Like most African-American teenage girls, my bedroom walls were plastered with pictures of the Sylvers (does anybody remember them?) and the Jackson 5. My mother used to have a fit when I hung them up with massive piles of tape. “You’re going to peel the paint off the walls,” she yelled.
So …I used less tape on the next picture.
Every morning before I left the house for school, I would say good-bye and blow kisses to the fifty or so pictures and posters I had collected from magazines such as Right On! Ebony, and any teen magazine that featured the Jackson 5. I also had a special kiss on the lips for Marlon. Hey, I was a teenager in love!
My girlfriends and I used to have pajama parties and divide the brothers amongst ourselves. One girlfriend loved Jermaine, and another was crazy about Tito. Marlon was and is, my favorite Jackson.
But we all loved Michael.
I’ll always remember my first J5 concert at Madison Square Garden in the early ‘70s. Dressed to the nines in hot pants and strappy sandals that tied around the legs (Amazingly, they’re popular again. If only I’d kept mine, um …), my friends and I strutted in—with the other ten thousand teenagers—like we owned the place.
I loved my parents for taking five screaming girls to a J5 concert—not once, but twice. We cried and sang along with each song. When Michael yelled out to the audience, “Just look over your shoulder, honey…I’ll be there…” we went ballistic!
I could go on about how much Michael Jackson and his brothers influenced me growing up. I could also go on about how Michael’s solo career kept me dancing and singing along with my three daughters, who are also big MJ fans.
But I won’t.
Instead, I’ll pop “Butterfly” and “Wanna be Startin’ Something” into my car CD and jam on the way home. When I get there, I’ll raise a glass of whatever, and play every Jackson 5 song starting with “I Want You Back” on the “Diana Ross presents: The Jackson 5” cd.
It’s forty years of music, so my tribute will definitely last all weekend. And possibly, beyond.
MJ: Gone too soon.