By Claude Jay
I have been thinking about writing a blog, but it is the sudden death of Michael Jackson, the King of Pop, that has inspired me to share my story, “The day I spent with Michael Jackson and the Jackson Brothers – The Jackson 5.” Michael Jackson is a singers singer, and artist artist, the consummate Entertainer, and believed by many to be the Greatest Entertainer of all time.
I live in ….New York City…., just a few blocks from the world famous Apollo Theatre. On June 25, the evening of Michael Jackson’s death I was compelled to walk over to the Apollo Theater and participate in the celebration of the life and music of Michael Jackson. Men, women, children, young, old, black, white, Latino, Asian were singing, dancing and waving their hands as we dealt with the pain and in disbelieve over the death of Michael Jackson. The large crowd gathered was singing his songs and along with Michael as he exclaimed, ”When the grove is dead and gone, love will survive to rock forever.” I could feel the love for this extraordinary and gifted artist. The effects of his life and music is far reaching and beyond comprehension. His work and life sings loud and strong and resonates from every part of the world. Michael Jackson, the King of Pop and Superstar lives on!
I had the rare opportunity and fortune to meet and spend a day with Michael Jackson and the Jackson Brothers, Jackie, Jermaine, Tito and Marlon. The Jackson 5 were on tour in Pittsburgh, Pa, USA to give a concert at the Civic Arena. They were promoting there hit song, “I Want You Back”.
It was my Uncle Al Cleveland a songwriter with Motown Records who made all this possible. Al Cleveland was an accomplished songwriter, he co-wrote Motown hits with and for Marvin Gaye, “What’s Going On”, “Save the Children” and “Wholly Holly”. He co-wrote Motown hits with Smokie Robinson, “I Second That Emotion” and “Here I Go Again”. I had the fortune to visit the homes and meet both the great Marvin Gaye and Smokie Robinson, and there families. This I will share another time.
It was when Motown Records moved to Los Angeles that my cousin Daryl Cleveland met the Jackson Family while visiting his father, Al. While in LA for the summer, he spent time with the Jackson’s at there home. So, when The Jackson 5 came to Pittsburgh, PA, on tour Daryl asked me to join him. This was a chance of a life time. As I think about it now and write about the day I spent with The Jackson 5, it was a great day in my life. Both Daryl and I loved music, so to have an opportunity to attend a Jackson 5 concert was great! I was a boy with singing and recording dreams of my own. Here I was in the presence of kids my age who had number one hit record, this was greatness!
We spent the day in their hotel room at the Chatham Center Hotel which is located across from the Civic Arena. We were all around the same age, I felt like one of the boys. I was with my cousin Daryl and The Jackson’s, wow my Boys! We were the only other kids and we had fun. One of the moments which struck me and was surreal, we were standing looking out the window as we watched the crowd begin to attend the sold out concert.
The day progressed, it was concert time and Mr. Joseph Jackson, their father and manager was getting things together. We all took the elevator to the garage where the limousines was waiting. Daryl got in one limousine with Michael and two of the brothers; I got in the other limousine with Jermaine and the other brothers. It was exciting and unexpected and more than I could hope for. The limousine driver drove to the wrong entrance to the Civic Arena and the cars were mobbed. The fans were screaming and shaking the cars. It took the police to move the crowd. We finally made it into the Arena and backstage, we were directed to our seats, an unbelievable and magical concert began.
The day I spent with Michael and the Jackson Brothers I have held dear and cherished all my life. With the death of Michael Jackson and all that is being said, I wanted to tell of my special day that I spent, shared and witness in life of Michael Jackson, the lead singer of The Jackson 5. The Jackson 5 was the foundation for Michael Jackson musical accomplishments, he grew and developed a career and earned the titles, “The King of Pop”, Super Star, philanthropist, and his album, “Thriller” holds the record for the most sales of an album of ever.
His death has caused me to share and celebrate his life, writing down my experience and memories, and sharing them is a testament that he lives on in his music, life, words and work.
Michael, Thank you for all that you gave to us.
Rest in Peace !
Claude Jay, “Ambassador of Music” It was on a solo singing tour of Japan that a newspaper reporter celebrated Claude Jay, with a glowing review and the title “Ambassador of Music”. A singer and songwriter, his recordings include, “Love Is The Answer”. An actor, Jay has worked in theater, television and film and was a member of the Obie Award Winning Family Repertory Company. He is the owner of an online business, www.HarlemMyLove.com a souvenir and fashion product line.