The Jackson 5 (also spelled The Jackson Five or The Jackson 5ive, and later known as The Jacksons) were an American popular music family group from Gary, Indiana. Founding group members Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, Marlon and Michael formed the group after performing in an early incarnation called The Jackson Brothers, which originally consisted of a trio of the three older brothers. Active from 1966 to 1990, the Jacksons played from a repertoire of R&B, soul, pop and later disco. During their six-year Motown tenure, The Jackson 5 were one of the biggest pop-music phenomena of the 1970s, and the band served as the launching pad for the solo careers of their lead singers Jermaine and Michael, the latter brother later exploiting his early Motown solo fame to greater success as an adult artist.
One night, their father Joe caught one of the brothers playing his guitar after a string broke. Initially upset with his sons playing behind his back, he saw their potential and in 1964, Jackie, Tito and Jermaine formed The Jackson Brothers, including hometown friends Reynaud Jones and Milford Hite on guitar and drums respectively. By the end of the following year, the group's younger brothers Marlon and Michael joined the instrumental band playing tambourine and congas. Cartman got The Jackson Five a record deal with Gordon Keith's local Steeltown label, and the group began making their first recordings in October 1967. Their first single, "Big Boy", was released in January 1968 and became a regional hit. This was followed by a second and final single—"We Don't Have To Be Over 21 (to Fall in Love)".
Before releasing their first single, Motown renamed them slightly from "The Jackson Five" to "The Jackson 5". The Jackson 5's first single, "I Want You Back", was written and produced by four Motown songwriters and producers — Berry Gordy, Alphonzo Mizell, Deke Richards and Freddie Perren — who were collectively billed as "The Corporation". "I Want You Back" was released as a single for The Jackson 5, as Motown decided to officially bill the group, on October 7.
The Jackson 5 were the first act in recorded history to have their first four major label singles ("I Want You Back", "ABC", "The Love You Save", and "I'll Be There") reach the top of the American charts. Several later singles, among them "Mama's Pearl", "Never Can Say Goodbye" and "Dancing Machine", were Top 5 pop hits and number-one hits on the R&B singles chart. Most of the early hits were written and produced by a specialized songwriting team known as "The Corporation".
"Jacksonmania" swept the nation, and within a year of their debut The Jackson 5 were among the biggest names in popular music. The group essentially replaced The Supremes as Motown's main marketing focus, and, capitalizing upon the youth-oriented appeal of the Jackson brothers. Significantly, they were the first black teen idols to appeal equally to white audiences thanks partially to the successful promotional relations skills of Motown CEO Berry Gordy. Upon their departure from Motown for CBS in 1976, The Jacksons were forced to change their name and replace Jermaine (who remained at Motown) with younger brother Randy.
In 1979, The Jacksons received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 1980 the group released the Triumph album, which featured the hits "Lovely One" and "Can You Feel It". The following year's The Jacksons Live! Used recordings from the group's Triumph Tour, which in 1988 was described by Rolling Stone magazine as one of the best 25 tours from 1967 to 1987. The group has never formally broken up, but has been dormant since then, although all six brothers performed together at two Michael Jackson tribute concerts in September 2001.