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The Jackson 5: Who They Were and What Happened to Them

Jackson Five 1971
Photo from the Jackson 5's first television special in 1971. Photo by ABC Television.

Even if you don’t know much about the Jackson 5 (sometimes written as the Jackson 5ive), you’ve likely heard at least one of their songs over the years. Their songs ‘I Want You Back’ and ‘Santa Claus Is Coming to Town’ have been topping charts for years and still continue to be longtime favorites of people all over the world.

But just who was the Jackson Five? And why are they no longer in the spotlight? Read on to find out more about this iconic group and the story behind their music.

The Jackson 5 1969
Photo of the Jackson 5 announcing their appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. A Young Michael Jackson is in the middle of the photograph.

The Beginning of the Jackson 5

The Jackson 5 was originally named as such as it was made up of a group of 5 siblings with the last name Jackson. All 5 of the children were born in Gary, Indiana, and experienced a very strict upbringing at the hands of their father, Joe Jackson.

Despite the sometimes tense home life, Joe noticed that his sons all had some unique musical talents. It wasn’t long before he realized he could use these talents to get the kids, and himself, out of the harsh working-class life he had created.

Joe began by creating a singing group with just the three oldest, Jackie, Jermaine, and Tito. Joe took the trio around to local bars and clubs to perform in Indiana. Sometimes, two cousins would join the performances.

As time passed, Joe noticed that his two youngest, Marlon and Michael Jackson also had musical talent, and they would eventually replace the two cousins in performances. Joe insisted his sons not only work on their singing but also their dancing abilities and overall performance tactics.

Once Marlon and Michael joined the group, the name The Jackson 5 was solidified, and the child stars began to enter, and win, singing competitions all over the state. This eventually led to them winning a singing competition in New York and the official beginning of their career.

Unfortunately, because the name was the Jackson Five, the youngest Jackson brother, Randy Jackson, missed out on being part of the original group. However, he was later included in the tv series as well as some performances.

Randy Jackson 1976
Randy Jackson at the start of the television program “The Jacksons” in 1976. Photo by CBS Television.

There have been many movies and a couple of tv series created about the Jackson 5 which show a young Michael Jackson performing. The most famous Jackson 5 movie was a 5 episode mini-series tv special about the group which aired on ABC in 1992.

Who Discovered the Jackson 5?

Of course, fame doesn’t just happen overnight. It was actually Bobby Taylor who discovered the group in 1968 and brought them to the attention of Motown Records.

The Jackson 5 Members

The Jackson 5 was made up of a group of brothers who all had singing, instrument playing, and dancing abilities.

Jackie Jackson 1977
Publicity photo of Jackie Jackson in The Jacksons’ television variety show in 1977. Photo by CBS Television.

Jackie Jackson

Jackie Jackson was born in 1941 and is the oldest Jackson 5 brother. He was part of the original trio put together by Joe along with Tito and Germaine.

Of the group, Jackie has the highest singing voice as he is a tenor, and he also plays tambourine and percussion instruments in many of the songs. Although he contributed heavily to songwriting for the group, when he attempted to start a solo career like Michael and Jermaine Jackson, it was a huge flop.

Tito Jackson

Born in 1952, Tito Jackson is the third child of the Jackson family (second brother) and was with his older brother Jackie in the original trip formed of the brothers. Tito is known for his talent of playing the guitar, which was discovered when he was just 10 years old.

Unfortunately, while recording at Motown, Tito was not allowed to play the guitar in many of the Jackson 5 original tracks. It wasn’t until they left for a different recording studio CBS, the fans even got to hear the talented guitarist play. In the early recordings, Tito provided just vocals to the group.

Jermaine Jackson

Jermaine Jackson was born in 1954 and was the third member of the trio his father originally put together. Jermaine was the original lead singer of the group, while also playing bass guitar.

After his younger brother Michael joined the Jackson 5, Jermaine was demoted to a backup singer. He eventually pursued recording his own songs in the early 1970s, and while his first cover ‘Daddy’s Home’ was a hit, he had trouble topping charts after that and eventually rejoined his brothers.

