Friday, August 6, 2010

5ive questions for... ChiDrummer

ChiDrummer on stage at Millennium Park in Chicago, June 2010

Regulars on the Soulful Detroit Forum know ChiDrummer for his perceptive comments about music, but J5 fans there know him for his amazing memories from the early days of the Jackson 5. As a young fan, he saw them in concert in Chicago three times (1971, 1972, and in 1984 for the Victory Tour) and twice in Ohio (Destiny and Triumph tours). I was eager to find out more about what these experiences were like for him, and, fortunately, he was willing to answer 5ive questions. He even provided some photos from his personal collection. (I wish I had had the foresight to take a photo of my bedroom wall in 1972! it looked a lot like this, except it was a bit more Jermaine-heavy.)

ChiDrummer's bedroom wall in 1972

How long have you been a J5 fan? How old were you when you first saw them in concert?
I guess I’ve been there almost from the beginning. I was a fifth grader when “I Want You Back” was released. I had my parents buy the ABC LP when it was released, and then I went back and bought Diana Ross Presents the Jackson 5. I first saw them during the 1971 tour in July. The Commodores opened for them. I still have the ticket – second row seats (thanks, Dad!).

ChiDrumer's view from the second row in '71

What was it like being in the crowd -- could you actually hear them over all the screaming fans?
Hear them? In ’71 and ’72, hell no! The shows were madhouses. The sheer madness of the ’71 and ’72 shows was unbelievable. 10,000 crazed screaming girls is a rather unique sound. The stage rushes, the girls trying to get the attention of just one of the Jacksons was a sight to behold. Even though I was just a kid myself. Great memories. I’ve even grabbed a little of it for myself over the years.

By the late ‘70s, PA technology had caught up with the size of the venues. Also, we as fans had matured a bit.

Is there anything especially memorable that happened at any of the concerts you attended?
There was something about that first one in ’71 that stood out as special on many different levels. In the early days I think they always considered the Chicago shows to be a bit of a homecoming, especially after 1970. I think they actually played Gary only once after 1970, so they tended to mention how cool it was to be home.

Signed concert program from 1971-72

Is it true that they used to perform "Big Boy" live when they returned to Chicago?
I never saw them sing “Big Boy” the times I saw them in Chicago. They might have done it when they were still a club act. I can’t imagine Motown would have allowed them to sing it after they started making hits for them.

Destiny Tour, Hara Arena, Dayton, Ohio, Oct 21, 1979

How many times did you see them in concert after they left Motown, and how did it compare?
I saw them three times after they left Motown. I’d have to say that was probably their prime as live performers. They were better singers, employed better musicians, the production was bigger and tighter. I don’t think they ever got better than they were during the Triumph tour. Unfortunately, the Victory Tour was almost a word-for-word repeat of the Triumph tour.

Triumph Tour, Riverfront Coliseum, Cincinnati, Ohio, Aug. 8, 1981


  1. OH MY GOD! Such great memories! That bedroom wall is something else! where'dja get those posters of Marlon and Tito? Did the J5/Motown sound give you the love of drumming? Did you like the cartoon or was it a bit lame? Who was your favorite J5er? Did you send away for the product sleeve stuff? It's great you had parents who understood your J5 mania, my uncle would always turn the radio dial when they came on, he was a jazz purist. What song has the best drumming? I like True Love Can Be Beautiful, the song seems to have two drummers on it. One keeping the beat, the other doing incredible fills and flourishes. What a great thing is column is, but Boy I'm sorry it's not called FIVE HUNDRED and FIFTY-FIVE Questions!"

  2. You know that wall is pretty embarrassing in retrospect. But what do you want for a 13 year boy who's discovered he really likes music and bands. There were other bands and other stuff on the other three walls as well :)

    The posters were purchased at Push Expo in '72 from a vendor there who originally had all five posters.

    I got the drumming bug courtesy of Micky Dolenz and The Monkees. I did spend a lot of time watching Johnny and stealing those licks though.

    Actually, for me, the hardest lick to master off a J5 record was a really cool quasi-rumba lick Gene Page plays at the beginning of Up On The House Top (Jackson 5 Christmas Album). That's a killer lick.

    No, I never did send away for anything on the album sleeves. My parent thought I was nuts enough already. Now they KNOW I am. And yeah, the cartoon was lame. And yeah, we watched it anyway.

    OK, what does that leave us? 525 questions to go?

  3. I see that above the poster of Tito you have Michael and Jermaine's campaign buttons from Star magazine. I have the Vote for Michael button next to my computer at work.