The Jackson 5 arriving at Heathrow Airport- October 29, 1972
Dave Goodman (1951 - 2005) has been a member of the musical group Orange Rainbow who opened the Jackson 5 European Tour in November 1972. He recounts his memories of his life and career. One chapter is about touring with the Jackson 5.
Orange Rainbow played with The Fantastics for almost three years and it got to the point where their management had to pay us whether we played or not. This later led to an overload of gigs and we ended up doing some ‘trebles’ nights for only an extra twenty, so I suppose they got their money’s worth out of us. The Fantastics were on Bell records, a label which had picked up the UK distribution of material by the Sisters Love who were on Motown in the USA. So, when the Sisters got picked to tour Europe with the Jackson Five brothers, Orange Rainbow got first bite at the backing band cherry – an adventure that was to end with a massive gig at Wembley Arena before 20,000 fans. For that tour, the Jacksons chartered their own 747 passenger jet and, along with the rest of the entourage and equipment were bundled onto it and it was ‘goodbye London, hello Amsterdam’. It was my first real experience of Amsterdam. There was plenty of strong grass around in the parks but it hadn’t actually been legalized over there at that point although it was pleasantly cheap. We stayed the night in the Amsterdam Hilton where John Lennon and Yoko had done their bed-in protest three years before. The gig was at the city’s Concertgebouw venue. Musically the Jacksons were a shambles at that first sound check, but they improved tremendously during the tour. It was a real family affair with Marlon and his brother on guitars, Jermaine on bass, a 12 year old Michael as the Child Star – and what an incredible dancing singer he was - and his younger brother Randy on congas and vocals. (I always wonder what happened to Randy, he was really talented in his own right.) The family package was completed by a cousin on drums, an uncle on keyboards and big daddy Joe as manager. Also in tow were numerous minders, several lawyers, a nurse and the German teachers - spinster twins! - who administered personal tuition to Michael and Randy. The twins made sure the boys got enough sleep, did their homework and washed behind their ears. I’m not sure if anyone else back then had noticed, but those teachers really seemed to enjoy a drink – or three. We certainly got the picture, especially when they turned up at some late night bierkeller we’d taken over and proceeded to drink all of us veterans under the table.
At that opening show we were warned of an impending riot that was to take place in front of the theatre. You see, Amsterdam has a fair number of young black people, all of whom seemed to be protesting at the fact that the Jacksons were only doing one - very expensive - show and all the tickets had been snapped up by rich middle-class mums taking their daughters out for a sticky scream. There was a massive police presence on the streets and the Dutch army had been put on stand-by as back-up. Some neo-Nazi types had also decided to stage a rally in protest at something or other – civilization, probably… or it might have been the colour of Michael Jackson’s trousers. So what were the authorities going to do about all the disappointed punters who’d started gathering outside, desperately hoping to catch a glimpse of the band? The music hall wasn’t that big but it did have many large windows and was situated in the middle of the town square. Due to the fact that we had a surplus of speaker cabinets, a plan was hatched to use them for the crowds outside. All the curtains in the music hall were drawn back revealing the beauty of the crystal chandeliers inside. Strauss, Beethoven, Wagner and Barry Manilow had all trod these very boards. Once the crowd saw the speakers going up, the atmosphere became more party like. Surrounding cafes brought out tables, which encouraged many members of the crowd to sit down and order refreshments. This was a city that knew how to party. At least three TV crews had gathered and dozens of journalists were busy interviewing the public.
After we arrived in Munich, for the German leg of the tour, we found ourselves even more in the spotlight. We discovered later that there had been of lot of controversy in the local media. Some right wing factions felt that the Jacksons should never have been invited to West Germany. One paper even reminded its readers of what some black American GIs did to their female captives at the end of the 2nd World War, although I failed to see what any of that had to do with music. The radio had been playing Jackson Five records all week though and ‘ABC’ and ‘I Want You Back’ had gone Top Ten across most of Europe.
