NEWLY DISCOVERED MICHAEL JACKSON CANDID STUDIO FOOTAGE RELEASED BY LEGENDARY PRODUCERS KENNY GAMBLE AND LEON HUFF “SOUND OF PHILADELPHIA” PIONEERS AND ROCK & ROLL HALL OF FAMERS TO GIVE FANS INTIMATE LOOK AT BUDDING MEGASTAR AS TEEN DURING 1970s RECORDING SESSIONS FOR THE JACKSONS’ 1ST 2 ALBUMS, RECENTLY REISSUED BY SONY MUSIC
PHILADELPHIA – As the world focuses today on the previously unreleased rehearsal footage that has been transformed into Michael Jackson’s“This Is It” tour documentary, legendary producers and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees KENNY GAMBLE and LEON HUFF are giving fans an earlier, intimate look at the budding megastar they deeply loved and mentored for 35 years through a newly discovered home movie filmed while producing the Jacksons at the famed Sigma Sound recording studio here in the mid-‘70s.
The Jacksons recorded their first two post-Motown albums — The Jacksons and Going Places — in Philadelphia with the Philadelphia International Records (PIR) production crew. With Michael paying close attention to the production and songwriting techniques of the men who brought Philadelphia soul music (“The Sound of Philadelphia”) to “people all over the world” and studying them to help create what would be his own mega-platinum recording career. Several hit songs came out of those production efforts, including “Enjoy Yourself,” the Jacksons’ first platinum single, and “Let Me Show You the Way to Go.” Those albums, previously only available on vinyl, were re-issued recently by Sony Music on CD and digital download formats.
The home movie – available for viewing starting tomorrow (Oct. 29) at www.gamble-huffmusic.com – made during a recording break by house producer Dexter Wansel, captures a candid moment with the Jacksons, still giddy from visiting Muhammad Ali at his training camp with the PIR team the day before.
Wansel, in the guise of a “mock” news broadcast host, interviews Michael, whose reactions show a shy offstage demeanor and his legendary love of children:
Dexter Wansel: Can you tell us, what made you want to sing in the first place?
Michael Jackson: Uh, I don’t know.
Dexter then attempts to turn over the “hosting” chores to Michael, who reacts unaware of how to handle the responsibility:
DW: OK Mike, you got it
MJ: No I don’t have it.
DW: Go ahead
MJ: What do I do? Cue cards?
Then Michael relents as Dexter’s 2-year-old son enters the picture. Michael takes the child on his lap and “interviews” him for the camera, later running an Afro pick through his hair:
MJ: What’s your name?
MJ: How old are you? You’re 2? Is that your Daddy? (Pointing off camera) Is that your Daddy right there? Let me see you dance. Can you dance? You can’t dance? Can you sing? He can’t dance, Dex? You don’t have to. He’s just like you, Dexter!
Transitioning away from the brand name of the Jackson Five, Michael, Marlon, Tito, Jackie and Randy Jackson (replacing Jermaine, who stayed with Motown), came to PIR in 1976 and 1977. Re-introducing themselves as the Jacksons, Gamble and Huff produced and co-wrote songs for the two albums as part of a double imprint deal with CBS/Epic Records, the group’s new label.
During those recording sessions, Michael Jackson paid close attention to the production and songwriting techniques of Gamble and Huff, and eventually credited them in his autobiography, Moonwalk, for those formative lessons, calling Gamble “a master melody man” and marveling at Huff’s piano prowess. Jackson also had the opportunity to work at that time with legendary Philadelphia International producers McFadden and Whitehead, and Bunny Sigler. Jackson also paid tribute to Gamble and Huff in liner notes for PIR’s three-CD box set. “There was a message in their music that raised a social consciousness and political awareness without offending,” Jackson wrote. “Theirs is a gift of genius and I love them.”
“Michael was a great and wonderful artist and performer,” said Gamble and Huff in a joint statement. “We were privileged and honored to record him and his brothers here at Philadelphia International Records.”
One personal recording that Michael did with Gamble and Huff was called “Man of War,” which has much significance today. Another significant and powerful song was “Blue Away”:
“We are very honored to have been a part of Michael Jackson’s music and creative career in helping to write and produce his own music with his brothers,” Gamble and Huff continued. “We know his music and legacy will live on for a very long time”.
Gamble & Huff wrote over 3,000 songs with in 35 years, including R&B #1 hits, pop #1 hits, gold and platinum records, Grammy winners and BMI songwriters’ awards honorees. Featured prominently in television programs (“The Apprentice”), films (“The Nutty Professor”) and advertising spots (Verizon, Old Navy, The Gap) for more than 30 years, Gamble and Huff’s songs have entered the musical DNA of contemporary culture. In fact, one of their songs is played on the radio somewhere in the world every 13.5 minutes. With a stable core of artists led by the O’Jays, Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, Billy Paul, MFSB and the Three Degrees, Gamble and Huff co-founded Philadelphia International Records and created monster hits almost from the first day of its inception. Songs they have written and produced together, like “Back Stabbers,” “Love Train,” “For The Love Of Money,” “If You Don’t Know Me By Now,” “Cowboys to Girls,” “Don’t Leave Me This Way,” “Enjoy Yourself,” “I’m Gonna Make You Love Me,” “Only the Strong Survive” and “TSOP,” have received songwriters’ awards from Broadcast Music International (BMI). All told, the Gamble-Huff/PIR music machine” has generated over 100 Gold and Platinum records and over 70 #1 hits.
In 1999, four years after being inducted into the National Academy of Songwriters’ Hall of Fame, Gamble & Huff were honored by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences with the Trustees Award for their extensive body of work, both as producer and songwriter, and their contribution to the entire fabric of popular music. Last year, Gamble & Huff were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Gamble & Huff also have appeared on American Idol in a show devoted entirely to their music, and have been inducted twice into the Dance Music Hall of Fame and the R&B Hall of Fame.