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.