Its hard to believe but 41 years ago today The Jackson 5 performed for their second time on the Ed Sullivan Show. Wearing their wildly colorful signature outfits, The Jackson 5 took to the stage on May 10, 1970 and sang two of their hits, “I Want You Back” and “ABC”. Led by a young and charismatic 10-year-old Michael Jackson, the crowd went wild for the high-energy performance. They closed that night with “The Love You Save,” then Ed Sullivan took a few moments to promote their summer tour and congratulate them. The Jackson 5 had been signed a year ago by Motown’s Berry Gordy and “Jacksonmania” was in full swing.
Less than a year earlier, on December 14, 1969, The Jackson 5 made their first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show . They debuted with Sly and the Family Stone’s “Stand”. Michael Jackson, wearing a large purple hat, amazed the audience with his extraordinary vocal range as he sang a rendition of Smokey Robinson’s “Who’s Loving You.” The third song of the set was The Jackson 5’s 1st hit single “I Want You Back.” There was little question Michael Jackson was going to be a huge star. His stunning vocals, amazing dancing and stage confidence was already apparent at his young age.
Later in the show, Ed Sullivan called out to Diana Ross in the audience and introduced her as the one who discovered the Jackson 5, even though it was actually Gladys Knight who introduced them to Berry Gordy. The crowd was screaming and cheering wildly. Ed was amazed by Michael’s talent and stated, “The little fella in front is incredible.”
The Jackson 5 on The Ed Sullivan Show was a pivotal point in starting their careers and gaining widespread recognition and exposure, making them a household name and DJ favorite. Thanks to the marketing by Berry Gordy at Motown, The Jackson 5 were a cross-over band that widely appealed to many different audiences as well, which in turn elevated their popularity to another level. A frenzy of media coverage promoted the group non-stop as they continued to captivate and mesmerize audiences until Michael embarked on his legendary solo career.