Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music



USA pop vocal/instrumental group formed c'65: Jackie (b Sigmund Esco Jackson, 4 May '51), Tito (b Toriano Adryll Jackson, 15 Oct. '53), Marlon (b Marlon David Jackson, 12 March '57), Jermaine and Michael (see their entries), all born in Gary IN. The other children of Joe and Catherine Jackson are Rebbie (b Maureen, 29 May '50; first LP Centipede '84 on CBS made no. 63 in Billboard, followed by Reactions '86, R U Tuff Enuff '88, then Yours Faithfully '98 on MJJ Music), LaToya (b '55; her LPs '80--84 reached top 200 USA on Polydor and Private I), Randy (b Steven Randall Jackson, 29 Oct. '65), and Janet (see her entry). Joe was a part-time musician, played in local R&B group the Falcons (not the same group that once incl. Wilson Pickett); when the children began to play dad's guitar and mother's piano he allowed the five oldest boys to enter talent competitions, which they inevitably won, with Michael singing lead, Tito on guitar, Jermaine on bass, cousins Johnny Jackson, keyboards, Ronnie Rancifer on drums. Early showcases for Michael's talent incl. covers of the Temptations' 'My Girl', Joe Tex's 'Skinny Legs And All' (for the latter he would lift the skirts of female members of the audience looking for skinny legs, leading to a rumour that he was a 30-year-old midget). Billed as the Jackson Five, they first recorded for Steeltown (tracks later issued on The Bumper Funk Book on Pye UK [PRT] early '70s). They supported black acts in Eastern USA though Michael was only ten, learning stagecraft from James Brown, the Chi-Lites, Temptations, Gladys Knight and the Pips; various stories credit either Gladys or Joe Taylor, leader of the Vancouvers, with recommending them to Motown; their first four singles on that label all topped USA pop chart '69--70, a feat that has never been equalled: 'I Want You Back', 'ABC', 'The Love You Save', 'I'll Be There' were also top ten in UK '70; the next two were no. 2 '71.

Michael began recording solo that year and his success was immediate, but he continued singing with the group; they had 16 top 40 singles altogether on Motown '69--75; best- selling LPs incl. Diana Ross Presents The Jackson Five, ABC, Third Album, all top five LPs '70; also Maybe Tomorrow, Goin' Back To Indiana (soundtrack of TV special), Lookin' Through The Windows, Skywriter, Get It Together, Dancin' Machine, Moving Violation; three-disc Anthology '76 incl. Michael's and Jermaine's solo hits. As their Motown contract drew to a close other labels closed in; they moved to Epic, but Jermaine stayed with Motown, replaced by Randy; Motown owned the name Jackson Five, so they became the Jacksons. Best-selling US LPs incl. The Jacksons '76, Goin' Places '77, Destiny '78 (no. 11 LP USA), Triumph '80, two-disc Jacksons Live '81, Victory '84 (no. 4 LP USA); of top 40 singles on Epic 'Enjoy Yourself' '76, 'Shake Your Body' '79 and 'State Of Shock' '84 were top ten (the latter no. 3, from LP Triumph; lead vocal shared by Mick Jagger); 'Torture' '84 (no. 17) had Jermaine sharing lead. Michael finally left the group '86 after his phenomenal success raised their price so high that the '86 tour was criticized and may have lost money. They were also featured in a TV cartoon series and were commended by Congress for their 'contributions to American youth': altogether a remarkable bundle of talent.

Tito was divorced from Delores (Dee Dee) '88; she drowned in a swimming pool Aug. '94 and the coroner's verdict was 'assisted drowning', but the LAPD had arrested no one more than two years later. Their sons Taj (Tariani Adaryll, b '73), Taryll Adren (b '71) and TJ (Tito Joe, b '78) formed 3T, released album Brotherhood on MJJ Music; first single 'Anything' Dec. '95 reached no. 15; 'Why' (co-written by Michael) was also a hit. 'Our uncles didn't have a childhood, so Mom and Dad made sure we played baseball and had birthday parties,' said Taj. 'People can't teach you how to sing,' said Taryll; 'You either got it or you don't got it.' 'Dad bought us instruments and practised with us, but made sure we don't make the same mistakes,' said TJ. 'We will all finish college.'