"We know he's missing, but we try to fill in for him."
In March the four surviving members of the Jackson 5 will perform together in London for the first time in almost 40 years. Jermaine Jackson gave Charles Thomson his only UK interview ahead of the gig, to talk about how the reunion had helped him cope with brother Michael's death.
Weds 23rd Jan 2013 , Yellow Advertiser
WHEN I call Jermaine Jackson at his hotel in France he answers the phone with a whisper. He has been rehearsing for some solo concerts in Europe, and has lost his voice.
“I had to see a doctor today,” he says. “I’m not supposed to talk loud.”
In March, all four surviving members of the Jackson 5 will perform in London for the first time in almost four decades. The concert, at the Hammersmith Apollo, is part of the brothers’ Unity Tour, which garnered rave reviews last year in the US. It will visit London as part of a two-month, 26-concert journey across Europe and Australia.
Michael Jackson and his brothers last played London in 1979 on their Destiny Tour, performing four consecutive nights at the Rainbow Theatre in Finsbury Park. Jermaine had left the group by that time, having refused to leave Motown out of loyalty to Berry Gordy, and been replaced by younger brother Randy.
Jermaine says he understands that some people will wonder how they could possibly compensate for Michael's absence.
“We know he’s missing,” he tells me. “But we try to fill in for him. We all sing. We all dance. Marlon was always an incredible dancer. We even perform some of his music.”
In fact, Michael will be central to the show.
“We do a tribute to him with videos on the big screen,” he explains. “Playing the music has been healing as well. So we’re paying tribute to him and it’s also helping us to deal with his passing.”
In light of Michael’s subsequent global superstardom, it is easy to forget how successful the Jackson brothers were as a group. As Jermaine puts it, “The Jackson 5 was the foundation for everything that came after.”
The brothers were the first group to ever have their first four singles hit number one.
Breaking colour barriers, they were given their own cartoon series and were mobbed by fans in every country they visited. Their European Tour in 1972 broke The Beatles’ attendance records and their 1984 Victory Tour became the highest grossing tour in US history.
Jermaine's memories of playing in the capital stretch all the way back to the Jackson 5 tours in the early 1970s.
“London has a lot of great memories for me from those days,” he laughs. “We would have to run everywhere because of the fans. We never got caught back then – but we’re older now.”
He is also keenly aware of European audiences’ knowledge and passion for Motown.
“When we come to Europe they wanna hear everything,” he giggles. “We’ve added extra songs in especially.”
After the tour the brothers are planning an album, their first since 1989.
“We’re working with various producers,” says Jermaine. “We’re writing a lot of it ourselves. It’s dance music, all different tempos. We like to tell good stories.”
He expects the album to be completed by late summer. After that, perhaps another tour.
“We want to put the record out and see what it does and go off the momentum of that,” he says.
But in the meantime, he promises that London fans can look forward to a dynamic concert.
“You’re gonna see 40 years of music,” he says. “It’s high energy. The band is incredible. We just want to keep the legacy alive and play with integrity. We’re going to do it all.”
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