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PHOTO ESSAY

Motown

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The Jackson 5

The Jackson 5 (clockwise, from lower left: Marlon, Tito, Jackie, Jermaine, and Michael). Courtesy of Photofest.

The Jackson family's extraordinary rise from hardscrabble local talent to musical mini-empire owed much to Motown even before they were signed to the label. Consisting of brothers Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, Marlon, and Michael, the Jackson 5 was modeled on the layered ensemble technique made popular by superstar Motown quintet The Temptations. Gladys Knight, of the Motown act Gladys Knight & the Pips, discovered the family at a 1967 talent show at the Apollo Theater. Diana Ross became a mentor to the "young" group—Michael was 10 years old when the Jackson 5 signed with Motown in 1968—and they opened for Ross the following year. Knight's instincts immediately proved correct: "I Want You Back," the group's first single for Motown, hit number one on both the Billboard Hot 100 and R & B chart in 1969. This success was particularly welcome for Motown President Berry Gordy, as his famed in-house songwriting trio of Brian Holland, Eddie Holland, and Lamont Dozier (Dozier-Holland-Dozier) had recently left the label; "I Want You Back" was written by a newly-formed corps consisting of Gordy, Deke Richards, Freddie Perren, and Fonce Mizell (later known as "The Corporation"). The group's next three singles—"ABC," "The Love You Save," and "I'll Be There"—all went to number 1 as well, although by 1972 Michael and Jermaine were focusing more on solo careers. In 1976 the Jackson 5 left Motown.

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