Circus Krone, Munich ~ November 4, 1972
That night’s show was to be broadcast live to the nation via Hamburg’s Star Club persons who had just arrived. On seeing the crowd, they set about organising outside projection, allowing the gathered throngs to see as well as hear The Jackson Five Touring Funkadelic Soul Show, complete with support acts the Sisters Love and London’s very own Orange Rainbow. We opened that night with a blinding version of Issac Hayes' ‘Shaft’ ("He was a bad mutha! – Shut Your Mouth! – Sex machine to all those chicks! – Can you dig it-dig it-dig-it?"). It was already popular in USA, being the theme tune to the very succesful film and TV series of the same name. But Europe had yet to discover it since the movie, and album, had yet to be released. We’d recently added a flautist by way of our new Swedish singer Per ‘Berne’ Dahlgen. Also in our line up that night was Graham Broad on drums, our skinny guitarist Bob 'Twiggy’ McGuinness, Donald Steward on keyboards, Frank Mizen on keyboards and trombone, Martyn Hayles on trumpet, Robin Lawrence on sax and me on bass. An octet if you like. The public began to take their seats. Some came dripping with pearls and gold. Tonight was a ball, and from the moment our guitarist switched on his wah-wah pedal and gave out the distinctive sound that is the pulsing intro to ‘Shaft’… can you hear it right now ? I bet your feet are tapping in time with that wah-wah in your head just like the crowds did on this sunny evening in Germany 1972. A cheer of recognition went up - mostly from the large number of our dark skin brothers and sisters outside who’d come from the local American air base. They were so familiar with the piece that they joined in on the spoken bits "can you dig it?" I certainly dug it as I’d been a soulboy since my days as a mod – and no one loves Motown like a mod. And Stax and Atlantic and James Brown and Isaac Hayes and all the rest. They really put so much into those productions (just listen to the intro of something like the Miracles’ ‘Going To A Go-Go’, the tom drums have been skilfully tuned to the melody of the song).
Halfway through this opening number I glanced to my right and noticed that the Jacksons were all in the wings, checking us out. This would have been the first time they’d seen us play. They seemed to be enjoying it and their father-cum-manager Joe made a point of coming early to the following shows just to enjoy our opening set. The Sisters Love were OK but in truth we were under-rehearsed as we’d only had two days with them. In one song, there was this complicated bass bit and I stuffed it right up. Their real bassist was the musical director for the show, he was not allowed to play because of the Musicians Union regulations. While he was conducting us on stage, you could see the frustration on his face at my bum bass parts. I wish I could have just handed him my instrument, but I didn’t want to cause a musicians’ strike. I mean the world never really recovered from the ‘Great Musicians’ Strike of 1933’ where musicians everywhere downed tools in protest at the playing, in clubs, of ‘phonographic archives’ (records to you sunshine)! They held out for seven weeks until The Night-Club Managers Union announced that ‘they too would go on strike if the musicians did go back to work". Finally, a compromise was struck, allowing musicians free drinks as compensation; I think they settled for one drink every seven records. Well tonight I didn’t want to invoke the wrath of the MU. I mean, can you imagine a night-club with no musicians? With only a DJ and perhaps the odd go-go dancer as well (I`ve seen some very odd ones, believe me)? Hang on, this all sounds familiar. After the show I looked for the Free Drinks For Records clause in my MU hand book. It wasn’t there! Maybe it was a daydream I had while fumbling through the Sisters Love bass lines. I, like quite a few other people have sometimes had problems distinguishing between reality and fantasy. Occasionally it would get me into trouble but, at other times, it’s gotten me into heaven. I very rarely seem to visit hell. Or have I been living in it so long that I’ve gotten used to it? There are some pretty hellish things that happen out there in the big wide world. This night was not one of them, fortunately, and as the Jacksons came off stage after three standing ovations they clambered straight into the biggest Roller I’d ever seen. The limo then drove about 30 yards up this ramp and into the back of a huge removal van neatly positioned in the loading bay. We waved goodbye to each other and big daddy Joe said they would see us back at the hotel where their record company was laying on a party for everyone. Whoopi! this was the life. The back doors to the removal van were secured and off it went through the unsuspecting hoards of fans and protesters. Far enough past the perimeter of the crowd but still within view, the van stopped and out slid the star-filled vehicle. We could view all this from the loading bay doors. We were very impressed. On seeing this, the bulk of the crowd outside dispersed leaving the rest to blend into the natural town square nightscape of this beautiful summmer’s evening. There wasn’t any violence at all, thankfully.
