A family with a history like no other, the Jacksons changed the face of music when they burst on to the scene as the Jackson 5 in the late 60s.

Now almost four decades since their last visit, Jackie, Tito, Jermaine and Marlon Jackson are coming back to Australia to perform the classics that made them famous. Born the year before his late (and most famous) brother Michael, Marlon still recalls their triumphant 1973 tour, which saw them pack out Beatty Park in Perth.

"It was great, the weather was great, and the people were very kind," the 55-year-old says softly. "We had a great time. We went to the outback and visited some of the Aborigines and threw some boomerangs and saw some kangaroos."

That world-conquering tour came only five years after the Jackson 5 were offered their big break to audition for Motown Records.

"We were just little tykes at the time but my father made the decision to go to Motown and do that rehearsal," Marlon recalls. "From that point forward there was no looking back; everything just took off like a jet sitting on the runway getting ready to go."

Having already honed their skills by learning how to play Motown hits such as My Girl and Get Ready, Marlon says he'll never forget playing those songs to the people that actually wrote them at the famed Hitsville USA studio in Detroit.

"We won a lot of talent shows with the Temptations and Smokey Robinson songs, and then we looked around and there they were, and they're enjoying you," he says. "It was amazing, it really was amazing."

Almost as soon as they signed, a run of chart-topping hits followed in I Want You Back, ABC, Blame it on the Boogie and I'll Be There, which saw Jacksonmania sweep the world. Marlon is confident the Jacksons can pull off those songs today, despite their voices getting deeper. "All you got to do is change key, that's all," he laughs. "And if it works right, perfect."

In 1984, the Jacksons did their final tour - and only tour with all six brothers - just as Michael's popularity rose to its most epic heights. In fact, the Victory Tour saw the King of Pop play his first shows following the release of what was to become the biggest-selling album of time, Thriller.

Now, at the request of their fans and three years after the death of Michael, the Jacksons are back on the road and they are making sure the spirit of their fallen brother is part of the show.

"We tried to pick songs that we thought Mike would be proud of, and songs that would be moving, and songs that people would want to hear of his," Marlon says. With a catalogue stretching from their chart-topping 1969 debut single for Motown, I Want You Back, to later hits ranging from 1979 disco number Shake Your Body, 1981 favourite Can You Feel It and the Mick Jagger collaboration State of Shock, selecting a set list will be a challenge.

"We actually got together one day and talked about what we wanted to accomplish, and the following day we went to Jermaine's house and wrote down all the songs and then we put them in a hat and pulled out what songs we wanted to do," Marlon says.

The Jacksons play Perth Arena on March 14. Tickets go on sale from Ticketek on Monday.

The West Australian

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