The Jackson 5 consisted of five brothers: Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, Marlon, and Michael. The family is originally from Gary, Indiana, where they lived in a two-bedroom home, stretched to accommodate nine people. The children lived under strict rule, as their mother, Katherine Jackson, was a devoted Jehovah’s Witness, and their father, Joe Jackson, had a temper and was big on discipline.
After catching Jackie, Tito, and Jermaine playing on his beloved guitar, Joe realized that his sons had real talent. Initially, the three sons played in the area with their two cousins, Johnny Jackson and Ronnie Rancifer, but were soon replaced with Marlon and Michael. Joe appointed himself as manager and book his sons in talent shows and out-of-state performances.
After winning an amateur competition at the Apollo Theater, the Jackson 5 found a fan in Gladys Knight. As they continued to perform, they gained support from other established singers, such as Bobby Taylor and Diana Ross. Taylor and Ross shuffled the group to Berry Gordy, who was impressed by the young talent. The Jackson 5 was then signed to Motown Records and were groomed to become stars. In 1969, the group released their first single, “I Want You Back”, which instantly reached number one on the pop and R&B charts. Their following two singles, “ABC” and “The Love You Save” solidified them as music sensations. The Jackson 5 continued to accumulate fame and skate to the top of pop and R&B charts.
In 1971, Motown executives began to hone in on Michael Jackson’s skill. Initially, his solo career was intended to run parallel to the Jackson 5’s. However, Michael was instantly successful and the craze over the Jackson 5 began to simmer. The group also began to grow frustrated with the label, as they were not allowed to write their own music or play their own instruments on tracks. The group left Motown and signed with Epic Records, but were forced to change their name to The Jacksons due to legal implications. The group began to disintegrate. Jermaine’s marriage to Berry Gordy’s daughter, Hazel, made it impractical for him to leave Motown and Michael’s music career had skyrocketed. The group slowly fell apart.
To this day, the Jackson 5 remains one of the most influential R&B groups. They were a staple of the Motown era, and played a huge role in popularizing the label. The group also laid the groundwork for teen R&B music. They were the precursor to New Edition, Boys II Men, N*SYNC, and many more. Their lively dance moves and buoyant music added a bubblegum sound to R&B music that is unforgettable.