Friday, July 2, 2010

J5 Fashion Friday: Wardrobe Malfunction

My all-time favorite television performance by the Jackson 5 was the one they did for a musical variety special called Hellzapoppin', which aired on March 1, 1972. They performed three songs. First up was a rousing version of "Sugar Daddy." Check out the jumps in the dancing at the end of the number:

Their second number was a medley that began with a full version of Michael's first solo single "Got to Be There." Michael's voice is wonderful here, and the backing vocals by his brothers are superb. It's great to hear it without the annoying double-tracking that was used on the vinyl release, which made Michael sound like he was singing in an echo chamber. Mid-way through the performance, they raise the tempo, kick up the dancing, and sing an original song, "Brand New Thing," something they performed in concert to introduce little brother, Randy. He was just ten at the time, and it was his first appearance on television. You would never know it from the polished performance he turns in, owning the stage from the moment he struts in, gives Jermaine some skin, and then dances over to his conga drums for a percussive solo. Seeing this, it's not so hard to imagine that just six years later he would co-write the Jacksons' hit "Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground)" with his big brother, Michael.

And Randy is cute as can be, in his little orange sailor suit. Which brings us to our Fashion Friday. (You knew I'd get there, right?) Randy's sailor suit was actually part of a matched set of costumes, designed for the brothers to wear on the show. A photo spread in the April 1972 issue of Star! showed the brothers performing in these matching outfits, and included color pin ups of Michael and Jermaine wearing the orange suits.

But when the show aired, only Randy's orange costume remained. We can only guess that the photos used in Star! were taken at a dress rehearsal, and that, for some reason, they were switched out before final filming. If you look at the set behind them in these photos or on the Youtube clips, it's pretty clear that the costumes were designed to go with the set. And perhaps that was the issue -- they went with the set too well, so well, in fact, that the brothers were indistinguishable from it. Talk about blending in with the scenery!

16 magazine also featured a photo spread from Hellzapoppin', but their reporter apparently stayed past the run-through. Like Star!, they discussed the brothers' "dandy duds" with the usual purple prose, but they were, at least, describing the costumes the rest of us saw.


  1. This happens to be one of my favorite live performances of the J5, next to American Bandstand and Hollywood Palace "There Was A Time". I always wanted to know what a live performance of Sugar Daddy and Got To Be There would sound hats off to Hellzapoppin'! Maybe the 5ive brought the wrong shoes to wear with the sailor outfits. Just a guess...LOL!

  2. Stop the press...stop the press!! I had a crazy thought as I'm watchin' the 5ive doin' Sugar Daddy...MJ's missing tooth?? His tooth is missing during the performance, however if you look at the photo of him dressed in the orange sailor suit, the tooth is there. What is up with that??

  3. I believe they used to touch photos up to add the tooth. If you look at the outtakes from the album cover of the "Got to Be There" LP, for example, you'll see that he was also missing that same first molar, and they added in for the final art. It's kind of funny they did that, because they were trying to play up how young he was, while at the same time covering up the most telling sign of his youth. In Hollywood, I guess it's always beauty before age.

    Speaking of American Bandstand, in Michael's solo appearance on the show in 1972, you'll notice that during the interview with Dick Clark, he keep pulling his lips down over his teeth. A friend of mine who used to work for Motown told me Michael had just had his teeth capped a day or two before that performance, and wasn't yet used to the way they felt.

  4. wow?! what? michael had his teeth capped? so young? I'm not very familiar with this technique, but isn't it a bit ... erm extreme? I always thought he was lucky to have such nice teeth and didn't need to wear braces! ah. you've just *killed* one of my illusion. *grins*

    Anyway, I wanted to say thank you for the magazines and especially the Star one (I already had the other).
    And this Hellzapoppin show is absolutely one of my all time favorite, especially the second part, with GTBT and BNT. I always admired michael (and Jackie and Marlon)'s extatic bouncing. aaah to be young and slim again. lol.
    I think Got to be there is one of the most difficult song to sing, and the way michael delivered it that time is absolutely fabulous. When his voice changed, it seemed that he was having trouble getting those high notes, which always puzzled me, as his voice actually was lower before, and higher after.

    A pity too that the vids aren't that good quality. I think I saw better quality ones some years ago, but they didn't stay long on Youtube.


  5. I have never seen this clip in great quality, Nadine. If I could only have one, this would be it.

  6. I always wondered why there weren't more photos of them in these costumes! I loved their performance on this of my favorites!

  7. What song did they sing when they had on the orange suits? Please write back a response once u get this message posted up on the blog. Thanks