The Jackson 5 was one of the first groups of black American performers to attain a crossover following, preceded by the Supremes, the Four Tops and the Temptations. They were also the first group to debut with four consecutive number one hits on the Hot 100 with the songs "I Want You Back", "ABC", "The Love You Save", and "I'll Be There". Scoring 16 top forty singles on the Hot 100, after continuing with further hits such as "Never Can Say Goodbye" and "Dancing Machine", most of the group with the exception of Jermaine, left Motown for Epic Records in 1975. At that time, with brother Randy taking Jermaine's place, they released five albums between 1976 and 1981, including the hit albums, Destiny (1978) and Triumph (1980), and the hit singles, "Enjoy Yourself", "Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground)" and "Can You Feel It". In 1983, Jermaine reunited with the band to perform on Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever and subsequently released the Victory album the following year. After the end of their tour to promote the album, Michael and Marlon Jackson promptly left the group. The remaining four released the poorly received 2300 Jackson Street album in 1989 before being dropped from their label. They have sold approximately 100 million records worldwide.
Inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997 and the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 1999, the Jacksons reunited in 2001 on Michael's 30th anniversary television special. Following the death of Michael Jackson in 2009, the four eldest of the brothers embarked on their Unity Tour in 2012, and have several major performances planned for 2017.
The five Jackson brothers' interest in music began in Gary, Indiana, a part of the Chicago metropolitan area, bolstered by their father, Joe Jackson. In 1962, Joe caught Tito playing with his guitar after a string broke. Upon fixing the string, threatening punishment, Tito's father had him play and was impressed enough to buy him his own guitar. Along with their father, Tito, Jermaine and Jackie formed their own group, named "the Jackson Brothers," with a five-year-old Michael playing congas and childhood buddies Reynaud Jones and Milford Hite playing keyboards and drums, respectively. Marlon, then seven years old, eventually joined, playing the tambourine. In August 1965, before a show at Gary's Tiny Tots Jamboree held on Michael's seventh birthday, Evelyn LaHaie suggested the group rename themselves "the Jackson Five Singing Group", later shortened simply to "the Jackson Five".
In 1965, the group won a talent show at Gary's Theodore Roosevelt High School, where Jermaine performed several Motown numbers, including the Temptations' "My Girl" and Michael performed Robert Parker's "Barefootin'", winning the talent show instantly. Johnny Jackson and Ronnie Rancifer eventually replaced Milford Hite and Reynaud Jones. After several more talent show wins, Joe Jackson booked his sons to perform at several respected music venues of the chitlin' circuit, including Chicago's Regal Theater and Harlem's Apollo Theater, winning the talent competitions on both shows in 1967. After they won the Apollo contest on August 13, 1967, singer Gladys Knight sent a tape of the boys' demo to Motown Records, hoping to get them to sign, only to have their tape rejected and sent back to Gary. In November 1967, Joe Jackson signed the group's first contract with Gordon Keith, an owner and producer of Steeltown Records, and the Jackson Five recorded and released two singles, "Big Boy" which was sung by Michael and "We Don't Have to Be Over 21". During early 1968, the group also performed at strip clubs on Joe's behest to earn extra income.
While performing a week-long run of shows at the Regal Theater as the opening act for Bobby Taylor & the Vancouvers, an impressed Taylor sent the Jacksons to Detroit to help with their Motown audition, which was set for July 23 at Motown's headquarters on Woodward Avenue. Following the taped audition, which was sent to CEO Berry Gordy's office in Hollywood, Gordy originally turned them down again, since he had Stevie Wonder in his spotlight, but later changed his mind, and had requested the group to be signed, with final negotiations completed by early 1969, leading to the group to be signed on March 11. Following initial recordings at Detroit's Hitsville USA studio, Berry Gordy sent the Jacksons to Hollywood in July, hiring Suzanne de Passe to become a mentor of the brothers.