Thursday, September 16, 2010

That Spiral Staircase!

The spiral staircase in the Jackson family's Hayvenhurst was made famous in the iconic cover from September 24, 1971, where they are posing on stair steps with their parents standing at the bottom of the staircase.

There is so much to look at in this photo, beyond The Five: the gold records for hit singles on the shelves underneath the steps, and for the ABC LP on the wall behind Joe; keys to two cities; their NAACP Black Image Awards; the Billboard chart in a frame, probably showing their first Number One single; and the street signs from their trip home to Gary early in 1971, when Jackson Street was temporarily renamed "Jackson 5 Boulevard."

And the spiral staircase itself is interesting. Where does it lead? Nowhere, apparently. But it does make a great place to pose for pictures. And pose they did! Here are the brothers in a slightly more creative pose that was used in the Jackson 5 TV Book at around the same time.

(Note the side placement of Marlon's belt buckle that launched a mini-fashion trend in 1971 with kids buckling their belts on the side to try to be as cool as Marlon.)

Here are Jermaine and Marlon, caught in a "casual pose" by Weldon McDougal III.

And Michael, taking a seat at the bottom of the spiral staircase, his hula hoop at the ready in case David Geffen should stop by to play.

The Jacksons, like many American families in the early 1970s, obviously fell victim to shag carpeting, oversize pillows, and orange and gold.

A few years after the Life magazine photo shoot, the decor is behind them is almost exactly the same.

By then Marlon had given up on the side buckle position, but he was still rocking the patch pockets on his pants, and the well-practiced casual pose.

When the boys were on the road, the Jackson women took a turn on the spiral staircase. If they look less than thrilled, it's probably because they had to dust all that stuff on the shelves behind them, while they waited for the return of the prodigal sons.

The baby is Rebbie's oldest daughter, Stacee. Her grandma looks a little bit worried about the baby's position at the top of the staircase. And understandably so -- I worry about her myself every time I look at this picture. Someone please take hold of the baby!

No need to worry about that youngest Jackson, though.

She's sure to end up on top.


  1. There sure is a lot to see in that first picture there!
    I always wondered what those bells were, they're next to the Jackson5 boulevard signs and there's one on each side (though they're not so clear on your picture here). I'd guess they're some kind of award too but I'm not sure.
    Does anyone know where they come from?

  2. They look like Liberty Bells. I wonder if it's some kind of honor they got when they did their first concert in Philadelphia. Or they could be souvenirs from Philly.

  3. I love this blog! Baby Michael (as I like to call him) is possibly my favorite "era" of Michael Jackson's.

    Do you take requests on topics?

  4. Thanks, Anon, I'm glad you enjoy it. And of course, I take requests.

  5. i've seen pictures of Michael posing on this same staircase in 1979 for either Jet or Soul magazine and Janet posing on them in 1982..

  6. My name is Mary, btw... I forgot to add that to my Anon post. :)
    I joined a MJ forum, but they don't talk nearly enough about the J5...

  7. Well, it's all J5, all the time here. ;) Welcome, Mary!

  8. Spiral Staircase? You don't mean the rock group? Yuk yuk, great attention to detail, never realized it led to nowhere. SOOO many pics wee done there. Love Michael on the Life cover, so adorable.

  9. where'd you find that photo of Janet? The Life cover looks very Brady Bunchy!

  10. Anon @ 5:13: I think I found the photo of Janet in the Corbis site. There were a whole bunch of her taken on the spiral staircase. This must have been around the time she joined the Good Times cast.

  11. stupid question but I don't see clearly : is the stairstep usefull? I mean could they reach another level? Or it is just to make... family pictures? ^^