Fifty years ago in the Summer of 1968, the Jackson 5, now known as the Legendary Jacksons left their hometown Gary, Indiana with Papa Joe Jackson as their manager for the Motor City of Detroit, Michigan to sign with Berry Gordy Jr., and his record label Motown.
Successful careers followed: No. 1 hits, family expansion, traveling the world, meeting the Queen of England, South African President Nelson Mandela, Presidents of the United States, other worldwide leaders, and their adoring fans.
Unfortunately, death is part of life, and the Jacksons lost their lead singer, their younger brother, the Greatest Entertainer of All Time—Michael Jackson. Life continues and 50 years later the remaining brothers Marlon, Jermaine, Tito, and Jackie are still performing at the top of their game.
My friends and I gathered in Detroit June 15 – 17, 2018 out of respect for the Jacksons and to participate in this great, fun-filled Detroit Music Weekend Salute to the legendary Jacksons. I had invited others across the United States to meet me in Detroit. For those friends who came to share this moment with me, we had a blast from the past!!!
This included my best friend from 4th and 5th grade, Jeanine Orange Jackson. Together, we are known as the Jackson 2 because we won a community talent show in 1972 at age 12 to the Jackson 5 songs “Walk On” and their No. 1 tune “The Love You Save”. During the year we turned 50, we performed the routine three times and we jokily said we were on tour and people were still screaming at us. What great fun and memories!!!
My good friend Vicky Keys Powell and I met in 1972 through the Right On! magazine, Pen Pal section when she saw my name listed. Everyone thought it was a Jackson 5 magazine because the entire book was usually about –yes, The Jackson 5. In Vicky’s initial letter, she told me she loved the Jackson 5. I knew then, we were friends for life!!!
Once we landed in Detroit, we ventured to Toledo, Ohio, which was a one hour drive, to see the African-American Legacy Project Museum. The museum features well-known successful past and present African-Americans who are/were part of Toledo and its surrounding communities. On the weekend of June 22, 2018, they are honoring a second class of sport inductees. This is awesome and is under the leadership of Robert Smith. I strongly recommend you visit this “free admission” museum while in Toledo.
Back in Detroit, they were honoring the Jacksons at a $1,000 Gala-Dinner-Fashion Show with tributes from local talent performing and singing to the Jacksons’ music while the real Jacksons sat at the elegant dinner tables, dancing, smiling, enjoying, and watching the younger generation imitate them. Initially, we were not planning to attend; so by the time we arrived, the Gala was over. I still walked in to see how beautiful the room looked.
I talked with several people who were in attendance and were excited and really enjoyed themselves being that close to the Jacksons. Ms. Montez Miller referred me to her Facebook site and she has beautiful photos. Others told me they were amazed at the way the Jacksons walked through the crowd talking, shaking hands, and enjoying the tribute to them. I totally regretted missing that event. All I could say was, “Let’s wait for tomorrow.”
Before we attended the concert, we toured around Detroit and were amazed to see how the city is thriving. My friends and I enjoyed looking at all the new sites and observed many changes.
After our two enjoyable days in the North, it was time to go to the Music Hall Center area where the Jacksons were performing a free outdoor concert. We had purchased the VIP tickets, which was a good choice because our seats were in the third row.
Everyone was excited. Some people brought out their old Jackson 5/Jacksons/Michael Jackson memorabilia. I loved it.
Once, the Jacksons hit the stage with their signature sunglasses, the fans of all nationalities, and ages, were screaming, hollering, jumping around, and snapping photos. I may not be a teenager anymore, but when my Jacksons hit the stage, I reverted back to those teenager years. When they twirled around and slipped into “I Want You Back” which was their first No. 1 Hit in 1969, I was so overcome with emotions, I started crying. On “The Love You Save” Jeanine, Vicky and I just looked at each other and hollered because that’s the song Jeanine and I became the Jackson 2 many years ago.
