Playing alongside brothers Michael, Jermaine, Jackie, and Marlon, Tito Jackson helped define the pivotal pop and soul sounds of an era as guitarist for the Jackson Five. His talent was further solidified as an adult in The Jacksons, to which he lent his writing talents on now-classic anthems like “Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground),” “Destiny,” and “2300 Jackson Street.” The last member of the nine-sibling musical dynasty to test the solo waters, Tito has merged an admiration of the group’s legacy with his passion for the blues on his first full-length album, So Far So Good. He talks with me about his experiences in music and dealing with the loss of The King of Pop. (You can also listen to the interview on BlogTalkRadio.[url]http://www.blogtalkradio.com/justin-kantor/2011/03/22/tito-jackson-2011-interview-by-justin-kantor
I understand that you were initially quite modest about your interest in music when you were growing up?
Yeah, I sort of hid it from my father, because I was playing his guitar. My brothers and I had learned a lot of the songs on the radio, and we were all just singing in the room. Before he could get home from work, we’d have the guitar back in the closet. Until I broke a string one day and I didn’t know how to fix it ... he found me out! That’s when he asked me to perform. He was very surprised that I had taught myself how to play all this music. So, he bought me a guitar the next day.
That's a nice gift. The guitar seems like a pretty intricate instrument to try to learn on your own. Was it by ear that you picked up things, and the fingers just kind of followed?
Yeah, basically whatever I heard, I would just find a note and help myself. I had an uncle, Luther, who played guitar with my father. Once I had my own guitar, they would show me all types of things: chords and blues patterns.
Were the blues a big influence?
Most definitely. You can’t be a guitar player without playing the blues. My father and Uncle Luther were well into the blues back in the late '50s and early '60s.
What was it like when you, Jermaine, and Jackie started performing as the Jackson Brothers? What kinds of things were you performing, and how did that help shape your musical identity?
We would basically just listen to the radio or whatever records were in the house that we liked—mainly Motown records and some of the Bee Gees’ stuff. We would learn these songs and sing the harmonies. I think what really got us into harmonies was The Three Stooges. We loved the “hello, hello, hello” thing they did. We learned just from that, you can do all kinds of changes. It was one of the things that helped us to start singing and feeling good about what we were doing. It didn’t sound that great to others, but it sounded okay to us
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