The Jackson 5 Unisex T-Shirt
Finally, a way to show your respect for some of the greatest icons, legends and pioneers that paved the way past and present. Rock this gear in style and bring back the moments that made you, memories they gave you and/or lessons they taught you. Scroll down for a history lesson with some of our favorite clips.
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The Jacksons: An American Dream [Television Series – 1992]
The Jackson 5 (sometimes stylized as the Jackson 5ive, later known as the Jacksons) are an American pop band composed of members of the Jackson family. The group was founded in 1965 in Gary, Indiana, by Joe Jackson, as well as by brothers Jackie, Tito, and Jermaine, with younger brothers Marlon and Michael joining soon after.
The Jackson 5 performed in talent shows and clubs on the Chitlin’ Circuit, then signed with Steeltown Records in 1967 and released two singles. In 1968, they left Steeltown Records and signed with Motown, where they were the first group to debut with four consecutive number one hits on the Billboard Hot 100 with the songs “I Want You Back“, “ABC“, “The Love You Save“, and “I’ll Be There“. They also achieved 16 top-40 singles on the chart. The group left Motown for Epic Records in early 1976, with the exception of Jermaine, who was replaced by Randy. At Epic, they released four studio albums and one live album between 1976 and 1981, including the successful albums Destiny (1978) and Triumph (1980) and the singles “Enjoy Yourself“, “Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground)“, and “Can You Feel It“.
The brothers also released solo albums, most successfully Michael. In 1983, Jermaine reunited with the band to perform on the Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever TV special. They released the Victory album the following year, followed by an extensive tour which also featured songs from Michael’s solo albums. After the Victory tour, Michael and Marlon Jackson left the group. The remaining four released the poorly received 2300 Jackson Street album in 1989 before being dropped from their label. In 2001, the Jacksons reunited on Michael’s 30th Anniversary Celebration TV special. The four eldest of the brothers embarked on their Unity Tour in 2012 following Michael’s death, and they planned several major performances for 2017.
According to some sources, The Jackson 5 have sold more than 100 million records worldwide. In 1980, the brothers were honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame as the Jacksons. They were inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997. Two of the band’s recordings (“ABC” and “I Want You Back”) are among the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll and, alongside “I’ll Be There”, were also inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.
The Jackson 5 “Medley: Stand!, Who’s Loving You, I Want You Back” on The Ed Sullivan Show
The five Jackson brothers’ interest in music was bolstered by their father Joe Jackson. In 1964, Joe found Tito playing with his guitar after a string broke, and he was impressed enough to buy him his own guitar. Tito, Jermaine, and Jackie later formed their own group, with Michael (age 5) playing congas and childhood friends Reynaud Jones and Milford Hite playing keyboards and drums in 1965. Marlon joined on tambourine in August 1965, when Evelyn LaHaie suggested that the group name themselves the Jackson Five Singing Group.
In 1966, the group won their first talent show at Theodore Roosevelt High School in Gary. Jermaine performed the Temptations‘ “My Girl“, and Michael performed Robert Parker‘s “Barefootin’“. Johnny Jackson and Ronnie Rancifer eventually replaced Hite and Jones. During their early performing years, the Jackson 5 would perform at other talent showcases at several other Gary schools and halls and theaters in Gary and the Chicago area. In August 1967, the boys were eventually booked into venues such as Chicago’s Regal Theater and Harlem’s Apollo Theater, winning the talent competitions on both shows that year, winning the Apollo competition on August 13. Afterwards, it’s claimed Gladys Knight sent a tape of the boys’ demo to Motown Records, hoping to get them to sign, but their tape was rejected and sent back. In July 1967, the group recorded an early version of a song that would later be their first single, “Big Boy“, for One-derful Records, however, the group was also rejected by that label.
In November 1967, Joe Jackson signed the group into Steeltown Records, a label founded and owned by record producer Gordon Keith. With Keith at the helm, they recorded “Big Boy” again that same month, the song would later be released as a single in January 1968. By March, Keith had managed to sign the Jackson 5 into a distribution deal with Atlantic Records, where “Big Boy” and another single, “We Don’t Have to Be Over 21 (To Fall in Love)”, were distributed. “Big Boy” eventually moved 10,000 copies. By March, Keith booked the boys to perform for their first paying gig at the Apollo Theater where they opened for Etta James. That month, Keith had “Big Boy” distributed through Atlantic Records and was working out on a record contract for the boys on that label when he learned that Joe Jackson had tried to get in touch with Motown through his attorney Richard Arons.
During July 1968, the boys opened for Bobby Taylor & the Vancouvers, at the Regal Theater. After being blown away by Michael’s performance, Taylor sent the boys to Detroit where he set up a recorded Motown audition, which took place at Motown’s official headquarters on Detroit’s Woodward Avenue on July 23, 1968. Gordy, who had initially rejected their tape, refusing to sign any more “kid acts” after Stevie Wonder, changed his mind once he viewed Taylor’s tape. On July 26, Gordy returned to Detroit where he had Joe Jackson and the boys sign their first year-long Motown contract. However, recording on their first album was delayed due to a contract dispute with Keith. While negotiations were continuing to get the Jacksons out of Steeltown, the group performed at strip clubs such as Guys + Dolls to make extra income.
Finally on March 11, 1969, a day before Marlon’s 12th birthday, the Jackson Five signed an exclusive seven-year contract with the label. After initial recordings at Detroit’s Hitsville U.S.A. failed to impress Gordy, he sent the Jacksons to Hollywood. In August, Motown’s PR machine, led by Suzanne de Passe, started to pass off the group as having been discovered by Supremes lead singer Diana Ross. When the group opened for record industry insiders at the Los Angeles club, the Daisy, Michael was billed as an “eight-year-old sensation”, though he was several days shy of his 11th birthday. Shortly after the Daisy performance, the Jackson Five performed a cover of “It’s Your Thing” at the Miss Black America Pageant in New York. By September, Gordy had set up the new songwriting and producing team, The Corporation, to write exclusively for the Jackson Five. After recording “I Want You Back” that same month, the single was released in early October and the Jacksons promoted the song on such programs such as the Hollywood Palace and the Ed Sullivan Show. Their debut album, Diana Ross Presents the Jackson 5, was released in December 1969.
“I Want You Back” topped the Billboard Hot 100 in January 1970. The Jackson 5 released two more number-one singles led by the Corporation: “ABC” and “The Love You Save“. The single “I’ll Be There” was co-written and produced by Hal Davis and became the band’s fourth number-one single, making them the first recording act to have their first four singles reach the top of the Hot 100, and all four were almost as popular in other countries as they were in the United States. The group released a succession of four albums in one year and replaced the Supremes as Motown’s best-selling group. They continued their success with singles such as “Mama’s Pearl“, “Never Can Say Goodbye“, and “Sugar Daddy“, giving them a total of seven top-ten singles within a two-year period.
The Jackson Five became Motown’s main marketing focus and the label capitalized on the group’s youth appeal, licensing dozens of products, including the J5 heart logo on Johnny Jackson’s drum set, the group’s album covers, stickers, posters, and coloring books, as well as a board game and a Saturday morning cartoon produced by Rankin/Bass. The black publication Right On! began in 1971 and focused heavily on the Jackson 5, with members adorning covers between January 1972 and April 1974. In addition, the group appeared in several television specials including Diana Ross’ 1971 special, Diana!. They starred on their first of two Motown-oriented television specials Goin’ Back to Indiana in September; their second was The Jackson 5 Show which debuted in November of the following year. The group often joined Bob Hope on USO-benefited performances to support military troops during the Vietnam War.
In order to continue increasing sales, Motown launched Michael Jackson’s solo career in 1971 with the single “Got to Be There“, released in November. His 1972 song “Ben” became his first to top the charts. Jermaine was the second to release a solo project; his most successful hit of the period was a cover of the doo-wop song “Daddy’s Home”.
The Jackson 5’s records began plummeting on the charts by 1972, despite Michael and Jermaine’s solo successes. The Corporation had produced most of their hit singles, but they split up in 1973. The brothers focused on the emerging disco craze and recorded the song “Get It Together“, followed by their hit “Dancing Machine“, their first to crack the top ten since “Sugar Daddy” nearly three years before. Despite those successes, most of the Jackson 5’s follow-ups were not as successful, and Joe Jackson grew tired of Motown’s uneasiness to continue producing hits for the brothers by 1973. He began producing a nightclub act around his sons and daughters, starting in Las Vegas and expanding to other states.
By 1975, most of the Jacksons opted out of recording any more music for Motown, desiring creative control and royalties after learning that they were earning only 2.8% of royalties from Motown. The Jacksons announced their conclusion to depart from Motown at a press conference at the Rainbow Grill in Manhattan, New York City. Joe Jackson then began negotiating to have the group sign a lucrative contract with another company, settling for Epic Records, which had offered a royalty rate of 20% per record; he signed with the company in June 1975. Absent from the deal was Jermaine Jackson, who decided to stay with Motown following his marriage to Hazel Gordy, and Randy Jackson replaced him. Even though the group announced their departure from the label, they still remained under contract to Motown until March 1976. Motown sued them for breach of contract but allowed the group to record for Epic, as long as they changed their name because Motown owned the name Jackson 5. The brothers thus renamed themselves the Jacksons.
The Jackson 5 – ABC
The Jackson 5 – I’ll Be There (1970)
The Jackson 5 – Dancing Machine – 1975
The Jacksons – Blame It On the Boogie (Official Video)
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