After much discussion and speculation, the Jacksons are finally hitting the road with their “Unity Tour,” coming to The Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa Event Center in Atlantic City on Friday, June 29 at 8 p.m. The group last performed together in 2001 at their brother Michael’s “30th Anniversary Special” celebrating his 30th year as a solo artist.
Marlon Jackson is universally recognized as the hard-working, quiet member of the original Jackson Five, who were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997. He recently opened up about the much-hyped onstage reunion, which comes to the Borgata almost three years to the day after their gifted brother Michael’s tragic death on June 25, 2009.
“We’ve been getting a lot of requests from the fans all around the world for us to do another tour,” the serene and soft-spoken Jackson said from an undisclosed location in Georgia, while enjoying quality time with his grandchildren. “So we decided, ‘You know guys, we might as well do it. We’re not getting any younger. Let’s just do it.’ And so we decided that we would do it.”
In addition to the classic favorites that Jackson fans expect, the brothers, reportedly, are working on their first studio album since their 1989 release “2300 Jackson Street,” and hope to present some of their new music during the upcoming tour.
The show, which will be backed by a live band, was in the early stages of production when I initially spoke to Jackson who said “We’re putting everything together ourselves, with some other people. It’s very time consuming and a lot of work!” However, the veteran entertainer was looking forward to his return to the spotlight.
“It feels good. It’s like riding a bike,” he said. “You don’t forget anything. You’re just a little older, that’s all. It becomes a part of you. There’s no way in the world that you can be in a business for so many years — from childhood — and it doesn’t affect you. It affects every area of your life.”
It has been widely publicized that Randy, the youngest Jackson brother, will not be joining the tour, reportedly because of an ugly situation with Jermaine, who married and had children with Randy’s ex-wife, Alejandra. Marlon diplomatically refused to comment saying, “I’ll let him answer that, but he elected not to partake in this.”
Traditionally, there have been five Jacksons onstage, and it will be interesting to see how that time-tested dynamic changes when the number is reduced to four. “It doesn’t change anything!” Jackson answered emphatically. “I look at it this way. If it’s just one person, if you’re getting onstage, you’re supposed to give it 200 percent!”
Then there is the question of who will handle Michael’s inimitable lead vocals. “We’ll all take turns and sing them. We can change keys,” Marlon explained.
Suddenly, a little voice on the phone said, “Hi!” and after a bit of prodding from her proud “Papa,” the young lady identified herself as “Sophia,” Jackson’s four-year-old granddaughter, before allowing him to continue with our interview.
Since Michael’s sudden passing, Marlon has spent the time enjoying his family and working on a project that he believes will have a global impact.
“I’m doing great. I can’t complain,” he said. “I’ve got three lovely kids and four grandkids.” [and] “I have a fashion line called Study Peace. I look at fashion and music as universal language. I just feel that the Lord blessed me and my family with a gift that made us travel around the world for other reasons, and one is to help unify the world as one in a peaceful environment. By wearing clothing that says ‘Study Peace,’ you start gravitating towards a more peaceful environment, and the world is more receptive towards peace today that they have ever been before. I think we need a peaceful world and to grow up in a peaceful environment. It’s important.
“Right now it’s going to start off with T-shirts and hats, then eventually it’ll break off into a female’s line and a male’s line, a golf line and all this stuff, but the logo is really hip. It’s mainly the message.” Jackson hopes to launch his new “Study Peace” clothing line during the “Unity Tour.”
As Marlon Jackson and his famous brothers prepare to return to their musical roots, he has a message for their loyal fans and said in parting, “I want your readers to understand that we as a family, and the brothers, appreciate their support of this family, and want them to continue to pray for us, as we pray for them as well, because I love prayers, and I’m never too big for prayer. And thank you for all the years of support. This tour is going to just be another way of saying ‘Thank you for the great years together!’” For tickets to the Jacksons’ “Unity Tour,” call (609) 317-1000 or visit www.theborgata.com.