An interview with solo Jermaine (1976)
JERMAINE JACKSON! Breaking out all alone (PART I)
Jermaine Jackson has had to make some heavy decisions in recent-past months. His decision to sever recording relations with his brothers and strike out on his own was possibly his most difficult one! It is did nothing more, it made Jermaine a stronger man!
BY FLO JENKINS
Jermaine Jackson, now 22 years old, has had to make some monumental decisions the past year and a half. They have been decisions that not many older people would sort out easily, so for one so young, having experienced much, but yet very little in life… the decisions were certainly agonizing.
After being a popular member of his family singing group since the very start – more that seven years ago – Jermaine had to decide whether he would continue performing with their successful aggregation , or take the giant step as a solo performer.
His brothers were leaving a record company, Motown Records, that had helped make the name Jackson Five a household word. Jermaine (and his brothers, too, at one time) had come to love that company and the people associated with it. Motown Records had been a novelty, with innovators who created a music the world had come to know. Those things symbolized much to Jermaine, and he was proud to be amongst all of that. And being married to Hazel Gordy, daughter of the man (Berry Gordy) who’d created that record company, probably didn’t make Jermaine’s decision any easier!
Nevertheless, a decision had to be made. And the ever-strengthening Sagittarian had to do is. He decided to stay with Motown – making that break with his brothers. Now that the decision has been made, Jermaine admits to breathing easier, glad that the load has been lifted from his shoulders. Since that load had been lifted, there are other ones to bear! And during Right On!’s exclusive at-home interview with Jermaine, he discussed his new responsibilities – his new career, and the changes in his life in general.
TAKING ON HEAVIER RESPONSIBILITIESJermaine and Hazel, since their marriage nearly three years ago have lived in Bel-Air, California, an exclusive area just outside of Beverly Hills. Theirs is a beautiful home, equipped inside with most of the luxuries most of us dream about. And keeping watchful eyes over all of it are a couple of huge Black vicious-looking, barking guard dogs! (Good they were locked in a fence, or this interview would never have taken place!)
Inside, the walls are covered with gold records of hit tunes made famous by The Jackson Five, which must be constant happy, yet sad reminders for Jermaine. On the stereo-tape player are tunes recently recorded by Jermaine, which will be on his debut album as a solo performer. The songs sound great and will surely be a big hit with fans. He had gone to Philadelphie, Pa., worked with great producers like Norman Harris, and had come up with some winning music!
When Jermaine and Hazel enter the room, surrounded by all of their luxuries, both smiling, looking so young, the whole setting is like children playing house in a beautiful fairytale.
But they’re not children, and they’re not living a fairytale. They’ve both taken on adult responsibilities. And the decisions to be made concerning their life has to come from them. So how are they … how is Jermaine, in particular, handling his world these days? Well, from the chat we had, he seems to be taking care of business pretty well! Read on and see for yourself that his breaking out all alone has brought about many changes in his life, but it doesn’t mean the ruin of him…
RIGHT ON!: How did it feel, Jermaine, working on your upcoming album all alone?
JERMAINE: “It was kind of different, but I do say I enjoyed it, because the songs are good. But it was kind of lonesome at first, not having my brothers there, but…”
RIGHT ON!: Do you have “butterflies” thinking about getting on stage performing all by yourself?
JERMAINE: “Yeah, yeah; that’s the only thing that sort of scares me a little bit – being out there by myself. But once it starts, I’ll have to follow through with it. I can do it, though.”
RIGHT ON!: If you feel you can, I’m sure you can handle is. Do you enjoy traveling, being on the road all the time?
JERMAINE: “Oh, it’s not the type of life I would want anymore, ‘cause I enjoy horses and stuff, and I’ve learned how to enjoy myself by just being at home. I’ve been out there; I’ve seen the road life, and I’m not raving over it! What I’m saying is, I’ve gotten to a position in my life now where I’d rather be more like a manager and guide somebody else’s career. I feel I’ve had a lot of training and I know just about what it takes to make a star. But since I’m by myself, I know I have to go out on the road and do that first, but I’m not planning on doing that for a long time.”
RIGHT ON!: How long do you think you’ll continue performing?
JERMAINE: “At the longest, two or three years at the longest.”
