The Jackson 5

The Jackson 5

Synopsis of Pop Music

“A-B-C, Easy as 1-2-3,
Simple like do-re-mi,
A-B-C, 1-2-3,
Baby, you and me...”

Few music groups mixed pop music and rhythm and blues as well as the Jackson 5 did. They married soul music’s grit and showmanship to bouncy, joyful pop melodies and produced a lengthy string of crossover hits throughout the 70’s, including four consecutive #1 hits.

The Jackson 5 had been performing as a group since their grade school days in Gary, Indiana, where they were discovered by Motown artist Bobby Taylor. He brought them to the attention of Barry Gordy, who brought them out to Los Angeles and put together a group of three writer/producers dubbed ‘The Corporation’ to create songs especially for them.

The first result was the stunning “I Want You Back,” which showcased the group’s pristine harmonies and a soaring lead vocal from 12-year-old Michael over a slick but pulse-poundingly rhythmic pop tune. It became a crossover smash, going to #1 on the pop and r&b charts. “I Want You Back” was followed by “ABC,” a lighting-fast slice of r&b pop driven by a catchy chorus and a driving groove. It topped the charts, knocking the Beatles off in the process.

The next Jackson 5 single was “The Love You Save,” which moved at a frantic pace and featured an elaborate array of doo-wop hooks in the background harmonies. It gave the Jackson 5 their third #1 single. By September of 1970, they had sold over a million discs in nine months. The group also toured during this time as a headlining act, breaking attendance records at Los Angeles' Great Western Forum. The group switched gears on their next single, “I’ll Be There,” a gorgeous, mid-paced ballad featuring Michael and Jermaine smoothly trading back and forth on lead vocals over a lush backing track. It was their fourth #1 hit.

They continued to hit big on the charts with the poppy “Mama’s Pearl” and the moody “Never Can Say Goodbye,” both of which went to #2. The group also did a television special, Goin’ Back To Indiana. The hits continued in 1972 for The Jackson 5 with songs like “Sugar Daddy” and a remake of the oldie “Little Bitty Pretty One.”

Michael also began to record solo tunes and had his first hit with the lovely ballad “Got To Be There.” The follow-up, a revival of the classic “Rockin’ Robin,” went to #2. He snared the #1 spot with “Ben,” a film theme about a boy’s friendship with a pet rat (!). Jermaine had his own solo hit in 1973 with a doo-wop remake, “Daddy’s Home.” That year, the Jackson 5 turned their attentions to a dance-styled track, “Get It Together.” It was a precursor of things to come in 1974…

“Dancing Machine,” a song whose hard-grooving style anticipated disco, went to #2 in 1974 and became the Jackson 5’s biggest hit since “Never Can Say Goodbye.” The group also did a successful music and comedy revue in Las Vegas. They had another hit in 1975 with the dazzling “I Am Love,” a two-part song that started as a gentle ballad but transformed midway into a furious blend of funk and heavy guitar-rock. Michael Jackson also co-hosted the American Music Awards that year with fellow teen idol Donny Osmond.

In 1976, the Jackson 5 became ‘The Jacksons’ when they moved to Epic Records. They also hosted a televison variety show, The Jacksons, on CBS that year. In 1977, they had a big hit with the bouncy and danceable “Enjoy Yourself.” In 1978, the Jackson brothers wrote and produced their own material for the first time. The successful result was the disco-styled Destiny album, which had a Top-10 hit in the dance-floor burner “Shake Your Body Down To The Ground.” Triumph followed in 1980 and featured the song “Can You Feel It,” which had a memorable video with tons of visual effects.

Michael Jackson’s solo career took flight in 1979 with Off the Wall, but he attained superstar status with the megahit Thriller album. He collaborated with his brothers one more time on Victory album. It had a huge hit single in “State of Shock,” a rock/funk workout that featured Mick Jagger sharing the lead vocal with Michael. The resulting “Victory Tour” was masterminded by Don King and was an international success.

The Jacksons put out one more album without Michael in 1989, 2300 Jackson Street. The group disbanded in the early 90’s, but all the members have continued to work as musicians and several have released solo albums (most notably Jermaine). Michael also joins the group for the occasional reunion date. However, their place in music history is already assured. Whether they were together or were on their own, the Jackson 5 created music that eliminated the boundary between pop and soul.

Artist Release History

1969 - Diana Ross Presents the Jackson 5
1970 - ABC
1970 - Third Album
1970 - The Jackson 5 Christmas Album
1971 - Goin' Back to Indiana
1971 - Maybe Tomorrow
1972 - Lookin' Through the Windows
1973 - Skywriter
1973 - Get It Together
1974 - Dancing Machine
1974 - Stand
1975 - Moving Violation
1976 - Joyful Jukebox Music
1976 - The Jacksons
1977 - Motown Special
1977 - Goin' Places
1978 - Destiny
1979 - Boogie
1980 - Triumph
1981 - The Jacksons Live
1982 - Live
1983 - Fliphits
1984 - Victory
1989 - 2300 Jackson Street
1992 - The Jacksons: An American Dream
1993 - Children of the Light
1993 - Never Can Say Goodbye

Pop Sub Categories


Essential Music Albums

The Ultimate Collection (Motown)
Destiny (Epic)

Band Members

Michael Jackson vocals
Jackie Jackson vocals
Jermaine Jackson vocals
Marlon Jackson vocals
Tito Jackson guitar, vocals

Other Pop Music Links