Soundtrack Of My Life: Tito Jackson

The musician and Jackson 5 guitarist used to be paid in records

The first song I remember hearing

The Temptations – ‘My Girl’

“We lived in Gary, Indiana, and we used to listen to a station by the name of WMPP. They’d play a lot of Motown Records. I remember this song being very important to my brothers, as well, because it’s one of the first songs I’d play and they would sing.”

The first song I fell in love with


Jackie Wilson – ‘Lonely Teardrops’

“He was strong at that time, with songs like ‘Baby Workout’ and ‘Lonely Teardrops’. Those were some of our favourite songs that we truly loved. When you hear them, you reminisce about your younger days.

“[At about that time], I worked in a record store – they hired a friend of mine, and my friend hired me without the record store’s permission. I must have been 10 or 11 years old. He’d pay me a couple of bucks a week and I thought it was the biggest job I would ever have in my life. Every once in a while, I would tell him I’d rather have a record instead of money.”


The first gig I went to

The Jackson 5 at the Regal Theatre, Chicago 


“The first gig I went to was my own gig [laughs]. We used to open up for James Brown, Jackie Wilson and groups before we even became professional. I think we’d have half-an-hour and then the star would come on. We’d be in the wings watching every little move they made. If you weren’t good, the crowd would boo you off. We didn’t want to get booed, so we made sure our act was polished.

The song that reminds me of home

Jackie Wilson – ‘Baby Workout’

“It makes you daydream about old times in Gary, [Indiana]: learning music, wanting to be a superstar, and racing to the TV to watch The Ed Sullivan Show and see your favourite artists of the week. My family wasn’t very financially set, so we had to get our pleasure from television or radio.

“Everybody had to fight for their own position in front of the TV. It was very inspirational to watch because that’s what we wanted to do, and to see other people doing it, we knew we could do it too – it was just a matter of time [The Jackson 5 later played The Ed Sullivan show].”


The song I can’t get out of my head

Silk Sonic – ‘Leave the Door Open’

“That song is very nice. It reminded me of me and my brothers – the harmonies and the melodies are almost like a Jacksons song.”


The song I want played at my funeral

Tito Jackson – ‘Love One Another’

“I’m all about sharing the love and we have natural love for each other. If we saw somebody in distress and they needed our help, I would say at least 90 per cent of humans around the world would offer that out of natural love. Of course, you’re going to love your wife, your kids, and your friends, but expand that to the world.”

The song that makes me want to dance

James Brown – ‘Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag, Pt. 1’

“There’s a lot of tracks, especially the old-school stuff, from Sly Stone to James Brown. Those always bring a feeling of enlightenment and enjoyment. I’m not a great dancer – most of the dancing was done by my brothers Marlon, Michael and Jackie. I’ve always had a guitar on my shoulder, which limited me. You had to worry about how long the cord was and getting it tangled around your feet.”

Tito Jackson’s new album ‘Under Your Spell’ is out now 

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