Eddie Van Halen And Michael Jackson On Stage

Source: 103. 7 The Loon | All Things Michael

Guitarist Van Halen Joins Pop Star Jackson To Perform 'Beat It'

We’ve all heard Eddie Van Halen‘s solo on Michael Jackson‘s ‘Beat It‘ more times than we can count. Only a select few, however, have heard it performed live.

In fact, it was only due to a lucky fluke of scheduling that Van Halen happened to be in town when Jackson — on the ‘Victory’ tour with his siblings as the Jacksons — arrived in Dallas for the group’s July 14, 1984 concert. It was a huge year for Jackson as well as Van Halen, with both acts riding high on the success of career-defining LPs; naturally, given that Eddie’s distinctive cameo had helped ‘Beat It’ hit No. 1 earlier in the spring, they couldn’t pass up the opportunity to recreate the magic in front of an audience.

You can watch it all go down in the video embedded above, starting with Jackson shouting “You got it, Eddie, Eddie, Eddie!” in the moments leading into Van Halen’s time in the spotlight. Of course, it’s just one of many outstanding solos in the legendary guitarist’s career, but his contribution to ‘Beat It’ remains a personal highlight for Eddie; as he revealed in a 2011 interview, it’s actually his favorite collaboration. “When I got there it took me 15 minutes to rearrange the song, and I played two solos and told them they could pick the one they liked best,” he recalled. “Then Michael walked in and said, ‘Wow! I really like that high, fast stuff you do.’ It was a lot of fun to do. It’s crazy that something could take such a short amount of time and can grow into something beyond anything you could ever imagine.”

Van Halen got a taste of its eventual impact while standing in line at a record store when ‘Beat It’ started playing. “The solo comes on, and I hear these kids in front of me going, ‘Listen to this guy trying to sound like Eddie Van Halen.’ I tapped him on the shoulder and said, ‘That is me!’ That was hilarious,” he laughed in a separate interview. “I have a lot of respect for Michael. He’s going to be sorely missed. I’d be curious as to what he’d be doing right now.”

Read More: http://1037theloon.com/eddie-van-halen-michael-jackson-concert/?trackback=tsmclip


Source: Ultimate Classic Rock – By Ken Kelly | All Things Michael


The late Michael Jackson will forever be known as the King of Pop. Throughout his record-breaking music career however, Jackson very generously dabbled in rock and roll, collaborating with some of the genre’s musical elite in the process. Let’s take a look at some of those legends that were fortunate enough to work with Jackson before his untimely passing on June 25, 2009.

Kenny Loggins - ‘Who’s Right, Who’s Wrong’ (1979)

In hindsight, it seems strange that a song featuring Michael Jackson wouldn’t be released as a single. But that’s what happened with ‘Who’s Right, Who’s Wrong,’ a deep cut from Kenny Loggins’ ‘Keep the Fire,’ on which Jackson’s background vocals are distinctly heard in the chorus. The album’s big hit was ‘This Is It,’ which features background vocals from another star, five-time Grammy winner Michael McDonald.

Paul McCartney = ‘Girlfriend’ (1979), ‘The Girl is Mine’ (1983), ‘Say Say Say’ (1983)

One of the few people whose fame arguably eclipsed Jackson’s was Paul McCartney. The former Beatle penned ‘Girlfriend’ for 1979′s ‘Off The Wall,’ marking the beginning of what was once a good friendship between the superstars. McCartney later appeared on the ‘Thriller’ track, ‘The Girl Is Mine,’ while Jackson reciprocated the favor, duetting on ‘Say Say Say,’ from the latter’s 1983 album ‘Pipes of Peace.’

‘The Girl Is Mine’ climbed to No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1983, but ‘Say Say Say’ topped the chart. Perhaps most surprisingly about ‘Say Say Say’ is that it ranks as Michael Jackson’s biggest hit on the Billboard charts.

The friendship between Jackson and McCartney would suffer irreparable damage when, a year later, Jackson outbid McCartney for ownership of the publishing rights to more than 250 Beatles songs. Jackson drew further ire from McCartney in 1987 when he licensed the Beatles song ‘Revolution’ to be used in a commercial for Nike.

