Remember When: The Jackson 5 Made Their ‘American Bandstand’ Debut

Prior to becoming the legendary icon that he was, Michael Jackson was an awe-inspired child star, acting as the frontman for the Jackson 5. The band, of course, went on to become a powerful force in Motown – a status that was no doubt bolstered by their debut on American Bandstand in 1970.

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In the throwback clip below, Michael Jackson is a mere nine years old. Nevertheless, he commands the stage with the charisma of someone twice his age. Host Dick Clark has Jackson introduce the rest of his bandmates – Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, and Marlon Jackson. He very timidly does so, which is sweet to see from someone who would go on to be one of the biggest musicians in history.

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The Jackson 5 opened up their appearance with a performance of “I Want You Back.” The song was clearly a hit from the very beginning, judging by the loud reaction from the studio audience at American Bandstand.

They then decided to perform “ABC.” The now classic track hadn’t been released at the time of their Bandstand debut. Their performance surely generated a healthy amount of buzz for the song’s impending release.

Michael Jackson bounds around the stage, twirling, two-stepping, and showcasing a host of other era-defining dance moves. His stage presence was honed even then. His brothers held their own weight, backing up Michael’s vocals with their harmonies.

They closed out the night with equally stellar performances of “Zip-Ah-Dee-Doo-Dah” and “There Was A Time.” Michael Jackson seems nearly possessed by the music with the way he dances on instinct. If there was ever any doubt that he would become a star, it was surely forgotten after seeing him and his bandmates on American Bandstand.

The American Bandstand appearance was just a precursor to a long and fruitful career for the Jackson 5, and subsequently, Michael Jackson’s solo career. Revisit their debut, below.

(Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

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