50 years ago today, Michael Jackson’s first solo album, ‘Got To Be There’, was released. This was the beginning of the most successful solo artist of all time.
The song was written by Elliot A. Willensky who also penned the Jermaine Jackson/Whitney Houston duet “If You Say My Eyes Are Beautiful. The song was chosen to be the break out single for a young Michael Jackson who was famous for his lead singing in the family group Jackson 5ive.
The single reached number 4 on the R&B singles chart in 1971. On August 2, 2013, the album was certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for sales of over 500,000 copies. The album was later remastered and reissued in 2009 as part of the 3-disc compilation Hello World: The Motown Solo Collection.
Got to Be There peaked at No. 14 on the Billboard Pop Albums Chart and No. 3 on the Billboard R&B Albums when it was released. his album launched three chart singles: a cover of the bubblegum classic “Rockin’ Robin,” Leon Ware’s “I Wanna Be Where You Are,” and the title track. As a cohesive album, Got to Be There is wildly erratic, and his covers of “You’ve Got a Friend” and “Ain’t No Sunshine” show Jackson’s versatility as a singer.
At the time other artists on the Motown record label were heading towards more of a politically charged sound as Marvin Gaye‘s What’s Going On would lead the way for Stevie Wonder all time great work in “Key Of Life”. With the singing of The Jacksons in 1969, Berry Gordy through the lead of Michael Jackson, was able to tap into the youth movement of the day. With the boy wonder, Motown had the motto of “Voice of Young America”, which gave the label a diverse roster.
At the age of 13, Jackson launched a solo career in addition to his work with the Jackson 5, making the charts in 1971 with “Got to Be There,” from the album of the same name.
Jackson’s 1972 album, Ben, featured the eponymous ballad about a rat. The song became Jackson’s first solo No. 1 single.
‘Music and Me’ (1973)
Jackson’s third solo album, Music and Me was his least successful.
‘Forever, Michael’ (1975)
This fourth solo album for Jackson was his last with Motown records.