Welcome to the Billboard Chart Beat Podcast, where each week co-hosts Gary Trust and Trevor Anderson, from the Billboard charts department, discuss why what’s on the charts … is on the charts, while also looking at current chart action in a historical context for even greater insights.
In the last podcast of 2017, we welcome two special guests: Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Jackie Jackson of The Jacksons and Fred Bronson, longtime Billboard writer (including of the Chart Beat column) and author of the new book, The Jacksons: Legacy.
In the retrospective, timed to the 50th anniversary of the group’s origins, Jackie, Marlon and Tito Jackson and many others share memories spanning the act’s iconic career, via exclusive interviews and photos, as they recall their late ’60s chart-topping start on Motown, ’70s shift to Epic, continued commercial success in the ’80s and recent tour of the U.K. that reinforced their lasting elite status.
Among candid moments from Jackie on the podcast:
On how Quaker Oats are (at least partly) responsible for the launch of Michael‘s career, before he was officially in the Jackson 5: “Michael would grab Quaker oatmeal boxes and play them like bongos while we were doing our set. He started doing a James Brown-type dance, him and Marlon both. We said, ‘Wait a minute, I think we got something here.’ So, we put him in the group. And people just loved him.”
On their influence among acts that have followed: “Guns N’ Roses‘ guitar player Slash told me, ‘I want you to know the reason I’m playing guitar is because of Jermaine.’ And, all the boy bands, N*Sync, One Direction, they’ve all told me they’re in the business because of us. I love hearing that, that they enjoy the music.”
On watching The Jacksons’ chart success: “We still have some of the Billboards today. It was amazing to see your record go No. 1 because we were always following the charts, looking at other artists going No. 1. That was our goal in life, to have a No. 1 record.”
On Janet‘s breakout as a superstar in the ’80s: “She learned from us, what to do, what not to do. We knew she had it in her. We just wondered when it was going to break. And it did.”
And, in an especially touching moment, on how he remembers Michael today: “I’m in Las Vegas. Every time I go on the Strip, this big bus always comes up beside me, with a big picture of Michael plastered all over it, his face. He’s there saying, ‘Jackie, I see you.’ I see it every time. It’s the best. He wants me to see him.”
Ultimately, Jackson says, “We’ve tried to make people happy and smile. That’s we tried to do. We couldn’t have done it without the fans.”
Enjoy the entire latest Chart Beat Podcast and check back for more upcoming episodes with artists, label executives, radio programmers and personalities, songwriters, producers and more. And, to receive every episode automatically in your inbox, subscribe to (and rate) the Billboard Chart Beat Podcast on iTunes!