On this day in music history: May 17, 1980 – &…

On this day in music history: May 17, 1980 – “Let’s Get Serious” by Jermaine Jackson hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 6 weeks, also peaking at #9 on the Hot 100 on July 12, 1980. Written by Stevie Wonder and Lee Garrett, it is the biggest solo hit for the former co-lead vocalist and bassist for The Jackson 5. Jermaine Jackson begins his career as a solo artist in 1972 while still a member of The Jackson 5, scoring a hit with a cover version of the Shep & Limeliters classic “Daddy’s Home” (#2 R&B, #9 Pop). When his brothers leave Motown in 1975, Jermaine remains with the label, though subsequent albums such as “My Name Is Jermaine” (1976), “Feel The Fire” (1977) and “Frontiers” (1978) are only modest sellers. Looking to give his career a boost, Jackson turns his friend and Motown label mate Stevie Wonder for assistance. Wonder writes three songs for Jermaine’s fifth album including the funky uptempo “Let’s Get Serious” with childhood friend and songwriting collaborator Lee Garrett. Having known each other when both were students at the Michigan School For The Blind, Garrett and Wonder have previously co-written the classics “It’s A Shame” for The Spinners and Stevie’s own “Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I’m Yours”. Once the song is completed, Stevie takes Jermaine into the studio in the Summer of 1979 to record the track. Ever the perfectionist, it takes fifteen recording sessions spread over a period nearly seven months to complete “Serious” and the other Wonder penned songs “You’re Supposed To Keep Your Love For Me” and “Where Are You Now”. Released as a single in late February of 1980, “Let’s Get Serious” is an immediate smash on R&B radio and quickly crosses over to the pop singles chart. The success of the single drives the accompanying album (also titled “Let Get Serious) to the top of the Billboard R&B album chart for five weeks beginning on June 7, 1980, peaking at number six on the Top 200 and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA. "Let’s Get Serious” is ranked the top R&B single of 1980 by Billboard Magazine, edging out his brother Michael’s “Rock With You” which is ranked at number two for the year.