I couldn’t get over how well groomed they looked, their perfect body frames, their energy, the hard dancing they did for 75 minutes knowing their ages ranged from 61 – 67. The Jacksons actually performed like they were still in their 20’s –AMAZING! It just made me holler more!!!
Several times I thought Jermaine was looking at me, especially when I pointed at him and he pointed back at me. You know I was dazed after that, while standing on the third row, because I can’t recall sitting down. Vicky, Jeanine, and I would look at each other in amazement.
I was just so proud of the Jacksons singing all their songs and their beloved brother, the late Michael Jackson’s songs. Michael may not have been on stage but his spirit was with his brothers and fans. Sadly, the video screen did not work properly. Therefore, we didn’t get to see the video coverage of Michael’s life and other special family moments but we were still able to see the beautiful fireworks in the sky while the Jacksons continued to perform.
I was sad when it was time for them to leave the stage. I had told everyone, I was going to get backstage and they believed me. Well, I did make it back stage just to see the Jacksons’ big, black SUV limo pulling off!! I assumed they were going straight to the hotel to go to bed since they performed so vigorously. Yes, my feelings were so hurt, I missed them!! My crew and I walked around reminiscing about the concert, and talking to other fans.
Finally, we were passing the Music Hall Center Entrance, preparing to walk to our car when we heard police sirens blaring around the corner. I looked and there was the same black SUV limo I had seen 30 minutes earlier!!! I stood there with my mouth opened because I knew it was the Jacksons. I was so hurt because I missed them again!!!!
My hurt eased up a little when seconds later I ran into Ms. Starr, the President of the Jackson’s Fan Club for almost 50 years. We talked, laughed, and she gave me her business card, which has a picture of her and the Jackson’s mother on the front. She said the Jacksons just left after meeting with her and others after the concert in Greektown, down the street from the Music Hall Center. Again, I was hurt but listening to her story she made me happy.
Since then, we have talked and I will have to follow up with another article about her starting the Jackson’s Fan Club, which has been in existence since 1971. I remember in The Jacksons: An American Dream, TV movie (1992) there was a scene with Mother Katherine, Sister LaToya, and fans talking in the Jackson’s living room. I thought it was Starr and the fan club but she says that was not their scene in the movie. Anyway, stay tuned for more information on the Jackson’s Fan Club and Ms. Starr.
On Sunday, June 17, Father’s Day, my friends and I visited the captivating Motown Records Museum where the Jackson 5 got their start 50 years ago. While we were there, they played all Jackson music outside. I knew it was their tribute to the Jacksons this weekend in Detroit. Motown said they were hoping the Jacksons would stop by. Motown is a MUST place to visit seeing how Berry Gordy Jr., started in this house and made it into a multi-billion corporation bringing artists from the projects to the lime-light and finally, Hollywood. Next year, the Motown family will be celebrating Mr. Gordy’s 90th birthday and I probably will be there too.
I am so grateful I could share this weekend with true Jackson friends and fans. I won’t forget this special night watching my childhood singing group still performing at the top of their game. I thank the Jacksons for standing the test of time. Yes, your family has grown tremendously but you still have the ambition, discipline and strength from Father Joe and Mother Katherine.
Everyone knows Father Joe (will be 90 years old on July 26) was a strict disciplinarian when raising his own family but he learned that at an early age because he was the oldest of his five siblings. His parents divorced early in his life so he had to quickly take responsibility over his siblings. He made sure his sons and daughters became who they are today with his wife Katherine. Everything may not be perfect but what earthly family is. I have to say, “Thank you Jacksons for being true, die hard entertainers for life. I love you and may God continue to bless and shine on you.
Along with Detroit, I honor you with this second Splash Magazine article I have written about you and how my friends shared this special Detroit Musical Weekend with us. My first Splash Magazine article was 6 years ago when you performed at the historic Apollo Theater in New York. I was there to capture it and now I was in Detroit to capture this!!! What an honor!!!!”