Standing L-R: Tito Jackson, Randy Jackson, Michael Jackson, Marlon Jackson, Jackie Jackson. Seated L-R: Joe Jackson, Leon Huff, Kenneth Gamble. Photo taken in 1976 in Mr. Gamble’s office at Philadelphia International Records.
WIKIPEDIA: In 1975, Joseph negotiated a new recording contract with CBS Records, who offered a royalty rate of 20% per record, compared to Motown’s standard 2.8%; and would allow the Jackson brothers to write and produce their own records and play their own instruments. After unsuccessfully attempting to talk the group into staying on the label, Motown sued for breach of contract. Although Motown eventually let the group go, The Jackson 5 were forced to change their name to The Jacksons, because Motown retained the “Jackson 5” trademark during the settlement of the lawsuit. The Jacksons also replaced Jermaine with the youngest Jackson brother, fourteen year old Randy, since Jermaine chose to stay with Motown and his father-in-law Berry Gordy (In 1973, Jermaine married Gordy’s daughter Hazel). Randy had been an unofficial member of The Jackson 5 since 1972, playing congas onstage as part of their live act.
After losing The Jacksons, Motown would not have another success of their caliber for the duration of Berry Gordy’s ownership of the label. Gordy often said of The Jackson 5 that they were, coming after the label’s most famous acts, “the last big stars to come rolling off the [Motown] assembly line.” In summer 1976, CBS television signed the Jackson family (including Michael, Marlon, Tito, Jackie, Randy, Rebbie, LaToya, and Janet) to appear in their own variety show, to compete with ABC‘s Donny & Marie. The Jacksons debuted on June 16, 1976, and ran on CBS until its cancellation the following March. The show was the first variety show hosted by an African American family.
As part of CBS’s Philadelphia International Records division, and later moving over to Epic Records, The Jacksons continued releasing popular singles such as “Enjoy Yourself” (1976), produced by Philadelphia International’s Kenneth Gamble & Leon Huff. After two LPs produced by Gamble and Huff, The Jacksons wanted artistic control, and produced their next LP, 1978’s Destiny, on their own. MORE
EDITOR’S NOTE: According to Randex Communications, PIR plans to release archival video footage of the aforementioned recording sessions. Full press release after the jump.
“SOUND OF PHILADELPHIA” PIONEERS WROTE AND PRODUCED TWO JACKSONS ALBUMS, INCLUDING HIT SINGLE “ENJOY YOURSELF”
PHILADELPHIA — Legendary producers and recent Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees KENNY GAMBLE and LEON HUFF, who brought Philadelphia soul music (“The Sound of Philadelphia”) to “people all over the world” and recorded two albums with the Jacksons, said this morning they are “extremely saddened by the sudden death of our dear friend Michael Jackson.”
“Michael was a great and wonderful artist and performer,” said Gamble and Huff in a joint statement. “ We were privileged and honored to record him and his brothers here at Philadelphia International Records.”
The Jacksons recorded their first two albums after leaving Motown in Philadelphia with Gamble and Huff songs and the Philadelphia International production crew. When the Jacksons came to PIR, they were transitioning away from the brand name of the Jackson Five. In 1976 and 1977, Gamble and Huff produced and co-wrote songs for the albums The Jacksons and Goin’ Places, as part of a double imprint deal with CBS/Epic Records, the Jacksons’ new label. Several hit songs came out of that production effort, including “Enjoy Yourself” and “Let Me Show You the Way to Go.”
During those recording sessions, Michael Jackson paid close attention to the production and songwriting techniques of Gamble and Huff, and learned from those observations to create his own mega-platinum recording career. Jackson also had the opportunity to work at that time with legendary Philadelphia International producers McFadden and Whitehead, Dexter Wansel and Bunny Sigler.
Several songs that Michael and his brothers particularly enjoyed recording with Gamble and Huff were “Man of War,” which has much significance today, as well as the soulful “Blues Away” and romantic “Find Me a Girl”:
Michael Jackson was recently quoted paying tribute to Gamble and Huff in a magazine article. “There was a message in their music that raised a social consciousness and political awareness without offending,” Jackson said. “Theirs is a gift of genius and I love them.”
“We are very honored to have been a part of Michael Jackson’s music and creative career in helping to write and produce his own music with his brothers,” Gamble and Huff continued this morning. “We know his music and legacy will live on for a very long time”.
Gamble & Huff wrote over 3,000 songs with in 35 years, including R&B #1 hits, pop #1 hits, gold and platinum records, Grammy winners and BMI songwriters’ awards honorees. Featured prominently in television programs (“The Apprentice”), films (“The Nutty Professor”) and advertising spots (Verizon, Old Navy, The Gap) for more than 30 years, Gamble and Huff’s songs have entered the musical DNA of contemporary culture. In fact, one of their songs is played on the radio somewhere in the world every 13.5 minutes. With a stable core of artists led by the O’Jays, Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, Billy Paul, MFSB and the Three Degrees, Gamble and Huff co-founded Philadelphia International Records and created monster hits almost from the first day of its inception. Songs they have written and produced together, like “Back Stabbers,” “Love Train,” “For The Love Of Money,” “If You Don’t Know Me By Now,” “Cowboys to Girls,” “Don’t Leave Me This Way,” “Enjoy Yourself,” “I’m Gonna Make You Love Me,” “Only the Strong Survive” and “TSOP,” have received songwriters’ awards from Broadcast Music International (BMI). All told, the Gamble-Huff/PIR music machine” has generated over 100 Gold and Platinum records and over 70 #1 hits.
In 1999, four years after being inducted with Gamble into the National Academy of Songwriters’ Hall of Fame, Huff was honored with his longtime partner by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences with the Trustees Award, for his extensive body of work, both as producer and songwriter, and his contribution to the entire fabric of popular music. Last year, Huff was inducted with Gamble into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Huff also has appeared on American Idol in a show devoted to his music, and with Gamble has been inducted twice into the Dance Music Hall of Fame and the R&B Hall of Fame.
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