On March 13, 1976, The Jackson 5 completed their move from Motown to Epic Records and began recording under their new name, The Jacksons.
You know the story. Gary, Indiana brothers Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, Marlon and Michael formed The Jackson 5 in 1965 under the direction of their father, Joe Jackson. After several years of performing in talent shows and clubs while signed to Steeltown Records, they famously caught the eye of Motown, and had a pretty iconic audition.
Jackson 5 Audition for Motown Records – July 23, 1968
Motown founder Berry Gordy signed them in 1968 and they were instant superstars, with the successive hits “I Want You Back”, “ABC”, “The Love You Save”, and “I’ll Be There.”
Jackson 5 – I Want You Back
But by 1975, Papa Joe refused to have The Jackson 5 record any more music for Motown. The brothers wanted more creative control than Gordy wanted to give, and the group learned that they were only getting 2.8% of royalties from the label. Jermaine, who was married to Gordy’s daughter Hazel Gordy at the time, felt conflicted about leaving the label that had launched their career (and was run by his father-in-law). He decided not to go with his brothers, despite forceful pressure from his father.
Jermaine Jackson Explains Splitting With his Brothers
With Jermaine deciding to stay with Motown, Papa Joe replaced him with his youngest son Randy and announced their exit from Motown at a press conference at the Rainbow Grill in Manhattan. Joe began shopping the group at other labels and eventually drew interest from Epic Records, who offered the group a royalty rate of 20% per record.
Although they were still under contract with Motown until March 1976, the group signed with Epic in June 1975. Motown sued them for breach of contract but allowed the group to continue recording for Epic, as long as they did so under a different name, since Motown owned the name Jackson 5.
So on March 13, 1975, the Jackson 5 officially became The Jacksons. Their self-titled Epic Records debut came in November of the following year, featuring the Gamble & Huff written and produced hits “Enjoy Yourself” and “Show You the Way to Go.”
The Jacksons released the follow-up album “Goin’ Places,” which ended up going nowhere. After renewing their Epic contract and finally given full creative control, The Jacksons released the album “Destiny” in 1978. It features what would become their biggest-selling Epic single, “Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground),” written by Michael and Randy.
The follow-up to platinum-seller “Destiny,” 1980’s “Triumph,” also sold a million copies, spawning the hits “Lovely One” and “Can You Feel It.”
Meanwhile, Michael was technically still a member of The Jacksons when he recorded his solo albums “Off the Wall” (1979) and “Thriller” (1982), which became the best selling album of all time. The brothers reunited for the “Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever” TV special, where Michael performed his “Thriller’ single “Billie Jean,” debuted his bedazzled glove and moonwalk, and knocked the entire world off its axis.
The Jackson 5/The Jacksons/Michael Jackson “Motown 25”
The success of that televised Jacksons reunion led to 1984’s “Victory,” their sixth album and the last they would all record together.
The Jacksons – Torture (From the album “Victory”)