After Jackson unexpectedly passed away in June 2009, McCartney was gracious and forgiving, described his former song partner as a “massively talented boy-man with a gentle soul. I feel privileged to have hung out and worked with Michael,” he said.

Dave Mason -’Save Me’ (1980)

Best known for his 1977 hit, ‘We Just Disagree,’ as well as his time in Traffic and guitarist-for-hire, Dave Mason duetted with Jackson on 1980′s ‘Save Me.’ The funky track, which appeared on Mason’s album ‘Old Crest on a New Wave,’ only got as high as No. 71 on Billboard’s Hot 100.

Eddie Van Halen -’Beat It’ (1982)

Michael Jackson’s rock collaborations didn’t stop with Paul McCartney. Van Halen‘s Eddie Van Halen agreed to record a free and uncredited guitar solo on the song ‘Beat It’ as a favor for ‘Thriller’ producer Quincy Jones. Van Halen reportedly cut his 20-second solo in less than a half hour.

In an interview with CNN, Van Halen marvelled at the fact he believed that his bandmates would be none the wiser to his appearance on ‘Thriller.’ “I said to myself, ‘Who is going to know that I played on this kid’s record, right? Nobody’s going to find out.’

But according to the Van Halen News Desk, Van Halen says that the collaboration did not go over well with the other members of the band. “Certain people in the band at that time didn’t like me doing things outside the group. But [singer David Lee] Roth happened to be in the Amazon or somewhere, and Mike [Anthony, bassist] was at Disneyland and Al [Van Halen, drummer] was up in Canada or something, and I was home alone. So I thought, well, they’ll never know.”

After having suggested an alternate arrangement for ‘Beat It,’ Van Halen didn’t quite know how Jackson would react to the changes he made to the song.

“I was just finishing the second solo when Michael walked in,” he recalled. “And you know artists are kind of crazy people. We’re all a little bit strange. I didn’t know how he would react to what I was doing. So I warned him before he listened. I said, ‘Look, I changed the middle section of your song,’ Now in my mind, he’s either going to have his bodyguards kick me out for butchering his song, or he’s going to like it. And so he gave it a listen, and he turned to me and went, ‘Wow, thank you so much for having the passion to not just come in and blaze a solo, but to actually care about the song, and make it better.’

As a side note, the guitar riff that underpins ‘Beat it’ was played by Steve Lukather of Toto.

Freddie Mercury - ‘There Must Be More to Life Than This,’ ‘State of Shock’ and ‘Victory’ (1983)

In 1983, Freddie Mercury spent six hours in Jackson’s home studio, laying down vocals on three songs, ‘There Must Be More to Life than This,’ ‘State of Shock’ and ‘Victory.’ Both parties eventually deemed the songs unsuitable for official consumption and have been frequently bootlegged, although the first two were released in other forms (see below). In 2013, Queen guitarist Brian May said that he was building upon the outtakes for a forthcoming album.

Mick Jagger - ‘State of Shock’ (1984)

‘Thriller’ was still high on the charts in 1984 when Michael Jackson’s next association with rock royalty came to pass. He had reunited with his brothers for the Jacksons’ ‘Victory’ album and subsequently recorded the No. 3 hit single ‘State of Shock‘ with none other than the Rolling Stones‘ Mick Jagger.

Bruce Swedien, the recording engineer for the Jacksons ‘Victory’ album recalled that Jackson instructed Jagger to warm up his vocals in preparation for the session. And while it may seem ludicrous to some that Michael Jackson would be giving pointers to the Rolling Stones frontman, Swedien said that Jagger happily complied. This undoubtedly helped show how much respect Jagger had for Jackson.

“Mick didn’t hesitate. By then, everyone knew how good Michael was,” Swedien said. “If Michael Jackson says warm up, you warm up – even if you are Mick Jagger.”

