Thursday, September 9, 2010

Get Thee to a Manager!

I'm not the one who paid $1,375 for this item when it was auctioned by Julien's last year, but I do find the scan of it interesting. It's the earliest known business document signed by Michael Jackson, from April 10, 1968. The contract is for an appearance by "Michael Jackson and the Jackson Five" at an after-prom banquet for Thomas Edison Junior-Senior High School in East Gary, Indiana. The prom took place on Friday, April 26, 1968, and the banquet was scheduled for 12:30-3:00 (presumably a.m., though it doesn't specify). The group was paid $150 for their performance, $25 up front and $125 on the night of the performance.

I find this interesting for a couple of reasons. First, the group is listed as "Michael Jackson and the Jackson Five." All these years we've been led to believe that Joe Jackson was livid when Diana Ross referred to the group that way on Motown at the Hollywood Palace back in the fall of 1969, as if it were the first time it had ever happened. Second, they performed at a high school prom -- a prom! This performance was sandwiched in between their first two appearances at the Apollo Theater. I would have thought Joe would find a prom performance beneath them at this time, but I suppose $150 is $150, no matter where you're performing.

But the thing I find most interesting is that the contract was signed by nine-year-old Michael, as the group's leader. And that Michael was the only one who signed on behalf of the group.

Never mind that he was a minor and his signature on a contract was worthless, at least from a legal standpoint. For that matter, all members of the Jackson 5 were minors in 1968, so the only one who could sign a binding contract was Joe Jackson. And as their manager, he should have signed it. This demonstrates how little business savvy Joe had, and how easy it would have been for people to take advantage of the group. No wonder Michael fired him as soon as he reached the age of majority.


  1. Yeah, that "Joe Jackson Livid" thing was in J. Randy Terriblerelli's book. Diana, at the last minute, supposedly ad libbed "Michael Jackson and the jackson 5." And when Joe objected backstage she just blew him off. But when you hear the full introduction on YouTube, it seems it must have been written that way: Sammy Davis Jr., who mistakingly thought Diana was intoducing him, said "you wanna tell me who else is young, lights up the stage and has been in show business all his life?"
    Shes answers "there's one other, Michael Jackson and the Jackson 5.

    Anyway, I always hated that because if they're gonna single Michael out it'd be the Jackson 4. How about: Michael Jackson and the Jackson 4, featuring Jermaine Jackson?

    I question that piece of memorabilia's validity when you point out that Michael was the only signature. Seems like Joe was so overbearing he'd be sure to scraw his name on there somewhere.

    How about: Joe Jackson presents Michael Jackson and the Jackson 4, featuring Jermaine Jackson?

    Today's word verification is: Realit

  2. I actually thought the fifth Jackson might have been Johnny, but at this time they were more often known as "The Jackson Five and Johnny." It does seem odd that they'd list them as Michael Jackson and the Jackson Five, although if it was the president of the junior class drawing up the contract, as it appears to be, perhaps she got the name wrong.

    I also thought it was odd that the Jackson Five included a musician's union number.

    for these reasons, I wonder about its legitimacy as well, but it does look like young Michael's signature.