J5 Files


40th Anniversary of the Jackson 5's first ever single


In 1968, Joe Jackson approached Gordon Keith, the owner of a local company Steeltown Records, to invite him to watch the Jackson Five (and Johnny) perform. Sceptical, Keith was reluctant to waste his time on a bunch of kids, but nevertheless he agreed to sit in on one of their sessions. He kept his word and, knocked out by what he saw he saw and heard, he immediately offered Jospeh's boys their first recording contract.

A six months contract was signed in November 1967, following which the Jackson Five and Johnny stepped into a recording studio for the first time. Over a period of months, a dozen or more songs were recorded, a mix of originals and cover versions. Steeltown released four of the songs on two singles.

"Big Boy" was released in January 1968 on single (Steeltown 681). The demo was recording circa November 1967. The single was initially hand-sold by Michael and his brothers, at the many gigs they played, and was picked up for national ditribution by Atco, a subsidiary of Atlantic Records, who pressed about 10 000 copies. Sold well locally, it failed to register on any of Billboard's charts.

"Big Boy" was re-issued as a limited edition CD single in the USA, on the Inverted record label, in June 1995.An ex-engineer, who engineered on all the sessions, has confirmed the Jackson 5 recorded eight songs for Steel-Town, only six of which have been released, including:

Big Boy
You've Changed
We Don't Have To Be Over 21 (To Fall In Love)
Jam Session
(B-side of Big Boy)

Two of the six released songs are unconfirmed, but probably:

Some Girls Want Me For Their Lover (aka Michael The Lover)
I Found A Love

The two unreleased Steel-Town recording are confirmed as:

Take My Heart
Jackson Man

All the other 'lost Steel-Town recordings', it's speculated, were actually taped by Shirley Carman, possibly in her own living room. According to Cartman, only one copy of the tape ever existed. Many years after the recordings were made (by which time she had moved to Atlanta), a friend recommended she have the recordings transferred to professional archival tape, to preserve them for historical purposes. This she did, using a local Atlanta compagny - then, just a year or so later, the first of mant compilations of 'lost' recordings surfaced, released by SDEG, a small Atlanta record label.

When she learned of the commercial release of her recordings, Cartman was understanbly angry - more so, because some songs she had written especially for the Jackson 5 (including Lonely Heart), were credited to Gordon Keith (founder and owner of Steel-Town).


from "For The Record" (Cadman/Halstead)