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When he first took the stage as a member of the Jackson 5 in Gary, Ind. in 1964, young Michael was in the background. He played the tambourine and his big brothers played the music. That didn’t last long.

When he first took the stage as a member of the Jackson 5 in Gary, Ind. in 1964, young Michael was in the background. He played the tambourine and his big brothers played the music. That didn’t last long.

Very soon the young Michael moved to the front, because of his stage presence, his dancing moves and his voice, a squeaky child’s voice that somehow was able to deliver emotion like an adult. His father, Joe, recognized that here was a talent that had star power, and his family singing group could become something really big.

One of his first big performances was with his brothers here in Chicago at the Regal Theatre, as an opening act for some established Motown stars. That was how he got noticed by Motown executives and was brought to the attention of Motown founder Berry Gordy.

The Jackson 5 became one of the most successful groups of all time, recording numerous number one hits and becoming the biggest group (among many big groups) in the Motown stable.

Through it all, Jackson kept growing as a performer, eventually outgrowing his brothers and Motown.

While some would say that Jackson does not deserve all of the media coverage that is being afforded him, obviously the response from the public belies that. The testimonials that are being offered up are heartfelt and show just how much of an impact he has had on society. He was the biggest star in the world, the King of Pop, the King of Rock, the King of R&B. His music was the soundtrack for several generations, who grew older along with him, with grandmothers singing along to "I Want You Back," mothers living "Off The Wall" and children mimicking the moves from "Smooth Criminal."

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