Big Boy (song)
|Single by Jackson 5|
|Released||January 30, 1968
June 14, 1995 (US)
|Length||3:00 (Original record)
3:36 (CD release)
|Producer(s)||Gordon Keith, 1968
The Jackson 5, 1995
|Jackson 5 singles chronology|
"Big Boy" aka "I'm A Big Boy Now" was the first single ever released by The Jackson 5 (The Jackson Five), in January 1968, through Steeltown Records. The group produced and played instruments on many of their Steeltown compositions, including "Big Boy". The song was neither a critical nor commercial success, but the Jackson family were delighted with the outcome nonetheless.
The Jackson 5 would release a second single with Steeltown Records before moving to Motown Records. The group's recordings at Steeltown Records were thought to be lost, but they were rediscovered more than 25 years later. They were remastered and reissued in 1995, with "Big Boy" as the promotional lead single.
First record deal and lead single
The Jackson 5 began their career performing at talent contests, which they would often win. During a performance at Beckman Junior High, the group were brought to the attention of Gordon Keith — the owner of Steeltown Records, a company based in the group's hometown of Gary, Indiana. Keith signed the children to a limited record deal. The band recorded with their instruments and a backing group on the weekends. Michael Jackson sang lead vocals on the majority of tracks and the brothers produced much of the material themselves, including the track "Big Boy", which took a few hours to record and was written by Ed Silver. The group were paid three cents for each record sold, which was split equally amongst the five members. The group released their first single "Big Boy" on January 30, 1968. It was backed with the B-side "You've Changed". The brothers would go on to perform "Big Boy" at numerous strip clubs throughout their early lives.
Reception and Jackson family
The Jackson family gathered around a radio to hear the song broadcast for the first time. Michael Jackson — who was 9 years old at the time — said of the experience, "[the family] all laughed and hugged one another. We felt we had arrived." The single "Big Boy" did not appear on any of Billboard's music charts but sold in excess of 10,000 copies.
The Jackson 5 would release a second and final single through Steeltown Records — "We Don't Have To Be Over 21 (to Fall in Love)". The two singles were to be supported by an eleven track studio album but it was never released. On July 26, 1968, the group signed a contract with Motown Records. However, as the group's Steeltown contract had not yet expired, the new contract could not be fully executed until March 11, 1969. Motown Records tried to get the group out of their Steeltown contract, and ultimately succeeded with a financial settlement.
The master tapes to "Big Boy" were believed to be lost; however, in 1994 family friend Ben Brown found the tapes in his parents' kitchen pantry. Brown reissued the record in 1995, on the Inverted Records label — a week before Michael Jackson's HIStory album was issued. He also remastered the song, selling it by mail order, along with an instrumental version, in a limited edition package consisting of a compact disc and cassette tape — the package could be purchased at a cost of approximately $30. The reissue of "Big Boy" was promoted with a music video. In 2009, Gordon Keith put items from the Steeltown era up for auction, including "a sizable number of mint-condition copies of 'Big Boy'" in 45 rpm format and 100 copies of "We Don't Have To Be Over 21 (to Fall in Love)". Keith stated, "I could use the money... I got these guys off the ground... I didn't truly get real money for it".
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