Here, There & Everywhere: Michael Jackson and the Jackson 5 (From the Archives)

By Don Heckman

Michael Jackson’s unfortunate, premature passing last week reminded me of the first time I’d seen him, thirty seven years ago, performing with his brothers at Madison Square Garden. At the time, I Jackson 5was covering rock and pop music for the New York Times, and the Jackson 5 performance was just another stop in my busy review schedule. Remembering absolutely nothing about either the program or the review, I pulled it out of my files today, curious to read what I had written. In retrospect, there’s nothing particularly unusual about what I had to say. It was no mystery that Michael and the Jackson 5 were rapidly ascending new stars. But there was one sentence in particular that startled me. It’s the sentence that begins “Watching him move across the stage….”

When I looked at it, I had to reread it several times before I could fully believe what I had written, nearly 40 years ago. I’ve never been accused of having prescient abilities, but there it was. I have no idea why I wrote “the next 40 years” other than the fact that something about the performance obviously reached out to me, and found its way through my rush to make a midnight deadline for the morning edition. But the real truth is that it undoubtedly says a lot more about the aura of Michael Jackson’s extraordinary presence — even then — than it does about my skills as a visionary. Here’s the complete review, with the sentence in bold face:

From the The New York Times (June 1972)

The Jackson 5

By Don Heckman

Like most groups whose appeal is focused toward young audiences, the Jackson 5 provide as much theatre as they do music. At Madison Square Garden Friday night, the ushers found it difficult to keep the young soul singers’ program from turning into a mixed media event for audience and performers.

Young as they are – and none is out of his teens yet, the Jackson 5 are consummately professional entertainers. They dance, joke, sing, play instrumental backing for themselves (except for a drummer) and produce some superbly voiced five part vocal harmonies.

But despite the emphasis placed upon the Jackson five as a group of talented brothers – and they are – the real standout of the show was the lead singer, and the youngest member of the group, Michael Jackson.

In a field that includes such stalwarts as James Brown, Isaac Hayes and Wilson Pickett, Michael Jackson has to be considered one of the legitimate heirs to major stardom. Watching him move about the stage with the poise of an old pro, listening to his appealing vocals on “I’ll Be There” and “Got To Be There,” one becomes vividly aware of observing a performer who could well be a dominant force in the entertainment business for the next 40 years.

At the moment, the balance is just right. Michael Jackson is a perfect lead singer; his brothers back and fill for him, and provide a few solo spots of their own. In combination, the Jackson 5 offers something more than one can usually expect from music aimed at very youthful audiences – talent, professionalism and personal magnetism.

©1972: The New York Times

9 thoughts on “Here, There & Everywhere: Michael Jackson and the Jackson 5 (From the Archives)

  1. I love michael jackson he is so cool even if he is dead he is always going to be in my haert by the way i love his songs my favorit one is beat and billy jean and your not alone i almost cried even thowe i am a kid and i think that is very sweet that you help every body i dont care what the prese tink about you i belive in you MJ go fight for the world i wish you were still alive i belive your a hero i wish for your kids and hope thay have a grat life to i think paris and prince are going to be just like you. PS.live in peace michael jackson love you and your familey!!!xoxo

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  2. did ya have to go?
    of course, we bring back the fashion from da 80`s.
    we bring back the music from the 80s
    but then u die.
    rite when we need u.

    Like

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