Jermaine Jackson has been celebrated as a member of the Jackson 5, a popular solo singer and an accomplished producer, but he’s also been accused of breaking up the Jackson 5, riding on his brother Michael’s coat-tails and for leaving the truth of the Jehovah’s Witnesses for the intimacy of Muslim. True or not, that’s all in the life of being a Jackson, according to his book Michael: ‘You Are Not Alone’, a personal account of growing up a brother of the King of Pop.
Jermaine’s book is an intelligent and thoughtful read as he starts at the beginning with the poverty and crime that surrounded them on 2300 Jackson Street and goes step-by-step to Michael’s untimely death in preparation for the largest comeback tour in the history of music. He dives into personal memories that are both painful and loving and he quickly abolishes the notion that the book is just another effort to cash in on the Michael Jackson name. It’s an honest account of Michael’s life through his brother’s eyes.
Anyone with an interest in music and pop culture will love the stories of the Jackson 5 as they quickly rose to the top of the charts at the hands of both their father Joseph and Motown founder Berry Gordie. Jermaine was even kind enough to share some of the early lessons that they learned as they developed their skills as singers, musicians and dancers and told of the hours of television they watched as a family and band so they could learn from the best.
Although Michael loved his alone time when he was in creative mode, Jermaine was one of the few who had access to his brother during the fame and controversy and he kindly and delicately goes through those memories as both a brother and bandmate.
From Jermaine’s perspective it was both the media and the music business that created the Michael Jackson monster. He takes the time to explain most of the outlandish stories that were written about Michael and the misunderstandings that created the mistruths appearing in the tabloids. For the most part, the media never correctly understood the childhood innocence that Michael possessed. He was the world’s oldest child and he was at peace with that way of life.
Jermaine also attempted to address his 1991 single Word To The Badd which attacked Michael with its hurtful lyrics directed straight at MJ. He created the song with producers LA Reid and Babyface as a way of letting his feelings out because he denied access to Michael at the time. Jermaine puts the majority of the blame on the producers of the song, but an actual interview from that time (not printed in the book) has Jermaine lashing out at Michael. It might have been easier for Jermaine to just man up and take ownership of the whole thing. He said he did address it with Michael in person at a meeting with their mother, so it should have been easy to do in the book.
Jermaine also expresses his displeasure with concert promoters AEG and music publishers Sony, which he says knowingly drove Jackson down the road to his death through the forced hiring of Dr. Conrad Murray, who is currently facing charges of involuntary manslaughter in the case. AEG and Sony had millions of dollars to gain from Michael’s death, including a 50% ownership of the world’s largest collection of song publishing holdings. Jermaine’s story is compelling and believable, and aside from the tabloid junk, may be the only version we’ll ever really know – aside from what is revealed in court.
With the Word To The Badd story as the only exception, Michael: ‘You Are Not Alone’ is a great read and an insightful, accurate and stimulating account of the greatest pop singer the world has ever known.