RIGHT ON!: Many people never realize how rough being a performer can be. They see only the glamour of being onstage. What interests you about being offstage, being behind the scenes? That’s difficult too, isn’t it?
JERMAINE: “It’s hard work. But now I’m just interested in making the stars. There are people in the background who are never noticed… A star is nothing without a producer, record company, a distributing company… All those thing are responsible for the star’s success.”
RIGHT ON!: So those are your career goals as of now?
JERMAINE: “Right. I want to go into production. Right now, I’ll have to go out and entertain people, but I really want to find me a nice group, or a singer – male or female – somebody I can write for, or produce or manage. My whole thing is to be successful and try to help as many people as I can to make it to the top. ‘Cause my brothers and I had a lot of help; it takes talent too, but we had help, too. So, I really want to manage and produce.”
RIGHT ON!: What kinds of songs od you write?
JERMAINE: “Well, I’m really not a good ‘funky’ soul writer. I really like classical music, and I write stuff, like, for people like Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra, you know, standard tunes. I have a song that Tony Bennett is doing. And Michael (Jackson) and I have a song that Glenn Campbell in doing ver soon.”
RIGHT ON!: What kind of things inspire you to write?
JERMAINE: “When I’m writing at the piano, I think of something that happened to me. But I haven’t been in this world log enough to have that many things happen to me yet, so I have to make up stories.”
RIGHT ON!: When you start to perform again, where do you want to go?
JERMAINE: “I would love to do a whole European tour .. just kill’em dead!”
RIGHT ON!: What’s the difference between those audiences and the ones in the States?
JERMAINE: “The European audiences are outta-sight! They’re very emotional. When you’re onstage, all the kids are crying and screaming. They just go wild! When my brothers and I were there, at the airport, it was ridiculous, ‘cause we got squashed! And Michael got chokes ‘cause he had a scarf around his neck – and one girl was pulling one way and another girl was pulling another way! They stole his shoes in London! And while waiting for our luggage he was without one shoe for three or four hours! Wars were torn up, and Tito was on top of the carr and he couldn’t get in! The kids stay at your hotel all night and sing songs to you. They are very emotional. They called themselves loving us, but they were hurting us at the same time!”
ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES OF STARDOM?RIGHT ON!: What are the advantages and disadvantages – besides being sqashed by admiring fans – in being a performer?
JERAMAINE: “Well, there are a lot of disadvantages. The only advantage is the chance to have money, ‘cause that’s what the whole thing is about. But there are more disadvantages like whenever you see an entertainer on tour, he always wants to be away from it, to come home, be with his wife and kids. But in the entertainment business, you got to smile when you don’t feel like it … but it’s a job. I’d say the disadvantages outweigh the advantages, really.”
RIGHT ON!: When fans get to talk with you, what kind of things do they talk to you about or ask you?
JERMAINE: “You wouldn’t believe that things they say! Some of the things are ridiculous! For instance, ‘Are you real? Do you have a heart?’ Or they ask, ‘is Michael Jackson real? Or is he a cartoon?’ When I hear those kinds of questions, I’m so shocked! I know they look at us differently, but wow! I mean, that’s what the entertainment business does to people … people boost you so high and love you so much, and they think you’re idols and supermen and all sorts of things! It’s funny, some of the things they ask.”
RIGHT ON!: Do you think it’s unfair to the performer to have magazines and newspapers make them idols, making the seem unreal? With our magazine, when we talk to performers, our idea is to share the real side of them with readers, and let fans know they have thoughts and feelings like the ordinary person…
JERMAINE: “Yeah, but see, the whole thing is, no matter how real the entertainer tries to be, the public is always gonna look up to them in a different way. Like now, I try to be more real now that before, because I have more time to myself to do things that I enjoy doing. But people still look up to me in the same way.”
RIGHT ON!: By Now I suppose you’ve found ways of coping with being idolized, huh?
JERMAINE: “Yeah, yeah … some entertainers can cope with it, like me, and others probably can’t. I find myself doing more normal things now, other than just being involved with music. I only do that when I have to do it. Like when I’m in town, I’m riding horses and stuff, Just relaxing and playing … trying to enjoy life more.”
TO BE CONTINUED