The Jackson 5 (also spelled The Jackson Five or The Jackson 5ive, and later known as The Jacksons) were an American popular music family group from Gary, Indiana. Founding group members Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, Marlon and Michael formed the group after performing in an early incarnation called The Jackson Brothers, which originally consisted of a trio of the three older brothers. Active from 1964 to 1989, the Jacksons played from a repertoire of R&B, soul, pop and later disco. During their six and a half-year Motown tenure, The Jackson 5 were one of the biggest pop-music phenomena of the 1970s, and the band served as the launching pad for the solo careers of their lead singers Jermaine and Michael, the latter brother later transforming his early Motown solo fame into greater success as an adult artist.
The Jackson 5 were the first act in recording history to have their first four major label singles ("I Want You Back", "ABC", "The Love You Save", and "I'll Be There") reach the top of the American charts. Several later singles, among them "Mama's Pearl", "Never Can Say Goodbye" and "Dancing Machine", were Top 5 pop hits and number-one hits on the R&B singles chart. Most of the early hits were written and produced by a specialized songwriting team known as "The Corporation"; later Jackson 5 hits were crafted chiefly by Hal Davis, while early Jacksons hits were compiled by the team of Gamble and Huff before The Jacksons began writing and producing themselves in the late 1970s.
Significantly, they were the first black teen idols to appeal equally to white audiences thanks partially to the successful promotional relations skills of Motown Records CEO Berry Gordy. With their departure from Motown to CBS in 1976, The Jacksons were forced to change their name and Jermaine was replaced with younger brother Randy as Jermaine chose to stay at Motown. After two years under the Philadelphia International Records label, they signed with Epic Records and asserted control of their songwriting, production, and image, and their success continued into the 1980s with hits such as "Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground)", "Lovely One", and "State of Shock". Their 1989 album 2300 Jackson Street was recorded without Michael and Marlon. Michael and Marlon did appear, however, on the title track. The disappointing sales of the album led to the group being dropped by their record label at the end of the year. The group has never formally broken up, but has been dormant since then, although all five brothers performed together at two Michael Jackson tribute concerts in September 2001.
Born and raised in Gary, Indiana, the Jackson brothers were guided early in their careers by their father Joseph Jackson, a steel mill crane operator and former musician, and their mother Katherine Jackson, who watched over the boys during the early years. Tito recalled playing around with his father's guitar while he was away working on Gary's steel mills. One night, Joe discovered Tito playing his guitar after he broke a string. Initially upset with his sons playing behind his back, he saw their potential and in 1964, Jackie, Tito and Jermaine formed The Jackson Brothers, including hometown friends Reynaud Jones and Milford Hite on guitar and drums respectively. By the end of the following year, the group's younger brothers Marlon and Michael joined the instrumental band playing tambourine and congas.
Showing extraordinary talent at a tender age, young Michael began demonstrating his dance moves and singing ability around mid-1966. Before his eighth birthday, Michael was allowed to perform his song-and-dance routine at a talent contest held at Jackie's Roosevelt High School in Gary, helping his brothers win the competition. It was at that point that Tito's junior high school orchestra teacher Shirley Cartman began mentoring the group and suggested a name change referring to the boys as The Jackson 5. She also suggested replacing Jones and Hite with talented musicians Johnny Jackson--no relation--on drums and Ronnie Rancifer on keyboards. Tito moved up to lead guitar while Jermaine played bass guitar after several years as a rhythm guitarist.
After the contest win, the group began playing professional gigs in Indiana, Chicago and across the U.S. Many of these performances were in a string of black clubs and venues collectively known as the "chitlin' circuit". The group also found themselves performing at strip joints to earn money. Cartman got the Jackson 5 a record deal with Gordon Keith's local Steeltown label, and the group began making their first recordings in October 1967. Their first single, "Big Boy", was released in January 1968 and became a regional hit. This was followed by a second single, "We Don't Have to Be Over 21 (To Fall in Love)". A third, "Let Me Carry Your School Books", features Michael Jackson singing with backing provided by The Ripples and Waves.
The Jackson 5 had a number of admirers in their early days, including Sam & Dave, who helped the group secure a spot in the famous Amateur Night competition at the Apollo Theater in Harlem. The group won the August 13, 1967, competition during the Amateur Night showdown at the Apollo, impressing Motown Records artist Gladys Knight. Knight recommended the group to Motown chief Berry Gordy, but Gordy, who already had teenager Stevie Wonder on his roster, was hesitant to take on another child act because of the child labor laws and other problems involved.
The Jackson 5's sound was influenced by many of the biggest stars of the 1960s, including the self-contained funk bands Sly & the Family Stone and The Isley Brothers, Motown group The Temptations, soul legend Marvin Gaye, rock 'n' roll kid group The Teenagers and soul shouters like Wilson Pickett, Jackie Wilson, Stevie Wonder, Joe Tex and James Brown. At the time of their early success, R&B stars, especially coming from Motown Records, were among the most popular musicians; Motown had launched the careers of dozens of the decade's biggest stars, most notably The Supremes, The Miracles, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, the Four Tops and the Temptations.
By 1968, the Jackson 5 were a headlining act for the All Star Floor Show at Chicago's The Guys' and Gals' Cocktail Lounge and Restaurant. From August 12