Jermaine Jackson Biography

Jermaine LaJuane Jackson, 11 December 1954, Gary, Indiana, USA. Jermaine was one of five brothers who formed the Jackson Five in 1962. Besides playing bass, he acted as vocal counterpoint to his younger brother Michael Jackson, a musical relationship that continued after the group was signed to Motown Records in 1968. Jermaine contributed occasional lead vocals to their albums in the early 70s, and his performance of ‘I Found That Girl’ on Third Album was one of their most affecting ballads. Like his brothers Michael and Jackie Jackson, Jermaine was singled out by Motown for a solo career, and he had an immediate US Top 10 hit with a revival of Shep And The Limeliters’ doo-wop classic ‘Daddy’s Home’, in 1972. Later releases were less favourably received, but he consolidated his position within the company in 1973 with his marriage to Hazel, the daughter of Motown boss Berry Gordy (the marriage survived until 1987). His new family connections entailed a stark conflict of interest when the other members of the Jackson Five decided to leave the label in 1975. Given the choice of deserting either his brothers or his father-in-law, he elected to remain with Motown, where his solo releases were subsequently given a higher priority than before. Despite heavy promotion, Jermaine’s late 70s recordings failed to establish him as a distinctive soul voice, and he faced constant critical comparisons with the Jacksons’ work on Epic. His career was revitalized by the intervention of Stevie Wonder, who wrote and produced the 1979 US/UK Top 10 hit ‘Let’s Get Serious’, which successfully echoed the joyous funk of Wonder’s own recordings. The gentle soul of ‘You Like Me Don’t You’ brought him another hit in 1981, while the US Top 20 single ‘Let Me Tickle Your Fancy’ the following year featured an unlikely collaboration with new wave band Devo.

Jackson’s increased public profile won him a more generous contract with Motown in the early 80s. He formed his own production company, launching Michael Lovesmith as a recording artist and overseeing the career development of Syreeta. This increased freedom was not enough to keep him at Motown, and in 1983 he signed with Arista Records. The following year, he was reconciled with his brothers: he joined the Jacksons on the Victory album and tour, and his own Jermaine Jackson featured a sparkling duet with Michael Jackson on ‘Tell Me We’re Not Dreaming’. Two US Top 20 hits, ‘Dynamite’ and ‘Do What You Do’, helped maintain his commercial profile, with the latter also reaching the UK Top 10. He subsequently collaborated with Pia Zadora on the theme from the movie Voyage Of The Rock Aliens, and with Whitney Houston on his 1986 project Precious Memories. In that same year, Jermaine formed his own label, WORK Records, and accepted an offer to portray the late Marvin Gaye in a biopic that was never completed. He continued to work with the Jacksons and as a soloist, although his later projects were overshadowed by the media circus surrounding his brother Michael at the peak of his fame in the late 80s and early 90s, a subject touched upon in Jermaine’s ‘Word To The Badd!!’.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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