Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Will Success Spoil the Jackson 5?

With all the press coverage the Jackson family has had over the years, none has been as kind or as constant as the coverage they've had in Johnson Publications, the Chicago-based company that publishes Ebony and Jet, and, for a time Black Stars and Ebony Jr. The group -- or individual members of it and the Jackson family in general -- has been featured frequently on the cover of both Ebony and Jet. During the heyday of the Jackson 5, scarcely a week went by without a mention somewhere within Jet's pages -- if only in the list of weekly TV programs showcasing Black performers or in the Soul Brother Top 20.

Given that, it's odd that the Jackson 5 didn't get a major feature in Jet or Ebony until August 6, 1970, almost a year after they were formally introduced to the press by Diana Ross. By then the group had had three number one singles and were causing the sort of mass hysteria among teens that hadn't been seen since The Beatles arrived on American shores. Sounds to me like that alone would be cause for a good solid report, especially from the Black press.

By the time Jet ran its first cover story on the group, they were already wondering if fame would go to their heads. Would the Jackson 5 turn into les enfants terribles of the pop world? But, no, readers were assured by Joe Jackson and a Motown spokesperson, they had had good home training and they weren't going to change. We could all breathe a sigh of relief.

Much as I loved seeing our Five on the cover (and still do), there were a couple of puzzling things about the story. Like why, after nearly a year, could they not tell Jermaine and Jackie apart? Why were they still calling Jackie and Tito "Sigmund" and "Toriano?" Why were half of the photos they used a year old, taken at the time of the family's return to Gary on their way home from a live television appearance in New York City?

And, most puzzling of all, why did Jet have all those photos in their files? They obviously had a photographer there, covering their return in August 1969, when they appeared in a parade and sang at the Festival Gary. Where's that story? It's here, but you'll only find it in the pictures.


  1. Hmm, you're right(again)!
    Why didn't they do an article when they went to gary, when those pictures were taken?
    Maybe they bought those pictures especially for this article in 1970. If these were bought later, it makes sense they didn't write an article in 1970 about the J5 visiting Gary in 1970.

    Is there actually a proper article (like the articles about the J5 visiting japan for instance) about the J5 visiting Gary in 1969?

  2. Anon, I've never seen one. I don't think it was even covered in the Gary Crusader, the local Black newspaper.

    Since the Jet headquarters were in Chicago, right next door to Gary, I assume they sent a photographer there to cover Festival Gary, if not the J5 return. boy, I would love a chance to go through their archives!

  3. Detective J5C kicks butt agin!

  4. It would be great to go through their archives!
    If they sent a photographer, they must have many more pictures but they probably don't even know about them anymore... They'll never see the light of day...

  5. Thanks a lot for sharing this! :D

  6. When will the Gary Parade footage surface? : )

  7. I have one of this exact magazine if anyone would like to purchase it, along with many other Jet magazines grim that time frame.