Our KOOL Artist of the Week is Michael Jackson.
This Friday marks the one year anniversary of his death.
This is a picture of Michael from 1984.
Michael was born to perform, and he started at a very early age. He performed in front of classmates during a Christmas recital in kindergarten. In 1964, he and Marlon joined the Jackson Brothers – a band formed by brothers Jackie, Tito, and Jermaine—as backup musicians playing congas and tambourine.
Jackson later began performing backup vocals and dancing. When he was eight, Jackson began sharing the lead vocals with his older brother Jermaine, and the group’s name was changed to The Jackson 5. The band toured the Midwest extensively from 1966 to 1968, frequently performing at a string of black clubs known as the “chitlin’ circuit”, where they often opened stripteases and other adult acts. In 1966, they won a major local talent show with renditions of Motown hits and James Brown’s “I Got You (I Feel Good)”, led by Michael.
The Jackson 5 recorded several songs, including “Big Boy”, for the local record label Steeltown in 1967, before signing with Motown Records in 1968. Rolling Stone magazine later described the young Michael as “a prodigy” with “overwhelming musical gifts,” writing that he “quickly emerged as the main draw and lead singer.”
The group set a chart record when its first four singles (“I Want You Back”, “ABC”, “The Love You Save”, and “I’ll Be There”) peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot 100.
Between 1972 and 1975, Jackson released four solo studio albums with Motown, among them Got to Be There and Ben, released as part of the Jackson 5 franchise, and producing successful singles such as “Got to Be There”, “Ben”, and a remake of Bobby Day’s “Rockin’ Robin”. The group’s sales began declining in 1973, and the band members chafed under Motown’s strict refusal to allow them creative control or input. Although they scored several top 40 hits, including the top 5 disco single “Dancing Machine” and the top 20 hit “I Am Love”, the Jackson 5 left Motown in 1975.