Jackson 5 Biography

The Jackson Five comprised five brothers, Jackie Jackson (Sigmund Esco Jackson, 4 May 1951, Gary, Indiana, USA), Tito Jackson (b. Toriano Adaryll Jackson, 15 October 1953, Gary, Indiana, USA), Jermaine Jackson (b. Jermaine LaJuane Jackson, 11 December 1954, Gary, Indiana, USA), Marlon Jackson (b. 12 March 1957, Gary, Indiana, USA) and Michael Jackson (b. 29 August 1958, Gary, Indiana, USA). Raised in Gary, Indiana, USA, by their father Joe, a blues guitarist, they began playing local clubs in 1962, with youthful prodigy Michael as lead vocalist. Combining dance routines influenced by the Temptations with music inspired by James Brown, they first recorded for the Indiana-based Steeltown label before auditioning for Motown Records in 1968. Bobby Taylor recommended the group to Motown, although the company gave Diana Ross public credit for their discovery. A team of Motown writers known as the Corporation composed a series of songs for their early releases, all accentuating their youthful enthusiasm and vocal interplay. Their debut single for Motown, ‘I Want You Back’, became the fastest-selling record in the company’s history in 1969, and three of their next five singles also topped the American chart.

Michael Jackson was groomed for a concurrent solo recording career, which began in 1971, followed by similar excursions for Jermaine (replaced by another brother Randy, b. Steven Randall Jackson, 29 October 1962, Gary, Indiana, USA), and elder brother Jackie. As the group’s appeal broadened, they became the subjects of a cartoon series on American television, The Jackson 5, and hosted a television special, Goin’ Back To Indiana. After the dissolution of the Corporation in 1971, the group recorded revivals of pop and R&B hits from the 50s, and cover versions of other Motown standards, before being allowed to branch out into more diverse material, such as Jackson Browne’s ‘Doctor My Eyes’. They also began to record their own compositions in the early 70s, a trend that continued until 1975, by which time they were writing and producing most of the songs on their albums.

The Jackson Five reached the peak of their popularity in Britain when they toured there in 1972, but after returning to America they suffered decreasing sales as their music grew more sophisticated. By 1973, they had dropped the teenage stylings of their early hits, concentrating on a cabaret approach to their live performances, while on record they perfected a harder brand of funk. The group’s recording contract with Motown expired in 1975. Feeling that the label had not been promoting their recent records, they signed to Epic Records. Jermaine Jackson, however, who was married to the daughter of Motown boss Berry Gordy, chose to leave the group and remain with the company as a solo artist. Gordy sued the Jackson Five for alleged breach of contract in 1976, and the group was forced to change their name to the Jacksons. The case was settled in 1980, with the brothers paying Gordy $600, 000, and allowing Motown all rights to the ‘Jackson Five’ name.

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

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