Jermaine Jackson - Going His Own Way 1984 Feb 1, 2006 18:52:22 GMT -5
Post by HitsvilleSoul on Feb 1, 2006 18:52:22 GMT -5
Jermaine is the expert on going his own way
August 17, 1984
BY GARY GRAFF
Free Press Staff Writer
As far as Jermaine Jackson is concerned, there's no question that those catching the "Victory" tour are seeing the finale of the Jacksons as a live act.
"We're just back for this tour," Jackson said in a telephone interview. "This will be the last one. You have a lot of agents, corporations, personalities, individuals ...there's the Jacksons, there's Michael Jackson, there's Jermaine Jackson. It just takes up a lot of time."
In other words, Jacksons fans, the family operation has stretched out of its britches, grown from a cute, mega-talented youth act into a conglomerate of artists that has almost too much at stake individually to drop everything for the rigors of recording and touring together.
IF YOU WANT to take the growth metaphor further, the 29-year- old Jermaine is willing to oblige.
"Five seeds have been planted since 1969, and they've all had a lot of time to grow," he says. "You have to be able to let go, move on. There are other branches on the tree now, and you have to follow them. There are other things we're interested in; we have to broaden our scope."
And Jermaine is still the family expert when it comes to branching out. During the past year, for instance, he ended a 14-year affiliation with Motown to sign with Arista Records, rejoined his brothers, recorded his best solo effort yet, charged into massive promotional tours of Europe, appeared in a soap opera and worked on a video with sexpot Pia Zadora and continued what may be his main love, searching for new talent.
Of course, Jermaine's seed was planted with the rest of his family, back in Gary, Ind., where father Joe turned his house full of athletically inclined boys into the well-chronicled Jackson 5. Jermaine was the second Jackson brother to pick up an instrument, playing bass to accompany Tito's guitar.
AND WHILE Michael was still a cute little kid, Jermaine was the group's first sex symbol, a beacon of availability with his large, brown eyes and a soulful, more mature singing voice.
Those days are worth noting and remembering, according to Jermaine, but they're inapplicable nowadays. As he said earlier this year, "When I look back on the Jackson 5 now, it seems like other kids. We're older and different people."
Jermaine started becoming older people in 1975, when he chose to leave the band, then bound for Epic Records, to stay with Motown and founder Berry Gordy Jr., his father-in-law. His commercial success there was uneven, with his first six solo albums showcasing more growing pains than most musicians would care to show.
In 1979, Stevie Wonder was called in to help on "Let's Get Serious" and "I Like Your Style," and Wonder's songwriting and production assistance made them Jermaine's most palatable records up to that point. And he apparently learned well from Wonder, turning 1982's "Let Me Tickle Your Fancy" into his biggest seller.
During those years, he and his wife, Hazel, also recruited acts for the
Motown stable. He pulled Stephanie Mills out of the Broadway production of "The Wiz," and when he met Switch in an elevator at Motown's L.A. offices, he found the group a place to stay and helped them rehearse before setting up a showcase where Gordy signed them.
AND WHEN he discovered the DeBarge family singing in Detroit, he negotiated them out of a contract with a small gospel label and into a deal with Motown.
"I'm not here to talk about Motown, but you've got to give credit where it's due," Jermaine explained. "My last 15 years have been Motown. They laid the foundation so strong, it made the Jackson 5 pyramid so strong. They laid the foundation for Michael's success; they put him in 'The Wiz,' taught him a lot.
"It was the same with me," he added. "Berry and I had a father-child relationship from day one. I was one of his students. He taught me quite a bit and did a great job of it.
"I was worried about whether it was the right move for me to leave Motown. My whole reason was I wanted to be independent, totally on my own, see what the real world was like. I sat down with my father-in-law and we did it; he gave me leave to go. I understand what it meant to him, but the most important thing is that you can't be tied to anyone."
A FEW HEARINGS of "Jermaine Jackson," his Arista debut, prove that the move was no mistake. Musically, it's his strongest album so far -- and stronger than the Jacksons' new "Victory" album -- embracing new technology without sacrificing his soul roots.
"I'm very thrilled with the way the album's come out and the response of the people," he said. "It's had a tremendous jump in the Billboard charts, which I've never had before."
He's certainly taking advantage of the goodwill. Before the Victory tour he paid two promotional visits to Europe, and he's been doing as many major media interviews as Arista can line up for him. As one Arista spokeswoman says: "The schedule this guy is on is beyond my comprehension. There's a part of him that's a businessman, though. He knows why he's doing all this."
And Jermaine has more planned. He's carrying a miniature 16- track mixing board with him during the tour for his own recording, and he has a video camera to shoot any new acts he runs into on the road.
THAT NEW TALENT may end up on the Jacksons' label, a project that's been incorporated under the name TGQ (for Technical Genuine Quality) for the past two years. From Jermaine's description, it'll be a Motown-type operation, with the company training acts in songwriting and performing.
In addition to the brothers' film plans (Jermaine has acting and producing ambitions), that should be enough to keep everyone busy -- perhaps too busy to consider working together as the Jacksons again, but certainly enough to keep the family close.
"We're having some special times now," Jermaine said. "We don't talk a lot to the press -- there are press people outside our homes all the time -- so some create what they think people want to hear. It's something you really can't control.
"But, positive or negative, we're on the people's lips. The time to worry is when they stop talking about you."