J is for the Jackson 5ive

When the group moved from Motown to Columbia/Epic, Jermaine stayed at Motown, largely because he was married to Motown boss Berry Gordy’s daughter Hazel for a time. Little brother Randy replaced him as the group became The Jacksons.

L-R: Tito, Marlon, Michael, Jackie, Jermaine
L-R: Tito, Marlon, Michael, Jackie, Jermaine

My sister Leslie, who’s a little younger than I, had each of the first four non-Christmas LPs of the Jackson Five (or Jackson 5ive, as Motown sometimes cutely designated the group). I wanted to write them off as a silly piece of “bubblegum soul”. The problem with that was twofold:
1) I rather liked many of the songs, and
2) I discovered that my vocal range was quite compatible with Jermaine, who had the second lead on many of the songs (Tito sang low harmonies, Jackie high harmonies, and Marlon somewhere in the middle)

Oh, there was a third thing:
3) that preteen Michael was pretty darn good

The first album had I Want You Back [LISTEN], a #1 hit in 1970, but also Who’s Lovin’ You [LISTEN], a cover of a Smokey Robinson song that, when I listened to it, I thought, “How old IS this guy?” He was an old soul.

The second album included both ABC [LISTEN], the title song, and The Love You Save [LISTEN], both of which went to #1 for two weeks in 1970. The imaginatively titled Third Album contained I’ll Be There [LISTEN], #1 for FIVE weeks in 1970. I was always a sucker for Maybe Tomorrow [LISTEN], the title song from the fourth album, which only went to #20 in 1971. They had other hits, most notably Dancing Machine [LISTEN], #2 in 1974.

I won’t necessarily admit to having watched their animated series, which is now available on DVD.

When the group moved from Motown to Columbia/Epic, Jermaine stayed at Motown, largely because he was married to Motown boss Berry Gordy’s daughter Hazel for a time. Little brother Randy replaced him as the group became The Jacksons. Their first hit was Enjoy Yourself [LISTEN], #6 in 1977.

Michael, who had done some solo work even with Motown, had some subsequent massive albums on his own, with Off the Wall, and Thriller. But the brothers, including Jermaine, got together for the 1984 Victory album and tour. Michael, of course, went on with his own career arc.

The group never broke up officially, but they haven’t recorded an album since 1989, though Tito, Jackie, Jermaine, and Marlon did appear in some bizarre reality show back in 2009, which ended up including their reactions to brother Michael’s death.


ABC Wednesday – Round 14

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. I hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

27 thoughts on “J is for the Jackson 5ive”

  1. I remember watching the Jackson 5ive as they taped a performance at Disneyland.
    At that point we hardly knew who they were but were very impressed with the “kids”.
    I really enjoyed them and do still like Michael.

  2. It is impossible to listen to their songs and not start tapping toes and moving with the beat of the music!

  3. I don’t know much about the Jacksons, only that MJ was Ă  cute little boy before hè became “white” . I never liked their music, but can understand that he was a phenomenon of our time.
    Have a great week, Roger!
    Wil, ABCW Team

  4. I remember seeing them really at the beginning (were they on the Ed Sullivan show?? Later on really became a fan–remember the night Michael did the Moon Walk. I also really loved “Thriller”. What a sad ending again to a superstar.

  5. It took a while, but the 5ive eventually won me over; they were just too good, and their material was just so doggone fresh.

    “Never Can Say Goodbye” still breaks me up, just a little.

  6. Wow, 1970 and the Jackson Five’s ABC album was spinning on the console stereo here an my living room too. I played it over and over at slumber parties along with the Cowsills and Bobby Sherman…dear lord I am apparently old!
    Great post for letter J!

  7. oh, got a namesake there. Back then I would watch the Jackson 5ive because of Michael. He was very cute.

  8. I loved The Jackson 5, and particularly loved the song Ben, I didn’t really know what the lyrics were all about until daughter number three informed me it was a song dedicated to MJ’s pet rat.
    Now, whether or not this true,I don’t know, or was it just a wind up as I have a terror of rats?
    Does anybody know what the song was about…. Rat or no Rat, the music accompany the lyrics was sublime.


  9. when I was a teacher of Head Start, the Jerri-curl (Michael’s hair-do) was very popular with the wee black girls.

  10. I loved the Jackson 5 growing up, and was a huge fan of Michael’s solo career afterwards. The latter was the most talented of the group in my mind. Blessings!

  11. Although I quite liked solo MJ, my favourite was the combination of the Jackson 5, maybe its my love of Motown.

  12. The Jackson Five are one of those groups it wasn’t “cool” to like when I was a kid, so I didn’t actually check them out until I was almost 30. I love their early albums especially, and some of their songs have been on my iPod forever now. It’s weird now that the Jackson Five were considered cheesy by my peers when I was a kid… “Thriller” came out when I was 6 and was the biggest thing in the universe.

    My Mom always liked them, too, which is kind of interesting to me because she’s not a fan of that style of music in general. She saw them play the Iowa State Fair around 1968 or 1969 – very early in their career – when she was a little girl (she and Michael were born a year apart, and I think that had something to do with her fascination).

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