On this day in music history: October 18, 1969 – The Jackson 5 make their national television debut on the variety show “The Hollywood Palace” on the ABC television network. The show is hosted that week by Diana Ross and Sammy Davis, Jr.. The group perform four songs including their debut single “I Want You Back”, “Sing A Simple Song”, and “Can You Remember”. The performance is also recreated in the television mini series “The Jacksons: An American Dream” in 1992.
On this day in music history: October 15, 1970 – “Jackson 5 Christmas Album”, the fourth album by The Jackson 5 is released. Produced by The Corporation, it is recorded at The Sound Factory and Hitsville USA West Studios in Hollywood, CA from July – September 1970. The groups first and only holiday album, it is The Jackson 5’s fourth full length LP release of the year, issued only five weeks after “Third Album”. The collection quickly becomes a perennial favorite during the Christmas holiday season with their versions of “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town” and “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” becoming two of the most requested Christmas songs played on radio. The album tops the annual Christmas albums chart published by Billboard Magazine in 1970, but not on the main Top 200 or R&B album charts due to Billboard’s then policy of not including seasonal holiday albums or singles on their main charts. The album returns to the top again in 1972, charting a total of six times over the years. Originally released on CD in the mid 80’s, it is remastered and reissued in 2001 under the title “The Best Of The Jackson 5 – 20th Century Masters The Christmas Collection”, with the previously unreleased “Little Christmas Tree” added as a bonus track. The “Jackson 5 Christmas Album” spends four weeks at number one on the Billboard Christmas Albums chart, going Platinum in the US, and selling over three and a half million copies worldwide.
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: October 7, 1969 – “I Want You Back” by The Jackson 5 is released. Written and produced by The Corporation (Deke Richards, Freddie Perren, Fonce Mizell and Berry Gordy, Jr.), it is the Gary, IN based family groups’ debut single for Motown Records. Originally titled “I Wanna Be Free” when it is first written, the song is originally intended for Gladys Knight & The Pips, then Diana Ross. After Motown puts the group under contract, label founder Berry Gordy, Jr. hears the demo recording, and then helps the rest of the writing team come up with a new concept for the song, re-writing the lyrics and tailoring it for the group. Recorded in August and September of 1969, the basic track and vocals are cut at The Sound Factory in Hollywood, CA and features musicians Freddie Perren and Joe Sample (keyboards), Wilton Felder (bass), Gene Pello (drums), Louis Shelton, David T. Walker and Don Peake (guitars), and Sandra Crouch (tambourine). Led by producer Deke Richards, the group spend weeks, recording and re-recording their vocals until Richards feels they have achieved perfection. The single is backed by the J5’s cover of the Smokey Robinson & The Miracles classic “Who’s Lovin’ You” that is produced by Bobby Taylor, the man actually responsible for bringing The Jackson 5 to Motown. Following several high profile television appearances to promote the single, including a now legendary performance on The Ed Sullivan Show in December, the record catapults The Jackson 5 into national and international stardom. “I Want You Back” spends 4 weeks at #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart beginning on January 10, 1970, and for 1 week on the Hot 100 on January 31, 1970, shooting past the two million mark in sales in the US. The song is also a huge hit internationally, peaking at #2 on the UK singles chart, selling over six million copies worldwide. In time, the record is widely regarded as one of the greatest pop singles of all time. “I Want You Back” is inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 1999, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: September 12, 1973 – “G.I.T.: Get It Together”, the seventh album by The Jackson 5 is released. Produced by Hal Davis, it is recorded at Motown Recording Studios in Hollywood, CA from April – July 1973. The album marks an important transitional point in the J5’s career. The project sees the group moving away from their original bubblegum Pop/R&B sound to a more Proto-Disco/Funk sound. It spins off three singles including the title track (#2 R&B, #28 Pop) and the original full length version of “Dancing Machine (1 R&B, #2 Pop)”. The track “Hum Along And Dance” become a dance floor favorite in clubs and is adapted as an early Hip Hop staple for the songs extended breakdown. The original LP pressing features a die cut cover with the initials “G.I.T.” cut out to reveal a picture of the group on the albums inner sleeve. The album is remastered and reissued on CD in 2001 as a two-fer disc with “Skywriter”. It is reissued as a stand alone release in 2010. Out of print on vinyl for over two decades, it is remastered and reissued as a 180 gram LP in 2009. “G.I.T.: Get It Together” peaks at number four on the Billboard R&B album chart, and number one hundred on the Top 200.
On this day in music history: September 11, 1971 – “The Jackson 5ive” animated cartoon series makes its debut on the ABC television network. A joint venture between Motown Productions and Rankin & Bass, twenty three episodes of the series (original episodes broadcast until September 1, 1973) are produced. The debut episode “It All Started With…” is a fictionalized account of the J5’s being discovered by Diana Ross, when Michael’s pet snake Rosey finds his way in to Ross’ dressing room. The groups voices are provided by actors Donald Fullilove (Michael), Edmund Sylvers (Marlon), Joel Cooper (Jermaine), Mike Martinez (Tito), and Craig Grandy (Jackie). The Jackson 5 themselves are unable to contribute their own voices, due to their busy recording and touring schedule. Animation for the series is by the London based production company Halas & Batchelor and Spanish studio Estudios Moro. Following its run on the network, the series runs in syndication throughout the rest of the 70’s and 80’s. It is revived again in the 90’s when episodes are shown on MTV, VH1, and the Nick At Nite spin off channel TV Land. The complete series is released on DVD and Blu-ray disc in January of 2013 by Classic Media.
On this day in music history: September 8, 1970 – “Third Album” by The Jackson 5 is released. Produced by The Corporation and Hal Davis, it is recorded at The Sound Factory and Motown Recording Studio in Hollywood, CA from April – September 1970. The groups third full length album in just nine months, it contains original songs written by Motown staff writers as well as cover versions of hits by Simon & Garfunkel (“Bridge Over Troubled Water”), Shades Of Blue (“Oh How Happy”) and The Delfonics (“Ready Or Not (Here I Come)”). It spins off two hit singles including their biggest hit “I’ll Be There” (#1 Pop for 5 weeks & R&B for 6 weeks) and “Mama’s Pearl” (#2 Pop & R&B), though the album version of “Mama” features alternate vocals from the hit single version (issued in January of 1971). It becomes The Jackson 5’s second biggest selling album in the US, moving an estimated 4.6 million copies. Originally released on CD in the mid 80’s, it is remastered and reissued in 2001 as a two-fer CD with “Maybe Tomorrow”. It is also reissued as a 180 gram vinyl LP in 2009, making it available in the format for the first time in over twenty years. “Third Album” spends ten weeks at number one on the Billboard R&B album chart, peaking at number four on the Top 200.
On this day in music history: September 5, 1974 – “Dancing Machine”, the eighth album by The Jackson 5ive is released. Produced by Hal Davis, it is recorded at Motown Recording Studios in Hollywood, CA from April – May 1973, June 1973 – July 1974. The album includes the smash title track (#1 R&B, #2 Pop), and spins off two other singles, including “Whatever You Got, I Want” (#38 Pop, #3 R&B) and “I Am Love” (#5 R&B, #15 Pop). The title track “Dancing Machine” originates on the groups previous album “Get It Together” but is remixed and edited when it becomes a popular LP cut, and is later released as a single. The albums third single “I Am Love” also receives significant play in clubs at the time of its release. The simmering seven and a half minute long track features a slow almost ballad like intro for the first half of the song, before exploding into an uptempo funk/rock groove, which creates a sensation on the dance floor. In time, “Love” is regarded as a seminal track in the genre of what becomes known as “proto-disco”. The success of the album pulls the group out of the slump they experienced during the previous two years, though it makes them hungry to take more creative control of their music and career, resulting in their exit from Motown in 1975 for Epic Records.“Dancing Machine” peaks at number sixteen on the Billboard Top 200, though oddly does not chart on the R&B album chart.
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.