It took three years longer than expected to mount, but The Jacksons' "Unity Tour" is finally on the boards.
"We were supposed to do it before the time of my brother's passing. We decided (after a period of mourning) to go out and do it together. We had to do it for the fans around the world," said Jackie Jackson during a phone call from Manhattan. The touring Jacksons include Jackie and the other surviving members of The Jackson 5 - Tito, Marlon and Jermaine.
Coincidentally, Jackson, at 61, the oldest of the beloved musical siblings, called on the morning of the third anniversary of Michael Jackson's accidental drug-overdose death.
The brothers' 15 early-summer dates mark the first time they have been on the road since 1984's "Victory Tour." That was a football-stadium-filling spectacle that included Michael, who was then at the peak of his world domination, thanks to his landmark album, "Thriller," which had been released the previous year.
Once the Jacksons had determined an appropriate time had passed since their brother's shocking death, they collectively dipped a toe in the water in 2011, performing one-offs in Japan and Wales, where they were part of a multi-act bill.
"We said, 'This feels great. Let's go do this,'" recalled Jackson. "We had two sold-out shows in Japan, like 14,000 (people) each show. And in Wales we had 55,000.
"The minute the brothers came together, it felt like old times. It really did. It felt good onstage, and Michael's spirit was in the house every minute. We felt, 'We can do this. Let's do it.' "
Those experiences were the push the four brothers needed to make their reunion a little more official. Logic dictated a full-blown tour was in order. Jackie, who said he, as the oldest of the Jackson children, was the "second dad" during the Jackson 5 days, admitted the troupe found rough going when it came time to create the set list.
"The hardest part of putting this show together was (choosing) the songs," he offered. "We have so many songs. How we gonna do this? That's the hardest part, putting all these songs together in 90 minutes. There's some medleys going on. We're trying to satisfy everybody."
"Everybody" appears to include Jermaine. According to a Billboard.com article, he is the only one who takes a solo turn (four songs). The website reported the group's recent gig at Detroit's Fox Theater also included 20 full-length numbers - hits and less-familiar tunes - plus a medley of Jackson 5 signatures ("I Want You Back," "ABC," "The Love You Save," "Never Can Say Goodbye," "All I Do Is Think of You," and "I'll Be There"). Because Michael took the lead vocals on the Jackson 5 recordings, the brothers were called upon to decide who would sing what. They did so in that most democratic of ways: a lottery.
"We just put some numbers in the hat and shook them around," Jackson said with a chuckle. "And (we) just started to reach in and grab them. We are sharing (vocals) here and there. It's wonderful."
Jackson promised that not only are the old songs part of the show, but the old dance steps are as well. "In the past it was Marlon, Michael and myself, we did all the choreography for all of our shows," he said. "Today, it's pretty much the moves we did long ago, with a couple of twists. Pretty much the same thing."
The current string of concerts is a prologue to much more activity The Jacksons hope is on the horizon. Jackie talked of going into the recording studio after the tour, then going out again, this time on a more grand scale - geographically and production-wise. He said the unit would tour internationally, specifically name-checking Japan. And last week, he told E! Online that when The Jacksons head back out on the road, they could conceivably be accompanied by a hologram of the late King of Pop.
As enthusiastic and optimistic as The Jacksons may be these days, Jackie Jackson admitted that neither technology nor he and his siblings can ever replace Michael.
"He is sorely missed onstage," he said. "He was a powerhouse onstage. Michael Jackson is Michael Jackson. No one can take his place or emulate him in any way, shape or form.
"We can do the best we can do, and the fans in the audience are having a great time singing and dancing to the songs in their seats. That's all we want to do, see them be happy like that and enjoying the concert, and that's what's going on right now."
Most Popular Stories
- SEO Traffic Lab Celebrate Wins at Digital Marketing Event 'Internet World 2013' in London
- Social Media Initiatives Should Follow Customers' Lead
- Apple CEO: Offshore Units Not a 'Tax Gimmick'
- U.S. Senate Accuses Apple of Large-scale Tax Avoidance
- UTEP Water Recycling Project Wins Venture Titles
- Marketo Makes a Mint in IPO: Stock Shoots Up More than 50 Percent
- Bieber Booed at Billboard Awards
- Crude Oil Up, Gasoline Down
- Austin Startup Compare Metrics Raises $3.5 Million for Expansion
- Why So Many Top 'Car Guys' Are Actually Women