Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Hollywood Palace

One week after "I Want You Back" was released, the Jackson 5 made their first national television appearance on a live broadcast of Hollywood Palace on October 18, 1969. Diana Ross was serving as the guest host of a special show devoted to Motown acts. Motown had already been circulating the story that Diana had discovered the Jackson 5, so the show provided the perfect opportunity for her to introduce her young protegees. A full-page trade ad in Variety announced the upcoming show.

The notion that Diana had a hand in grooming the young group for stardom was driven home by publicity photos showing her helping Michael with his stage make up...

...and in making certain the microphone was at just the right height for the lead singer.

Besides Diana Ross and the Supremes, other guests on the show included Gladys Knight and the Pips and Stevie Wonder. In fact, the line up was so remarkable, Motown put out a soundtrack album for it.

In their heavily scripted banter, Michael and Diana made several references to Michael's similarity to Sammy Davis Jr., and Sammy himself made a surprise cameo appearance to carry the the running gag one step further by pretending to be worried that Michael was going to take his place.

For their performance, the Jackson 5 did some fancy footwork to the first few measures of the Sly & the Family Stone's "Sing a Simple Song" (a cover song that was never released in its entirety, assuming the J5 did a studio recording of it, as they did with several songs by the Family Stone), and then sang a beautiful slow tempo song from their first LP, "Can You Remember," a Delfonics cover. [I'm sorry both of these videos are slightly out of sync.]

After a smattering of polite applause, Michael is barely audible when he introduces their next song: "Now we'd like to do our very first release on Motown. It's on sale everywhere!" The group begins their first live performance of "I Want You Back," and about a minute into the song, you can see Michael begin to relax. Suddenly it appears that he is really enjoying being on stage and in front of a national audience. Watching it, we get a strong sense that we are witnessing a star being born.


  1. woooowwwwww - constantly impressed with this blog, the detail, the pics and treats. Incredible!!!

  2. The advert says "the 8 year-old Michael." Blauuuugh! Shame on motown for thinking they had to fudge the age to make him more prodigous (or however you spell it)--- why not just be real. Michael was put in the position to have to insist when reporters said 'aren't you a little older" - and it's just that kind of unreal-Diana-Ross-type-show-biz crap that kept him from being able to just let down the guard and tell it like it is... From this time forward he would always have to be ON.

  3. Wow, I never thought about it that way, Anon, but you're right. Poor little Michael must have lived in constant fear of saying the wrong thing by telling the truth. Things might have been different for him if he could have been honest from the get-go.

    And I have never understood why people would be more impressed with the talents of an 8-year old kid than they would of a 10 year old.