Before Gary gave us the Jackson 5, neighboring Chicago was home to The Five Stairsteps (AKA “The First Family of Soul”):
That somewhat forgotten group (many think they were one hit wonders who only crooned “Ooh, Ooh Child”, but they had been at the top of the soul charts for about four years prior) combined the best harmonious elements of Smokey Robinson (vocally) and Curtis Mayfield (he was responsible for their best arrangements). They surely helped pave the way for the J-5, and given that the Jackson boys played Chicago often, I wouldn’t be surprised if they ever shared the same billing. A major difference between the Five Stairsteps and the J-5 was the presence of Burke sister Aloha in the former group. Their best work included “Behind Curtains”, “(It’s a) World Of Fantasy”, “You’ve Waited Too Long”, “Baby Make Me Feel So Good”, “Come Back”, and the Smokey & The Miracles-esque “Danger, She’s a Stranger”.
A decade earlier, Frankie Lymon and The Teenagers set the stage- acrobatic in their choreography and high altitude in the falsetto of their cherubic lead singer. They were the greatest juvenile group of color before the days of the J-5. Dig the snazzy steps:
Unlike the Gary bunch, The Teenagers boasted a bass (Sherman Garnes). The obvious common denominator was Frankie, who presaged Michael as a pixieish little Negro with a boatload of talent.
The most exemplary songs by Frankie and The Teenagers were “ABC’s of Love”, “I Want You To Be My Girl”, “Baby, Baby” “I’m Not a Juvenile Delinquent”, and “Goody, Goody”.
Anyone remember the fact that Frankie had a brother in the biz?
When Michael Jackson was a little boy in Gary watching dance shows on t.v., or even at a teen concert he may have participated in as part of an opening act, how much you wanna bet he peeped these guys from Chitown?