Our arrival at the party, which was still pretty much in full swing, made the entourage complete. The twins were there sitting right next to the punch bowl which was just being refilled. Joe was in the corner with his lawyers and probably representatives from the German Record Co. Everyone but Joe was holding calculators and lots of frantic note-taking was taking place. Michael had already taken over the DJ booth and was playing some great dance tunes. Randy’s congas were brought in and he immediately jumped up and started playing. Soon we were all on the dance floor - via the booze, of course. As a sideline, Orange Rainbow specialised in silly dancing. You do not hang out with me in a dance club for all those years without developing a knack for it. We could remember dances that were over a decade old then. We could do synchronised routines based loosely on the Fantastics choreography the likes of which we had seen performed a thousand times (although the view was always from the back of the stage admittedly). Most of the time we would free-form and tonight was no exception. We were soon joined by some Jacksons who were also good in the silly dance department and gave us a run for our money. The party evolved into a full blown Silly Dance competition with everyone, including the record company staff, standing in a circle and taking turns in the middle with their own interpreptation of the most ridiculous dance you could invent. Fingers spelt out names, torsos twisted and feet did wild tip-toes to nowhere. Points were given for the volume of laughter obtained. Even the ageing record company chairman had a go. Needless to say Micheal won the Silly Dance contest and little Randy won the Limbo competitions. Joe must have negotiated an exstention on their record contract for he was handed a cheque with so many zeros on it, it would make a Star Trek convention look empty. "There’s no people like show people they dance when they get paid!" And so the cheque was passed around the family to fondle before being placed in the safety of big Joe’s body belt. I could see this tour was also about winning them new recording contracts. What a brilliant way to do it, I thought. The rest of the evening became a drunken blur.
The next morning we boarded the Jackson Jet and headed for Frankfurt where they were playing yet another sold-out gig at the Stadhalle Offenbach. I noticed the equipment didn’t look so secure today. Michael was invited up to the cockpit and he had to clamber over the gear to get there. After take-off, he came back wearing the pilot’s hat, claiming he was going to land her. This didn’t amuse Twiggy our guitarist. This was going to be only his third landing. His fear of flying was so imense he’d been talking of little else for days and he’d screamed out loud when we left Heathrow. He spent the next part of the journey exclaiming, "We’re these little fragile beings, trapped inside this thin metal tube sevaral miles above the Earth, there’s so many, many things that could go wrong…" He finally drank himself to sleep and woke up just after we touched down. He did the same at Munich. But due to fog over Frankfurt, we were forced to circle for hours before we began to run out of fuel. Twiggy had been out cold but, as we were thus forced to land at a USAF base about 90 miles away, he slowly came round and was visibly sweating as we landed. Really, the USAF runway was far too short for our size of plane – I think it had been designed with nifty little fighter jets in mind - especially as we were loaded up with tons and tons of PA gear. Landing it wasn’t so much of a problem - Michael had already offered, of course - but taking off would be tricky although we were told that us and the gear would be transfered to the road transport that was on it’s way to meet us. This would also mean that the plane would be considerably lighter, thus lessoning the ‘short runway problem’. The pilot seemed fairly confident. "Full thrust should easily be enough to lift her above the trees at the end there," he said, matter of factly, when he was quizzed by the interested entourage, "at least the fog hasn’t reached us yet." That was another reason why that airport would never normally be used for civilian flights – there were densely packed trees all around, to help disguise it, I suppose. They went from the very edge of the nearest road right up to to the runway tarmac.
