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Berry Gordy didn't want to sign The Jackson 5

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Jun 17, 2013 | 1:10pm EDT

Motown mogul Berry Gordy almost missed out on signing The Jackson 5 in the late 1960s because he had no interest in serving as a babysitter for a group of child stars. The legendary producer reveals he already had his hands full dealing with a young Stevie Wonder and he had to be "dragged" to the Jacksons' audition for his Motown label. Reminiscing for TV special Oprah's Master Class, which aired in America on Sunday (16Jun13), Gordy recalled: "I said, 'I don't have time. In fact, I don't like kids' groups, I don't want kids groups. I've got Stevie Wonder, who has a major entourage - he has his mother, his tutor and chaperone and a lot of people travel with him... The last thing I want is a kids' group.'" However, Gordy had a change of heart after hearing frontman Michael Jackson belt out a cover of Smokey Robinson's Who's Lovin' You. He said, "I couldn't make up my mind (about signing them) because I was concerned he (Michael) was a kid, seven years old, eight years old, singing a Smokey song that seemed like he had been living it for 30 years... We were saying he's an old man with a kid's body because he sang Who's Lovin' You better than Smokey, and Smokey did a phenomenal job! This kid was like he'd been here before..." And Gordy was intrigued by the young King of Pop's onstage and offstage personas: "I noticed... onstage he was one kind of person, this master of what he was doing as a kid, and then when he got through (with the performance), he was quiet and almost shy..." The Jackson 5 went on to score huge hits with more pop-orientated songs like I Want You Back, and ABC, and Gordy still can't believe just how popular they became. He adds, "They became the biggest thing... There's no other group, I think, before or since (The Jackson 5) that has had their first four records go to number one (in America)."

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