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”.
On this day in music history: August 28, 1970 – “I’ll Be There” by The Jackson 5 is released. Written by Willie Hutch, Bob West, Hal Davis and Berry Gordy, it is the fourth single for the family vocal group from Gary, IN. After signing The Jackson 5 to Motown Records in March of 1969, label founder Berry Gordy makes a vow to score at least three chart topping singles with the group. Gordy makes good on his promise when The J5’s first three singles on Motown, “I Want You Back”, “ABC” and “The Love You Save” all soar to the top of the pop and R&B singles charts during the first six months of 1970. While searching for their potential fourth single release, initially “Mama’s Pearl” is the earliest contender, being in the same uptempo vein as the previous three hits. But when Gordy isn’t completely satisfied with the song in its initial form, it is removed from consideration. Motown staff songwriter Bob West brings a song to Gordy that he has been working on with fellow staff songwriter Willie Hutch (“The Mack”) titled “I’ll Be There”. After listening to their original draft of the song, Gordy is not entirely impressed with the song, feeling that it has potential, but needs reworking. He then shows the song to producer Hal Davis who collaborates with Hutch and West on a re-write. The trio develops a couple of different concepts in mind for the lyrics, with one being about being there for one’s brother or a “guy-girl relationship”, giving each other moral support and affection. They take aspects of both ideas and combine them into the final lyric. When Berry Gordy hears the reworked version, he approves it and has Davis cut the track right away. The basic track of “I’ll Be There” is recorded at The Sound Factory in Hollywood, CA in June of 1970, featuring Arthur Wright (guitar), Jimmy Bond (bass), Joe Sample (keyboards) and Gene Pello, or James Gadson (drums). The Jackson 5 record their vocals a few days later at The Record Plant in Los Angeles, CA. The stylistic change up of having the group release a ballad after three uptempo singles in a row, proves to be a brilliant move, further demonstrating The Jackson 5’s musical versatility. An instant smash, the record not only becomes their biggest single ever, “I’ll Be There” becomes the biggest selling single in the history of Motown Records, selling over four million copies in the US alone, and surpassing the previous record set by Marvin Gaye’s “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” in 1968. “I’ll Be There” spends six weeks at number one on the Billboard R&B singles chart and five weeks at number on the Hot 100, making The Jackson 5 the first group in history to have their first four singles reach the top of both charts.