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Back with a political reworking of Can You Feel It, brothers Tito, Marlon and Jackie talk about their legendarily tough father, their memories of Michael and why they always hope for another massive hit. C an You Feel It is one of the great disco songs. They are Zooming from Las Vegas, where they both live. Both are youthful and run off high-energy batteries. Jackie, who has been married three times and has four children, is smartly dressed and smiley.
They appealed Jackson sex chat days sat night to black and white audiences, and their songs have proved timeless. Without the Jackson 5, of course, there would have been no Michael Jackson. Listen to them and you could be forgiven for thinking they were just starting out, despite the 37 years that have elapsed since their last hit single. They often finish sentences for each other. Do they miss having hits?
Of course. Everyone does. Before ing to Motown, the Jackson brothers spent years rehearsing at home in Gary, Indiana. It was a crazy life, scheduled by their father, Joe. After school, it is said, they typically rehearsed for four hours, played a gig, did their homework and then got to bed between 2am and 4am. There were nine Jackson children in all — six boys all of whom performed in the band and three girls Janet became a huge star in her own right, while La Toya also had a lengthy recording career.
Joe, who died inhad a reputation as the toughest father in the music business. Was that fair? We worked all the time, whether it was on our music or just moving bricks in the backyard from one spot to another spot. Moving bricks? They nod and grin. For no purpose, whatsoever? Again, they nod and grin. Well, there was a purpose of sorts, says Jackie. InMichael told Oprah Winfrey that his father would watch them rehearse and if they did anything wrong he would beat them with a belt leaving them covered in welts.
But the brothers are staunch defenders of Joe. My momma was an avid country and western fan so we would harmonise with her all the time. Jermaine Jackson, who will be touring with the band this summer, is not available to talk, though no reason is given. Jermaine has long had a reputation for being the prima donna of the Jacksons.
He is no stranger to controversy, not least for starting a relationship with and later marrying Alejandra Oaziaza, the partner of the youngest Jackson brother Randy, with whom she had two children. Randy himself has hardly led a scandal-free life. Inhe was convicted of battery for beating his wife, Eliza Shaffy, and their month-old, daughter Steveanna. Marlon Jackson is at home in Georgia when we speak. Marlon is a sweet man who has led an uneventful adult life compared with most of his siblings.
At 18, he married his childhood sweetheart, Carol Ann — they have three adult children and are still together today. Marlon was one of twins born prematurely, and his brother only lived a couple of hours. He was closest to Michael in age, just 17 months older, and today is wearing a Study Peace cap. He runs an organisation of the same name, which he calls a brand and a movement. Marlon and Michael were a team. One time we were in New York City, and we started throwing toilet tissue out of a 40th floor window. We were nine and 10 years old. Another time, we filled a trash can full of water and threw it off the balcony.
And Michael licked his finger and held it up and said the wind is blowing this way, so you gotta throw it out that way so you can hit the people. We both were pranksters. I got in a good deal of trouble. Michael got in some trouble, too. When success came, inJackie says it was a wonderful chaos. What does he remember most clearly? Did that frustrate them? Did they experience racism on the road? At 20, he released Off The Wall, which sold more than 20m copies; and at 24 came Thriller, still the biggest-selling album of all time.
When did they realise that however talented they were, he was on a different level? From the off, Jackie says. Then Marlon and Michael came in. Michael used to take a Quaker oatmeal box and they were his bongos.
He used to play it so well. Then he got up and did James Brown.
We all decided to put him up front. Michael became one of the most recognisable faces on the planet. To deal with that level of fame must be near impossible, I suggest. Not at all, Jackie says. He loved it. He would work at it every single day — dancing, honing his craft. His name is Jackson. Marlon sees it differently. He says it was impossible for any of the Jackson 5 to have a regular life.
They could just about cope, but the level of fame was intolerable for Michael, he says.
And it was difficult for him. Very difficult for him. If Michael just stepped outside, in a couple of seconds people would stop doing what they are doing. Marlon smiles, and says Michael never fooled him. He tells me of the time he spotted Michael in a record store incognito. Does he think Michael loved himself enough? Of course nobody loves it when the media starts talking about you negatively.
Did that upset Marlon? It was his body, and he did what he wanted to do to be what he wanted to look like. Judge someone by their heart. In JuneMichael was acquitted on all charges related to the alleged sexual abuse of a year-old boy. In a documentary, Leaving Neverland, two men alleged they had been sexually abused as children by Michael, including Wade Robson, who had testified in his defence at his trial. The publicist steps in. As far as they are concerned, the best way to protect his legacy is to talk about his achievements.
It is 12 years now since Michael died, aged 50, from cardiac arrest after a drug overdose. His doctor, Conrad Murray, who had prescribed the drugs, was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in Jackie says Michael is still ever-present. His whole face is parked next to me on a billboard. Marlon feels the loss of his old road warrior acutely. There will probably be no time that he is more keenly aware of his absence than when they tour later this year, performing all the classics that Michael sang on in their heyday.
Now, at least, they can perform without having to run off stage after five songs because they are being mobbed. Do they get the same excitement when they perform? Pop and rock. Simon Hattenstone. Photograph: Bridgeman Images. Mon 5 Apr Topics Pop and rock Michael Jackson features.
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