Various Artists - ‘We Are the World’ (1985)

In order to raise money for African famine relief, Jackson and Lionel Richie co-wrote ‘We Are the World.’ The two, with Quincy Jones producing, gathered together an incredible array of some of the era’s most popular musicians under the name USA for Africa. Among the rockers who contributed to the track were Bruce SpringsteenBob DylanBilly Joel and Paul Simon. ‘We Are the World’ was No. 1 for a month and raised a reported $63 million.

Steve Stevens - ‘Dirty Diana’ (1987)

When it came time to record the follow-up to ‘Thriller,’ Quincy Jones reportedly called producer Ted Templeman to ask who he could recommend to perform a guitar solo on the song ‘Dirty Diana,’ which would become another No. 1 hit for Jackson. Not wanting to repeat themselves by bringing Eddie Van Halen back into the studio, Templeman recommended Billy Idol guitarist Steve Stevens.

When Jones made the initial call to Stevens, the guitarist didn’t believe the person on the other end of the phone line. “I was living in New York at the time and I got a phone call from Quincy Jones,” he said. “The phone rang and I thought someone was f—ing with me. I hung up the phone but then the phone rings again and he goes, ‘Don’t hang up, because this is the real deal.’”

Stating that the original version of ‘Dirty Diana’ that he performed on was over seven minutes in length, Stevens didn’t expect the song to be as dark and heavy as it was.

“Michael was very musical,” he continued. “The things he requested and asked for were all really cool ideas. He understood what I was about and was trying to get the best out of my performance. It was a great session.”

Slash - ‘Give in to Me’ (1991)

Jackson’s desire to seek unconventional collaborations continued with 1991′s ‘Dangerous.’ The pop star selected Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash to play on the track ‘Give in to Me,’ although many mistakenly believe the legendary guitarist played on Jackson’s single ‘Black or White.’

Slash set the record straight in a 2010 interview, saying, “I did not play on [that song]. The sound of the guitar [on that song] is very happy. It just doesn’t sound like me, anyone would know that. It’s not the guitar sound you would expect from me, but somehow I got pigeonholed as the guy who played on that song.”

Of course, that didn’t stop Slash and Jackson from eventually performing ‘Black & White’ together live.

Read more: http://ultimateclassicrock.com/michael-jackson-rock-history/



30 Years Ago Michael Jackson Releases ‘State of Shock’ With Mick Jagger

Source: Ultimate Classic Rock – By Tony Rettman | All Things Michael


Nonetheless, he returned for a final family recording with his siblings, helping complete the Jacksons’ ‘Victory’ in the summer of 1984. The album — which was followed by a stadium tour — would become the group’s last Platinum effort, and its highest-selling non-Motown recording. Michael and company, then known as the Jackson 5, had begun their career in 1969 on that iconic R&B label, selling 13 million copies over their initial three 1969-70 album releases alone. That ‘Victory’ ultimately emerged as a half-baked effort, made up of tracks worked out by the Jackson brothers in solo settings, meant little to a fan base hungry for any new product from Michael.

As such, it’s of little surprise that the best-known track from ‘Victory’ remains ‘State of Shock,’ one that Michael Jackson penned with Jacksons guitarist Randy Hansen. He upped the ante, however, by inviting a famous rock star along for the sessions. Initially, the duet was scheduled with Queen vocalist Freddie Mercury but, when that recording couldn’t be completed, Jackson called on the Rolling Stones vocalist Mick Jagger to step in.

Jagger certainly had nothing to prove as a member of the Stones, having remained relevant into a new decade via massive tours and the great critical reception for 1981′s ‘Tattoo You.’ But with the future of the Stones in doubt by this time, Jagger was looking to establish himself as a solo artist — he was working on ‘She’s the Boss’ when ‘State of Shock’ came out — and hitching a ride on Jackson’s rocket-like trajectory was a perfect place for him to start.

The plan worked as well as expected when ‘State of Shock’ was released in June 1984. Critics may have panned it for being a manufactured event, simply noteworthy for the duo singing on it, but the public saw things differently. The song reached No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100, his highest-ever charting Billboard Hot 100 song. For the Jacksons, it became their final single to be certified Gold.

Incidentally, demos of Jackson’s original, aborted collaboration with Mercury still exist. Queen stalwart Brian May announced last year that he plans to release those recordings soon.