Unfortunately the growing fog in the area meant that the trucks they’d sent to collect us had been held up by a massive series of pile-ups – plus, of course, the usual roadblocks that were there to catch members of the Baader Meinhoff gang. An hour later we learned that they weren’t going to reach us in time for the gig. There were thousands of fans already gathering in Frankfurt and the city authorities were seriously worried about the possibility of riots if the concert didn’t go ahead. But no one on the plane was that worried about the trucks as Joe had plenty of time to sort out some alternatives. He was always pretty good at getting things done fast. So we all just sat around on the plane, sipping fruit juices – and a good few alcoholic cocktails – as Joe walked on and off the plane and up and down the runway, barking questions and orders into his radio phones and walkie-talkies. Michael Jackson said he loved my flowery kipper tie and I took it off and gave it to him, "Gee, thanks man," he whispered with such innocence that I ended up giving him my usual lecture on the dangers of stardom. He smiled through it all but I think he was listening, as a child star he was well aware that certain things in his life were really bizarre – to be world famous before you’re even a teenager is a trip that very few of us are (un)lucky enough to get on. My chat with Michael seemed to go on for hours but even after we’d finished, we were still waiting for fresh transport as the fog began to reach the airfield we were on.
After a few more huddled conversations between Joe, the air crew and the airport staff, the rest of us were told that we were definitely gonna go for it. Our overloaded plane would clear the trees OK, we were informed, and our pilot was going to do a dry test run just to make sure. We all agreed that that was well cool – OK, we were young and stoned, I admit it, and so we were looking forward to the trip, maaan. So we did a test run with the captain gradually revving down so he could easily turn off in time to come back and then go for it properly. On the second run we were almost at full speed before our pilot realized we weren’t going to make it - he revved back and slammed on the anchors and our seat belts all got a good stretch. We only just made it round the corner, leaning to one side and with the wheel brakes shrieking like sirens. And then we began our third attempt. Young Twiggy had said he’d be OK at the start but, finally, he freaked out completely as we hurtled down the runway for the third time. Three of us had to hold him down between the seats as the plane accelerated toward the line of trees that loomed out of the mist at us. With the front nose well up the engines reached screaming pitch – the only thing louder than them was Twiggy shouting out, "We’re All Gonna Die NOWW!" We did finally leave the ground as the back of the plane scraped the tree tops – that was something else we all heard – but the impact wasn’t enough to bring us down and a few seconds later we were happily on our way. Twiggy became blasé almost instantly – "after that take off, I can handle anything," he exclaimed – and, true to his word, he was relaxed, and almost bored, whenever we flew again.
Next stop Paris… As we cleared imigration at Charles De Gaulle, we were confronted with several thousand screaming girls. Police and security allowed them just close enough as the fab Five posed for Rue Fleet. Several fans managed to break through the lines before making a dash for a Jackson or two. Two teeneboppers grabbed Jermaine’s arm whilst a third snogged him furiously. "Now I know why they call it French kissing," he joked after the ordeal. Joe quickly took control of the situation and told the press how pleased he was to be back on French soil, the last time being as an Allied soldier in the Second World War. They all expressed the hope that everyone would enjoy the show and then they were whisked off to the Paris Hilton in gleaming limo. The rest of us in the entourage had to make sure all the cases got on the coach with us and arrived at the Hilton safely. We had over 300 pieces of luggage between us (someone took a picture of the J5 sitting on a pile of half of these trunks in some hotel foyer, with Michael at the top). We saw our coach in the car park sporting a large orange J5 sticker. Just then, several trucks of our luggage arrived. "In the car-park over there please mate, silver coach, orange sticker, J5," I said to one of the many men who came with the trucks. It was no good, neither he or any of the others were budging. It was like there was an invisible line they wouldn’t cross. We were suddenly surrounded by men with boards round their necks bearing the legend ‘10F’. Instinctively I took them to be porters offering to carry our bags for ten francs. Frankie, our trombonist, had an alternative theory, reckoning them to be IOF men, the letters standing for Inspector Of Foreigners. But our No 1 security man ‘Odd Job’ knew who they were all right.
"Vultures!" he exclaimed, "bloody vultures, don’t let them touch a thing."
