Without Michael, the Jacksons prepare to tour
BURBANK, California - The Associated Press
In this Dec. 9, 2009 file photo, from left, brothers Jackie Jackson, Tito Jackson, Jermaine Jackson and Marlon Jackson pose for a portrait in Beverly Hills, Calif. AP photoThe Jackson brothers strut to a row of four microphones, thrusting their pelvises, before launching into "Can’t Let Her Get Away," a song their superstar sibling Michael released on his "Dangerous" album. If they had afros and matching powder blue suits, it might feel like 1977 again, when they were known as the Jackson 5.
Nearly three years since Michael died while preparing for his comeback tour, four of his brothers - Marlon, Jermaine, Tito and Jackie - are set for their own return to the stage as The Jacksons. It hasn’t been easy.
"The brothers don’t know this, but I’ve broken down several times and cried during rehearsals," said Jermaine during a recent rehearsal break. "I’m so used to Michael being on the right and then Marlon, Jackie, on and on. It’s just something we never get used to."
The brothers are launching their "Unity" tour Wednesday, five days ahead of the third anniversary of Michael’s death from an overdose of the anesthetic propofol on June 25, 2009.
"For me, this cycle that comes around every year - this day, that day - that doesn’t affect me because it affects me every day," said Marlon. "When that day comes around, it’s the same. You learn to live with it. I still wake up sometimes and go, ’Jeez. I can’t believe my brother’s not here.’"
Following Michael’s death, the four brothers appeared in the A&E reality series "The Jacksons: A Family Dynasty," which chronicled their loss and attempt to stage a comeback.
Jermaine said the brothers have wanted to reunite on their own for years, but after Michael’s passing, they needed time to heal - and the tour is another step.
Jermaine said the group plans to pay tribute to Michael during their shows with a medley that will conclude with the tune "Gone Too Soon."
"There’s certain songs that make you feel the sorrow," said Tito. "Then again, there are other songs that bring so much joy and happiness, such as ’ABC’ and ’I Want You Back’ and the up-tempo stuff like ’This Place Hotel.’ I just imagine how he used to walk and spin and do all these things. You can feel his presence here."
The Jacksons’ tour kicks off in Ontario, Canada, and is scheduled to end July 29 in Snoqualmie, Washington. Other stops include Detroit’s Fox Theatre, Los Angeles’ Greek Theatre and the Harlem’s sold-out Apollo Theatre, where the Jackson 5 won an amateur night in 1969 before rocketing to fame.
Michael’s superstardom was unrivaled, and his brothers couldn’t capture similar acclaim or sales with their solo projects or last studio album, 1989’s mostly Michael-less "2300 Jackson Street," but their legacy as a group has remained unchanged.
The Jackson 5 were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997.
While various combinations of the brothers have reunited to perform over the years, including at last year’s "Michael Forever" tribute concert in Wales, "Unity" will mark the first time the brothers have toured together since their final "Victory" outing in 1984.
"We have a certain magic," said Jackie. "Once we get out here and run it down a couple times, it comes back to you. I’m not (moving) like I used to, but we still got it."
The brothers’ ages now range from 55 to 61.
Gary Bongiovanni, editor-in-chief of concert industry trade publication Pollstar, doesn’t believe The Jacksons will achieve their earlier success with their smaller endeavor.
"The Jacksons were really all about Michael," said Bongiovanni. "
The brothers are undaunted, hoping to release an album of new music then go back out on tour.
"It’s like riding a bike," said Marlon. "You never forget, but you do need to tweak a few things."