Read More: http://ultimateclassicrock.com/mick-jagger-michael-jackson



This Week In Billboard Chart History: Michael Jackson Get’s His 5th Number One Hit From Bad Album

Source: Billboard – By Gary Trust | All Things Michael


June 30, 1990
New Kids on the Block-mania rolled on, as “Step By Step” began a three-week rule atop the Billboard Hot 100. The ultimate goal of the five-step instructional song? “… To get to you, gi-rl.”

July 1, 1989
Perhaps surprisingly, Milli Vanilli didn’t reach No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 with its first smash, “Girl You Know It’s True,” which peaked at No. 2. On this date 25 years ago, however, the duo scored its first of three leaders with “Baby Don’t Forget My Number.”

July 2, 1988
Michael Jackson made Billboard Hot 100 history, as “Dirty Diana” reached No. 1, becoming the fifth leader on the list from his album “Bad.” The set remains the only album by a male artist to produce five Hot 100 No. 1s. Since, only Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream” (2010-11) has also yielded five toppers.

July 3, 2010
Miranda Lambert completed a four-week residence atop Hot Country Songs with her first No. 1, “The House That Built Me.” The following February, the touching ballad earned her a Grammy Award for best female country vocal performance.

July 4, 1970
The date that chart-watchers began keeping our feet on the ground and reaching for the stars, thanks to the late, great Casey Kasem, as revered Billboard Hot 100 radio countdown “American Top 40″ debuted. The first song played? The Ironically titled “The End of the Road,” by Marvin Gaye. And, the show’s first No. 1? Three Dog Night’s “Mama Told Me Not to Come.”

July 5, 2008
It went to No. 1 … and we liked it. Katy Perry scored her first Billboard Hot 100 leader with “I Kissed a Girl.” “Perry comes off as Joan Jett meets Tracey Ullman, with vocal timbre akin to P!nk: tough, with a wink and a snarl,” then-Billboard Singles Reviews editor Chuck Taylor wrote of the track in the May 24, 2008, Billboard issue. “There’s always a place at the table for artists whose pure intent is to entertain. There['s'] real meat on these bones.”

July 6, 1985
Phil Collins came up with the title “Sussudio” as an improvised nonsensical lyric … and never found a replacement that he thought sounded better. No, matter, people still got the dance-driven hit (which Collins has said is about a schoolboy’s crush): it topped the Billboard Hot 100 29 years ago today.


Read more at Billboard


Today In Entertainment History – June 27

Source: 3wv.com | All Things Michael

MJ 1992 Dangerous Tour 6

1968: Elvis Presley began taping his first TV special, “Elvis.” The show’s success was seen as the beginning of his comeback.

1989: The Who performed the rock opera “Tommy” in its entirety for the first time in 17 years. The performance in New York was part of the band’s reunion tour, and it raised money for a children’s charity and for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

1992: Michael Jackson kicked off his worldwide “Dangerous” tour. About 70,000 people filled a stadium in Munich to see the first show.


1995: Actor Hugh Grant was arrested for engaging in “lewd conduct” with a prostitute in a rented BMW in Los Angeles.

2001: Actor Jack Lemmon died of cancer in Los Angeles. He was 76.

Today’s Birthdays: Singer Bruce Johnston of the Beach Boys is 72. Actress Julia Duffy (“Newhart”) is 63. Actress Isabelle Adjani is 59. Country singer Lorrie Morgan is 55. Writer-director J.J. Abrams (“Lost,” ”Alias”) is 48. Actor Yancey Arias (“Kingpin”) is 43. Actor Tobey Maguire is 39. Singer Leigh Nash of Sixpence None The Richer is 38. Reality star Khloe Kardashian is 30. Actor Drake Bell (“Drake and Josh”) is 28. Actor Sam Claflin (“Hunger Games” films) is 28. Actor Ed Westwick (“Gossip Girl”) is 27. Actress Madylin Sweeten (“Everybody Loves Raymond”) is 23.

Read more: http://3wv.com/news/030030-today-in-entertainment-history-june-27/#sthash.3LfeRkXB.dpuf

Michael Jackson’s Most Iconic Moment Poll: Vote!

