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Jackson 5

The Jackson 5 were one of the biggest phenomenons in pop music during the early '70s, and the last great group to come out of the Motown hitmaking machine before Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder shifted the label's focus to more individual visions. The Jackson 5's infectious brand of funky pop-soul was a definite departure from the typically smooth, elegant Motown sound, as befitting the group's youth and the dawn of a new decade. That youth, coupled with the merchandising juggernaut that sprang up behind them, inevitably got them tagged a bubblegum group. But they were far more talented musically than that label would suggest, especially lead singer Michael, and their material, while sunny and upbeat, didn't pander to its audience. Solo careers and overexposure gradually weakened the Jackson 5, but their best music still holds up surprisingly well as some of the most vibrant mainstream pop/R&B of its era.

Originally, the Jackson 5 were composed of brothers Jackie (born Sigmund Jackson, May 4, 1951), Tito (guitar, born Toriano Jackson, October 15, 1953), Jermaine (bass, lead vocals, born December 11, 1954), Marlon (born March 12, 1957), and Michael (lead vocals, born August 29, 1958). By all accounts, the Jackson family's upbringing in Gary, IN, was strict; their mother Katherine was a devout Jehovah's Witness, and their father Joe was a stern, temperamental disciplinarian. Allowed few outside interests, the boys gravitated to music, which was in their blood -- prior to his job as a crane operator for a steel company, Joe had played guitar in an R&B group called the Falcons (not the same group that launched Wilson Pickett's career). One night, Joe discovered that Jackie, Tito, and Jermaine had been playing his treasured old guitar without permission; though initially furious, he quickly discovered that his sons had genuine talent, and began to conceive of a family singing group that might eventually get them out of their tough working-class life in Gary. The eldest three sons began performing around the area together in 1962, teamed with two cousins (Johnny Jackson and Ronnie Rancifer), who were replaced by Marlon and five-year-old Michael. Supervised by Joe, who became their manager and began working only part-time, the group practiced and rehearsed often, and improved as dancers, singers, and instrumentalists at a rapid rate. In particular, Michael proved himself a dynamic performer, soon replacing Jermaine as the featured lead vocalist, and establishing himself as a nimble dancer able to mimic talents like James Brown. At first, the group was known as Ripples & Waves Plus Michael, then the Jackson Brothers, and finally the Jackson 5.

In 1966, the Jackson 5 won an important local talent competition with a Michael-led rendition of the Temptations' "My Girl." Their father, who had been chauffeuring them to out-of-state performances, also booked their first paid professional gigs that year. In 1967, the group won an amateur talent competition at Harlem's legendary Apollo Theater, where they earned an influential fan in Gladys Knight (probably the first person to recommend the group to Motown). At the end of the year, the Jackson 5 made their first studio recordings for the small Gary-based Steeltown label, and their single "Big Boy" became something of a local hit. Championed again to Motown by Bobby Taylor, a member of the Vancouvers who'd seen the group in Chicago, and Diana Ross, the Jackson 5 finally got a chance to audition for the label in the summer of 1968. Desperately needing new blood, an impressed Berry Gordy signed the group and flew them out to his new headquarters in Los Angeles, where he and his assistants groomed them to be the label's next breakout stars. Having lost his famed Holland-Dozier-Holland songwriting team, Gordy formed a new partnership with Freddie Perren, Fonce Mizell, and Deke Richards dubbed the Corporation, which set about crafting material for the group.

In August 1969, shortly before Michael turned 11, the Jackson 5 opened for Diana Ross at the L.A. Forum, and in December, they issued their debut album, Diana Ross Presents the Jackson 5. On October 7, 1969, the Jackson 5 released their first single, "I Want You Back," a Corporation composition that had originally been intended for Gladys Knight. It was an instant smash, hitting number one on both the pop and R&B charts. So did their next two singles, "ABC" and "The Love You Save" (both from their second album, ABC), which solidified the group's so-called bubblegum-soul sound and certified them as pop sensations. Third Album was released before year's end, spawning the hit ballad "I'll Be There," which not only proved that the group (and lead singer Michael) were more mature and versatile than their bright, bouncy initial singles let on, but also made them the first group in pop history to have their first four singles hit number one. It also became the best-selling single in Motown history, spending a stellar five weeks at number one. And it had still been less than a year since the group's national debut.

A virtual Jackson 5 cottage industry sprang up in the wake of their success, producing everything from dolls to a cartoon show on -- what else? -- the ABC network (during the summer of 1971). Younger and younger listeners were brought into the fold, adding to an already broad appeal that transcended color lines, and the record label that once billed itself as "the Sound of Young America" could once again lay legitimate claim to the title. Meanwhile, following their four straight number ones, the Jackson 5 opened 1971 with a pair of number two hits, "Mama's Pearl" and the ballad "Never Can Say Goodbye"; "Maybe Tomorrow" was their first single not to make the pop Top Ten, though it still reached the R&B Top Five. That year, Motown executives began grooming Michael and Jermaine for solo careers that would run concurrently with the Jackson 5. Michael was the first to debut on his own (toward the end of 1971), and was an instant success; his first two singles, "Got to Be There" and "Rockin' Robin," both made the Top Five, and later in 1972 he scored his first pop number one with "Ben." Jermaine debuted at the end of 1972, and his first single, "Daddy's Home," reached the Top Ten, though the follow-ups didn't sustain the momentum as well as Michael.

