50 years of The Jackson 5
The group was formed in Gary, Indiana by Jermaine, Tito, Jackie, Marlon and Michael Jackson and was managed by their father Joe.
50 years of The Jackson 5
SOUNDS FAMILIAR - Baby A. Gil (The Philippine Star) - June 7, 2019 - 12:00am

It was 50 years ago, when alongside other new artists like Led Zeppelin, Chicago, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Kool & the Gang and Santana, the world was introduced to a brothers act that called itself The Jackson 5. It was formed in Gary, Indiana by Jermaine, Tito, Jackie, Marlon and Michael Jackson and was managed by their father Joe.

Hopes were high about a bright future for the boys when they were signed to the fast-rising Detroit-based Motown Records. Motown, at that time, had already massive crossover success into the pop charts with African-American acts like Diana Ross and the Supremes, the 4 Tops and The Temptations. There was no reason why the talented Jackson boys could not follow suit, although I do not think anybody imagined what a phenomenon Michael would turn out to be.

And they did follow suit.  The Jackson 5 made its debut with the No. 1 selling I Want You Back in 1969. More hits followed over the next few months. In fact, The Jackson 5 was the first group in pop music history to have four consecutive No. 1 sellers, I Want You Back, ABC, The Love You Save and I’ll Be There, all of them powered by the incredible vocal chops of Michael. And there were more….

It’s Your Thing, Who’s Lovin’ You, Mama’s Pearl, Never Can Say Goodbye, Maybe Tomorrow, Got To Be There, Sugar Daddy, Rockin’ Robin, Daddy’s Home, Looking Through The Windows, I Wanna Be Where You Are, Get It Together, Dancing Machine, The Life Of The Party, I Am Love, Just A Little Bit Of You, Ain’t No Sunshine, Ben, Doctor My Eyes, Hallelujah Day, Skywriter, Happy (Love Theme), We’re Almost There, One Day In Your Life, Girl You’re So Together, Farewell My Summer Love…

And then Michael left the group to launch his solo career at CBS with the landmark Off The Wall album. This was soon followed by Thriller, the biggest album of all time. It was also at this point that the remaining brothers left Motown and also joined the CBS label. They also made some hits as the newly-named Jacksons, Enjoy Yourself, Can You Feel It, Shake Your Body (Down To The Ground) and a few others.

Michael reunited with his brothers for the immensely successful Victory tour, but things were not the same anymore. Some attempts were made with solo releases but it was not long before the recording career or I should say careers of the Jacksons fizzled out. But no matter, the Jacksons by that time was already considered one of the biggest selling groups of all time. The present total is 100 million records sold and still selling. 

Not only that, although originally patterned after the leading Motown groups of the period, the Jacksons came to be considered the inspiration or the prototype for all of the boy groups that came in their wake. Their contemporary or main rival was the Osmond Brothers, which also produced a solo star in Donny Osmond and a star sister in Marie. The Jacksons, of course, have the talented Janet.

It can certainly be said that we will not have all of those song-and-dance boy bands today if not for the Jacksons. The New Edition, the New Kids On The Block, Take That, the Backstreet Boys, N’Sync, Menudo, One Direction, the Jonas Brothers and even all those South Korean groups like the BTS were patterned after The Jackson 5. And they all have members who dream of becoming another Michael Jackson.

It is unfortunate that allegations of sexual misconduct have tarnished Michael’s and the Jacksons’ legacy. Michael, who passed away on June 25, 2009, offered so much of himself to the development of popular music. I was watching Beyoncé performing in Coachella and all I could think of was how her show echoed Michael’s concerts. And what about all those songs that we all know so well. Does this mean people will now stop listening to Give Love On Christmas Day? They will be depriving themselves of so much.

This year also marks the 60th anniversary of the founding of Motown Records. A grand celebration is in the works with concerts, albums and even a documentary. I remember how Michael’s reunion with his brothers and his solo performance of Billie Jean made the Motown at 25 TV Special so memorable. So now I wonder will the producers still include the Jacksons and Michael in telling the Motown story? The answer will surely be interesting.

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