Belfast Telegraph

The Osmonds? Give me Wacko Jacko any day

By Frances Burscough

Michael Jackson has moon-walked all over the headlines since the dates of his 2009 farewell tour were announced. After months of hysterical will-he/won’t-he hype, tickets finally went on sale last week and fans were so keen to snap them up that the official website couldn’t cope with the traffic and crashed in the melee.

Within minutes of being released, all 360,000 pre-sale tickets were booked and the demand for extra ones was so great that the event organisers had to increase the run from 10 to an unprecedented 50 shows, taking the total audience capacity to almost a million.

Apparently, Michael Jackson was so overwhelmed when he heard this that he burst into tears.

But it’s all a far cry from when I went to see Michael Jackson in 1979...

Since I was about five-years-old I had loved the Jackson Five. Although nowadays it seems hilarious to have ever idolised five boys who all dressed identically in purple velvet suits with satin whopper-collars and flares and who leapt around a stage in unison while simultaneously singing in falsetto voices

But it certainly worked wonders in the late Sixties.

My four sisters and I were divided. Half liked the Jackson Five, the other half liked the Osmonds. You couldn’t like both; for some reason they were considered mutually exclusive. Never the twain shall meet.

In the school playground and at Brownies, it was one of the hot topics of the day.

“Osmonds or Jacksons?” became a bit like when you go into church at a wedding and are asked by the ushers “Bride or Groom?”

Wherever groups of little girls gathered, they ultimately segregated according to their taste in American Brotherly Boy Bands.

It wasn’t a race thing, it was a music thing. The Jacksons were streetwise and personified funky-soul, whereas Donnie and Co were clean-cut, respectable, momma’s boy balladeers.

Cool versus Uncool, in fact, before cool had even been coined. But my older sister Louise and I were firmly from the Jackson camp.

And to pledge allegiance our bedroom walls were all plastered with dog-eared centre-folds of Michael, Marlon, Tito, Jermaine and Jackie torn from the pages of Jackie comic.

And there they stayed for about five years until their images started to fade just like their popularity.

By the mid-Seventies, the Jackson Five had become yesterday’s news and a bit of an embarrassing joke.

So down they came off the wall again to be replaced by The Bay City Rollers as Louise and I traded our velvet flares for half-mast tartan trews.

And yes, before you ask, I did have a mullet hairstyle and yes, all photos of it have long-since been destroyed.

But then in 1978, just as the Bay City Rollers’ popularity was nosediving almost as quickly as it had sky-rocketed, something remarkable happened.

Our long-lost Jackson brothers made a come-back.

But now they had left Motown Records, changed their look, changed their style and had matured from cute little boys into handsome young men.

And I couldn’t have been more excited.

Until of course the day it was announced that they were coming to our home town as part of their relaunch.

Talk about die-hard fans. Not wanting to take any chances, we decided to camp out overnight outside the box office, cuddling against the cold in our sleeping bags.

But embarrassingly, by the time the box office opened at 9am, we were still the only people there.

Maybe the original fans had all grown up and forgotten how brilliant they were, but their loss was our gain.

Louise and I snapped up front row seats for the very tour that would relaunch Michael Jackson back into the stratosphere of fame, where he truly belonged and where he would stay ever after.

“Ooh baby give me one more chance... ?”

That was precisely what happened.

And the rest, of course, is pop history.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph