Michael Jackson in the 1970’s

Before the scandals, the surgeries, the seclusion and the skin-lightening, he was simply talented Michael. #blackhistorymonth

In a few short weeks, a truly unflattering documentary will air on HBO about Michael Jackson. In it, two men will detail sexual abuse suffered at the hands of Jackson while they were young boys. The Jackson family has called the film, which has already premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, a “public lynching”. It is because of this and other allegations that I had held off on during a full program on Michael Jackson, the 8th youngest of the eventual 10 Jackson siblings, who grew up in the Midwestern industrial town of Gary, Indiana before relocating to Los Angeles at age 10.

Michael Jackson, solo performance in London, 1975. Courtesy of Getty Images.

This isn’t the first time I have featured artists whose private lives make you wonder why we ever supported them in the first place. However, I remind myself that this is an audio anthology program: showcasing the good, the bad, the ugly and the sometimes just plain weird and amazing recorded audio of artists you might actually want to run over with your car if you had the opportunity, nor will it be the last.

In 1971, the Jackson 5 were made into a Saturday morning cartoon. This was the first time in history that a cartoon series, or pretty much animation in general, portrayed Blacks in a positive light and in a central role. Courtesy of Rankin-Bass.

I chose the 1970’s to showcase Michael’s talent for one very important reason: by the time of the first Jackson 5 single on Motown in 1969, the group had already been performing for five years, which would make them seasoned veterans in the boy-band climate of the era and in the years that followed. They not only had the talent and the energy, they also did something few other teen idols ever do: grow into megastar adult musicians. Jackson has also been one of my five most-requested artists in the last 12 months.

The Jacksons, 1978. (l-r), Randy, Tito, Jackie, Michael and Marlon. Photo courtesy of Sony/BMG.

Before the scandals, the surgeries, the seclusion and the skin-lightening, Michael Jackson went from being a cute part of the Motown money machine and into an adult who could not just perform, but write and produce with the best of them. These are the early triumphs of one of history’s eventual greatest tragedies.

Michael Jackson The 1970’s Mixtape

  1. Dancing Machine (original full-length album version), 1973, The Jackson 5
  2. Life of the Party, 1974, The Jackson 5
  3. Rock With You, 1979, Michael Jackson
  4. Just a Little Bit of You, 1975, Michael Jackson
  5. Enjoy Yourself, 1976, The Jacksons
  6. The Love You Save, 1970, The Jackson 5
  7. I’ll Be There (mono single mix), 1970, The Jackson 5
  8. Whatever You Got, I Want, 1974, The Jacksons
  9. Ease On Down The Road (from The Wiz), 1977, Diana Ross and Michael Jackson
  10. Off The Wall, 1979, Michael Jackson
  11. I Wanna Be Where You Are, 1971, Michael Jackson
  12. Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground) (special Disco mix), 1978, The Jacksons
  13. Blame It On The Boogie (John Luongo Disco mix), 1978, The Jacksons
  14. ABC, 1970, The Jackson 5
  15. I Am Love (Parts 1 & 2), 1974, The Jackson 5
To download this program, please click on the three dots at the right of the player.

Love to you all.

Ben “Bear” Brown Jr., owner

“Copyright Disclaimer Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for ‘fair use’ for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing. Non-profit, educational or personal use tips the balance in favor of fair use.”

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