Marlon Jackson

Marlon Jackson was born in 1957 along with a twin, who died shortly after birth. Out of all of the Jackson brothers, Marlon was closest to Michael Jackson.

Once Joe noticed Marlon also had musical talent similar to his brothers, he was quick to expand the trio to include both Marlon and Michael Jackson. Marlon sang, danced, and also played the conga and tambourine. He too tried to pursue his own solo career for a bit, but ultimately wasn’t a huge success.

Michael Jackson

Born in 1958, just 17 months after his older brother Marlon, no one could predict what would happen when this legend was first put as a backup percussion player for the trio his father had formed with his three oldest brothers.

In 1964, when Michael Jackson was just 6 years old, he was put on lead vocals with his brother Jermaine, and the rest is history. The Jackson 5 went on to release numerous hit songs until Michael left to record on his own which led to him eventually being named the king of pop and being one of the most famous musicians in the United States and around the world.

Jackson 5 1972
Photo from the Jackson 5 1972 television special. Photo by CBS Television.

Where Are They Now?

Obviously, the Jackson 5 isn’t still hitting the charts, but after such a successful career, many are wondering where the famous group is now.

Jackie Jackson

Jackie Jackson is still active with music today, living in Las Vegas, Nevada where he occasionally puts on shows with some of his brothers. He released a single in 2010 but had been laying low ever since. He has been married 3 times and has 4 children.

Tito Jackson

Tito Jackson is surprisingly still in the music industry as he began his solo work as a blues singer in 2003. He has released multiple hit singles in the years since, with his latest being ‘Love One Another’ released in 2021. He was married once, although his ex-wife has since died. The couple had 3 children.

Tito Jackson 2017
Tito Jackson (American singer-songwriter and guitarist) attends the UK premiere of “Stratton“ at VUE Cinema, West End, London in 2017. Photo by David Sedlecký.

Jermaine Jackson

Jermaine, like Tito, has also remained active in the music world over the years, although his solo releases were nothing to write home about. During the last two decades, Jermaine Jackson has made headlines by participating in reality TV shows. He has been married and divorced three times, and has 7 children.

Jermaine Jackson 2017
Jermaine Jackson at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival. Photo by Georges Biard.

Marlon Jackson

Unlike his brothers, Marlon Jackson has stayed out of the spotlight and left the entertainment world for the most part. Although he did join for the reunion tour following the death of his brother Michael Jackson. Marlon is married to Carol Parker and has three children.

Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson died on June 25th, 2009 of cardiac arrest due to a drug overdose administered by his personal physician. He is buried in Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Los Angeles, California, USA.

The Jackson 5 Songs

Over the course of 20 years, the Jackson five released numerous songs that hit the top charts. The most famous Jackson 5 songs on the Spotify app are:

  • ABC
  • Santa Claus is Coming to Town
  • I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus
  • Dancing Machine
  • I Want You Back
  • I’ll Be There
  • Goin’ Back to Indiana

The Jackson 5 Albums

The Jackson 5 released album after album during their career, achieving success at both Motown Records and CBS Studios. Additionally, after Michael’s death in 2009, the remaining brothers came together to recreate and re-release some of their most famous songs. Here are the top Jackson 5 albums on the Spotify app.

  • Diana Ross Presents the Jackson 5 (1969)
  • Christmas Album (1970)
  • Third Album (1970)
  • ABC (1970)
Janet Jackson 2015
Janet Jackson Unbreakable Tour, Honolulu, Hawaii 2015. Photo by J Vettorino from USA.

Janet Jackson and the Jackson 5

Believe it or not, famous singer and songwriter Janet Jackson is actually the youngest sibling of the Jackson family. Born in 1966, she was just a little too young to be included in the fame her brothers would achieve with the Jackson five when she was just three years old.

Later she would have her own successful career, thanks in part to her father who got her a recording contract when she was just 16 years old. Janet is still an active musician today and performs in concerts all over the world. You can find out more about her upcoming tours on her official website.

Written by Hope Davis

Writer, because it's the only way daydreaming pays.

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