Source: Billboard – By Billboard Staff | All Things Michael


What moment defines the King of Pop’s legacy? Sound off in the poll below.

What’s your lasting image of Michael Jackson? As an artist who provided music fans with a lifetime of unforgettable moments, Jackson meant something special to his onlookers for a wide variety of reasons. All of the musical accomplishments, personal achievements and spectacular stunts add up to a musician truly unlike any other that we have seen — hence the nickname King of Pop! On the five-year anniversary of his death, we want you, the Billboard.com reader, to sound off on the one moment for which you’ll most remember Michael.

Vote now in the poll below to tell us which moment in Michael Jackson’s illustrious career remains his most iconic. We’ve provided some suggestions, but don’t be afraid to write in your own personal answer:

Maybe Jackson’s most iconic moment is one of his earliest — the Jackson 5′s debut single “I Want You Back,” for instance, or MJ’s proper album debut with “Off The Wall.” Perhaps you most remember one of his big-budget, eye-popping music videos, like “Thriller,” “Black or White” or “Scream.” How about some of his unforgettable non-music moments, like kissing Lisa Marie Presley at the 1994 VMAs or his Rock and Roll Hall of Fame acceptance speech? Quite possibly, your most iconic MJ moment is a simple foot shuffle — the first time Jackson moonwalked in 1983.

Cast your vote for Michael Jackson’s most iconic moment, and be sure to explore more MJ tributes today on Billboard.com — from his 50 biggest Billboard hits to his life in photos – in honor of the five-year anniversary of the King of Pop’s passing.


Vote at Billboard

Michael Jackson: 10 Achievements That Made Him The King Of Pop

Source: Grammys.com / All Things Michael

Photo: Kevin Mazur/WireImage.com

Photo: Kevin Mazur/WireImage.com

On June 25, 2009, the music world stopped spinning when news broke of the death of Michael Jackson. Jackson’s unparalleled place in music history was quickly solidified as thousands of fans around the world mourned the loss. The GRAMMY Museum in Los Angeles subsequently sprang into action with the unveiling of the special exhibit, Michel Jackson: A Musical Legacy, which served as a follow-up to the Michael Jackson: HIStyle exhibit that opened in February of that year.

On the 52nd Annual GRAMMY Awards in 2010, GRAMMY winners Smokey Robinson, Celine Dion, Carrie Underwood, Usher, and Jennifer Hudson teamed for an all-star 3-D rendition of “Earth Song” in tribute to Jackson, who that year was honored posthumously with a Recording Academy Lifetime Achievement Award.

With more than 75 million albums sold, Jackson ranks No. 7 on the RIAA’s list of top-selling artists of all time. As we approach the five-year anniversary of his death, we look back on 10 royal achievements that made Jackson the King of Pop.

1970: First Four No. 1 Hits
Jackson made history with his brothers in the Jackson 5 when they became the first group in pop history to have their first four singles hit No. 1. The songs were “I Want You Back,” “I’ll Be There,” “The Love You Save,” and “ABC.” The latter earned the Jackson 5 their first GRAMMY nomination for Best Contemporary Vocal Performance By A Duo, Group Or Chorus.

1982: Thriller Is Released
Following the release of his 1979 hit album Off The Wall, Jackson released Thriller on Nov. 30, 1982. Both albums were inducted into the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame in 2008, but Thriller is widely considered Jackson’s most successful album. Co-produced by Quincy Jones and Jackson, the landmark album became the first album to generate seven Top 10 hits on the Billboard Hot 100. With sales of 29 million copies, Thriller is tied with the Eagles’ Their Greatest Hits 1971–1975 as the best-selling album of all time according to the RIAA.

1983: The Moonwalk
Jackson debuted what would become his signature dance move, the moonwalk, during a performance of “Billie Jean” on the May 16, 1983, TV special “Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever” in celebration of the label’s 25th anniversary.

Later that year, on Dec. 2 Jackson changed the music video world for good when he released the music video for “Thriller.” The near 14-minute epic unlocked the unlimited possibilities of music video, while helping to cement the viability of the medium.

