Jackson Five member Jermaine Jackson, who had a formidable career outside the family group, turned 58 Saturday. Nope, I never met Jermaine, but I sure loved him as a solo artist—and you might be surprised by just how many hits he scored on his own in the 1980s.
His first hit was a rather limp cover of "Daddy's Home," which hit the top 10 and sold a million copies in 1972. His biggest grown-up chart ranking was "Let's Get Serious," a top 10 pop and No. 1 R&B hit in 1980. Among my faves are 1984's "Do What You Do," No. 1 at AC, and the No. 15 pop hit "Dynamite"; "I Think It's Love," No. 5 AC in 1986; and two fab dance smashes, "When the Rain Begins To Fall," with Pia Zadora in 1985 and "Tell Me I'm Not Dreamin'" with brother Michael, which roared to No. 1 on Club Play, but oddly never hit at pop or R&B.
Jermaine also gained infamy of sorts for recording a duet, "If You Say My Eyes Are Beautiful," with Arista labelmate Whitney Houston, yet unknown. That recording prevented her from being nominated for Best New Artist when she became the biggest act of the year—a ridiculous rule that NARAS has since remedied...While Jermaine and I never shook hands, I interviewed brother Jackie for Billboard's Backbeat column in January 2002 about his animated series "The Swirly 5." Nice fellow. Never met Michael, either, sadly, however, I did have a brief, wildly uncomfortable meet & greet with Janet; and a wonderfully wacky chat with LaToya. Guess that qualifies as a Jackson family starfuck, after all.Janet J. with Billboarders Thea, Susan, meese and Larry.Ayhan and meese with LaToya at the World Music Awards in 2004.