Odd Job had encounted the dodgy Porters of Paris before. "If you let them, they’ll expect 10 francs each for every single item they touch," he warned us grimly. Before I could pick up my guitar case, there was a webbed claw on it. It’s owner was obviously a war veteran with medals, and a missing limb or two, to prove it. He pointed at the sign round his neck. I nodded. I felt sorry for him so, against Odd Jobs explicit orders, I accepted his kind offer of (paid) help. My actions only complicated the situation and suddenly all the porters were grabbing at our luggage in a cash-driven frenzy. Odd Job wrestled some bags back and, although we managed to carry about two thirds ourselves, a representative from the Paris Porters demanded to be payed for the complete amount. Which was nearly £300 if I’m not mistaken and we’re talking 1972 prices here, i.e. nearly four grand now . Odd Job offered the Porters’ main man a 1000 franc note,. The chief porter shook his head, mumbled something in French then grabbed hold of the entrance pole of the coach and refused to budge. Odd Job waved the 1000 F note at him once more. It was no good, he was determined to stay put untill he got the full amount. The coach driver suggested that if we started driving, then he would eventually get off, so that’s exactly what we did, leaving the doors open in anticipation. After several miles later he was still there, hanging on for dear life. Finally, at some traffic lights, he seized his chance and the note out of Odd Job’s hand before gobbing in his face and jumping ship. Odd Job just stood there frozen with a big greeny hanging from his nose. I swear I saw steam coming from his ears. He must have wanted to kill this French porter but knew he had to control himself to avoid more trouble. We all made a big fuss of him and told him that it took more guts not to hit back. We all seemed to share in his humiliation but that didn’t stop lots of jokes being aimed at Odd Gobbs (as he had now been so tactfully re-nicknamed). "He’s the spitting image of some Flemish actor," someone would drolefully quip...
We arrived at the Paris Hilton to find even more screaming fans and admirers. We knew they were there to see the Jacksons but that didn’t stop us from giving it the right Royal Wave as we strutted our stuff through the crowds and into the foyer. For security reasons, we had all been placed on the top floor. That afternoon was for R&R. Once in our rooms, we quickly set up our tape playback system. It was an Orange Rainbow ritual to get our sounds on the moment we occupied a new residence. We had at least two separate tape hi-fi systems. This meant we could spread them out amongst the dorms we’d been assigned. We could also link them together and with a bit of sound-on-sound we had our own recording studio. It was from this technological springboard that we experimented, recording all sorts of audio weirdness. Within minutes, our adjoining rooms felt more like a social club than a hotel. All the beds had been moved back against the walls. Rod had already invented a skittle game using empty beer bottles and tennis balls. Frankie had brought a kite and was flying it out of the window exciting the hoards of fans and admirers below. One by one, various Jacksons found their way into the Orange Rainbow Den of Enlightenment. We seized the opportunity and put on some recordings that we were currently working on. One song in particular grabbed their attention. Notably, ‘Hey Virgin Child’ a funky pop song with a cathchy five part harmony chorus line that goes "Hey virgin child, do you mind if I open your head… hey virgin child, look inside tell me why is it red… ? hey look at me, can’t you see, could it be that your dead?" and so on…
They were soon singing along. We managed to talk them into taking a copy as a possible J5 single or album track. I like to think that it was the song’s controversial nature that failed to put ‘Hey Virgin Child’ into the Jacksons’ repetoire. Whatever it was, we failed to hear anymore about it although I thought I detected a few of our brass riffs on the Thriller Album.
Olympia Paris, November 6, 1972
The Jacksons gig at the Olympic Theatre that night was magnificent. The party after was mega magnificent. Our own luxury boat cruised up and down the Seine. As the champagne flowed. Jermaine started acting strange and whispered that he had something he wanted to show us in private, up on deck. Surrounded by eight members of Orange Rainbow, Jermaine relaxed and informed us that the fan who had managed to snog him earlier had also managed to secure this necklace on him. We could see the gold chain around his neck but the pendant was hidden beneath his tee shirt. So, we asked, why the big secret over a necklace? Jermaine ushered us to be patient, saying "all will be revealed in good time". He made us all promise not to tell a soul. Jermaine then slowly lifted the chain. We were all eyes. Finally a shaft of light reflected from the revealed crystal pendant. Once it’s full splendour was unveiled, one could make out what it was. "A Crystal Dick!" Well I never, who’d a-thought it ? We now shared a secret with a Jackson and we hadn’t even had to sleep with him!
