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Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Another Jackson Makes the News, But in a Good Way
Michael, Janet, Jermaine, and Randy Jackson have all made the news lately. But Franklin Avenue reports on a press release that documents the latest about Jacksons guitarist Tito:


The Legendary Rhythm and Blues Cruise is recognized as one of the top blues festivals on the planet. It is also the world's only chartered blues cruise....

Cruisers will bask to the perpetual rhythms of Taj Mahal, Dr. John, Susan Tedeschi, Shemekia Copeland, Phantom Blues Band, The Derek Trucks Band, Anson Funderburgh with Sam Myers, Tommy Castro, Bernard Allison, Little Charlie & The Nightcats, Lil' Ed & The Blues Imperials, Kenny Neal Band, Chubby Carrier, Rev. Billy C. Wirtz, Corey Harris and Zac Harmon.

Plus, nine special guests are confirmed to be on board, including Tito Jackson, guitarist of the Jackson 5. Tito, who learned blues guitar from his father and uncle in Gary, Indiana before the J-5 pop explosion, has returned to his blues roots and will celebrate the release of a blues-inspired album in February 2005. Tito Jackson will sit in on a Blues Guitar Hero workshop and sit in with other musicians who have similar influences.

For more information visit www.BluesCruise.com or call 1-888-BLUESIN (258-3746).

Before dismissing this, you have to remember that Tito is an integral player in the Jacksons' saga - just like Dennis Wilson was (pardon the pun) instrumental in the launching of the Beach Boys. (Dennis was the one who talked about surfing in the presence of some music industry types. The rest is history.) If Tito hadn't started messing around with Papa Joe's guitar, Janet Jackson would have spent the last Super Bowl in Gary, Indiana. After Papa Joe caught Tito with the guitar and realized that he could play, Dad assembled the boys into a group and launched them on the path to success.

Even today, fans remember Tito Jackson as the quiet, guitar-playing brother whose curiosity sparked the group's start in Gary, Indiana. "I was the first kid who had the guts to touch my father Joe's guitar," Jackson said. "He'd put it in the closet when he went to work and I'd sneak it out after he left."

During one session, Tito broke a string. Joe Jackson punished his son, then the blues guitarist challenged Tito to show off his skills. "I played better than him," Jackson said. Joe Jackson bought Tito an electric guitar the following day.

The brothers began rehearsing together, packed up and moved to Los Angeles to work with Motown Records....The newfound fame overshadowed Jackson's teenage years and made growing up far from normal. "We didn't get a chance to play a lot," he said. "My father kept us rehearsing and performing. That's all I remember. I don't remember a day in my life when I didn't have an instrument in my hand."...

The Jacksons, who live in and around Los Angeles, gather monthly to celebrate birthdays and graduations and catch up. The family has consistently remained under media scrutiny — from Janet's breast exposure at the 2004 Super Bowl to rumors of child abuse by Joe Jackson. Tito Jackson shrugs off the gossip mill. "Whatever people read in the media, they get wild ideas, but my family is pretty damn close," he said.

Although Jackson has traveled internationally and lived with fame for decades, there's still one dream that remains unfulfilled — playing a gig with his idol, B.B. King. "I've been a B.B. King fan since I've been a little boy," he said. "I got an autograph he sent me hanging in my tour bus right now ... It would make it all worth it for me."

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