Michael Jackson was born in 1958, in Gary, Indiana. His father, Joseph Jackson, worked as a crane operator. In the early 1960’s, Joseph, believing his sons to be musically talented, made them into a musical group.
Originally, Jackson’s older brothers Jackie, Tito and Jermaine performed as part of the group. When he was five, Jackson joined the group, and would become their lead singer. When his older brother Marlon joined, they became known as the Jackson 5.
The Jacksons played a combination of R & B, pop, soul and disco. They were one of the biggest phenomenons of the 1970s, during their six and a half years with Motown Records.
They had many successful singles, including ‘‘I Want You Back’’, ‘‘ABC’’, ‘‘The Love You Save’’ and ‘‘I’ll Be There’’. These were their first four major singles, and all reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart. This was the first time in recording history that a musical act achieved this.
They had many later singles that were number one hits on the Billboard R & B Singles chart, as well as Top Five pop hits. These included the singles, ‘‘Never Can Say Goodbye’’, ‘‘Mama’s Pearl’’ and ‘‘Dancing Machine.’’
They were one of the first black teen acts that had equal appeal with both black and white audiences. This was thanks in part to Berry Gordy, the CEO of Motown Records, for his successful promotional relations skills. The Jacksons left Motown for CBS in 1976. Jermaine stayed with Motown, and so was replaced by his younger brother Randy.
The Jacksons were under the Philadelphia International Records label for two years. They asserted their own control over their songwriting, production and image after they signed with Epic Records. They continued to produce hits such as ‘‘State of Shock’’, continuing their success into the 1980s.