In the meantime, the fantastically hyped Jackson 5 craze was beginning to cool down. Their prolific LP release schedule slowed a bit, and while their singles continued to perform reliably well on the R&B charts, they were no longer a sure-fire bet for the pop Top Ten. After a relatively lengthy drought, the Jackson 5 scored what would be their last major smash for Motown, the 1974 number two hit "Dancing Machine," a nod to the emerging sound of disco (it also topped the R&B charts). The group's frustrations with Motown had been building -- not only did the label seem less interested in their career, but they still refused to allow the Jacksons to write or choose their own material, or play their own instruments on their records. Finally, in early 1976, they left Motown to sign with Epic. When the legal battles finally ended, Motown won a breach-of-contract settlement and retained rights to the Jackson 5 name, forcing the group to become the Jacksons. They also lost Jermaine, whose marriage to Berry Gordy's daughter Hazel made it extremely impractical for him to join his brothers. He was replaced by younger brother Randy (born Steven Randall Jackson, October 29, 1961), who had been appearing (unofficially) with the group as a percussionist for some time.

The Jacksons' first few records on Epic were somewhat erratic affairs produced by Philly soul legends Gamble & Huff. However, the group truly assumed control over their music and hit full stride on 1978's Destiny, which most regard as the strongest studio LP the Jacksons recorded together in any incarnation. Destiny was self-produced and largely self-written, and its success helped encourage Michael to return to solo work. 1979's brilliant Off the Wall made him a star in his own right, signifying his arrival as a mature adult artist, but he remained with his brothers for the time being, helping them record a Grammy-nominated follow-up to Destiny in 1980's Triumph. The staggering success of Michael's next solo album, Thriller, signaled the beginning of the end for the Jacksons, but not quite yet; Jermaine rejoined the group for 1984's Victory, the only album to feature all six brothers. The single "State of Shock," which featured guest vocalist Mick Jagger, hit number three that year, and the group's ensuing tour was a blockbuster success, despite expensive (for the time) ticket prices. Michael and Marlon both left the Jacksons, the latter trying out an unsuccessful solo career; Randy, Tito, and Jackie appeared as the Jacksons on the soundtrack of Burglar, and subsequently became highly regarded session musicians. The Jacksons reconvened in 1989 for the album 2300 Jackson Street, which featured every Jackson sibling save LaToya on the title cut. However, it wasn't as successful as hoped, and to date there have been no further reunions on record. In 1997, the Jackson 5 were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. ~ Steve Huey, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

The best song ever
I like it
I love it it's so cute
carams23
It's okay
������
my idols
i love the jackson family
Love the Jackson 5
Man mirror omg!!!!!!!!! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! Black
History month
Black history month

Man in the mirror
I love Michel Jackson
Miss u mj
I know what Love is. Its a one time precious feeling one person that Steals your soul heart Just like we a best friend. ...
The best
Old memories of them and how mj started off in this group
I'll Be There ..... Just call my name I'll be there
Hi
esarnott
I love Michael Jackson!!!!! ! ! ! ! ! ! I wish he was here right now!!!!!!!!! ! ! ! !
I love the song Want you back!
Never wanted to say goodbye to you !!! Great song Great time in the world !!!! Thank you Jackson family !!!!!
pnotchr73
I like it!
So young and soo MUCH. SOUL rhythm
I love it so much
I love the Jackson 5 music they have a lot of hit Brings back good old memories when I was young
Hay jackson 5 I looove your music
OK !!!!!!!!
The Jackson 5 what can you say
lol guardians of the galaxy
arlisa17
This a cooler song
I LOVE this song from the 60s
imported00
I love Jackson5
imported00
Best pop from the"60's"
/
He my fav
christopher9 0 5
The best band from the 60s to 70s
I still can't believe Michael is gone...RIP. His voice will remain forever
Never Can Say Goodbye I Know What It Looks Like When We Dont See Someone Anymore Like Calling A Last Year A Worst And Calling It Just Were We Are This Commet Is From Me ERNESTO ORTIZ Most Likey 4 oernie
R.i.p. Michael you where a great angel from god .i love you sooooooo much. Your voice and songs and dance moves and everything else would remain with me and other fans forever.love you.r.i.p.
love the Jackson 5
.me and my sister love to hear your songs
������������
U r the best of me and Michael jaskson
auntroro81
I love the Jackson 5 they have such great harmony, and talent!;)))
They were awesome
It funny
Omg omg
Jackson 5 songs
I love the jackson 5 so much there music makes my day
jscrafts
I miss Michael! Helped me through some very rough patches in my life.
All of the Jackson
Grew up and in college in the 80s... Need I say more.
we love the Jackson 5
Show more

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