On this day in music history: October 10, 1970 – “I’ll Be There” by The Jackson 5 hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 6 weeks, also topping the Hot 100 for 5 weeks on October 17, 1970. Written by Bob West, Willie Hutch, Hal Davis and Berry Gordy, Jr., it is the most successful single for the family vocal group from Gary, IN. In the Spring of 1970, while searching for more material for The Jackson 5 to record, producer Hal Davis receives a song from his friend musician Bob West titled “I’ll Be There”. The song is initially rejected by Motown’s A&R department, when they feel the song isn’t right for the young group. Davis disagrees, and re-write parts of the song with West and songwriter Willie Hutch. Davis plays the revised version of the song for Berry Gordy, Jr. who likes it immediately, making some additional suggestions and contributing some lyrics to the composition. Recorded at Motown’s Hitsville West Studios in June of 1970, “I’ll Be There” features Art Wright (guitar), Jimmy Bond (bass), James Gadson or Gene Pello (drums), and Joe Sample (keyboards) playing on the basic track. It is chosen as the fourth Jackson 5 single over the song “Mama’s Pearl” (which is revamped and issued as the follow up in January of 1971). After releasing three uptempo singles in a row, the shift in musical direction proves to be a brilliant move. Released on August 28, 1970, “I’ll Be There” is an immediate smash, taking only four and five weeks respectively to reach the top of the pop and R&B singles charts. The Jackson 5 becomes the first group in history to have their first four singles go to number one on both the Pop and R&B singles charts. “I’ll Be There” sells over four million copies in the US alone, becoming Motown Records biggest selling single until 1981 when it is surpassed by Diana Ross & Lionel Richie’s “Endless Love”.
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