US concerts for their Unity Tour. 38 dates were announced, however, 11 shows in the United States were cancelled. The tour started at Casino Rama in Rama, Canada on June 20 and was scheduled to end on December 9 in Osaka, Japan.
The singing efforts of the brothers led to the group's induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997 and the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 1999. Two of the band's recordings ("ABC" and "I Want You Back") are among The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's "500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll", with the latter track also included in the Grammy Hall of Fame. On September 8, 2008, The Jacksons were honored as BMI Icons at the annual BMI Urban Awards.
In 1992, Suzanne de Passe and Jermaine Jackson worked with Motown to produce The Jacksons: An American Dream, a five-hour television miniseries broadcast based on the history of The Jackson family in a two-part special on American Broadcast Company. The script began with Katherine and Joseph Jackson's first meeting in the mid-1940s and ended with the Victory Tour in 1984.
The Jackson 5 was influenced by The Temptations, Supremes, Stevie Wonder, James Brown & The Famous Flames, Little Richard, Ray Charles, The Cadillacs, Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers, Jackie Wilson, Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, and Berry Gordy. In turn, they served as the inspiration for several generations of boy bands, including New Edition, Menudo, New Kids on the Block, N*SYNC, the Jonas Brothers, Backstreet Boys, and many more. The rise of the Jackson 5 in the 1960s and 1970s coincided with the rise of a very similar band of brothers, the Osmond Brothers. Some considered the Osmonds, who were white, an imitation of the Jacksons. However, the Osmonds actually started a few years before the Jacksons, and were considered an inspiration to them. Joseph Jackson was impressed by the Osmond Brothers' early TV appearances and instructed his own sons to study them closely. Eventually, the members of the two families became friends. Jay Osmond recalled in a June 2009 blog posting that "Michael had a unique sense of humor about him, and told us he was so tired of watching The Osmonds on The Andy Williams Show. He explained this was something their father had them do, and Michael joked he became really tired of it!"
by Jackson 5
Jul 2010 (1 Tracks)
|Also known as:||The Jackson Brothers, The Jackson Five, The Jacksons|
|Labels:||Steeltown, Motown, Philadelphia International, Epic|
|Origin:||Gary, Indiana, United States|
|Past members:||Randy Jackson|
|Years active:||1964–1990, 2001, 2012-present|