Lights! Action! There was excitement at the “newly opened” Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey on Saturday, September 1, 2018. The lights were beaming brightly on the Legendary Jacksons at their concert and the Splash Magazines Worldwide interview that followed. Starr Hayes, President of Jackson Doll Productions, the oldest Jackson Fan Club and charitable organization of almost 50 years and her other Jackson Dolls, Tracee Hayes and Renee Sudderth (Splash Magazine Photojournalist) were there, enjoying every exciting moment with the Jacksons.
Once we arrived at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, the Jackson Dolls were ready for the concert.
But first, we mingled with the fans listening to how the Jacksons have impacted their lives and how excited they were to be at a Jackson concert once again. The fans were excited to see the Jackson Dolls as well. Starr, the President, has been with them almost 50 years since August 29, 1971. This shows that longevity, perseverance, and dedication pays off especially since many fans remembered her.
Once the Jacksons hit the stage, we all were screaming, dancing and having a good time watching the musical group from our childhood still looking good, singing and dancing like they did in their 20’s. They were interacting with the crowd and we were interacting with each other.
The concert was filled with so much excitement, laughter and passion that after the concert we were still “feeling it!” The Jacksons didn’t have to ask us “Can You Feel It?”
Soon after, the Jackson Dolls were escorted backstage and that’s when this momentous “face to face” encounter with the Jacksons took place!!! I was smiling real big, as were Starr and Tracee.
Since other fans wanted to take photos with the Jacksons, we hurried and jumped in the photos with them. As I positioned myself for the photo, I didn’t realize that Tito was beside me. With great surprise and excitement, I said “TITO”! He smiled at me. That made my day. We really had fun taking photos, and then watching the Jacksons talk, laugh and take photos with their other fans. It was special to see them take time to interact with fans, even though, I knew they had to be tired after rehearsing earlier and then performing an energetic, stunning, upbeat, emotional concert!!
Once the “meet and greet” was over, it was time for the “long-awaited” interview. Jermaine and Tito were not available but we talked quickly with Tito at the photo session. I told him I loved the solo song he sang during the concert “We Made It”. It’s so amazing that Tito and his brothers were performing while his three sons, 3 T’s were performing overseas as they continue to have “Sold Out” concerts.
In a private room, the Jackson Dolls spent an unforgettable, informative, and fun interview session with the oldest son of the family Jackie, and Marlon, the “Dancing Machine” of the group who revealed he was inspired by James Brown, Jackie Wilson, Fred Astaire, The Nicholas Brothers, and others who had spectacular dancing talents.
We all were still excited about the explosive concert. I didn’t have time to be nervous, just HAPPY AND THANKFUL!!! Surprisingly, they were as excited as we were. Marlon made me feel at ease when — he asked, “Do you want to come over here to conduct the interview?” I stood up, walked over and then Marlon said, “Ok go ahead and do your thang”. We all laughed!!! I was sitting between Jackie and Marlon while Tracee recorded us during our Question & Answer (Q&A) session while President Starr looked on and asked questions too.
With condolences to the Jacksons and respect for their family losses, we asked if it was permissible to talk about their father, Joseph Jackson and brother, Michael.
If so, please share with us your fondest memory of both. Marlon responded, “Thinking how it was back in Gary (Indiana), I didn’t understand it then, but now I understand and appreciate what our father was trying to do when we were growing up. He was trying to keep us out of the streets and keep us focused.” Jackie responded, “We thank him for trying to make a name for ourselves and yes we rehearsed and rehearsed, not because we were forced to by our father but because we wanted to and we were trying to get famous. Marlon quickly replied, “We’re still trying to get famous”. Most definitely, we really laughed at that.
The fondest memory Marlon shared about Michael was “Jackie, Michael and I used to do the choreography. So, we miss the times spent putting our shows together and I miss the talks we use to have back in the day”. Starr, Tracee and I found that to be so touching.
Also, Jackie mentioned that their father taught them how to be strong. “One day after his burial, we had a concert in Europe and Janet had a concert somewhere. We know that’s what he would have wanted us to do. And yes, the show must go on.”
Then Jackie asked, “Can I say something? When we performed in Detroit in June, we went to our dressing rooms, and surprisingly, we had a large bouquet of flowers that were given to us from Aretha Franklin. We really appreciated that but I didn’t realize she was so sick until about two weeks ago prior to her passing.”
Jackie stressed the point that all kids have talent and it’s up to the parents to help them find that talent. A lot of people thought our father forced it on us, but we loved what we were doing. Jackie talked proudly of his “soon to be 5-year-old” twins; they already know our dance moves and the pointing (The Jacksons’ signature dance move). They know Marlon’s songs; Janet’s music and they travel with us overseas. They know how to play tennis and soccer already.” It is so remarkable his twins are that active already, likewise Jackie is still an active athlete himself.
Talking about Jackie’s twins, we had to ask do they remember their first arena concert when they were young. Jackie laughed and said, “Yes, I remember it because I was scared. We were used to dancing for 5 or 10 minutes and now we had to dance one hour or more, oh yes I was scared.”
We had to ask Jackie and Marlon, do you think the Jackson fans will ever get a chance to see the Legendary Jacksons and the “Gen X” Jacksons perform together in concert. They both looked as though they were deep in thought in a good way, therefore we will stay in suspense.
Jackie is proud that he has his own Record Label “Critically Amused” and has two signed artists D.B.L and Gold Lemonade. In response to my question regarding influences, he replied, “Absolutely, I learned from my father and Berry Gordy, managerial and producing skills”. Starr and I asked Jackie if he plans to do more writing, producing and managing or retire in the upcoming years. He let us know clearly, he is not retiring anytime soon. Oh, he amazed us on that one and we all shared a big pleasant smile!!
Starr asked Marlon to elaborate on the etched message “Study Peace” on the baseball cap he was wearing. He said “it’s easy to say it but so hard to accomplish it. We are set in our own ways, but if we “Study Peace” then more people will gravitate to it. The world needs peace. It’s up to all of us to do something!!!” Also, when asked about his legacy, Marlon replied “I finally understand it’s truly a blessing the Lord has given to us”. We nodded with total agreement!!!
Conversing with Jackie and Marlon I could hear and feel the passion they have for their family and fans. Both were laughing and said they saw us on the floor dancing with the music. Jackie said, “It’s fuel to our engine on stage and it makes us feel good having people jumping around and seeing grandmothers out there too. Whenever we go to other countries, we see many nationalities together dancing, getting down and being happy. This brings us joy when we look out in the audience and everyone is having a good time. We want people to say we had an effect on them.”
Our conversations felt genuine. I thought about how their parents, Mr. Joseph and Mrs. Katherine Jackson had instilled in them true values they have never lost.
The Jackson Dolls told Jackie and Marlon we were really enjoying ourselves dancing with other fans feeling the excitement in the air and coming from the stage during the concert. Exhilarated by it all, we realized it was time to wrap up and thank the Jacksons again for allowing us to interview them, and share with us their lustrous careers and rewarding lives.
I thank God whole heartily for the many precious memories on this night that will forever be etched in my mind as a dream come true for many reasons!!!
The Jacksons will continue to perform their electrifying concerts internationally. Jackson Doll Productions will continue our mission providing resources for children, serving the homeless, and seniors in need, on the Jacksons’ behalf. And Splash Magazine will continue “adding style to your life”.
Please don’t miss your lifetime opportunity to experience this legendary musical dynasty, and appreciate their humble beginnings and the success they have and continue to achieve. Yes– they can truly say “WE MADE IT”.
The Concert Tour Schedules
Stay tuned for this article’s continuation.