1984: Eight GRAMMYs, One Night
Jackson made history when he became the first artist to win eight GRAMMYs in one night at the 26th Annual GRAMMY Awards on Feb. 28, 1984. The King of Pop’s haul included Album Of The Year forThriller and Record Of The Year for “Beat It.” Jackson is among the artists with the most GRAMMYs won in the ’80s with 11.

1984: Hollywood Walk Of Fame X 2
Jackson became the first celebrity to have two stars in the same category on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Before receiving a recording star as a solo artist, he earned his name in cement as part of the Jacksons (previously known as the Jackson 5) in 1980.

1988: GRAMMY Performance Debut
Jackson made his GRAMMY stage debut on the 30th Annual GRAMMY Awards, which took place in New York on March 2, 1988. Arguably one of the greatest performances in GRAMMY history, Jackson performed a medley featuring “The Way You Make Me Feel” and “Man In The Mirror.”

1993: GRAMMY Legend Award
To date, only 15 individuals have been awarded the prestigious GRAMMY Legend Award — a Recording Academy Special Merit Award that is presented to individuals or groups for ongoing contributions and influence in the recording field. Jackson became the 10th individual to earn this honor in 1993.

1997: The Jackson 5 Enter The Rock Hall
Jackson was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for the first time as part of the Jackson 5 with his brothers Jackie Jackson, Jermaine Jackson, Marlon Jackson, and Tito Jackson. He was later inducted as a solo artist in 2001.

2009: 2.6 Million Downloads Sold
In the week following his death, Jackson became the first artist to sell more than 1 million digital tracks in one week. (He sold 2.6 million tracks, easily breaking the old record.) He also became the first artist to have the three best-selling albums in the United States. Two weeks later, he became the first artist to have six of the 10 best-selling albums.

2014: Jackson Makes History … Again
On May 21 Jackson became the first artist in history to score a Top 10 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 in five different decades when “Love Never Felt So Good” (from his posthumous release, Xscape) reached No. 9.


Read more: http://www.grammy.com/blogs/michael-jackson-10-achievements-that-made-him-the-king-of-pop?

Mr. President, I Want To Talk To You About The Jackson 5

Source: New Pittsburg Courier – By Kevin Antoine/ MJ-UPbeat / All Things Michael


My wife and I recently saw the Broadway Musical “Motown.” Motown wasn’t just a musical, however, it connected to the history of America through the sounds of Motown. We loved the show, all the acts and all the songs. However, we were pleasantly surprised that the greatest and loudest applause both during and after the show was given to the performers performing as the Jackson 5.

As I looked around, the audience was a mix of 50ish folks like my wife and I and 20 somethings. As we drove home my wife and I started reminiscing about “growing up with the Jackson 5.” What we discovered is that history has not really given the Jackson 5 their just due as it relates to the impact they had on African-Americans as well as the rest of the nation in the early 1970’s. In this article I want to correct this oversight.

The Jackson 5’s heralded arrival in American popular culture in 1969 was at a pivotal time in American society. They were the first recording act whose first four releases were number one hits on both the Black (R&B) and White (pop) billboard music charts. However, just a year before in 1968 America’s urban inner cities were burning.

For African-Americans who lived in the North, the mid 1960’s was a time of urban riots brought on by their frustrations with poverty, poor schools, police brutality, inadequate access to healthcare, chronic high unemployment, and overt employment discrimination. In the South, fifteen years after the US Supreme ruled in Brown v. Board of Education, that segregation in public education should end with all deliberate speed, southern States openly defied the Supreme Court’s ruling.

In the summer of 1967, President Johnson appointed a federal commission, the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, to investigate the riots in predominantly black areas of major American cities. Otto Kerner, then Governor of the state of Illinois was selected by the President to chair the commission. The Kerner Commission recommended sweeping federal initiatives to address those frustrations and recommended a national income supplement initiative, similar to the subsidies given to corporations to produce or not produce certain products. The Commission’s most remembered passage warned that the United States was “moving toward two societies, one Black, one White, separate and unequal.”

