The Jackson 5 auditioned for Motown Records executives Detroit today (July 23, 1968).
The group performed James Brown’s hit song “I Got the Feelin’.” Berry Gordy, the label’s founder, was not present during the live audition.
Gordy signed The Jackson 5 after watching a videotaped version of the performance. Initially, Berry Gordy was reluctant to sign the group, but his insecurities disappeared when he saw the boys perform.
Upon signing the Jackson 5, Gordy promised: “Your first record will be number one, your second record will be a number one, and so will your third record. Three number one records in a row. You’ll hit the charts just as Diana Ross and The Supremes did.”
Not long after the signing of the Jackson 5, Gordy moved the Jackson 5 and their father to California, where he and Suzanne de Passe began the process of grooming them as the label’s next big act, while the rest of the family remained in Gary, Indiana.
As the boys began to tour and enter into the mainstream music industry, many people on the Motown marketing team changed facts about the group’s history.
Some facts claimed the boys’ ages (most notably Michael’s) were younger than they actually are.
Some press releases also listed band musicians Johnny Jackson and Ronnie Rancifer as cousins of The Jacksons.
Marketing agents at Motown have been documented stating that Diana Ross was credited with “discovering the Jackson 5” as a way to attach the group to an established star. In reality, the real credit goes to fellow Motown artists Bobby Taylor (who would go on to produce most of their first album) and Gladys Knight (who was impressed with them after seeing them perform on amateur night at the Apollo and The Regal in Chicago).