The whirlwind European adventure was over and we soon found our feet on home soil. J5 fever had reached new hights and they received a full heroes welcome. Unfortunately, our new singer Berne from Sweden didn’t have a work visa and was deported on the spot. We tried to appeal but he was quickly led to a plane bound for Sweden. "Don’t worry, we’ll get you back," were our last words of promise. And we did - by promptly announcing that we were on strike until he returned. Once the agent, Danny O’Donovan, realised we were serious, he set about oiling the wheels of the relevant authorities to get our singer back. The only man for the job was swiftly brought in. Steve the Fib was put on the task and, despite it being a weekend, had our Berne back within 48 hours, just in time for the Birmingham show. Our refusal to play had become an issue of international importance – almost of national security - so words were spoken in very high places and red tape was cut for little old Orange Rainbow. Steve refused to tell us how he actually pulled it off. He just kept saying that we wouldn’t believe him anyway and that we owed him, big time.
At Birmingham, as with most British venues, the Jacksons seemed to be attracting more or less the same fans as The Osmonds, The Rollers, Kenny, Sweet, Mud and Rod Stewart. We had hours of fun throwing J5 badges and photos out of the top story windows of our hotel. This was a game Michael turned us onto when he strolled into our room and, beckoning us to an open window, preceeded to throw out a handful of badges to the fans 20 floors below. These badges were about 5 inches in diameter and acted like a mini frisbee. When one gets caught in an air stream, it can cruise for a long way before it finally touches down. The fun part of this game apparently, was watching the screaming crowds run back and forth attempting to catch the descending badges. In some cases, girls would fight over them until somebody threw more. There was no shortage of badges, we could have easily thrown enough out for everyone but Michael thought it was more fun a few at a time.
Royal Variety Performance ~ The Palladium Theatre, London- November 5, 1972
Finally, the big day came. Wembley Arena, the very last night of the tour. Our relatives and girlfriends had been given complimentary seats to the side near the front. Unfortunately, the seats were only good for seeing the front of the stage from. The problem was that huge PA cabinets were blocking the view of the back of the stage where we would be performing. My mum was livid, I mean it`s not every day you get a chance to see your son on stage at Wembly Arena. She said that if she’d had known that she would not be able to see me properly, she’d have paid for a decent seat herself. We tried to get them moved but there was nowhere to move them to. We could have threatened another strike but that ploy was wearing thin. No, we would have to go through with the show. The only plan we had was to stand close enougth to the front of the stage so our loved ones could see us. This was OK for our opening set but when Sisters Love came on it all got a bit crowded upfront and must have looked comical. The whole experience was bizzarre. Entertaing 20,000 or more excited teenage girls was unexpectedly weird to say the least.
After the gig we were taken to some mock medieval restaurant that had been exclusively booked for us. Serving wenches poured goblets of vintage wine as roasted hogs with oranges in their mouths were placed on the table. The place came complete with court jesters – no, they weren’t A&R men – and, later, a few strolling minstrels. Big Daddy Joe was sitting in the Kings’ throne chair although young Michael and Randy took a few turns before the end. Since their flight back to the States was at 6 a.m. or so, it wasn’t worth sleeping and so the Jacksons seriously got into the party mood. Michael really loved the minstrels and kept borrowing their hats and requesting more medievil songs. Green Sleeves and Scarborough Fayre were the two most popular. It was five in the morning before they managed to escape. On their way out I asked one of them how much they’d get paid for that evening’s musical marathon. "Nothing, mate, it’s supposed to be a promotional gig for us. We’re on the same label as the Jacksons, we’re Amazing Blondel."
Before the boys left for Heathrow we swapped numbers and we were invited to come to Fort Jackson to record a track or two. Stupidly, we never followed that offer up. Maybe we figured they were just being polite but an agent later told us that they really were fans. Orange Rainbow had even featured in their TV cartoon series for two or three episodes – so there’s a cartoon of me somewhere, folks! – because, "the Jacksons really loved you guys, really loved your band." It’s a pity, in a way, that we didn’t make it out there. I’d like to have heard a Rainbow-Jacksons album…