The Origin of Michael Jackson’s ‘SHAMONE’

LEGENDS & ICONS OF MUSIC - Kevin Douglas Post

Michael Jackson was always appreciative of the artists who paved the way for him and he always gave credit with small nods to the great ones.

He often spoke about his experiences as a child performer and the privilege of being able to study his idols from the wings on the stages they shared.

Much is known about his admiration of greats like James Brown, Smokey Robinson, Sammy Davis Jr. and the like. There is a woman that influenced Michael Jackson’s singing signature that is known to music lovers and historians of the genere. There is an indelible influence by the singer Mavis Staples on a young Michael Jackson who would end up paying homage to her as he grew up in the business.

Staples was born on July 10, 1939 in Chicago, Illinois, USA. She would have decades of live performance and music releases that would span the life of Michael Jackson.  Staples is a multiple time Grammy award winner and was given the accolade of Kennedy Center Honors in 2016. The “Let’s Do It Again” singer, has also made appearances on classic television shows such as “The Cosby Show” and “Graffiti Bridge” starring the iconic Prince.

“Let’s Do It Again” is the Curtis Mayfield-penned and Staple Singers-performed soundtrack to the highly successful 1975 comedy film starring Sidney Poitier, Bill Cosby and Jimmie Walker. The title track hit #1 on both the R&B and Pop charts.


Many people are under the impression that when Michael Jackson uses the word “shamone” in songs like “Bad” from his album “Bad” that it is another way of saying come-on. Unfortunately when this idea spread, credit was taken from its true source. “Shamone” was an expression used originally by singer Mavis Staples in her 1975 song “I’ll Take You There”. Just like Michael based some of his early dance steps on James Brown in order to honor him, he used the word “shamone” to honor Ms. Staples.