Japan Today: TOKYO — Sigmund Esco “Jackie” Jackson came from a large musical family. With his brothers, they formed a group known as The Jackson 5 from their hometown of Gary, Indiana. Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, Marlon and Michael went on to create history and songs that would change the world of popular music. In a phone interview with Jackie Jackson, he speaks about growing up with the King of Pop, Michael Jackson, and coming to Japan this summer. Being a teenager in the 1960s allowed Jackson to concentrate on music. While growing up in Gary, Indiana, he says, “In the early days, the neighborhood was interested in music because there were a lot of talent shows going around during that time. Everybody was forming a group to introduce to some big major shows that were happening all around us. It was very exciting for kids of our age to be on stage singing. They gave us a platform to showcase our talent.”
There was more to music within the Jackson family as they were just normal kids growing up like others. Marlon and Michael used to pull pranks as they were the younger two. Not encouraging the two and being a responsible older brother Jackson explains, “I was more like the father figure when my dad was not there. “I kept them into place but they did pranks around my back when I wasn’t looking or when I was in my hotel room. You cannot keep your eye on them 24/7, so they were going to do something when you were not watching. It is just part of the game as kids are growing up and having fun.”
It was a dream come true when The Jackson 5 signed with Motown Records in 1968. Jackson recalls, “It was something so exciting and so rewarding because we worked hard as little kids. For a company like Motown who signed The Temptations, Diana Ross and Stevie Wonder, people in our neighborhood did not believe us when we told them that we were going to be a part of that family.” It took a year and a half to start recording and release their debut album “Diana Ross Presents The Jackson 5” which included the number one single “I Want You Back.” This was followed by a string of number one hits which included “ABC,” “The Love You Save” and “I’ll Be There.”
When they left Motown in 1975, Jermaine Jackson went on to pursue a successful solo career and the group became known as The Jacksons signing with Epic Records that same year. Jackson says, ”Jermaine chose to do what he believed was right for himself. Of course we wanted him to be with us because we are all brothers but he did well for himself when he stayed at Motown. We did well for ourselves too and were packing stadiums and arenas around the world.”
Memories of Michael will always remain in the hearts of the Jackson family. Being an influence to Michael, he remembers, “I just kept him grounded. Michael was a big fan of Walt Disney and I taught him how to grow up to be a great young person and not to let the success get over his head and just stay grounded. I knew he was going to turn out the way he did because of all the time he put into it.”
Jackson really appreciates other artists performing their songs. He says, “It shows that our music brings peace and harmony to people all around the world. It is the kind of music where you can bring your grandmother and kids to the show and they will not be offended by it. We have always been about recording great music that can last forever and that is what we have done. When you see Mariah Carey sing ‘I’ll Be There’ and other people cover our songs, it is great to see. It makes me feel really good and I am really proud of that.”
Japan is one of The Jacksons’ biggest markets. They are overwhelmed with the treatment they are given every time they come to Japan. He says, “Fans have always been so loyal and we are showered with so many gifts that we cannot take them all home. We love our fans there because they have been so supportive over the years and we really enjoy performing there. Thank you for all the wonderful things you have done for us.”
Sony Music Japan will reissue The Jacksons catalogue on Blu-Spec CD2 on Wednesday, August 3. The Jacksons perform at Summer Sonic Festival on Saturday, August 20 (Maishima, Osaka) and Sunday, August 21 (QVC Marine Field & Makuhari Messe, Tokyo).