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Can You Remember?  A Look Back at Child Musical Prodigy Michael Jackson

Before Michael Jackson Became the King of Pop, He Was A Fresh-Faced Musical Child Prodigy That Wowed America's Music Elite.

Published January 26, 2017


The world loves child prodigies.  In terms of musical prodigies in the late 20th century, there is one that stands out.   In the summer of 1969, Motown Records began promotoing a precocious little afro-haired kid who fronted the Jackson 5 named Michael Jackson.  Jackson’s fame as a young adult would later eclipse his fame as a child and make him a global brand on a scale seldom seen.

Jackson’s eventual superstardom as an adult all but buried the collective memory of his child prodigy years from 1969 to the early-1970s. These days we still hear the occasional Jackson 5 song during Christmastime, but Jackson’s childhood hit performances – over 40 years ago now – have faded into the deep background.

We are fortunate though because for anyone with an appreciation of music, dance and or even just a morbid curiosity in fallen idols, YouTube gives us a comprehensive look at little Michael Jackson as child prodigy. In fact, we can also watch his development from wunderkind to world megastar in the mid-1970s through the early-1980s.

Here is where things started. This is the Jackson 5’s 1968 audition in front of Berry Gordy and other Motown stars at Gordy's house.   Neither the audio or video is great, but Jackson’s whoops and hollers and James Brown dancing are rousing:

Here is the raw, early Michael Jackson doing his James Brown routine on American Bandstand. (They might be the only group ever to perform live on American Bandstand... and they were children!)  At this point he was just a recently signed Motown artist, but things would move very fast.

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