The Jacksons head north after Glastonbury Festival
PUBLISHED: 18:12 26 June 2017 | UPDATED: 18:12 26 June 2017
James Watkins Photography
Ben Hanson meets Jermaine Jackson as this iconic family prepare for an appearance at Haydock
Musical dynasties don’t come much bigger than The Jacksons. The lion’s share of the limelight may have coalesced around Michael in his solo years, but years before Bad, five brothers broke out of Gary, Indiana, and went on to sell 200 million records.
Five decades on, the remaining members of The Jackson 5, now performing as The Jacksons, are touring again. Although each of them has flirted with different avenues of success – Marlon ran a real estate empire, and Jermaine is big on the celebrity circuit – none, it seems, could resist the call of the stage for long.
‘Music is what pulls us together,’ Jermaine tells me. ‘Our dad used to tell us to play our instruments, sing, dance, and smile while we were doing it, and we’re still the same way today. It’s great to be up on stage performing with my brothers, Tito, Marlon and Jackie, sweating, dancing, and still having that zest and that excitement after all these years.’
As part of their 50th anniversary celebrations, The Jacksons will perform an open-air concert to thousands of fans on 7th July, at Haydock Park Racecourse. But Jermaine is keen to point out that space and crowd size are always a distant second to soul.
‘It doesn’t matter if it’s a big venue or a small venue, your performance is measured by what you do,’ he says. ‘You’ll see Marlon dancing his heart out and Tito doing his thing, because we were brought up to give our all every time we hit the stage.’
Given his love for live performance, I’m keen to see what Jermaine thinks of today’s online, on-demand consumption model.
‘Everything in the studio can be manufactured: they can take a person who sings out of key and put him in key. But it’s important for fans to be able to see musicians really perform. YouTube and the like have helped if you have real talent, but they’ve also promoted a lot of stuff that’s not really any good. We didn’t have Auto-Tune when we started, so now you have a new generation appreciating The Jackson 5 for that raw talent.’
While Jermaine and his brothers enjoy performing their own hits – radio mainstays like ABC, I Want You Back, and I’ll Be There – this reunion tour is also a chance for them to honour Michael’s legacy.
‘I love performing Michael’s songs because they’re very intricate, but at the same time everyone else in this business, everywhere in the world, is trying to play his music, and we don’t want to shy away from that,’ Jermaine tells me. ‘It’s frustrating because the public tries to separate us from Michael, which is crazy. We had family before success. So we want to pay tribute to him by performing songs like Gone Too Soon because, although the world lost a superstar, we lost a brother.’
If that sounds like a very public kind of catharsis, it is. ‘Getting on stage and performing is like healing for us, and even with the loss of Michael it’s still all about the music’ Jermaine says. ‘We’ve been saying for a while that The Jacksons need to sit down and record some hot new music, and I think you’ll see us do that soon. I have one of those brains that works in a lot of different directions, but it always comes back to sitting down at a piano with a melody or an idea, because that’s what started all of this. At the end of the day there’s nothing like a great song, and we gravitate towards them because they make us feel good.’
The Jacksons will perform on 7th July at Haydock Park Racecourse, as part of the Jockey Club Live summer season. Tickets include a six-race card during the daytime. For more about The Jacksons’ UK summer tour, visit www.thejacksons.live