The Jackson 5 – Who’s Lovin’ You

9th February 2024 · 1960s, 1969, Blues, Music, Soul

Not sure how I’ve missed seeing or hearing this remarkable piece of pop history before – a ten-year-old Michael Jackson singing the blues.

I just read about it in Colson Whitehead’s latest book Crook Manifesto, in which his hero takes his daughter to see The Jackson 5 at Madison Square Garden.

Michael used to introduce it onstage as if it was autobiographical, with a story about a girl he had met at school, playing in the sandpit and sharing his cookies with her.

In fact it was written nearly a decade earlier by Smokey Robinson and appeared on the B-side of The Miracles‘ first Motown hit, Shop Around, in 1960.

The Jackson 5 recorded their version at Motown’s Hitsville USA studio in Detroit, backed by the Funk Brothers, just a couple of weeks before MIchael’s 11th birthday in August 1969.

It was one of the last – if not the​ very last – recordings they made before Motown boss Berry Gordy moved the family group to Los Angeles to record with his songwriting team The Corporation.

Who’s Lovin’ You appeared on the B-side of The Jackson 5’s first single I Want You Back but became a sensation when the group performed it on the Ed Sullivan Show, and it was included on the group’s debut album Diana Ross Presents The Jackson 5.

It’s also been recorded by Diana Ross and The Supremes (1961), David Ruffin and The Temptations (1965) and Brenda Holloway (1965) though the only hit version was by Brenda Payton with Brenda & The Tabulations (1967) – all before The Jackson 5 recorded their version.