On April 5, 1968, the day after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the nation’s capital was burning, engulfed by riots that would last four days. Riots broke out in more than a hundred cities in the United States following Dr. King’s assassination.

Then 1968 gave way to 1969 and the promise of a new decade, the 1970’s.

In December 1969 Motown introduced America to what would be its last super group, the Jackson 5. With eleven-year-old Michael singing lead and brother Jermaine singing second lead, the Jackson 5’s first single “I Want You Back” hit radio stations and they became overnight heroes to African-Americans, bigger than any government program. Five African-American brothers helped African Americans turn their attention from everyday mistrust and frustration, with the government that had plagued the 1960’s, to an African-American family from humble beginnings in Gary, Ind. The Jackson 5 proved that the African-American family unit was not extinct.

The Jackson 5 represented a new generation of African-American entertainers with their Afros and bellbottom pants that embraced all that was Black and beautiful. Even White America now believed that Black was beautiful. Eleven-year-old lead singer Michael was a pint-size James Brown, Jackie Wilson, Bill Robinson and Cab Calloway rolled up into one. And unlike so many of the present young entertainers, the Jackson 5 played their own instruments. Brothers Tito and Jermaine played lead and bass guitar and two cousins played the drums and electric piano. No member was over 18 years old.

The Jackson 5 demonstrated that African Americans could rise to the occasion despite insurmountable odds and be the best at their chosen professions. Elementary school age children regardless of race, gender, and ethnicity all wanted to imitate Jackson 5. Even in my 5th grade class in my small hometown of Pass Christian, Miss. the Jackson 5 helped the newly integrated elementary school maneuver through integration.

In August of 1969, the Mississippi gulf coast was nearly obliterated by a category five-hurricane name Camille. The school year began in October of 1969 after the National Guard cleaned the area. Tension between the white and African-American students was high, more so at the high school than the elementary school where I was a fifth grader. However, I had my share of fights with a few white boys who were in 5th and 6th grade.

But in January 1970, The Jackson 5’s first song, “I Want You Back,” swept the country. By the time they debuted on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” lots of elementary school age children wanted to be a member of the Jackson 5. Somehow one of our teachers started having weekly talent shows in his classroom. We all had a five-member groups singing Jackson 5 songs. As a result, my memories of elementary school are that we had far less fights and more happy times.

The Jackson 5 even brought family and communities together even if only for a brief moment. My wife, who grew up in Harlem, remembers that when the Jackson 5 appeared on television, folks who normally sat on the stoops, or kids who played in the streets all went home or to the apartment on the block that had a television to watch the Jackson 5 perform. We did the same thing in Mississippi. I suspect this was duplicated in most African-American neighborhoods.

When “ABC” their second number one hit was released, it was cool to be smart in school because the Jackson 5 said it was easy as 1-2-3. A whole new teen genre was created as a by-product of Jackson 5 merchandising. Teen magazines like “Right On” would be the forerunners of present day social media like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

The Jackson 5 helped America transition from the assassinations and riots of the 1960’s to look to the future for hope and opportunity. The sense of pride the Jackson 5 instilled in all us young kids of the 1970’s lives on in us now as we have moved on from kids, to parents, and grandparents. Though Michael Jackson is no longer with us his positive impact on African Americans during the early 1970’s cannot be underscored.

No musical group from an underrepresented population in the history of the United States uplifted a population and nation like the Jackson 5. The way the audience responded to the scenes with the Jackson 5 during the Motown Musical, based on the backdrop of civil rights, the Vietnam war, and the urban riots, demonstrates that in our collective thought the Jackson 5, if only for a brief moment, brought communities together for the common good.

Accordingly, I believe The Jackson 5 of the early 1970’s, is deserving of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. President Obama you grew up with the Jackson 5 and you know what I’m talking about. Before you leave office you can help correct this oversight by awarding the Jackson 5 of the early 1970’s the Presidential Medal of Freedom. It’s easy as 1-2-3.


Read more: http://newpittsburghcourieronline.com/2014/06/23/mr-president-i-want-to-talk-to-you-about-the-jackson-5/