The Jackson 5, young brothers from Gary, Indiana, was discovered and brought to Berry Gordy’s attention by Bobby Taylor of the Vancouvers. They soon exploded onto the pop and R&B charts in 1969 with “I Want You Back.” Like many of the group’s earliest hits, the song was co-written by “The Corporation,” a group of Motown writers and producers that included Motown’s president Berry Gordy, along with Alphonzo “Fonce” Mizell, Freddie Perren and Deke Richards.
Diana Ross also played a major role in the Jackson 5’s debut, presenting the group to music industry insiders in Los Angeles, California in August 1969. As the opening act for a Diana Ross and the Supremes concert at Los Angeles Forum a few days later, Katherine and Joe Jackson’s boys were on their way to stardom. Four chart-topping releases followed over the next eleven months: “ABC,” “The Love You Save,” and “I’ll Be There,” making the Jackson 5 the only group to have its first four records reach Number 1 on the charts.
Years later, Berry Gordy would recall the boys’ determination to succeed in his autobiography. He wrote, “(t)heir hard work was unconditional, and they were willing to sweat to perfection.” Versatile, dynamic performers, the Jackson brothers soaked up all the training and advice the Motown hit-making machine offered. With an unmatched crossover appeal, the Jackson 5 was the first African American boy band to generate enormous excitement among white audiences. As a result, the group’s singles hit the pop and R&B charts without fail.
While the brothers, who ranged in age from nine to 14 in 1969, captured the hearts of youngsters and music fans of all ages with their charm and talent, it was the youngest and the group’s lead singer, Michael, who stood out. Remembering his first encounter with the Jacksons, Berry Gordy observed in To Be Loved that Michael ” … sang his songs with such feeling, inspiration and pain—like he had experienced everything he was singing about.”