Book review: ‘The Jacksons: Legacy’ by The Jacksons with Fred Bronson
With over 1000 pictures contained within, this coffee table book presents the Royal Family of Pop in all their glory
To coincide with the 50th anniversary of Big Boy, The Jackson 5’s debut single, comes this exhaustive pictorial history from the family archives. Over its 320 pages The Jacksons: Legacy provides a unique insight into the band behind perfect pop moments such as ABC and I Want You Back, as well as a glimpse into the life of the King of Pop himself. Adding to the visuals are written contributions from Jackie, Tito and Marlon plus anecdotes and quotations from close friends and family.
This is ideal coffee table fodder. A quick flick through will reveal the band’s incredible wardrobe, including the famous outfit Michael wore on the Ed Sullivan show in December 1969, artwork from albums and singles released all around the world, magazine covers and cartoons of the group. As a cultural study it’s incredible to see their reach and commercial awareness, whether gracing cereal packets or endorsing musical instruments.
Most appealing of all though are the moments of innocence that have been captured, such as the brothers catching up on some sleep during a tour of the UK in 1972, hanging out with Bob Marley in Jamaica in 1975 and Michael playing with a yoyo backstage in 1984.
For those interested in the band’s songwriting (as of course, we are) the written extracts document their formation as a group and their successful talent show appearances before moving onto the creation of tracks such The Love You Save and I Want You Back. The latter was created by legendary Motown writing team The Corporation who originally intended it to be called I Wanna Be Free.
Moving to Epic Records in 1975, The Jacksons would see an increased share of royalties and a bigger hand in the writing of their songs, collaborating with the writers/producers Gamble and Huff. In one passage, the label’s vice president of A&R, Bobby Colomby recalls how he took inspiration from Bohemian Rhapsody when arranging the harmonies on Blame It On The Boogie and similar titbits are scattered throughout.
As with any project covering the life of Michael Jackson it’s hard not to feel some sadness and regret. That the smiling face of the supremely talented Michael, seen running along a Malibu beach with his brothers on the book’s cover, came to such a tragic end with a permanently tainted reputation will be impossible for some to overlook. Though his death his touched upon in the epilogue, the life of the megastar continues to beg more questions than answers.
That said, The Jacksons: Legacy offers a glimpse both behind and in front of the curtain. Thrust into the limelight from such a tender age, the beloved brothers gave the world their childhood years and their talent and it’s fascinating to see it all laid out here.
The Jacksons: Legacy is out now, published by Thames & Hudson, priced £25. Find out more at: thamesandhudson.com